Lord, Keep Making Me …

A couple days ago I heard the song Keep Making Me, by Sidewalk Prophets, for the first time. It absolutely pierced my soul. This is the perfect song for this season in my life. Here are the lyrics:

“Keep Making Me”

Make me broken
So I can be healed
‘Cause I’m so calloused
And now I can’t feel
I want to run to You
With heart wide open
Make me broken

Make empty
So I can be filled
‘Cause I’m still holding
Onto my will
And I’m completed
When you are with me
Make me empty

‘Til You are my one desire
‘Til You are my one true love
‘Til You are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making me

Make me lonely
So I can be Yours
‘Til I want no one
More than You, Lord
‘Cause in the darkness
I know You will hold me
Make me lonely

Ok, so I’m good with broken and empty, but lonely??? That’s a little much, Lord, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not good for man (or woman) to be alone, right? Then again, Paul said it’s better not to marry. I guess he was right. It’s definitely easier to concentrate on one’s relationship with God when not distracted by the cares of a family. I know I’m definitely depending on God more as a single mom who is going through a divorce than I was when I thought everything was going fine.
“Make me lonely …  ‘Til I want no one more than You, Lord.” Yes, Lord, this is my prayer because I know that this really is the secret of a truly blessed life. I can’t say I’m there yet, but I want to be.

Small victories bring satisfaction now that I’m unexpectedly single again

lightbulbAs I changed several lightbulbs today and took the trash to the curb, I thought, “Wow, I’m kind of proud of myself.” Now, I know those are really, really small things to do. Very insignificant. But, then again, those were things I used to take for granted that my husband would do. It’s been five months since he left and I am picking up the slack. I’m now doing lots of little things, and some big things, that he used to do. So I got to thinking that this is something to celebrate.

I am making it. I have been through a lot since my husband and I separated. I have been through every negative emotion possible, but I have not given up. I have cried, yelled, vented, and agonized. And I’ve had lots of emotional ups and downs. But today I’m in a good place. I have hope for the future. I’m still anxious about how the divorce process will go, since we’re not through it yet. I hope it will be over quickly and that it can continue to be fairly amicable. I look forward to the day that it’s final, but I’m also content in today, in knowing that I have had some small victories, like remembering to take the garbage to the curb and shedding more light on my kitchen.

Growth is painful, yet ultimately rewarding

roller coasterThis week has been an incredible roller coaster of emotion and developments. Early in the week I felt very rejected–both by my soon-to-be-ex-husband, and by some friends whose intentions I misinterpreted. When you’re going through the tumultuous emotions of a divorce, you can be overly sensitive. At least I know I am.

My STBX decided to let me know that he was done pursuing me and trying to save our marriage. This didn’t sit well with me because, in reality, he has done little to pursue me or our marriage during the past five months. So I broke down and told him that I had really wanted him to decide that our marriage was worth fighting for–with actions rather than mere words. Whether or not this was wise, I’m really not sure. But it did set in motion some activity. He said he was willing to do some things, like some intensive counseling. Initially I was drawn in because, finally, it seemed he might be willing to actually do something. So I considered it.

But here were the problems:

1. He continued to lie to me about big and small things, and I had proof.

2. He refused to admit that his behaviors are outside the realm of normal.

3. He told me he was torn between his duty to our marriage covenant and his desire for the other women he has been pursuing.

With these things in mind, I decided against his offer. A person has to be truly repentant in order to change, and he is not repentant.

Today our pastor preached a sermon that totally backed this up. Using the story of Zacchaeus, he said that, to truly be sorry, a person has to be honest, that confession doesn’t equal repentance, and that a person’s actions have to back up the apology. Clearly, that is not going on here.

There is no way to have a healthy relationship with someone who is unrepentant. But I do desire reconciliation–not restoration of our marriage–but the ability to admit our wrongs to each other and the mutual decision to release each other. I hope and pray that this will happen, and I will practice this on my part whether or not he ever comes to that point.

This has been and continues to be an incredibly painful journey. I have to think that the death of a child would be worse than this, but I really can’t think of anything else that could rival it. It was horrifying to learn that I had been living a lie and that I had allowed myself to be manipulated all of those years. I have felt so betrayed and rejected. I have had anger, anxiety, confusion, and extreme sadness. I have almost been sucked back into his manipulation and deception more than once.

However, I have grown so much closer to Christ and I have become so much healthier as a person during the past five months. I keep saying it’s like I’ve been on warp speed in my codependency recovery. It’s been incredibly painful, but also amazingly blessed. Though I would never wish this on anyone (except maybe my STBX), I wouldn’t trade the growth it has brought.

