On my mind.

Vent

Let me tell you about my week.

My ex-wife / the prodigal spouse / whatever you want to call her has really upped her game.

In addition to regular text message harassment, and I mean harassment, she has made several legal, but highly unusual maneuvers to make sure I don’t see my children for most of the Month of December. She has also managed to schedule the time I do have my children full of events running back and forth to where she lives, 90 minutes away.

Finally, My Ex-wife changed our children’s dentists (without consulting me) and gave the dentist her address as the children’s primary address. The dentist sudsc_0363-2bmitted to my insurance with her address. Now my insurance will not pay the claims unless I provide legal documentation of my custody rights. this means that I now need to pay my attorney (likely a couple hundred bucks) to process and submit the correct forms. The dentist is now regularly contacting me about these unpaid claims. I love how I keep paying for her evil and betrayal over and over again in a million little mundane ways.

Just to recap:

  • She left me for another man.
  • She forced a divorce on me that I did not want.
  • She has tried numerous times to remove me from our children’s lives.
  • She consistently undermines me, manipulates me, and harasses me.
  • She is re-married.

There have been some well-meaning brothers and sisters who have recently posted here in the comments:

  • That I am sinning by dating someone new.
  • That I have prayed for my estranged wife out of a place of selfishness.
  • That I am selfish for loving a new woman:
    • That has been abandoned.
    • That deserves to be loved.
    • That treats me like a human instead of like trash.
    • Whose son desperately needs a father.

Bear in mind that I

  • Refused the divorce for as long as I legally could.
  • Tried to reconcile.
  • “Stood” for more than 2 years, wearing my ring the whole time.
  • Prayed desperately for my prodigal spouse’s
    • Deliverance
    • Salvation
    • Rescue
    • Freedom from deception

I consistently asked God to show me what He would have me do, and He consistently gave me signs, little miracles, and regular provision.

Finally, he made the ultimate provision for me, in the form of a woman that I love deeply and who loves me for all the reasons that my ex-wife hates me. In my uncertainty, He has consistently confirmed that I am in the right place, in His will.

So, standers and non-standers, I feel I need to encourage you with the following:

  1. Standing for your marriage is good.
  2. God can and does often bless it.
  3. You may or may not be “called” to do so.
  4. Sometimes the other person’s heart is too hard or they were never saved to begin with.
  5. Moving on and loving someone else will not doom you to hell for eternity.

I’m sure I will get a lot of differing thoughts in comments. That’s fine. I welcome your feedback, and I’ll likely approve your comments. Just know that if you have time to reprimand me, you also have time to pray for me, and that is always welcome.

The games people play

An open letter to Christians dating (especially the ladies),
I wrote the post below last night, hit publish, and continued to play the game until I fell fitfully asleep regretting it:

So, I just got off FaceTime with my kids. They are at “the other house” this week. I keep going over the last few years of my marriage and the things my wife said to me the night she left. 2913052110_86f6b014a2_z

It seems like the biggest mistakes that I made in my relationship, the ones that ultimately drove my wife into the arms of another man and out of our marriage were:

  1. Being too available. I gave up a lot of hobbies and a second job to be at home with her and the kids and to help with the kids / housekeeping etc.
  2. Letting her know regularly how much I loved her. I bought cards just because. I wrote little notes. I sent texts. I bought flowers. I bought gifts. I never wanted her to doubt how I felt about her.
  3. I shared my feelings, concerns and weaknesses in a transparent and vulnerable manner.

No, I am not being sarcastic in the least. I know that those seem like the qualities that we’re all told to have as Godly men. Those are touted as positive characteristics that all Godly women are seeking. The night my wife told me she was leaving she shared all of the things she couldn’t stand about me and why she just had to “get out”. They included:

  1. You’re always around. You have no hobbies. Your whole life is me and the kids. That’s really pathetic.
  2. I feel like you care for me and love me far more than I do you. That’s not fair, and I can’t stand to look at that “I love you” look on your face anymore.
  3. I don’t feel like you’re a real man. See, you’re crying right now. You’re kind of a big baby.

Wow. This feeds into everything the male relationship gurus say about how we have to “play games” and pretend to be indifferent, disconnected, and unavailable to get a girl. Apparently this also applies to keeping a girl, even one you’re married to.

So, here we are, two years later. This girl I really like, who really seems to like me (we call or text every evening) hasn’t contacted me all day, and I haven’t contacted her. I’ve had plenty of opportunities. I’ve thought about her several times. I feel as though I initiate conversation too often though, so I am painfully letting the silence hang and waiting to see if she will contact me. How ridiculous is that? I really want to call her or text her, but I feel like if I do, I’m setting myself up to “lose the game”. I feel like I have to play the game. I hate feeling like that. I hate it.

