grief

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

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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”.

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.

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.

Why does my prodigal seem fine?

Some rights reserved by Another Pint Please...

Some rights reserved by Another Pint Please…

Does it ever seem like Job 33:14-22 is happening to you but not your prodigal? My prodigal seems so happy, and I am suffering terribly. How can he / she not feel any of this pain? A fellow stander said to me recently, “I think the most confusing part of it is how one person in the marriage can feel all the pain of separation but the other one seems to feel nothing. It seems like if you are ONE flesh…..it’d be equal pain.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that way.

Yes, there are a lot of testimonies online of returned prodigals that testify to the idea that they do feel pain and conviction but are simply hiding it.

That’s nice to hear, but it doesn’t really answer the question. After all, many of us standers are trying to hide a good portion of our pain for our children or what have you. Still it’s hard to hide real heart pain and even harder to hide 30 some pounds of weight loss.

Leave & cleave / Sever & suffer

4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)

I left home. I moved four hours away. I intertwined my life with my spouse’s family, neighbors, hometown events, annual family vacation, and favorite restaurants; “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Now she is gone… and I’m still here with no “claim” to anything that has been my life for nearly 16 years… She can come and go as she pleases and still “fit in” because blood is thicker than water as they say. Meanwhile, I’m stuck in limbo. My job is here. My friends are here. My church is here. My kids are here… My wife is not. This is the case with many of us. We have not only lost our spouse but much of our day to day life experience. Meanwhile, the prodigal has replaced that experience with sin. We are left with void. Yes, we have God to fill that void, but it’s hard to go on vacation with God or take Him out to eat.

Sin feels good & this one is legal…

Our prodigals also have something to distract them, to fill the void. Sin feels really good. That’s why we sin. They have a non covenant partner to keep them busy, going on dates. They have a little false fantasy life and no real consequences yet. The sin is the prodigal’s, but so far all of the pain and consequences have managed to be shifted to the stander and, quite often, the kids. This is how the pain can be distributed unequally. Also, our legal system tends to favor the prodigal, rather than the stander, so you’re not likely to get any “justice” like victims of most other sins can hope for. You are left entirely to rely upon God. This is a good time to pray scriptures, like Hosea 2:6-7. Pray that God would stop your spouse from being fulfilled by his or her life of sin. Pray that it would be increasingly more empty and meaningless.

For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;
4 but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword. (Proverbs 5:3-4)

7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)

Take consolation

Throughout the Bible, marriage is an example of God and the human race, Christ and the church. Jesus suffered in ways we can’t imagine to take away our sin so we could be in a relationship with Him. Yet, people everywhere are just living their life, enjoying the pleasures of sin without realizing the hurt they cause Him by rejecting Him. Honestly, that’s how I’d been living before I got the wake up call of separation and divorce. Most of us would have to admit the same, I think. Now, we are living the ultimate example of Christ and the prodigal church right now.

Again, this isn’t very encouraging. I know that my life is serving as an example to others, but that doesn’t make me feel better. I really don’t enjoy folks telling me how others are watching my walk. Honestly, I’d rather have my wife back than be an example of Christ’s sufferings. Also, the enemy comes at me with doubt. What if she never comes home? What kind of example am I then? Hey everybody, look at me! I’m an example of how sometimes God lets us hanging… Again, that’s the enemy trying to steal my faith and my hope, but it’s there nonetheless. Meanwhile, our prodigals don’t know they are the ones really missing out on a deep, fulfilling relationship with God because they are deceived by the pleasures of sin. Also, as we’ve read earlier, there’s NO peace for Prodigals. I have to believe that, or I may lose faith. He is seeking them and longing to show them a real relationship. This is how we testify to our sphere of influence what God’s love is really like.

Remember, that Jesus promises to come and make a home with those who obey His teaching. Not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the ones who do the will of God. Further, in the end of the story, victory is only guaranteed to those who overcome (Revelation 2, Revelation 3). The key is to overcome. If we don’t overcome, we are overcome (Derek Prince). That brings me the the passages I despise above all others:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:6-11)

I really don’t like those.

