despair

There your heart will be also (Moving)

As I load the van a second time today,

I realize that moving, for one like me,

Is just transporting the debris of my broken life

from one place to another and then hiding

it from myself.

 

This load goes to the landfill.SOLID WASTE AUTHORITY-2

My daughter’s crib can go.

Why did I keep that?

A box of carefully packed framed photos

of the wedding.

 

I will see the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living…

Some kids toys that didn’t fit in this house

ended up becoming squirrel habitat

in the shed.

 

Oh, God, why didn’t you kill me

three years ago when I was blissfully ignorant??

I know I shouldn’t treasure anything

in this life, but my family

was a treasure.

 

I don’t want to do this anymore.

I don’t want to be alone.

I’m sick of helping people.

I’m sick of my fake surreal life.

I want out.

 

Where is my breakthrough?

I’m trying to come to terms

with your bringing everything to term.

I don’t know what’s going on in this womb of despair.

I just want out.

 

God, I hate my life. I hate it.

I know you’re in this, somewhere.

I know you have a plan,

or I wouldn’t still be here.

Any hints?

 

I take another walk down the roadIMG_4689

that crosses behind my house.

I look out across the fields through tears

at farms of people I don’t know.

I cry and snot…

 

I’m shouting at You in the middle of the road,

out across the fields.

If anyone is around I’m sure they think I’m crazy.

Maybe I am.

Maybe…

 

Three tissues weren’t enough for this walk.

I’d better return to the house.

It’s not home. I’m homeless now.

Any house without a helpmate

is not home.

 

Daddy, I know you’re a jealous cuss.

I know you don’t want me to want this

near as strongly as I do.

But you can’t hold me at night or fall asleep

drooling on my chest.

 

I’m tired. I hate this. I hate me.

Everything is so gray and tasteless.

I can’t even sleep anymore.

Won’t you at least let me sleep??

Help me!

 

God, I hate moving…

 

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Nearly 2:00 am

A Prayer…

IMG_4676Well, God, it is 1:58 am, and I can’t sleep. I’ve asked You for sleep, but You’re not giving me sleep for whatever reason. I got on my knees and prayed. Maybe I’m supposed to be praying for someone…

I ended up sitting in the middle of my bedroom floor crying. If You want to have a conversation, then here we go. I hate my life! I hate it so so much. I just want it to get better! I want out of this depressing in-between place where nothing seems right and everything seems gray and dull and meaningless.

I’m dating someone really great… Thank you for bringing her into my life, and I hope that that goes somewhere. She’s pretty non-committal, though, and she doesn’t have very much time to devote to spending time with me. Is this just one more person who is passing the time with me waiting for something better to come along? I can’t take much more of that.

The wife of my youth is now officially married, with the name-change and all, so don’t talk to me about standing and restoration. That ship has sailed and You didn’t do a damn thing about it. So, I’m asking You to bring me into something new. I’d like it if you would bless and grow the relationship I’m in now, if it is a relationship…

Honestly, I just want to hold someone and be held in return! I want my help-mate! My life is not “very good”. It’s very not good. It’s ugly and empty and broken and sad and lonely and I hate hate hate it so bad!

Why, God, did You not just kill me three years ago when I was blissfully enjoying my life? I even remember telling You that I was so happy that You could take me out right then. You didn’t. You left me in this world to experience more pain than I ever thought was possible. You know me. You are supposed to love me! You know how much I hate being alone! You know how much pain I’m in right now! Daddy, if you love me, why won’t you help me?  I know that sometimes we need discipline and challenge and trials to grow, but we need love and tenderness and gifts of love too! I feel like an abused, neglected child. It has been two and a half years!

Help me! Show up! Did You forget about me, over here in the corner, crying my guts out? Oh Father, have mercy on me! Help me! If nothing else, just let me sleep! I keep proclaiming that “I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13).

I will wait upon you. I’m trying to be strong. I’m trying to take heart. Father, I’m waiting for a breakthrough. You know what I want. I know You have a plan and You know what’s best, but I am in a lot of pain right now. This doesn’t feel like Your best.