I don’t want her to think I’m clingy. I don’t want her to think I’m too devoted. I don’t want to look like “a big baby”. That phrase will never leave my head. Thank you, prodigal spouse.

I also can’t help but think this is unbiblical or wrong, but it’s become a part of the courtship process because of the fall and I just have to live with it.

I hate this.

 

So, I regret playing games. I pray that I’ve done no lasting damage to my relationship with this amazing woman. All I managed to do, I think, was miss an opportunity to talk with her, but perhaps she enjoyed the break.GAMEFREE-2

Either way, I think if we have to play games, maybe the relationship isn’t worth it. My end goal is marriage, and I think the worse-case-scenario is not that I’ll lose the girl. That’s happened to me already in the worst way possible. I think that the worst thing that can happen is that I’ll end up married to someone I have to play the game with. I’ll end up with someone with whom I cannot:

  • Serve
  • Love
  • Honor
  • Cherish
  • Be transparent with
  • Love as Christ loved the church.

I don’t want that. So, this girl, as amazing as she is. This girl that I’m willing to wait for even though she is really busy, deserves more than to be played with. That said, if she wants to feel the need for “a chase” or desires a guy who is aloof, unavailable, and disengaged, then maybe she isn’t as awesome as I think she is and I’m better off without her. I will allow God to be my anchor, and no human relationship, no matter how much I desire it. I need to look to Him to hold this fast if it is His will. If it isn’t, then I’m better off without it. It’s just hard to see that sometimes, particularly when I’m down & feeling insecure.

Christian ladies, go read the dating advice websites. See what is being said about women and what they want. If you ever want a relationship that lifts you up instead of tearing you down. If you ever want to have a real spiritual leader in your home, you can begin by stopping with the games. If you’re getting a text every hour, yes, he may be a clingy-stalker-psycho. If you’re getting a nice text or call every day, he just might care for you, which I would think is what you want. If you’re seeing someone, and you don’t want him to second guess your feelings and whether or not he’s constantly being “tested”, don’t assume he knows. The social media marketing is intense. Every single or divorced guy’s Twitter and Facebook feed is filled with invasive intense marketing by these guys who say YOU WANT US TO TOY WITH YOU! Go ahead, send your man a text right now. Tell him you don’t need him to play hard to get. Tell him you appreciate his transparency and authenticity… that is, if you really do.

Blessings.

J.


 

Contentment & Zombies

So, here I am. It’s a Sunday afternoon, and I’m wondering, “have I been ghosted by yet another one?” Maybe I have. Maybe I haven’t. If I have, the only thing I can chalk this one up to is divine intervention. We were getting along great, like day before yesterday. Yesterday, she had to cancel a date. No big deal. I was totally okay with that. Then suddenly, silence has ensued for almost 48 hours. She’s read my messages. No response.

Cartoon-Zombie-300pxWhy does this upset me? I am not content. I know that we are to be content in Christ. I know that I need to love God first and delight myself in Him. My heart is sick with discontentment. I long more than anything for someone to hold and love and cherish. I hate my life so much that I often express the ultimate discontentment to God by asking why he hasn’t killed me.

I am not suicidal. My dad did that. I won’t ever do that to my kids… ever. I just sometimes wonder why God would have kept me alive through all of this while so many people around me who had good lives and were doing good works for Him have died. Seriously, If I had gotten terminal cancer three years ago,

  1. My wife would have been able to find someone new with a clean conscience and without sinning.
  2. My children would not be in the middle of a giant custody tug-of-war that didn’t end when the legal agreement was signed.
  3. I would be with God and wouldn’t have experienced any of this ongoing pain, frustration, heartache, and discontentment.

I just keep telling myself that God must have some purpose for me. There must be some plan. What does He want from me? What am I supposed to do? Why am I still here. For some time after my wife left, I had a vibrant walk with God, where he used me daily. Some of the highlights include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Helping an old lady, named Madeline, wandering along the side of the road on a cold winter evening.
  • Helping someone with car trouble in the Library parking lot.
  • Regularly ministering to a friend whose wife had died of brain cancer (again, a woman who was by all accounts worthy of sainthood).
  • Helping a lost and confused elderly gentleman, whom I ran into at the pizza shop, find his way home.
  • Meeting, ministering to, and praying for of a retired kick boxer from Puerto Rico in a part of town I would never normally have been in.

Lately, though, I’ve been moving through life like the walking dead. For the last six months, despite practicing the presence throughout the day, surrendering myself to Him daily, regularly crying out to know His will, and often asking to be put in the right place at the right time to do His work, I have been living a half-life.

My prodigal spouse has officially moved on. She introduced her NCP as, “my husband”, at a recent viewing I attended. I felt the last hope for our marriage die inside of me, and at the same time I did feel a renewed sense of life. I felt that, “now I can escape this liminal existence!”

