The other day was my wife’s birthday. Our 24th anniversary is later in the month. This is a hard time for me. I knew that she could not receive anything from me, so I bought gifts that the children selected and they wrapped and presented them to her today after I left for work (Eight of our nine children live with me). I let them pick out a card for them to sign, and helped them make her a special breakfast this morning for when she arrived at my house. She had wanted to change the schedule today to give her more time with the kids, and also make it to opening night in an opera she is performing in, so I accommodated her on that too.
This is all God. I can only boast in Him and the work He is doing in me. My heart is not warm toward her – because of her actions. She will not speak or look at me and prefers to work through her lawyer. I actually now find that I have little desire left for a relationship with her, yet I pray for restoration in God’s timing, because I am learning about how God sees marriage, how much He loves it, and us, as I grow closer to the Lord. I even found myself praying for her performance this evening, that it go well and she enjoy it.
I could never imagine a year ago that I would be praying that she enjoy herself, knowing that the other man will be sure to be there. Tomorrow she goes out of town – I don’t want to know. I am focused on the children and fixing up our rental property the court is making us sell.
As I think and pray, I can just barely taste a freedom, so tantalizingly out of reach in my heart. It is a freedom to truly, genuinely, wish her the best, even if it is with him. I am not there yet, but I am now accepting that perhaps it is possible to heal and forgive completely enough to have these hopes for her.
I have been studying 1 Corinthians 13 every day for months. As I press into it, the words ring in my head, some more than others, as I am faced with challenges each day. My flesh recoils and cringes at verses 5 and 7 in particular. New meaning comes out of them as I deal daily with my wife and her actions during the divorce. As I study God’s Word, the Holy Spirit is changing my heart to desire His glory by being obedient, even when I don’t want to. I am being reminded, when I let myself get taken out my wife’s actions, or my children’s struggles, and I sink into the hopeless despair, to rejoice in the Lord always and cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving if I would have that peace that passes understanding, and that joy which is inexpressible.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NASB)
So when I am lowest, I can hear a still voice in my heart telling me to meditate on “what is true, what is honorable…” and then I claw my way out of the fog long enough to begin thanking God for the blessings in my life. Little by little, my heart lifts, my tears ebb, my emotions change and I am able to get through one more hour. And yes I have been studying Philippians 4 every day as well.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:4-8 (NASB)
I am learning so slowly what it means to let go of a wrong suffered, time and time again. I am learning what it means to endure all things – when I have nothing left to give, or not to seek my own – when I feel entitled to be loved and treated well by those closest to me. The level of trust in God that is needed to do these things is so far beyond my own strength. Yet, God can do it, He will do it, He has done it.
Even as I am crushed, again, and again, I am driven, each time, back before His throne to desperately ask Him for strength, for hope, for love…for my next breath. Each time, God quietly reminds me of what He has already brought me through and given to me and I am humbled, yet again, by the gentleness of His love for me and my family. Even though it feels brutal and horrible, and senseless, it is not.
In His own way, in His own timing, God is loving me and transforming me into a man who looks and acts more like Jesus. I can’t rush it, or stop it, I can only accept, welcome it, and focus on my relationship with Him. I am not the man I was, I never will be again, that man died with Christ. May I become each day more like the love of God no matter what happens to my marriage.
David in Ohio
Unless otherwise noted, scripture quoted are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.