Help me! I want out of this in-between place! Help me!

In Jesus Name,

Amen

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.

7 out of 18 ain’t bad… well it is bad…

I recently re-read Bob Stienkamp’s devotional entitled “18 Signs that something is happening“. Turns out, I’m currently rocking seven out of 18 to some degree or another. That should be encouraging or uplifting, but it’s not. In fact, I’ve felt like it’s been 11:59 for about two months now, and I’m really starting to run backwards, rather than even crawl forwards.7out18

You feel like giving up. The enemy will make you think nothing is happening and nothing will ever change.

I am certainly here. More than any of these other signs, this one is manifesting itself powerfully in my life. I feel like my hopes and dreams for a better future have shriveled up and died inside me and my heart is becoming harder and more cold and lifeless each day. I am still standing, but it’s like a routine. I’m going through the motions, but on the inside I have retired. I’ve stopped praying for miracles and have started to simply plead for relief from the daily onslaught of fresh attacks. I know that as Christians we have the freedom that comes with not having to fear death, but I fear life. I fear loneliness. I fear years of perpetual pain, rejection, and isolation. I haven’t even seen a Covenant truck in months. I feel like its just over for me, like I missed some turn I was supposed to take and I’ll never leave this valley. So I just need to find a half decent place to settle down here, while my Shepard steps out to tend the rest of the flock.

People are constantly reminding you about your mate’s free will and how you have grounds for divorce.

As my prodigal finds new ways to attack me every month, legally, financially, and through custody challenges, my friends not only remind me that I can sign the divorce paper any day, but also that I can counter sue for fault divorce. After all, they say, she left you for another man, and now she is taking you to the cleaners. After all, I am the wronged party. They want to know why I am continuing to allow her to have the upper hand.

People tell you God wants you to be “happy.” In truth, God is a lot more concerned about your holiness than He is about your happiness. He also cares about your mate’s lost condition.

Everyone has someone for me. They’re sick of watching the slow train wreck that is my life without doing anything to improve my circumstances. I am desperately lonely and worse I have a strong spirit of rejection hanging from my neck like a leech. I don’t want a mate near as much as I want someone to want me, to like me, or just to not hate me and treat me like dirt. My own rebellious heart is telling me that God wants you to be “happy”, during my better moments. During my worse moments, it tells me that God wants me to be “miserable,” so I can be more like Christ, and I despise Him for it.

You can see no way out of specific circumstances, such as financial problems. Remember, God works best when nothing else will.

I’m literally being destroyed. My prodigal is making sure that I am financially beaten down in every way. I can no longer see a means out of the hole that I am in, other than a miracle of God. At one point, I was standing for restoration. I was standing for my wife’s soul. I was standing for the family of our children. I was standing for the Glory of God’s name. Now I’m standing for survival. I’m standing because when it’s all said and done I want to know: Does obedience really bring blessing, or is His Word as fallible as everyone says it is? Is He omnipotent or impotent? I have no other hope left. If God isn’t who He says He is, then I am doomed to a life of poverty and loneliness.

You are tempted to take off your wedding ring.

This is happening a lot more lately… Okay, it’s happening every day. I feel like Frodo, buckling under the weight of it. I cannot stand up under any more legal fees. I do not understand why my wife, my helpmate for so many years wants to destroy me so badly. She left me for another, and I am suffering the consequences. I cannot face this vast army. I no longer have the mental, emotional, or financial capacity to defend myself. If God does not show up now in a big way, I will be financially ruined. I’m not sure I will have a place to live next month. So, do I feel a great desire to proclaim my devotion to a covenant with someone who wants to destroy me? My human nature wants to fight back. My flesh wants to run into the arms of anyone who will love me and tell me it will be okay. I shouldn’t need a woman for that, but my comforter is apparently on vacation this year. So, I find myself wanting to pocket this ring every time I find myself in a room containing available females who might make me feel like a person if they came up and spoke to me.