The presence of a new woman in my life (she texted me back, by the way 🙂 Yay!), while very pleasant, does not bring contentment. Only God brings contentment. I am trying to learn contentment. So, today, I cried out to Him a lot. I asked the Holy Spirit to Comfort me, to lead me and guide me, and to teach me contentment.

So, now, even though I don’t feel like it, I will praise Him.

Psalm 29
A psalm of David.
1 Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of his[a] holiness.
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
Sirion[b] like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord strikes
with flashes of lightning.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord twists the oaks[c]
and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
11 The Lord gives strength to his people;
the Lord blesses his people with peace.

 

Sitting this one out

Dear Reader,

Please don’t let this discourage you. Standing is a good thing. It is the right thing to do, even, particularly if God has affirmed it and called you to do it. Keep it up as long as God leads you to do so.

I was going to leave this unsaid. I was just going to live my life and not record it here, but I don’t want anyone to be mislead. Some of you know me in person. A very few readers have actually spoken to me face-to-face, even though I write under a Pseudonym here.

I’m done. I could go into all of the reasons. I could spout off the circumstances, the depth of my pain, and even the ways God is encouraging me to put this in my past. I know that none of it ultimately matters to you. You will simply assume that I have become a broken apostate Kool-aid drinker, who has abandoned faith for reason and given up God’s plan.

So be it.

Pray that God will reveal His will, whatever it may be. My stand is over. May your stand be as blessed as mine was cursed.

Much Love,

Me

Crap not to say when his wife leaves…

genericawkwarddialSo, the big D is becoming a reality for more and more people in the church. The part of this sordid story that I’m noticing, though, is that it’s not typically a mutual decision. Further, it is happening to a lot more men, against their will. There seems to be a stereotype of men running off with some wild woman and leaving the wife and kids at home. I’m not seeing a lot of this in my church or community. In fact, I’m seeing the exact opposite. What’s more, wives don’t run off and leave the family. They find a replacement husband, justify their actions, file for divorce, and fight for majority custody.

The church’s reaction to this has been lackluster at best. I haven’t seen many churches or leaders take any kind of stand against this because it isn’t politically correct to do so and it’s much more common in the congregation than say homosexual marriage. But let’s put the institutional response aside for a moment and look at the body of Christ itself.

In the awkwardness of trying to comfort our brothers, we say some pretty stupid crap. You ladies in particular could use a lesson in how not to rip a marriage-grieving man’s heart out of his chest and urinate on it. So, here is a list of stuff not to say to a man grieving the death of his marriage.

There is a reason for everything. / God is in control.

To tell a man (or woman for that matter) that “there is a reason for everything” or that “maybe this part of God’s plan” implies that God did this to him. That is a seed of doubt and bitterness that the enemy is already trying to plant in his mind. Unless you really believe that God is going around breaking up marriages, ignoring the covenants He oversaw, and destroying homes, don’t say this.

Can God bring good out of evil? Of course. That’s Biblical. So is the sovereignty of God, but it is a profound and perplexing mystery how sin, free will, and the fallenness of man plays into this dynamic. Unfortunately, it is very easy to imply to the broken man’s heart that God is controlling evil and causing it to happen. This does not help his relationship with God when he needs that relationship the most.

You need to get a pet.

There is no phrase that causes me to want to punch you in the teeth more than this.

First, I don’t need one more thing to be responsible for. Yeah, I have so much down time between dealing with custody arrangements, legal documents, running a household solo, and dealing with frequent attacks from my prodigal spouse that I think taking on the responsibility of pet ownership seems like a great idea! Really????

Second, this somehow implies that a pet is an acceptable substitute for my one-flesh partner who decided to rip herself away leaving my life with a gaping hole. God noted that from among “all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals… no suitable helper was found” (Genesis 2:20) for man. Are you smarter than God?

If I tell you I am despondent, lonely and miserable, don’t suggest a dog. By the way, that’s really insulting on an epic level, but we won’t go into that.

 

Count your blessings. He has taken good care of you.

While this is profound and undeniable truth, it is not really what a man wants to hear when his world has been shattered. Yes, it is better to concentrate on the positive and to “speak victory” over our lives. Yes, being down in the mouth does make a horrible witness to the goodness and provision of God. Yes, He probably had provided a lot of protection, help, and support during this process. All in all, that doesn’t change the fact that this man is reeling from monumental loss, cold betrayal, and ultimate rejection. So, when someone has been abandoned and rejected in this way, he likely won’t feel like proclaiming the goodness of God from the rooftops for quite some time. Give him a freaking break. Shut up, and pray some blessings over him.

 

You need to focus on your kids. That’s what is important.

Yes, they are, but this implies that the marriage isn’t. In God’s hierarchy we have God > spouse > children. Don’t make light of how incredibly important this relationship is, or should be, to a man of God. This isn’t selfishness. He’s not unaware of what his children are facing. On the contrary, he wants to protect them as much as he can.