Christians often alienate those they should serve

sad woman 1I attend a very conservative church where the Bible is preached as the literal, inerrant word of God. I also am very connected to our local homeschooling community, which also is ultra-conservative. I run a business that mainly draws conservative Christian families.

So when I filed for divorce, I began to be concerned about judgment. I felt the need to explain my situation–to prove that I had Biblical grounds and that I had done everything possible to save my marriage.

There are those in the Church who believe that a person should stay married no matter what. If a woman is being abused, if children are being harmed, if there is constant deception, manipulation, and betrayal. No matter what. They would say that, unless there has been proven physical adultery with another person, and that the offender isn’t repentant, there are no grounds. Really???

In my case, I think a proven affair is more reconcilable than what my STBX was into. I’m not going to share the details, but, trust me, it’s disgusting. But what’s worse is that he lies to me constantly. And he manipulates me. A marriage should be based on trust, but his lies and manipulation have destroyed that trust.

I was counseled initially to file for legal separation instead of divorce. I wasn’t enthusiastic about this option, but, because two out of three of the church leaders I counseled with advised this, I did it. I do believe that was the correct thing to do at the time, but things became clearer after I had filed.

Interestingly, legal separation is also referred to as a “limited divorce.” I don’t think that legal separation is any holier than divorce, as some seem to think. One of the leaders with whom I counseled was in disagreement with legal separation. He said that, since we were physically separated, we really were not following God’s plan for marriage. He believed we should reconcile or get divorced.

Though I was counseled by some that I should stay separated for as long as necessary, I question the Biblical basis of this advice. Nowhere in Scripture can I find anything about marital separation. It doesn’t seem to be addressed, except in Mark 10:9 and Matthew 19:6. Those verses say that, what God has joined, man must not separate.

However, when I made my discovery five months ago, it was clear to me that we needed to separate. I do believe God gives us wisdom and reveals the path to us. Sometimes it’s obvious because it’s clearly laid out in Scripture. But other times, He guides us in other ways, such as common sense or a specific leading by the Holy Spirit. (Of course, this guidance will never contradict Scripture.) I believe it is obvious that my STBX has some issues that make it apparent that our family doesn’t need to live with him. Furthermore, he is doing things that concern me when it comes to my children’s safety. And he has completely and irrevocably shattered the trust that is necessary for a healthy marriage. Biblically, he has committed adultery, even if there has been no third party involvement. He continually sought out women to look at who would arouse him sexually. This qualifies as adultery, according to Matthew 5:27-28.

Now to my main point:

As a conservative Christian who associates with many conservative Christians, I feel like I need to be careful how I present my situation, because I fear that I will be judged. I feel the need to justify and explain. I worry that people are secretly judging me. I anticipate that, through the years, I will find myself being tempted to explain my situation.

Since I found out some really sick behaviors of my STBX, two of the three church leaders with whom I consulted affirmed my decision to divorce. That helps me feel assured. But since I’m not going to share the details with most people, I fear that people will judge.

Why does the church do this? Why do we focus on sins and perceived sins? We should be focusing on people, not on their sins.

Take the whole Duck Dynasty thing for example. Christians were affirming Phil’s right to free speech. Sure, I agree with his right to free speech. But I question the line of thinking that his comments were helpful. Do you think any homosexuals were won to Christ because of what he said? I doubt it.

If Christians focus on talking non-Christians out of committing certain sins, isn’t that Pharisaical? If we target homosexuality, divorce, or any other perceived sin, aren’t we missing the point? The point is that we can’t live holy lives apart from putting our trust in Christ. I’m not saying we shouldn’t pursue and preach Biblical application. Of course we should. But when we separate that from love, we will not be effective.

Churches should reach out to hurting people, rather than simply pointing out their sinfulness or perceived sinfulness because of certain circumstances of their lives.

The truth is that we often don’t know the circumstances behind a divorce, and we often don’t know the details that drive many decisions people make. Perhaps they made the best choices they could, given their situations. Divorce is a rejection, even for the one who files. In my case, I was the one who filed, but he was the one who divorced me emotionally, spiritually, and, in some ways, physically. I’m just making it official.

Divorce is rejection. As the church, should we add our rejection to it? Or should we be an instrument of healing? I think the answer is clear, and I hope that my own pain will be used for God’s glory in bringing about healing to those devastated by divorce.

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