Mowing the lawn & praying the Psalms

photo-2I’ve never been a guy who loves mowing the lawn. Over the last year, I’ve begun to take more pride in getting it done, though. Mainly because I was mowing the lawn of our family home, the place we were supposed to raise our kids and grow old together. We built it in a beautiful setting in the small town my wife grew up in. Now, every time I make another pass and turn back toward this house on the mower, my heart hurts a little bit more. I find myself crying out to God with each pass and soon tears are freely pouring from my eyes that have nothing to do with my allergies.

I find myself crying out loud from the mower, asking God to end the injustice of my circumstances, to rescue me quickly, to save me from being put to shame for my obedience, to give me some direction, to reveal the truth and to destroy the lies and illusions of the enemy. “Come quickly, God, and save me!” I cannot comprehend how the lover of my soul could allow the enemy to use my help mate, my one-flesh spouse, my best friend, and my covenant partner against me so openly and not stop it now…


As a modern Christian, I’ve often struggled with these feelings and how to express them in prayer. The writers of the Psalms did not have such hangups. Incidentally, much of the language I find myself using from the back of the old Wheelhorse, comes directly from the Psalms. If you’re feeling a bit put upon, abandoned, or neglected in your stand tonight. If you’re struggling with how to “get in God’s face” about your pain, your hurt, and your desperation, without sounding ungrateful or snarky, begin by praying the Psalms. Go grab the Message or, better yet, the Remix, and just get on your knees with a box of tissues and go for it.

 

May I recommend the following:
  • Psalm 42 (NIV / MSG)
  • Psalm 43 (NIV / MSG)
  • Psalm 69 (NIV / MSG) I recommend stopping at verse 20, unless you can visualize the real enemy… see below.
  • Psalm 38:9-22 (NIV / MSG)
  • Psalm 70 (NIV / MSG)
Remember, that if you are praying some of the imprecatory Psalms, such as Psalm 69, in their entirety, that your enemies are not your spouse and / or any non-covenant partners. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). If you can visualize the right enemy, go for it. 

Psalm 43 The Message (MSG)1-2 Clear my name, God; stick up for me
against these loveless, immoral people.
Get me out of here, away
from these lying degenerates.
I counted on you, God.
Why did you walk out on me?
Why am I pacing the floor, wringing my hands
over these outrageous people?

3-4 Give me your lantern and compass,
give me a map,
So I can find my way to the sacred mountain,
to the place of your presence,
To enter the place of worship,
meet my exuberant God,
Sing my thanks with a harp,
magnificent God, my God.

5 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
He’s my God.

 

You will notice that in almost all of these Psalms, the writer recognizes at the end the God is still with him and continues to praise. Remember that. Even when it really sucks, and we can’t comprehend the delay, God is still worthy of praise… and probably doing a good deal more behind the scenes for us that we’ll ever know or comprehend.

Struggling to Stand?

from conversations with God and fellow standers.

Bill, intercessory prayer warrior, musician, and writer.

Designed for Bill, intercessory prayer warrior, musician, and writer. Copyright Bill Scott 2014. Check out his web site.

Standing for marriage restoration is hard. We’re people who are mourning the death of our most significant human relationship, yet no one has died. We’re people who have been rejected by the one person to whom we exposed our nakedness and vulnerability. We’re people who have been called to love while often being actively attacked and hurt by the person we love more than any other. The enemy is not content to attack our spouse alone. He desires to see us fall as well, and we struggle a lot with thoughts of despair and hopelessness. We ask questions like,

Do I really believe that with enough faith, a prayer will come to pass?

Does God even care about my situation?

Am I crazy?

Am I wrong; is it perhaps God’s will that my spouse find happiness with this other person?

Does God even have any power or authority in this situation?

What am I doing wrong that this continues?

God, do you at least care about my children??

I believe, and am reminded by everyone that God will take care of me. That is the pat answer we often get from Christian friends who don’t want to commit to anything that may or may not happen. God will take care of me. That might mean He will bring my spouse back, but to most people that means he’ll keep me alive and fed until someone else comes along and I settle for a life with that person.