Having his home ripped apart and being rejected and abandoned by his helpmate affects every aspect of a man’s physical and emotional health. It is hard to sleep (or stop sleeping), eat (or stop eating), concentrate, and even do daily tasks like opening the mail. Don’t tell him to “man up” and focus on his kids. He’s not neglecting them or ignoring the blessing they are in his life. They just aren’t his spouse and they never will be.

 

This your chance to find someone better.

Yes, any marriage has its ups and downs, and people are always, in a sense, unequally yoked. It is however a covenant. It is supposed to be for life. Divorce can mean a clean slate in some sense, but that isn’t “God’s best for his life”. God’s best is always our original one-flesh partner. That relationship is not meant to be disposable, and this is not a “blessing in disguise”. Calling something that is is identified as a “curse” in Deuteronomy a “blessing” is foundation-ally and fundamentally wrong.

 

If there’s anything I can do to help, just call me.

He will never call you. If you are a close friend, come over to hang out and help with the kids. Come and spend the day when his prodigal spouse has custody and he is alone. If you are not a close friend, be diplomatic in what you offer, but be specific. Offer to grab a bite to eat, play a videogame, watch a movie or help open mail. Honestly, he doesn’t know what he wants or needs, and he is likely unaccustomed to asking you for help and companionship. Offering the vague non-committal “anything” will make you feel like you’ve done something when, in reality, you’ve done nothing.

 

God never gives us more than we can handle.

Oh, yeah! You are so right! I’m pretty sure I saw this on an attractive landscape posted to Pinterest. It must be true! How, in fact, do you know that God never gives us more than we can handle? I suppose the folks who have been beheaded by Isis were mentally and physically equipped to “handle” parting with their head…

The only scriptural reference relating to this at all is speaking of temptation, not trials and hardships. The God I read about in the Bible is constantly putting His children in way over their head. That’s the nature of faith, perseverance, and learning to trust God. I remember telling God multiple times that the one thing I could never handle was this… Guess what?

 

We need to set up your dating profile

“It’s been awhile. It’s time to get over it. Let me help you setup your dating profile.”

One, time is irrelevant when it comes to healing a broken heart. Two, do you really think he hasn’t thought of that? Chances are he has one already. Chances are he’s getting a heaping helping of rejection there as well. I have personally, in my own rebellion, sent out roughly 50 messages over two different dating sites and have received roughly seven views and three replies. One was a flat, “not interested”. Two fizzled out within a few days and turned into silence. I am not obese, scarred, or deformed in any way, but people flatly ignore me. Maybe God took the hedge of thorns I prayed for my prodigal and put it around me instead (thanks a lot), or maybe I am that worthless and disgusting…

The point is, the abandoned and rejected man is broken and fragile. Subjecting him the the shallow superficial world of online dating is like inviting a friend recovering from chemotherapy to participate in your MMA class. The constant rejection and flat-out dismissal that a man experiences on these sites simply cements the idea that “something must be fundamentally wrong with me. My wife chose someone else and none of these women like me either. Maybe I am worthless and disgusting”.

A cry for encouragement…

OK friends help me here because I’m struggling.

I know that the enemy is working overtime against me, as I sit here at my children’s soccer games in my wife and her lover’s city of residence… I know that I’m struggling because I have to watch my kids cuddle with my now ex-wife, her lover, and his mother while I sit here, alone in a strange place. Either way, the spam from hell is rolling in. I know it’s lies, but I really need some encouragement. All I have here is discouragement. Even my closest friends and mentors have given up on my stand. I have recently had about five very mature brothers in Christ pretty much tell me that I am not going to be restored. One even told me that the Holy Spirit told him not to pray for restoration for me. I asked God for a sign of encouragement (Covenant Trucks), and He gave me the opposite sign (Payne Trucks) about 18 times in the last two months, and not one Covenant Truck.

Then, today, on the way to the soccer game, I see two Covenant Trucks, one of which is the painted over variety. I feel like a wave blown and tossed by the wind. I don’t want to be double minded. I want to be standing or not standing. The thing is, if I’m not going to be restored, I’m not going to stand just out of obedience and self-sacrifice. Unless God sends an angel into my bedroom to tell me I must stand in lieu of restoration to be a light in these dark times, I want to stop being lonely and miserable.

I’m an educator, and for better or worse, my whole life revolves around data. We don’t use a technique in the classroom unless the numbers back it up. So, here is my struggle. I can’t bring to mind one single testimony of a prodigal wife turning around without seeing her husband move on to someone else and becoming a stander herself or without contracting some terminal illness and coming home to die.

Seriously, if anyone has any data on this please reply here. Is my faithful stand doing a darn thing? Are there any numbers to suggest that women are not consumed with so much pride that they simply don’t come around without some drastically negative stimulus?

