I can honestly say I’ve had a spiritual awakening this week. The last true one that I experienced happened as I struggled to save my first marriage. Psalm 139:23 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” I learned things about myself that transformed me. But as long as I have breath, I know that God is not done with me yet. It’s happened again.
I’ve found that if you ask God to show you direction, He does. When I ask God, “What do you want me to do?” Clearly, His direction is very simple. Isaiah 45:18 says, “For this is what the LORD says, who created the heavens— he is God, and the one who formed the earth and made it, and he is the one who established it; he didn’t create it for chaos, but formed it to be inhabited— “I am the LORD and there is no other.” The Bible teaches that chaos is not of God. He has an order to life that he has established. Following God brings order to your life, no matter what you are going through. He is the rock, the foundation that is steady.
My husband is in a battle for his life. He’s on the edge of losing his home, his business, his wife, and his very life. Alcohol has robbed him of health, happiness, and wholeness. As a human being and a follower of Christ I understand that living with him was not safe for me. It was emotionally, mentally, and physically abusive. God does not call me to live where I’m unsafe. I did the right thing leaving. I know I did. And after 5 months living apart I also know that I love this man with all my heart. I’m connected to him like no other person on this earth. Despite the pain he has caused me in this marriage – and there has been great pain – I still feel called by God to remain his wife.
In Malachi 2:16 it says that God hates both divorce AND abuse in the home. There are also multiple passages where God calls married people to remain married. My understanding of biblical teaching on marriage is that divorce is allowed by God only in cases of abandonment, infidelity, and abuse. My understanding of my current situation is that all three of those things have happened. In varying degrees by both of us, there has been abandonment, infidelity, and abuse. Those things have destroyed respect and trust in our home.
But these past few months, I got the word from God to wait. That is all He said to me. Every time I asked. He just said to wait. With my limited understanding, it meant not to file for separation or divorce. That’s it.
The worst night of this waiting was the episode I just wrote about where I found myself in a little church in Las Vegas being told by God to accept what God has put in my life. Don’t ask why, just ask what do you want me to do. God was there for me that night. Letting me know that I wasn’t alone. He lifted me almost literally out of my bed and gave me a place where I would hear what I needed to hear to sustain my hope in Him.
But to be very honest, I was sort of done waiting by that point. I was lonely living in a new town with no friends. I craved interaction and I found it. In my mind, I would wait to file papers, but the rest of my life has to move forward. Even though God was meeting me where I was at, I was picking and choosing how I would respond to His leading. I gave Him a half-hearted response because I felt that this whole entire debacle was about my husband’s needs. I was sacrificing my home, daily interaction with my children, my finances, security with my job, all because he was addicted to vices that had such a firm grip on him that he was choosing those things over his marriage. HE was doing this to me and I DESERVED some happiness and pleasure.
To be fair to myself. I do deserve some happiness and pleasure. Absolutely. God wants that for me. But not where I was looking. And that is the revelation I had this week. My whole entire life I’ve looked to other people or outside influences to numb my pain and replace it with good things. But I’ve never been willing to truly give my pain to the Lord and see what He is able to do with it. God wants me to find happiness in HIM and pleasure in HIM.
The Saturday before my next trip to California I spent listening to sermons, reading the word, and sitting with God again, earnestly seeking His leading. And I was convicted by His Spirit to turn away from my dependence on other people and focus on praying for my husband. I didn’t do anything different. But I heard it.
I’m writing on a couch of a friend who lives in Dana Point. My feet are up and the door is open, letting in a quiet and gentle breeze. I’m looking out at a golf course and listening to the beautiful sounds of birds. This trip to California has confirmed that God still wants me to wait and He wants to me turn from all others and focus solely on Him.
Abandonment, infidelity, and abuse destroyed trust and respect in my marriage but it did not destroy the LOVE that exists between my husband and I. This trip confirmed that to me. God already knew. My husband is the only person in my entire life who has the ability to melt my heart. I don’t know why. I don’t understand it because so many things that have happened just in this trip alone have brought me more pain. Seeing so little progress after 5 long months. But I can’t deny that looking into my husbands eyes I feel connected to him unlike anyone else on the planet, I feel like he is home, he is family, he is my person.
To truly LOVE is to have God’s heart for someone. And I can honestly say that I want the very best for my husband. Whatever that means for him to get better. That is why I left. That is why I had to be strong and do what no one else on this earth was willing to do. Not his family, not his friends, no one else. Maybe because I’m the only one he let in deep enough to see the need. But whether my marriage is restored or not I will not give up on him. I will not stop loving him.
Whether our marriage will be restored or not is up to the Lord. And I can say with 100% certainty that I do not have that as my goal. Until God tells me otherwise, my goal is to wait and remain faithful. And not just because that is what my husband needs. It is also what I NEED. In a way that ONLY GOD can manage…He is going to use this time for me to accomplish something that is uniquely necessary RIGHT NOW in my life.
For the first time in my life, I’m going to move into my very own apartment. I’m going to live apart from my husband because that is what he needs to get better. I will remain faithful to him. And instead of looking to other people to fill my needs I’m going to purposefully look to the Lord and be obedient in my trust that God is real and knows what He is doing in my life. I will not compromise on this.
Whether my husband takes the steps toward health, wholeness, and happiness is up to him and God. I’m completely releasing him also to the Lord. It is not my job to make him better. He has to make those choices for himself. But I will continue to love him. I have to because I do. I will not enable him. I will not sin against him. I will simply use this time apart to work on what I’ve needed to do as a Christian my entire Christian walk. I will learn how to look to the Lord to supply my needs.
If my husband gets better I will follow the Lord’s leading on taking steps to rebuild my marriage. That is of course my hope, but not my goal. If that doesn’t happen I know I will be a better person for remaining under this trial and not trying to go around it to meet my needs. I know I will have learned a valuable lesson with this time I’m giving to the Lord and it will not be a WASTE. No matter what happens doing God’s will won’t be a waste of time.
I’m not banking on my husband for my happiness. I’m going to simply acknowledge what is true. I love him with all my heart. So I’m going to pray for him everyday. On my knees. And I’m going to keep my life as pure as possible so God will hear my prayers.
Some people will call me a fool. And that’s ok. Some people will admire me. And that’s ok too, but I’m not doing it to be admired. And I wouldn’t necessarily give other people this same advice. But I know clearly for me, God has called me to wait and remain faithful and look to Him and Him alone for my needs.
I’m 100% confident that this is the direction God wants me to walk and that He will bless it. Romans 8:28 is often quoted next in cases like this. He works together all things for the GOOD. And yes, I believe he does. But the entire chapter 8 of Romans gives us a clearer picture of what is meant by that statement. In verse 35 it asks Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? The answer is none of them. Nothing can separate us from God. Verse 37-39 says,
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Verse 34 tells us that Jesus Christ himself intercedes for us.
So I’m going to put my faith in action and trust God on His Word, that no matter what the outcome – God’s GOT THIS.