Meanwhile, I know he has answered prayers that I have prayed. Lately, he’s been answering prayers in a spectacular and very specific way. Of course, he’s answering them all, except that one. I do believe that we should pray audaciously in his will, which we can learn through the scriptures. In my case, that means praying for a fully restored marriage. I wish that with enough faith, I could “name it and claim it”, like some kind of charismatic Bible sorcerer. Unfortunately, faith does not make me Gandalf or Belgarath. I cannot short change myself, though, I am an adopted son of the God of the Universe. Will he not take care of me? Will he not answer me when I pray according to his will?

I have to believe him. I have to believe his word. I know he’s a lot more worried about my holiness than he is about my happiness… Despite what the song says, happiness is not the truth. The truth is the truth. Happiness is a feeling. My wife is pursuing happiness. That’s why she’s in rebellion against God and destroying her family… I have to do what I know is right. I’m not saying this does not hurt, and I’m not saying that it does not suck. I am saying that God doesn’t spare us from the fire… He stands in it with us, when we obey. Unfortunately, the alternative is to give up on God, and I’m not prepared to do that. I was sharing these ideas with some fellow standers, and one of them said:

I think we shortchange God when we think He doesn’t take our desires and happiness into consideration. I’m not talking prosperity Gospel. He does want our holiness, but He made our human natures and, I believe, places many of the desires of our hearts in there. Obviously not the ones that go against His word and will, but seriously, who among us would have picked this route for our lives? I have heard specifically from Him that He’s using the love He put back into my heart for my husband as the motivation for me to continue to press into Him as hard as I am. I’m not pursuing Him just to get my husband back, but we all know we would probably not be pressing as hard and as urgently if there weren’t the pain and urgency. I’m not using Him…He’s using me, as it should be. I don’t believe He sets us up on wild goose chases, and He knows no matter how holy we become, we will still be disappointed if He does not bring the restoration He’s placed in our hearts. He would disabuse us of our belief that our marriages would be restored if they weren’t going to be. He would change our hearts and ease our pain. His love is flawless. I believe that if He meant for us to live single the rest of our lives, He’d enable us to be content in that and to even desire that. As a wavering (I don’t know if I can smoosh the God I have experienced back into the Church I’ve been a part of all my life) Catholic, believe me, I know MANY Sisters who were called to live that single consecrated lifestyle and they are ecstatic and fulfilled in it. If we believe He can and will change the desires of our spouse’s hearts, why would He not do that with us if restoration was not His intention? He’s not cruel. He is the epitome of the perfect Father. If you were your own child, would you not figure out a way to change your child’s belief about something you knew wasn’t going to happen? And that’s us, with no omniscience, or omnipresence or all the powers of the universe at our fingertips or perfect love. He absolutely is using this to perfect us in many ways, but He uses the surly cashier at the grocery to do that and everything else we come upon everyday. He’s asking us to have radical faith to the point that we’re viewed as delusional and desperate and cuckoo. That’s when He’s working big things in people’s lives. I know I’m not desperate. I could easily walk away from this and find another man, but then, I’d have to find another God who is not the One True God, and that’s what I’m not really willing to do (@TitusWoman13).

God made me. I’ve just been re-hashing that idea in my devotions this week. God made my human nature and the desires of my heart. It is not ungodly to desire reconciliation with my covenant spouse. I have to face the fact, though, that it isn’t entirely right to desire that reconciliation more than my relationship with God. Admittedly, in my heart of hearts, I would give up all the spiritual growth I’ve experienced in the last few months and all the lives I’ve touched for the better, just to have my wife back. That is my selfish sin-nature, though. It shouldn’t be an “either / or”… God desires a “both / and” for us… so I feel that I have to get to the point where I’m seeking God for God and not for God to bring my wife back so that she can be my God again.