Help me out here peeps. I mean maybe I missed something. I did, after all, stop reading Saturday testimonies, from Rejoice Marriage Ministries about six months ago, when I started to realize that roughly .04% of testimonies were about wives actually coming home. A lot of times, I would see a man’s name and get excited, but it would just be something about how he was able to be a testimony or some such thing. It was never, “my wife came home and praise God, we’re restored and happy”. Perhaps men just don’t share testimonies. I can tell you that if God brought my wife home, I’d be shouting it from the mountain tops and glorifying His name in blogs, tweets, podcasts, profile updates, and everything I possibly could.

The thing is it’s been almost two years… I know, some of you have stood for much longer. Maybe you got a promise of restoration. I never did. Maybe you’re good at doing life alone. Maybe you don’t whither when you are are left without companionship for long periods of time. Maybe this wasn’t your one worst nightmare, the thing you told God you could never ever take, coming true. Maybe you’re just a bad ass and you can take severe emotional and spiritual punishment like a champ. I am not that strong, and the Holy Spirit has stopped providing my “strong-stand-juice”. The divorce is final. Everyone I know has stopped praying for my restoration. I can’t name one personal Christian mentor in my real-life circle (not online friends) that is not encouraging me to “move on” (A.k.a. find somebody else and stop being so darn miserable).

Come on peeps. Give me some encouragement. Flood the comments with stories of women who came home to their husbands without seeing their husband move on to someone else or contracting a terminal illness. Don’t bother if all you have to say is that I’m saving my wife from burning in hell (I’m a bit of a Calvinist, so that argument is meaningless), or that my stand is going to make my children better people, or that God is going to bless my obedience in the afterlife and be disappointed in me otherwise. I don’t need guilt. I need encouragement. If the only reasons to stand are negative ones, then what is the point?

I hate my life. I hate waking up. I hate going to bed. I hate eating. I hate silence. I hate music. I hate television. I hate reading. I hate everything I used to love. Hanging out with my kids is even bittersweet. Almost every moment and every conversation reminds me of her and how she was stolen by another man, with whom I am going to have to share those precious children for the rest of my life… I am tired. I am tired of hating everything. I am tired of living a life washed in gray. I am tired of not sleeping. I am tired of being tired. I have told God that I am willing to be willing to give this all to Him. I have asked for His help to let this all go. I have asked for Him to help me love Him so much that He is all I need. I don’t think He meant for me to live this way. So please, no pat answers or Bob Steinbeck quotes about how I need to suck it up for the sake of her soul. Send me some real testimonies. Give me some hard data. Give me some real encouragement that this does happen in the wild. I want to know that real wives do come home.

Someone help me.

Is it “not good”???

If you’re reading this for the usual dose of encouragement and insight, STOP. Hit the back button and leave. I am not having a good Spring. April and May have been hard on me. This is a post of emotional vomit, lamentation, and hard hard questions, many of which aren’t even rational in light of my previous posts. This is a post of pure simple irrational pain. If you’re feeling strong, self-confident, and ready to speak into my pain, read on…

20 “Why is light given to those in misery,
and life to the bitter of soul,
21 to those who long for death that does not come,
who search for it more than for hidden treasure,
22 who are filled with gladness
and rejoice when they reach the grave?
23 Why is life given to a man
whose way is hidden,
whom God has hedged in?
24 For sighing has become my daily food;
my groans pour out like water.
25 What I feared has come upon me;
what I dreaded has happened to me.
26 I have no peace, no quietness;
I have no rest, but only turmoil.”

Job 3:20-26

So, as this stand of mine goes on day after day with no end or resolution in sight. The wise, sagely Christ followers in my life are reassuring me that I am growing so much in my walk of faith. I am told that God is “wooing” me right now and that I need to “abide in His love”. I have to be honest, though. Despite frequent miracles, unmistakable signs, and divine appointments out the wazoo, I am still really really struggling… I get the whole, “I am loved by the God of the Universe” thing, but I really don’t. I’m still working on getting His love from my head to my heart. It’s the spirit of rejection blinding me. I know it is, but I still struggle.

You see, I read the book “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts“, with my wife, several years ago. It was obvious right away that my love language is physical touch.  A friend recently pointed out that it is “a little difficult to get a hug from your heavenly father.” No crap! I keep asking Him for a hug… I tell Him I need to feel love with skin on… If it weren’t for my kids and their constant affection, I believe I would have withered long ago. Standing is so hard for touch people. You can get just about every other love language from your friends, but a short awkward hug from “a bro” just isn’t the same. I want to be held and cry my guts out! I am so sick of not being held! I think this is why I am struggling so much right now… I just have all of this bottled up hurt and no satisfactory way to release it. Due to our screwed up legal system, custody rules and expectations, I am not even allowed to cry in the presence of my children, let alone cry when I am holding them.

