adultery

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”.

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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.

Another wrinkle

Brothers, fellow male standers, this is for you. I recently “found” this series… okay, I’ve come across it about 30 times over the last year, but didn’t want to listen to it. I always had a reason not to. It didn’t apply to me, etc.  A couple of night ago, I felt lead to listen to it, but I played video games until midnight and fell asleep in the first 5 minutes of the talk. The next night, I tried to listen and again, I fell asleep. Last night I listened, and was amazed at what I heard. Brothers, I am anxious to hear your thoughts on this. Please listen, particularly to parts one and two, embedded below. Parts three and four a linked.

I do not know whether I was lead to listen to this or mislead to listen to this. I don’t know exactly what to come away from this with, but I do know that my wife is still trying to dominate my life even though she has been living with another man for over a year.

I’m not looking to have anyone burned at the stake here. I just have a new way to pray. Whether mislead or not, I am praying against the spirit of witchcraft and its influence over my family. I’m interested in your thoughts on this, brother standers. Does this ring true in your experience? Does this seem like pure insanity? Is it somewhere in between?

Embracing Gods’ Best

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

So, I’ve been struggling lately to embrace God’s best. Somewhere along the line, I made the decision to follow Christ, having no idea what that really meant. No one tells you when you sign up for this gig that this means taking up our cross daily, that we will face many trials, and that a lot of them are going to come into our life as a part of God trying to make us more like Christ. The goal is, of course, being used for the kingdom. Apparently if we have anything in this world that we love more than being used for the kingdom, then God loves us too much to allow that to continue.

Léon Bonnat [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When I first began this stand, I read and listened to a lot of Charlyne Stienkamp, which allowed me to pin this suffering squarely on “the enemy”, Satan and his minions. I read and listened to a lot of Derek Prince. I learned about generational curses and spiritual warfare. Finally, I began to get turned onto the teaching of Charles Stanley. None of these teachers contradict each other, and they all are very well-grounded scripturally. It was when I began to listen to Stanley, though, that I began to realize that while I may have active curses in my life, while I am facing a spiritual battle, while the enemy is attacking my marriage and my family, God is still sovereign. NONE OF THIS HAS COME INTO MY LIFE WITHOUT HIM ALLOWING IT.

  • My spouse’s adultery – allowed by God.
  • This steamroller of a divorce – allowed by God.
  • My wife’s frequent attempts to take our kids away from me – allowed by God.
  • My current financial distress – allowed by God.
  • Every daily attack that comes in (and I mean daily now) – allowed by God.

Why? Apparently this is somehow making me into the man He wants me to be — the man He can use. To get some context of where this is coming from, perhaps you should listen to these messages:

I know that God brings growth and wisdom through pain and suffering. I know that he is looking for my complete surrender. At some point, though, pruning turns into cutting and eventually destroying. I’ve experienced so much growth over this last year and now it’s turned 180°. Now rather than growing me, I feel that the pain is killing me. Each day, for the last two months I’ve become a more hardhearted rebellious and despicable person. While I was approaching my prodigal spouse and her non-covenant partner with love and forgiveness, now I find myself struggling to even look at them.

Meanwhile, I am beginning to have little tolerance for Christian-Kool-Aid-euphemisms, like “His timing is perfect” or how “He loves me too much to let me say in the situation that I was in: being happy in the world”… That doesn’t feel like love it feels like sadism. I’m so glad that my life is allowed to suck so that I can join in His sufferings become more like Him… or so bitter that I want to jump off a bridge and set myself on fire. Before you arrange an intervention, NO, I AM NOT TURNING MY BACK ON GOD. I’m simply asking some hard questions.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to be obedient and I want to finish strong. I don’t want to become embittered and fall away. Still with every new beating and every new attack, I’m starting to lose my zeal to bring Glory to His name… In fact I feel a little bit like an idiot; the world’s biggest joke, even bringing it up.

