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I am in a stand where all communication has been cut off by my spouse for a long time. It leads me to a place of discouragement often, because I feel so directionless on what to pray, or how to have a heart that wants to pray for my prodigal spouse anymore. With no evidence from God that anything is happening on the other side of the mountain, I literally have to lean on Him for insight and understanding. I’m sure there are other standers who know how truly difficult this is.
Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. Proverbs 3:5 (AMP)
It came to a point in the past several weeks where I couldn’t pray for my spouse anymore, because I felt so little “attachment” to him. All I could simply ask (again) was “Lord, if I am supposed to keep praying for my spouse, please give me a heart to do so, because I don’t think I can anymore without it.”
I was recently “lost in my head” again as I am most days, trying to mentally and emotionally wade through what looks like a hopeless and frustratingly confusing situation. As I was thinking about my spouse and a time in our early married life, I reflected on some of the “wounds” inflicted upon us from church leadership when we served on staff many years ago. Wounds more accurately called mental and emotional abuse, that we have both dealt with and carried in different ways.
While we had often talked openly with each other about the hurt and pain it caused us, I don’t think I knew at the time just how deeply it had affected my spouse, or me. I honestly don’t think he knew the depth of how it had affected him either. As I mentally went through our following years of marriage, I believe he dealt with this old pain, and any new pain, by burying it and then “moving on” with activities or other things that would distract him from ever truly dealing with them.
I was then reminded of the late teenage years my husband experienced. We met in high school, and his parents took a job that kept them on the road for extended periods of time when he started his senior year. He had to face the onset of early adulthood alone. I wondered if he perhaps felt abandoned in some way. During his childhood, his parents were in the army, and each time they moved, he had to leave behind a home, friends, and who he was in that place.
I wondered if his entire life’s identity had been shaped by abandoning, and being abandoned. This would shed some light on his own sudden abandonment of me and our marriage.
“A few days later, the younger son gathered together everything that he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and immoral living.” Luke 15:13 (AMP)
I realized, that in some way, he has been searching for “home” all his life.
But before someone can be “at home” with another person, they first have to be “at home” in God.
As the day drew to a close and I was sitting outside with the Lord, I wondered if He had given me this deeper insight into all of these things as a way of keeping my heart soft towards my spouse. Not in a way of excusing his actions, but in a way that allowed me to enter into my husband’s suffering…yes, even in his waywardness. Because that is what God did for us.
For [as a believer] you have been called for this purpose, since Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you may follow in His footsteps. 1 Peter 2:21 (AMP)
Hurt people often deal with their hurt by hurting other people. And we who are hurt by them want to retaliate. We don’t want to understand the suffering that is causing their hurtful actions, because it’s so difficult to see past the pain they are causing us.
Only a softened heart can enter into the suffering of one who has hurt them.
A new acquaintance whom I recently had coffee with, point-blank asked me about my situation, and after giving her a very guarded summary, she said “It’s a miracle to me that your heart is still soft after all this time, and even your calm countenance, when you speak about it.” What she didn’t see was the daily anguish that I experience as I wait and try to put one foot in front of the other to live daily. But when she said that, I realized it was a miracle to me too. My heart could not be like this if it weren’t for Jesus working in it all this time.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you, and…remove the heart of stone…and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26 (AMP)
Because of God’s insight, I was able to see that my husband is like a child who has an injury, but fearing the pain of what it takes to treat it, runs away and tries to hide it from his Father. It will only get worse the longer it goes untreated.
And because of God’s insight, I was able to pray that my spouse would bring his wounds to his Father, no matter what the pain, no matter what it took…even if it meant God allowing the pain to get so bad that leaving it untreated would outweigh the pain of His having to cut deep and administer His medicine for healing.
I hope that you will ask the Lord to help you enter into the suffering of your prodigal spouse, so that you can pray for the healing they need, and for them to find themselves “at home” in Him.
Heather in Tennessee