I told God that I need restoration soon or some supernatural dispensation of Holy Spirit power, or I am going to crack and go find someone to hold me. I know that is not good stander etiquette, but there it is. No time table (Don’t put God on a time table… Satan will use that against you… ~says everyone from the stander community)… Just a cry for help. My flesh can’t do this anymore. Restore me, kill me, or change my freaking love language! You designed me this way, God. You know how much this hurts! What the heck??

Somehow I’ve made it a whole year without needing to cuddle a pillow to go to sleep… So He has provided some supernatural grace there somewhere. Still I wish I could feel really loved by God in the absence of a person through which I feel that love and favor. I keep asking Him for that. Every day, I ask for that. I think that emotionally I still feel like my rejection by my wife is a rejection by God because I only ever felt loved and favored by Him through the “blessing” of her… Which is of course a slippery slope to idolatry… or is it? God did design us male and female and created us to live in this community.

So, I have some questions… some hard questions for God and for the standing community as a whole.

  1. Genesis 2:18 says, “It is not good that man should be alone…” It certainly isn’t. How long am I supposed to suffer for my spouse’s sin? How long am I to do life without a help-mate while she enjoys all the privileges and support of having a non-covenant partner, the support of society, the support of friends, and the support of family?
  2. Where is the body of Christ on the weekend when my whole family is with the other man, and I have no one? “I’ll call you brother.” “We’ll get together and do something.” Father, You know how many people said that last week… The weekend rolled around, and I, alone, ended up turning to an online game for community…
  3.  How long am I supposed to believe for restoration, and when am I supposed just start believing that God will graciously keep me alive until I die, this life will suck and be increasingly more painful every day, and then I get to go to be with Him and live happily ever after?
  4. If God hardens and softens hearts throughout the scriptures, according to His plans and whims, then why when our hearts and our prodigal’s hearts harden is it, “just free will”? Where is the the scripture that says, “God touched hearts throughout these scriptures, but from this point forward, you’re all on your own. Good luck. Enjoy your free will.”?

I know that this is not a positive or uplifting message. I know that this is bordering on blasphemy. I am not trying to make anyone stumble. I’m just crying out for encouragement. I’m looking for someone to speak into my pain and confusion and help me transcend my flesh because it is crying so much more loudly than my spirit right now. This year of starving my flesh and feeding the spirit should have made this easier, but apparently it hasn’t. I feel like Frodo, buckling under the weight of this ring, and my friends have their lives to live. I am making the long and lonely journey with only the Holy Spirit as my companion, and He has been a piss poor companion lately, giving me the silent treatment, letting in all manner of attacks from my prodigal, and basically leaving me to my own devices.

So, help me, my community… my brothers and sisters… give some words of encouragement. Pray for me. Tell me that everything I have said is so wrong and mislead and that I am missing something huge and obvious and clear. Pray that God would grab me by the collar and shake me around and wake me up because the eyes and ears of my heart are flooded in darkness and despair.

God, Father, Daddy, please help me!!!!!

Love is…

How many of us had 1 Corinthians 13 read at our overly-opulent, weddings? How many of us had any clue what those words actually meant while quick stepping through that first dance, shoving cake in each others faces, or preparing to leave for a ridiculously expensive honeymoon in a part of the world where the locals where barely scraping by?

When I said “I do”, I had no thoughts of real “1 Corinthians 13 love”.  I just wanted to have all of my adolescent romantic fantasies fulfilled and have the “security” of knowing that I would no longer have to fear being alone (Insert ironic chuckling here). Eventually, I learned all about 1 Corinthians 13 love, when my wife of 10 years left me for another man at her new job. That’s when I learned that…

 

Love is choosing to be alone when you want desperately to be with someone else just to ease the pain.

Love is spending your every last cent to put off signing a paper you know that God hates.

Love is waiting in obedience for a restoration that may never come.

Love is praying for the soul of someone who wishes you would just disappear.

 

Love is praying every night to be filled with love and forgiveness for the man your wife is in bed with at that moment.

Love is reading to your son and playing Legos when your doubled up in sickness and there’s no one around to care for you or back you up.

Love is choosing to get up and serve God today even He hasn’t brought your helpmate back.

Love is praying and longing for restoration with someone you don’t even know if you like anymore.

 

Love is crying yourself to sleep because you haven’t held your daughter in 6 days.

Love is hating your very life but refusing to quit because you live for God, your prodigal spouse and your kids.

Love is praying for your in-laws, who have turned on you without cause.

Love is walking two acres in the snow and wind to dig out your car and warm it up to take your son to school.

 

Love is living out the “better or worse ’til death do us part stuff” even when your spouse is not.

Love is smiling to your colleagues who think you are insane and saying “God’s got this” when you want break down sobbing.