I know it’s selfish. I know it’s incredibly self-centered. I know there are so many people in this world that have it so much worse than me. Still, I hate my very life. Honestly, I don’t want to do this anymore. This doesn’t feel like living. It’s like I’m only living a partial existence, walking around half-dead. After all a big piece of me has been ripped away, and I’m just walking around letting the wound hang open and fester. At least the world’s prescription would patch up the hole little bit and stop the bleeding. Additionally, I get to experience a new wound every week thanks to how much my stand angers my prodigal spouse.

When it all comes down to it, it doesn’t matter whether it’s free will, spiritual warfare, or just the insanity of a broken world. If God is omnipotent and omniscient, then nothing happens that is outside of his control. I can whine all I want to, but He is going to do whatever he wants to do anyway. So, pray for me while I try to buckle down, embrace God’s best, and hope that the second coming is scheduled this quarter.

And I know that in all things, God works for the good (from His perspective) of those who love Him (more than His blessings), who have been called according to his purpose, whether it suits them or not. God is in control. I am not.

God bless, let’s be careful out there.

The supernatural, the mundane, and relational strain

The supernatural…

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Some rights reserved by hickory hardscrabble

My relationship with God has been under a lot of strain lately. I know this is common to man in general, but the last month or so has been a doozy. I told God that I need restoration soon or some supernatural dispensation of Holy Spirit power. 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. 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. Further, a friend recently had me watch this brief talk by Brennan Manning, where he espouses the need to believe that God, in fact, loves us. Honestly, I want to believe that. I know it, intellectually, but I just don’t believe it. Manning points out that this is likely a function of my gloom, pessimism, low self-esteem, self-hatred, and despair, which in the context of my circumstances is understandable.

So, my regular readers will know that I struggle a lot with this whole Baptism of the Holy Spirit / Gifts of the Spirit thing, often wondering if I am missing something in my faith and my walk. Perhaps I listen to too much Derek Prince and Jim Cymbala. The problem is, I keep hearing preacher after preacher and scholar after scholar, men for whom I have great respect, say that this is for every believer and that God will freely give it.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)

So does the fact that I’m not “filled with the Holy Spirit”, as in I’m not displaying the overflow in any manifestations of the spiritual whatsoever a sign that…

  • I am not really a child of God?
  • I am deficient in some serious way?
  • I am in the midst of some sever disobedience that is blocking the Spirit’s work?
  • my life is still under a curse that is blocking me from receiving the blessing?
  • this is not true, not really Biblical or has somehow been grossly misinterpreted?

The mundane…

Honestly, God shows up in my life a lot. An old friend bought tires for my car recently. I find myself put in numerous situations to extend the love of Christ, from my many chance encounters at Walmart to old ladies along the road to broken down cars in the library parking lot. I constantly have opportunity to share and I receive the most astonishing reactions. A friend and mentor of mine pointed out recently that perhaps I am missing the fact that I am more likely to experience God in the “mundane” than in the “supernatural”. Okay, I get that. I understand that most of my life is made up of the mundane. Yet, I am supposed to live and walk in the spirit, to keep my eyes on the things above, and to live according to the Spirit. Further, I am supposed to be serving a dead-raising, sun-stopping, sea-parting, multitude-feeding, heart-softening, never-changing God. If He doesn’t change, then, presumably, He’s still working through supernatural power today, just as he was in the Bible.

When I focus on the mundane, on that which I perceive through my senses, then all I have is the flesh. The mundane is my court-appointed co-parenting workshop, whose underlying message or theme, which can be summed up in the following statements, two of which were overtly stated and the others frequently implied.

  • Your spouse is never coming back.
  • Emotionally mature people grieve the loss and get someone new.
  • You need to detach from your spouse as quickly as possible because they’re never coming back.
  • Divorce can be very positive if you would just accept it and move on.
  • This is no one’s fault and is very normal.

In the mundane, I feel totally beaten down, rejected, and unworthy. I desperately need the supernatural. That’s why I am here, in the sheepfold. I didn’t sign up for this gig to have friendly folks to hang out with on a Sunday morning.