Meanwhile, I have to believe. I have to believe in his plan. I feel called to stick with this. I feel called to do what I am doing. Unfortunately, the alternative is to give up on God, and I’m not prepared to do that. My friend, Bill, had one of these candid conversations with God, and he received the word, “do you want to fulfill a need or the plan?” I may be able to deaden my pain a little by pursuing my flesh, but I’ve essentially said, God can’t do this. What else then can he not do? Heal a sick loved one? Protect my children from harm? God is either omnipotent, as the Word says, or he’s impotent. I think a lot depends on the box we put him in or don’t put him in.

God, I need You.

God, I need You.

No, I don’t need You to fix it tonight.

Though that would be ideal.

I don’t need wisdom right now.

Well, I always need that…

 

God, I need You.

Not the idea of You…

Not Your perfect Word…

Not a sign, though that would be nice…

I need You!

 

Like that whole relationship thing

that we Christians are always saying makes us different…

I need to be comforted.

I need to be held.

I hurt more than I’ve ever hurt my whole life.

 

I know You’ve hurt more.

I get that.

So let me feel Your presence.

Comfort those who mourn.

I mourn. I could use some comfort.

The surreal side of standing…

surrealMy life is surreal… there’s simply no other way to describe it. I just spent the holiday weekend with my kids, playing Trouble, having tea parties, doing laundry, attending picnics, and going to church. Basically, I continue to live life as though nothing has changed, providing stability the best I can. I mowed some lawn. I ran the weed eater. I cooked. I did dishes. I read the Word and I prayed. I read and prayed some more. Last evening, my wife came to take the kids for an overnight. I gathered some things for her and reminded the kids to “be good for mommy”. She reminded me that I would have them back in two days for a reason that essentially translated to, “I have a date with the other man.” I said okay, she drove away, and I cleaned up the toys in the yard, praying for her. I should be angry. I should burn with malice, but I don’t. I hurt deeply. I am lonely. I am tired. I am unsure where this is going or how long I must endure. Still, I am called to love. Loving her is easy, despite the pain. I married her. Loving the other man and praying for him is not so easy. Loving her new friends and co-workers and leaders who let this stand and call themselves “Christians” is even more difficult.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48).

My good friend stopped by two minutes later. I baked cookies. We talked and prayed until 9:30. We talked of forgiveness. We talked about love. We talked about when the Bible tells us to fight, when it tells us to flee, and when it tells us to stand. As my friend says, too many of us mix those up. That’s why I have so many well-intentioned brothers and sisters telling me that my wife is the enemy, that I need to look to my own happiness and safety, and that I need to flee this whole situation.

  • We are to fight the devil and the war he wages on our thought life.
  • We are to flee from temptation.
  • For all else, we are to stand.
Some rights reserved by ginnerobot

Some rights reserved by ginnerobot

Somewhere along the line we’ve allowed the proverbs of Oprah to blend in with the Proverbs of Solomon, Agur, and Lemuel. Somewhere we’ve become convinced that God is as worried about our happiness and He is our holiness. Somewhere we’ve been convinced that we should fight for our happiness and flee those who we believe drain us and stand for our rights to happiness. We come first! That’s a load of crap. The Biblical truth is that we’re to put our enemies before ourselves, let alone our family and our spouse! That’s what happened to so many our prodigal spouses!! Satan convinced them that God wanted them to be “more happy” and the key to that happiness was to escape their covenant marriage. My spouse even tried to convince me that I would be more happy with someone else! She sat in our bed and gave me all of the reasons that I would be happier with someone else. That’s a nice fantasy, but it is not Biblical in the least. God said I can’t marry someone else! I married her! She is my covenant spouse. Look in Malachi. Look in Mark. Look in Luke.

Therefore, I continue my surreal existence. My friend and I pray for my spouse’s heart and that she would turn back to God. We pray for her lover, that he would be convicted, converted, and blessed in his own ministry and in a right relationship with a woman who is perfect for him (and not in a covenant relationship with someone else). That’s right, I find myself praying blessings on the other man. God’s marching orders are all upside down feeling. That’s surreal! I will read and pray and read an pray. Many of my brothers and sisters will continue to ask me if I’ve received some kind of special instructions from God. No I haven’t. I am only following the standing orders found in 1 Corinthians. I can either stand and pray for restoration, I can live my life single and bitter, or I can fall into sin myself by marrying someone else.