Love is hanging on and hanging in when you want to run and hide.

Love is standing in gap.

 

Love, Obedience, and being tired…

Thoughts from a recent conversation

*I will continue to obey, even though I am tired

I am tired of having an adversarial relationship with my wife, tired of feeling like I’m losing everything important to me, tired of feeling like I’m as much a failure as a parent as I am as a husband, and tired of failing to hit the mark so often. Heck, I don’t even want to face the day anymore… I live in dread of the next text or email. I want off of this train, but where would I go? I worry that God won’t restore me or kill me and I’ll just have to keep going. Living out our faith definitely seems harder than dying for it. Still, I will serve Him and trust him. I will trust that He is a loving father and not some twisted sadist, enjoying chips and dip while our tragic lives play out.

I have to trust that there is some purpose to this mess and that it is not just random pointless pain and suffering at the whims of Satan and his minions, entirely out of God’s control to stop. I have to believe that He cares. I have to believe that he is at work. If I don’t, I’ll snap. I’ll utterly lose all touch with humanity. I need God. I need Him to hold me together. I could use some serious prayers to stay out of the slough of despond. I spend far too much time lately looking like a hapless victim to everyone. That’s not a good witness to anyone. The truth is, I’m starting to hate myself, so I really need to know that He loves me… I really need to know that, even if I’m not sure that I really love Him… The thing is, that we’re commanded to love him.

I’m trying to love Him… I’m not sure I ever did… I obey Him, and I try to serve Him, and I talk to Him almost every moment I can spare part or most of my brain to do so. I read His word. I listen to sermons almost non-stop… I don’t sing though… I haven’t really felt like praising Him since my wife left. Am I holding a grudge against God? Am I holding my praises hostage? I don’t know… the praising, loving part of me just feels dead… like a lump of cold clay. I refuse to give up on my God, and I cry out to Him every day… I just feel guilty for not feeling any love for Him…

4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place (Revelation 2:4-5).

I know that God has this… I know that He is in control… I just wish I felt it. I trust Him. I wait upon Him. I cry out to Him, but do I love Him? A fellow stander recently expressed what many of us have been feeling inside, “I miss feeling.. important… special…. noticed…” That got me wondering if that’s how God feels about me. I wonder if that’s why this is all happening. I wish I could make my heart love Him, but I worry that want to love Him just so he will end this pain and heal my family. I’m questioning everything… I am not willing to turn on God for a moment, but maybe that’s only because I know the other team loses in a big way. Is that love, or is it totally selfish and self-serving self-preservation?

Likely, though, loving God has very little to do with warm fuzzies. It probably has a lot more to do with trust and obedience… mainly obedience… So, I will continue to obey, even though I am tired

* These are thoughts removed and cleaned up from a conversation I had recently with some fellow standers with whom I have found community. In looking back over the conversation, I realized that others may benefit from being included in this conversation. So, I posted it here. This is also an explanation of why I have been so silent lately…

Survival Supplies

Here’s the stuff that I have been consuming to help me survive this week. Enjoy:

Sermons etc.

Scriptures

Proverbs 3:5-6 New International Version (NIV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.[a]

Psalm 91 (emphasis added)
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Identity Crisis pt. 2: Dreams, schemes, and recurring themes

Back in June, I posted a poem, called Identity Crisis. I am certainly in a different place now than I was then, but the first stanza still applies to my life to a certain extent:

I don’t know what to do.

I don’t know where to go.

I don’t know what to say.

I don’t know how to act.

Honestly, I don’t know who to be.

Dreams

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Dreams, hopes, aspirations, or one’s calling tend to be one of the primary motivating factors in one’s life. It is our “dreams” that keep us going, that help us get out of bed in the morning, and keep us out of Pilgrim’s slough of despond. As standers, I would guess that most of us, like myself, were cruising along in life near the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy. We were thinking about our career and family goals or perhaps even seeking God about how He intended to use us in a bigger way. Then it hit, like an atomic bomb or category 5 hurricane, wrecking our life and knocking us down to the middle or bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy. Our one-flesh partner said, “I don’t love you anymore” and went to live with someone else. Maybe they filed for divorce and are even going after the children and their half of all you own. At best we’re now operating somewhere between belonging and esteem, but we’re most likely between safety and belonging. This is true particularly if you face financial difficulties and / or a custody battle.

Maybe it’s wrong or shallow, but I’ve been crying out to God for something with which to replace my dreams. I just feel so despondent. I’m not excited about life anymore. There is so much monotony and the things I used to really look forward to about this time of year are all wrecked and demolished and mired in intrigue and scheming and satanic machinations. I spent more than half of my life wanting to escape reality. The last six years I have loved my life. I have embraced reality, and have for that brief season been very very happy. Now I find nothing but the desire to escape again. I just want some positive goals… something more than survive, hope for restoration, avoid losing my children, and avoid financial ruin.