I can’t seem to get my eyes off of the mundane, lately. There was a time, when this all started, that I could see the big picture from God’s perspective. In October, I was providing encouragement, embracing the radical nature of my stand, and focusing past my discomfort. Now, I feel lonely, tired, rejected, lonely, attacked, abandoned, and lonely. Did I mention lonely? Further, thanks to this dry spell in terms of the Spirit, or the supernatural if you will, I feel not only rejected by my spouse but also by the God of the universe. I begin questioning whether or not I am destined to be used for the purposes of God by simply being a tragic footnote in the pages of history, like Esau or Jonah… someone who should be after God’s heart but is just missing it in some profound way.

In the mundane, I’m starting to loathe and fear the woman my wife has become. This person I’m standing for, out of obedience to God and love for her, is beginning to become a stumbling block to my daily walk. As I receive more and more attacks and the attorney fees mound beyond what I can hope to pay, I have to expend more and more emotional and spiritual energy every day, on my knees before God, praying for help to forgive, to love, and to cherish. Every event for our children becomes an additional turn of the screw as my prodigal spouse tries to push me further out of their lives. My spirit cries out in excruciating pain when I see the OM embrace our children as though they were his, when they tell me that mommy said they could call him “daddy”, and when I see my whole extended family sitting with them while I sit off somewhere else on my own.

The bottom line is, if God doesn’t show up in the supernatural soon and I am left with only the mundane to sustain me, then I cannot stand. I cannot do this in the flesh. This is not possible in the mundane. A friend of mine often says that the enemy wants us dead, insane, or incarcerated, and I can see those as viable possibilities in the life of a stander without some supernatural dispensation of Holy Spirit power. Let’s be honest, do this is not natural, and it certainly is not mundane.

Relationship strain

So, as I said earlier, my relationship with God has been under a lot of strain lately. I know that I need to navigate this valley in obedience to Him, open to what He is trying to teach me. I know He is with me. I know that He loves me and wants the “best” for me. I “know” these things, but left to the mundane, it is difficult to feel these truths through the pain, struggle, and exhaustion of daily life. Maintaining a long obedience through this valley in the absence of supernatural strength and the promised “peace that passes understanding“, is tiring to say the least.

I find myself walking through the store, looking at every woman in my age range, not wearing a wedding ring and thinking, “Father, why am I doing this for a woman who has rejected me?” On the weekend when my whole family is with the other man, and I have no one, I find myself alone and often end up turning to an online game for community… I have struggled with this… a lot. I have deleted this game three or four times and repented of even liking it. I have given it up, reinstalled it, and gone whole weekends doing nothing else. I feel like a failure and a fake. I feel like I’m supposed to be stronger than this. I feel like I was never a real Christ follower to begin with.

If I really loved and trusted my Lord, I wouldn’t be so caught up in what I lack, paralyzed by the fear of my “lonely” future, or so self-focused in general. I wouldn’t be upset that I haven’t seen a covenant truck in two months. I want to be focused, serving, obedient, and serene, like Paul was, but I feel like this valley is causing me to regress rather than grow. I just want to throw a childish temper tantrum at the foot of the cross. There’s a ridiculous image for you. I know that this distance and this strain is my fault, but I don’t know how to get beyond it without some supernatural dispensation of Holy Spirit power. Simply pulling myself up by my bootstraps isn’t working.

Somebody pray for 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!!!!!

Expectations, Walmart, and The God of the Universe

I arrived home this evening from work, and I was immediately struggling. I was struggling with depression, anxiety, and obedience. I did not want to be struggling, and I did not want to give in. So, presently, I decided to “move”. I have found that if I stay in one place when struggling, I’ll continue to struggle until I fail in some profound way, sometimes even lashing out at God. I called a friend, and he invited me to a bar to play pool. I turned him down. I’m convinced that a bar, even with Christian friends is no place for a stander.

