If you’re married or even just in a serious relationship and can’t say for sure that God is truly your source—please read this.
This post has been difficult for me to put together—but here we go.
Some recent counseling sessions have brought up some tough memories that have had me thinking a lot about my divorce—I feel like I should share about this.
There were many factors contributed by my hand that brought about the end of my marriage. I won’t be discussing specifics today. That’ll come later. For today I want to look at what I think is the primary factor. A major underlying issue that existed long before our union.
When thinking or talking about what my life became—I have often wanted to say that it all started with a divorce. That is not only false but also unfair .The truth is that it all started with a poor heart condition and a lack of allowing the Holy Spirit to guide my decisions. I was keeping God at a distance—for reasons I will address in another post sometime soon.
I would tell myself—had myself convinced even—that God was who I looked to for fulfillment. That couldn’t have been farther from the truth. That responsibility was recklessly placed on the shoulders of an unsuspecting bright eyed girl. Who—let me add—didn’t ask for that.
The first thing I’d like address is filling a void. We are all searching for something—we are all in need of something to fill the void of our hearts. We often make the mistake of looking to a person to meet those needs rather than looking to Jesus. It’s a fine line—a line very easily crossed.
Looking to a person for fulfillment could be equated to putting that person in a space shuttle then opening them up to the endless void of the universe and expecting them to fill it. You’re likely thinking how ridiculous that sounds. Well that’s because it is beyond ridiculous. It’s flat out silly.
That is how in need we are though—there is no end to it.
I’m reminded of the woman at the well in John chapter 4(v.1-26). In this portion of scripture Jesus is interacting with a woman who has had five husbands and was with yet another man. That sounds like the behavior of a person looking for something, not finding it, and moving on again and again hoping to finally find it. It’s not uncommon for us to see “thirsty” people bouncing from marriage to marriage looking for that ultimate meaning—looking for satisfaction.
Jesus essentially tells the Samaritan woman at the well in Sychar that she is drawing water from the wrong well. He tells her of a living water that he can give her—a water that would become in her a spring of water welling up to eternal life. He tells her she could be satisfied—she could thirst no more.
Jesus is the well we should draw from. He provides the only water that can truly fulfill us.
My wife was the well I was drawing my water from. I put her in the place that Jesus was supposed to be in my life—the responsibility of holding that position meant I was looking to her for many things. I.e. Fulfillment, happiness, self-worth, validation. Those can’t be found anywhere in this world—certainly not in any human. Not even from someone as capable and charming as my ex-wife. Only Jesus can provide them.
This was a monumental mistake—one of the biggest I’ve ever made.
I used to think I put her there because I loved her so much—that was not loving her well though. In placing that responsibility on her I was setting her up for failure. What a terrible thing to do—to force someone to fail you against their will. Ultimately failing them in the process.
Now we have arrived at the second thing I’d like to address—that thing is good intentions. You may have heard it said that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”—I whole heartedly believe that. There is a stark difference between good and God—a difference we can’t always discern without the help of the Holy Spirit.
Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”
I gave her that responsibility because I loved and depended on her—because she was so very precious to me. I did it because it seemed right—I did it with good intentions and a loving heart.
None of that matters anymore when you’re walking out of the bedroom with a bag packed leaving your wife sitting very still and quiet, almost rigid in her vanity chair—when you close the door behind you and hear her begin to cry. Where did those good intentions get us? They got us nowhere—they got the both of us hurt very badly. Good intentions ended in divorce—the hurt that keeps on hurting.
That memory plays out so clearly in my mind—it’s as if I’m reliving it as I write this. I remember how wrong the moment felt. I chalked it up to the overall discomfort of a troubled marriage. I can identify today that it was more than that—it was the tragedy of a man walking away from his wife. It was behavior outside of Gods perfect design—something I was never meant to do. After that night was when things truly felt different—it was a turning point.
I didn’t know what I was doing—I was ignorant and excited. I sure did love her—I knew that—but that was about the extent of it. I had no idea of the responsibility I was taking on as a husband—as a leader. I say that not to make excuse but to point out an area I failed in with the hopes of someone other than just me learning from my mistake. I could have very easily looked in the Bible and found everything I needed. I didn’t though—not until too late.
What I found when I looked shook me—to the core. It hurt too. To see what I had done. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5(v.25-27) that men should love their wives as Christ loved the church. That’s a lot of love. That’s never quit. I had to ask myself how many times I have disappointed Christ—only to find him loving me through every horrible act and foolish mistake. There is no such thing as too much when it comes to the love of Christ. Nothing can separate us (Romans 8:38-39). I was supposed to love her with a “nothing can separate” kind of love.
Paul also tells us that a man should love his wife even as he loves himself (Ephesians 5:28-29). I didn’t love myself—at all if I’m being honest. What happens if a man doesn’t love himself, how can he then properly love his wife? He can’t.
Before Paul even addresses any of this Jesus himself tells us in the book of Mark (12:31) to love our neighbor as ourselves and that there is no commandment greater. Who is your wife if not your closest neighbor?
Thankfully I serve a good God who loves me and forgives me—a God who works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans8:28). Thankfully he took this pain in my life—this mess I made—and is using it to teach me.
I am not living in shame. I am forgiven and happy to share these experiences with the expectation that God will use them to bring himself Glory and hopefully help someone who may be facing similar struggles.
Let me part with you saying that God is good and ready to forgive.
Psalm 86:5 NASB “For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon him.”