I want to “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14), but I’ve lost sight of the goal. What is the goal? What is my goal? This is so simple yet so elusive. I am trying desperately to, as Paul says in Romans 12 to offer my body as a living sacrifice, so I may be transformed by the renewing of my mind. Then I will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will… the goal to win the prize…

Schemes

My life is no longer proactive, but rather reactive. I find myself spending every day wondering when the next email or text message is going to come in that I must react to. Not only is the enemy keeping my wife in the far country with another man, but he’s actively using her as a tool to reap further destruction. Daily I face a new scheme to separate me from our children, give me some new legal of financial hoop to jump through, or complain that I have not met some expectation or responsibility that she arbitrarily made up for me to do.

Is this what my life is to be about, Lord? Am I to live in a constant state of reaction to negative situations? How long can I keep this up? Not long without Your strength. I need my daily bread, Lord. I need you to show up and help me. I’m being beaten into the floor over here. HELP ME!

Recurring Themes

So, I find myself mired in recurring themes, or as the Bible would call them, curses. My dad committed suicide when I was in elementary school, and I grew up with challenge after challenge. Even Christmas, a magical time for many children was bittersweet and somewhat empty. By the time I was getting beyond that, I received the gift of a step-father who wanted nothing to do with me and caused me to live in constant fear and rejection until I left home at 18.

Now I get to feel those feelings of rejection and inadequacy surrounding the Holidays all over again from my one-flesh partner, who has essentially said, “I wish you were dead”. I also get to watch my children struggle to understand what is going on. One of my favorite pastors to watch on Youtube, Derek Prince, describes this phenomenon both here and in his book, Blessing or Curse: You Can Choose, as:

a long, evil arm stretched out from the past. It rests upon you with a dark, oppressive force that inhibits the full expression of your personality. You never feel completely free to be yourself. You sense that you have potential within you that is never fully developed. You always expect more of yourself than you are able to achieve. Or again, that long, evil arm may have the effect of tripping you up as you walk. Your way seems clear before you, but from time to time you stumble—yet you cannot see what it was you stumbled over. For some uncanny reason, the moments at which you stumble are those when you are within reach of attaining some long-sought goal. Yet your goal eludes you.

What to do?

So the solution is both simple and miserably difficult at the same time. Seeking a stronger relationship with God, waiting on Him, and trying to spend more time with Him will ultimately:

  1. become a goal to focus on and cause me to thirst for more.
  2. strengthen me to face many trials.
  3. give me hope and increase my faith.
  4. give me confidence and power to rebuke the spirits of fear, despair, and heaviness.
  5. help me to trust God to take away the curse.

Great! We solved the problem. Problem solved! WRONG!

It’s not so easy to cultivate a stronger relationship with God, seeking Him, waiting on Him, and trying to spend more time with Him in prayer, reading the Word, and just sitting in His presence. It takes time and strength and discipline and perseverance. I’ve also found that no matter how often I ask, He won’t just give me warm squishy feelings for Him. I would love to be able to wake up with that “I’m in love” feeling again. It would be even better from God, who will never leave me nor forsake me. Unfortunately, a thirst for God requires cultivation. He won’t just give me a thirst for Him.

Instead, I wake up feeling rejected and empty. I go to do a job that I really love, working with people I really love, while being constantly haunted by empty the feeling that I am ultimately rejected by the one person for whom I care more than any other in the world. Meanwhile, I spend my day in fear of the next text message or the next email and what it will mean I have to do, face, or fight. That’s the enemy’s plan. Keep me focused on the circumstances… keep me reacting… keep me in despair and fear.

Fighting Back

So, I imagine that I can choose to fight back or give up. The enemy wants me to give up, and as attractive as that looks right now, I don’t want to give him the satisfaction. So, how do I fight back? I feel like I spend nearly all of my spare time, listening to or reading the Bible, listening to audio and video sermons, and praying through. I quote scriptures to the enemy, I proclaim scriptures to my empty house, and I remind God of his promises in scripture. I fast and pray. Still I struggle. What must I do?

I guess I need to crucify my flesh. I need to give up on searching for any fulfillment outside of Him, and I need to give up on the distractions that come my way. I need to make the hard decisions that it’s not okay to spend an inordinate amount of time playing video games, watching movies, practicing martial arts or thinking about any things that do not edify me. I need to force myself to open my mail. I need to reach out to the people who will really pray for me and let them know that I am not a spiritual giant. I am struggling. I am drowning. I need to be lifted up. I need to be ministered to. Maybe I need to fast and pray for God to open my heart, reveal Himself more, and help me to hear and know Him, rather than fasting for a laundry list of needs.

Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe I’m not. Maybe I just need to relax, trust, and obey. All I know is this is getting more heavy by the day, and I need more of Him.