Some rights reserved by Paul L Dineen

Some rights reserved by Paul L Dineen

I decided to do one of my least favorite activities and go to Walmart. It has been a year since my wife left me to live with her non-covenant partner. So, when I have my kids on Resurrection Sunday, I will not be invited to the in-laws, two minutes down the road, because they have chosen to stand against my stand and side with the adulterous relationship. The result, is that we will not have Easter with Nana and Popop, as usual… Instead, a loving and generous colleague from my place of work and her husband has invited us for dinner. She even sewed pillows for our kids and is making them Easter baskets. Incidentally, I am responsible for crackers and cheese as well as stuffing some eggs. Ergo, off to Walmart.

I hate Walmart… I have nothing against the store itself these days. I hate being in Walmart, seeing couples and families shopping, knowing I am coming home to an empty house. I hate the fact that I used to complain about going to Walmart with my wife. I would like to go back in time and punch myself in the face for that. So, here I am, in Walmart, and I’m struggling still. I’m not getting along with the Holy Spirit particularly well. It has been a year. I have stood. I have prayed. I have fasted from food, media, secular music, and numerous other things. I’ve given up playing video games in obedience. I have prayed and prayed and prayed. Countless friends have prayed and had their friends pray and had their churches pray, and my wife still cannot see beyond that demonic squid on her face. I still love my wife. I still want our family healed. I want to be restored because I don’t want to see her live in sin and rebellion, but honestly, I am not feeling a lot of warm fuzzies for her right now. In fact, I was struggling a few moments in Walmart with the thought of taking my ring off. I never struggle with that. Tonight, I did. I just wanted someone to look at me like I am interesting or worthy of affection. I know that is ridiculous, but there it is.

Standing in the shoe section, picking out some shoes for my daughter, I said under my breath, “No! I am standing! Father, forgive me. Father help me get through this.” That was my expectation. I wanted to survive my trip to the store. Lately, when entering any store, I ask God to put me in “the right place at the right time” and to use me. I did no such thing tonight. I simply wanted to survive until I could become unconscious at home.

Well, God got me through. I finished my shopping. I got in line, and I did not begin to freak out like I normally do in line. There’s a stillness, waiting in line at Walmart. No one is talking to you. You can try to fidget with your phone or look around, but the fact is you are stuck there, with nothing to occupy your mind, facing whatever reality you have found yourself in. I hate going to Walmart, but I despise standing in line there thinking about the life I am living presently… So I pray… Practicing the presence keeps the demons away. I had chosen a line with a tall kid in his early twenties. He looked unhappy. I thought, that’s my line. I don’t know why I thought this… It just was there. When it was my turn, I broke protocol by preempting the his hello with, “how are you?” I don’t know why I said this. I didn’t particularly care how he was at the moment.

He said, “well, I am alive and breathing, so I suppose that that beats the alternative..”

I, being so self-absorbed in my pity party, cleverly responded with, “Well, that is debatable. I often think I would quite prefer the alternative.”

“Well”, he said, “I’m not so sure. I’d like to think there might be something on the other side, but I really have no idea.”

At this point, I am screaming at God, on the inside. Father, I’m not ready for this!! I didn’t ask to be used tonight! How on earth did I fall into a conversation about this cashier’s eternal life??? What are you doing, God? I feel like a bumbling idiot here! On the outside, I am fumbling desperately with a response. While sliding my card in the kiosk, I pick the conversation back up with, “well I know that there is something in store for me that beats the heck out of my current circumstances.”

“Well”, he said, “That sounds promising, but if there isn’t, though, I’m okay with that. That will be 64 dollars and 98 cents.”

So, I left. I apologized to God profusely for doing such an insanely poor job of representing Him. I asked the Holy Spirit to intervene and work on that man despite my poor performance. I put my groceries in the trunk of my car and went around to the front seat. There, on top of my prayer journal were two tickets to the local Assembly of God Church’s Easter service. This was one of those moments when there was no point in arguing. Sometimes the Spirit speaks to your heart. Sometimes, though, it just gives your heart that look… that look that says, you know what to do, and if you make me spell it out I’m gonna slap you. So back in, I went, tickets in hand. He was very busy with other customers, but he turned my direction as I walked up. I said nothing profound or clever. I simply handed him the tickets and said, “These, sir, are for you.” I turned and walked out. I am no evangelist, but I am trusting that the Holy Spirit can work even in the context of my ineptitude.