You mistakenly start to view your local church as a hindrance to restoration. Satan may give you fear over how your returned prodigal would fit in. Your pastor may come out against marriage restoration. The returned spouse and their church relationship is one of the many areas that God can and does heal for restoring families. Right now, you need the love and support of a church family.

Since I began my stand, despite support from my head pastor, my spiritual director, and most of those closest to me, I have at times seen my church as an apostate, seeker sensitive Sunday Show, serving up cool aid Christianity to the myriad adulterous couples seated around me. My spouse said she never felt connected or accepted there when she left me. I have visited the local AOG church in hopes of finding more “spirit filled” believers. I have made friends at a local Mennonite church in hopes of finding a smaller, closer community of believers, but my church is my church. If I cut ties with that community, what do I have left?

In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat was able to proclaim a fast for all of Judah. I do not have Judah. I have my church. I have my friends to call on. In a lot of ways, I have found that my church, the body of Christ for me is actually my immediate circle of brothers, mostly from my church, but some not, who hold me up, support me, keep me accountable, and love me through listening and helping with the mundane tasks of my life.

Prayer partners may be removed. There came a time in Charlyne’s stand, near the day of our remarriage and before the Internet, when my wife’s personal prayer partner moved out-of-state. God was telling my wife that she needed to depend on Him, not others.

Everyone has a life, and it seems like everyone’s life has them right now. My strongest prayer partners will stand with me for a season and be removed by tragedy, other interests, bouts with depression, and even trials and temptations. It seems I am constantly reaching out to someone new to stand with me and relying on people from many different parts of my life. Prayer partners burn out. Honestly, I feel like a lot of folks are still praying for me, but many have stopped praying for my prodigal. Despite supporting my stand, they’ve given up on her. Many of them say to “give her over”. They don’t realize that despite the hurt and the pain and daily attacks coming in from her, saying, “give her over” is like telling the spouse of someone with cancer to “just shoot her and put her out of her misery.” They mean well, but… “give her over to her sin and let Satan have her?”

You are tempted to make major changes in your own life. It could be reclaiming your maiden name or changing the door locks on your home for no reason. Whatever you are considering doing, it would say to your prodigal spouse, “It’s over!”

In some ways, I don’t have a choice. I have to move. I have to give up our marital home because I cannot afford to buy my prodigal spouse out of it.

Honestly, I’m ready to sign. I know that is a choice. I’m tired of being hurt with something new every week. Despite what I said above, I’m a little bit ready to “give her over”. I am such a contrary mess. What it all comes down to, is in my selfishness, I want a companion. I want a partner to hold me and tell me it is going to be okay. I want to be loved not hurt. I want to be wanted not hated and despised. I want to be valued and cherished and desired.

You sense a certain uneasiness in your spirit. Where you had once started growing in the Lord as a stander, you now feel something indescribable in your life. Some people confuse God wanting them to intensify their stand with Him, with God wanting them to give up on their stand for a healed home.

How about, I feel spiritually dead. 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 the pain is killing me. Each day for the last month I’ve become a more hardhearted rebellious and despicable person.

Is that an uneasiness in spirit? I hate my life, and I don’t want to live this way anymore. I’m tired of proclaiming His greatness when He wont be my genie and give me what I want!

I’d like to stop at seven…

I don’t think I can take any more. Honestly, I could totally go for:

Satan sends a counterfeit into your life. Just when things are the bleakest, Mr. Right or Miss Perfect arrives. Some standers make the mistake of thinking, “This must be of God because we are so perfectly suited for each other.” Counterfeits always look better than the real thing.

Of course, that won’t be the card I’ll pull. I’m not even going to say out loud the one that would destroy me. Everything else I’ve ever told God I could never take He has done to me in the space of a year and a half. I really don’t need any more. I can barely convince myself that getting out of bed in the morning is a good idea. Honestly, I cry out to God every morning to give me the strength to get up and face the day because I don’t want to do it any more.

The 11th hour…

I know that His timing is perfect and He’s known for coming in the 11th hour and changing everything in an instant. Well, it feels like 11:59 for me. Something has to give before I do.

Pray for me.

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!!!!!

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.