I have been blessed with a lot of support through this. I still do not know how many people are praying for my marriage. Still, a local community of support would be nice. I have been invited to a lot of Divorce care groups. I do not want Divorce care. I want a marriage restoration ministry. I want like minded believers to gather with in prayer, to join hands, and lift up our covenant spouses. One should not have to join an exclusive online message board or drive to Florida in order to gather with people seeking marriage restoration. I’m praying for revival. I’m praying that our churches would stop accepting the demise of our marriages and Satan’s victory in our homes. I don’t know if God wants to use me in this or not, but I am willing.

  • Pray for me and all standers today.
  • Pray for my spouse and all prodigal spouses right now. Stop reading this and pray for their Damascus road…
  • Pray for our kids. They are not okay.
  • Good, thank you. Now, pray for the church & its leaders.
  • Pray for a revival in this land.

Honestly, I need strength. We all do. No one can do this surreal standing thing on his or her own without slowly going insane. We need God to be our refuge. We need support and we need prayer. Holiday weekends are a great reminder of how lonely and deeply painful this journey is. God bless. May He be with you.

If you’ve just started standing and have stumbled upon this blog, go to Rejoice Marriage Ministries. Get over the web design. It’s 100% Biblical. The resources are great. The people are genuine. Everything you find there, other than printed books and CD media, is free. They’re not after your money. They exist to help. I read the daily and weekly devotionals. I listen to the podcasts.

There are a lot of great resources at Faith and Marriage Ministries. I have not paid to join.

Start reading your Bible. Grab a free Bible app and listen to it in the car and as you fall asleep at night. Pray scriptures for your spouse and yourself, daily. Embrace your insanity.

Faith, grief, complaining, & avoiding the wilderness.

questionReports… I live in a world of reports, bad and good. Mostly, they’re bad, but God is good. As mentioned in earlier posts, I’m really working on my countenance and my faith. I desire to walk in victory despite my circumstances. Just to give you some context, here is my reading & listening list from this last week:

Obviously, you don’t need to read all of that. I actually read and listened to a lot more, not to mention all of the scriptures I’ve been reading. Basically, I’ve been getting a few big ideas clearly out of my devotional diet this week:

  1. I need to stop feeling defeated and looking like I feel defeated.
  2. I need to have faith that God will work in my life.
  3. I need to stop complaining or dwelling on this elephant in the room or it will delay God’s work.
  4. I need to put God first and work on me.

This week, I’ve been trying to do that. I’ve had friends an colleagues comment that my mood seems lighter and that they see God’s work in me.

Last night, I got some bad reports from my kids. I had this sick feeling all evening, and I fought it. I prayed. I took thoughts captive. I asked for more faith. I repeated Mark 9:24 repeatedly. I assured God again and again that I could see him at work and that I trusted him.

After I had my kids settled in bed, I went out back to pray. I got on my knees, and I called God, “Daddy” for the first time in my life. Then, “I cried my guts out”. I can’t describe it any other way. I couldn’t breathe. The sobs came in heaves. I thought I was never going to stop. I realized later as I walked and talked with God, that this was a bubble of grief that burst to the surface. I wasn’t in disbelief. I was in pain! I needed comfort. So, I find myself with these questions:

  1. How much is it okay to mourn the rending of my one-flesh relationship?
  2. Does this count as complaining against God, as the Israelites did?
  3. Considering Isaiah 43:19, should I suck it up and smile?
  4. Does God get tired of hearing my cries and comforting me in my pain?

I know that God is described as my heavenly Father, a relationship I have long struggled to understand because of my own childhood. I am a dad, now, and I do not tire of comforting my children.

This morning, I read about Elisha and his servant’s encounter with the King of Aram’s army, in Charlyne Cares.

…Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:17

I know that He is with me. I know he has surrounded my family and I with his angel armies. I know that He is at work. I still hurt. How much is it okay to hurt?