So, once again, God exceeded my expectations. He used me despite of myself, and I left Walmart crying and feeling awestruck, foolish, and overwhelmed with His mercy, grace and goodness.

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.

 

Trying…

Father, I’m trying to be obedient…

to “wait upon” you.

to stand strong.

Give me the strength

to learn what I must.


I hurt today…

more than I have in a long time.

I’m tired… so tired.

I feel inept to this task,

and I don’t seem to be growing.


I should be more mature.

I shouldn’t want to escape

or hide in a hole.

Why is it so hard to do simple things,

like open my mail?


Why does every decision seem

to pit my heart against my wallet?

How long, oh Lord…

how long?

Come quickly.


I would have broken down and lost it by now,

unless I really believed

That I would see the goodness of the Lord

In the land of the living.

So, I wait…


Forgive my impatience.

Forgive my selfish heart.

You seek growth…

while I long for comfort.

Help me hold on.


I’m trying…

some days more than others.

My focus is all off.

It hasn’t even been a year…

and already I struggle.

Encouragement for the hurting Stander

Are you literally sick of life?

Do you practically hate everything?

Are you sick of crying your eyes out?

Burned out on prayer and seeking God?

Buck up, Cupcake?

bootstrappyNo, this is not going to be a shallow, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, Romans 8:28 pep rally. You are hurting. I know that I can tell you that God keeps His promises. I can tell you that Christ paid the ultimate price so that you you will not ever have a “Gethsemane”. I can even talk to you about how loved you really are by the God of the universe. I know that none of that matters right now. You are hurting. Like me, you probably go from being encouraged by great testimonies of marriage restoration, to being devastated and depressed by stories of long dismal unresolved stands. Sometimes, even restoration stories are frankly disheartening at best. Dennis Wingfield, for example probably wouldn’t trade his testimony for anything, but I find it to be the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard.

You are lonely. You have been rejected by your one-flesh partner. The person you have been the most vulnerable with in the whole world is playing house with someone else, and often acting like God is okay with that. You may even be questioning whether or not God is okay with that. After all, He sure isn’t doing a darn thing about it! Maybe you have had enough “false hope” moments to know God doesn’t always come through.

Be Encouraged… no really.

Okay, maybe He won’t come through. Maybe your spouse’s heart his becoming harder and harder. Maybe. I do know a few things that may encourage you, though.

First, God is NOT okay with this. God definitely does not condone everything He tolerates. Your one-flesh partner is on the highway to hell, but be encouraged. You are not, and you can pray. Pray your lonely, rejected, broken little behind off for your spouse because he or she needs it. There’s no such thing as “fire insurance” Christianity. Even casual, lukewarm Christians make God want to vomit. Imagine how He must feel about those who profess his name and live in abject rebellion to His teaching? Your spouse may not “want” you right now, but he or she “needs” you. If you haven’t organized an elite strike force of prayer warriors to stand in the gap for your spouse’s soul, maybe you should work on that. That’ll give you something to occupy your mind to push out the thoughts of that non-covenant partner who is snuggling with your children like they helped bring them into the world.

…do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[a] 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:4-11)

Second, you are ultimately responsible for you. Seriously, it may not be the most encouraging thought on the surface that someday “God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). I don’t know about you, but that scares the crap out of me. It is good to develop a healthy fear of the Lord. I was talking about this on GHO one night with my friend and fellow stander, Ben. Ben noted that his mom used to say that “God is your friend but He is not your pal”. Someday, we’re all going to stand before God… okay, I really don’t see myself standing unless supernaturally held up. Honestly, I think I’ll be face down before Him, shaking uncontrollably, kneeling in a puddle of my own urine. Put yourself in that spot. At that point, will it matter whether your spouse ever came home or not? No. All that will matter is how faithful you were to whatever God called you to do in the circumstances you found yourself in. Imagine how shallow and pathetic our own words would sound when we say, “but, Lord, I just wanted to be happy… I thought I deserved to be happy.”

Your life has epic meaning…

No really. This one is a little deep, but stay with me on this one. You have been chosen for a special mission of great significance that will save the lives of many others. No, this is not a fantasy novel or an MMORPG. This is what you signed up for when you crossed the line of faith. You want to be a Christian? Welcome to the war. By the way, now that the enemy has attacked your marriage, you can choose to be among the elite who will actually fight, or you can join the other side. It all depends on where your treasure is. This won’t help you most days, particularly when you’re feeling very alone, but there are times, driving in your car when this will hit you… when you think about someday hearing “well done, good and faithful servant”, that this will carry you to new heights that you never thought imaginable.

Now, tame that tongue… and put it to work.

I am tired. I am physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted. I am spent. I am struggling to forgive the other man. I’m even struggling to be near him without fantasies of physically harming him consuming my thoughts. I have to see him regularly, now, holding hands with my wife and touching my children. I am flooded with legal, financial, and relational circumstances. Amidst this daunting context, I am frequently asked, “How is it going?” or “How is everything?” How tempting it is to just unload on whoever asks that question. After all, it’s therapeutic to get it off my chest right? WRONG!

Even if you’ve taken no encouragement from this post… Even if you forget everything I’ve said so far, remember this one thing: Our words have power… so much power. Honestly, I thought my friend Bill was a little over-the-top-happy-feel-good when he first said this to me, but the more I read the Bible… the more I learn about the Power of our words, the more I realize this is true. It is not pop-psychology. It is not foolish optimism. It is power. Speak life over everything. This is a war… a serious serious battle. We are fighting for our lives, our very souls, and those of our spouse… Our mouth holds the Power to give life and fight off the enemy, through praise, proclamation, and scripture… speaking the Word. Let’s use it that way! Are you testifying to God’s glory or His impotence and Satan’s power? What is your mouth doing to you? What is the picture you are giving others of your Lord?

I have come to realize that my enemy’s #1 form of attack is to get me to focus on my circumstances and his #1 weapon is my own mouth… I constantly catch myself giving bad reports to those who ask what is happening and I have to go shut myself in my office and repent, proclaim some imprecatory Psalms, and go try to do better in my next conversation… A fellow stander of mine recently noted that when she opened her mouth with negativity, she was also helping hand over valuable strategic intelligence to the enemy camp.

I really started to see that I was giving Satan step by step instructions on how to hurt me. One day I said- no more! No matter how afraid I am sometimes, I will not give him any power over me. It has made a big difference in my life and my stand (C).

We need to commit to overcoming the enemy with the word of our testimony. We need to commit to making our mouth work for us. I have found that the best thing I can do in bed in the morning when I wake, in bed in the evening before I sleep, in the car, and anytime I’m alone is to proclaim the Word of God. I learned the power of proclamation from Derek Prince, and so far I have to say that he is right on.

So, I leave you with some verses to proclaim today. Please add your own in the comments. I need more.

25 The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze,

and your strength will equal your days.

26 “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,

who rides across the heavens to help you

and on the clouds in his majesty.

27 The eternal God is your refuge,

and underneath are the everlasting arms.

He will drive out your enemies before you,

saying, ‘Destroy them!’ (Deuteronomy 33 25-27)

7 The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. (Deuteronomy 28:7)

8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

33 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. 35 They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.” 36 Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.’ (Ezekiel 36:33-36)

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. If God is for us, who can be against us? 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:28, 31b, 37-39)

I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. (Isaiah 45:2 NIV)

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:12-14 NIV)

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10, 11 NIV)

The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:18 NIV)

no weapon forged against you will prevail,

and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.

This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,

and this is their vindication from me,”

declares the Lord. (Isaiah 54:17)