These last few weeks have been tumultuous. I’ve found myself on a roller coaster of emotions as circumstances have left me reeling. I’ve sought legal counsel to figure out how to proceed. I’ve been on my knees in prayer. I’ve turned to friends who know my situation well and are always there to offer wise, godly advice. I’ve created a network of prayer warriors to lift me and my children in prayer.
And today, God spoke.
If I’m honest, I don’t really like what He is telling me. But, the instructions are clear. I sense the pride in my heart as I argue with Him. I recognize the work He is trying to do. And, I battle deep within.
Friday was exactly five years since I extended forgiveness to “the other woman.” In the last months, I’ve felt God telling me to take it further—to seek restoration and reconciliation. That’s not something I’ve wanted or ever expected, but I’ve reached a point where I am willing to take that step. I am at a place in my life where I actually long to see her restored, to see her life blessed. I want to see her move beyond the guilt and condemnation that she must be drowning beneath. I want to see her move into the fullness of Christ and use these bitter circumstances for God’s glory.
But, I can’t say the same for my feelings about my ex-husband.
As I made plans Friday to reach out to the other woman, I was faced with a somewhat ugly confrontation with my ex-husband. It really wasn’t that big of a deal, but it brought so much anger and bitterness to the surface. After the confrontation, I sent a text to a friend explaining in no uncertain terms exactly what I thought about him. I had already been dealing with the struggles of my children over the less than ideal situation they are trapped in; the moment simply pushed me over the edge.
Mama Bear came out.
You see, I can tolerate the false accusations against me. I can handle the malicious attacks against my character. I can handle the criticisms of my work.
But Mama Bear doesn’t let anyone mess with her babies!
When I see my children hurting, my protective nature kicks in. I want to shield them from the pain. I want to fix whatever is wrong. I want to rush to their aid. But sometimes, a mom simply can’t make the pain and anguish go away. Sometimes, a mama’s hands are tied.
And, right now, my hands are tied. The divorce happened. My kids are caught in the middle. They are forced into difficult situations where they miss out on activities with their friends and family. They are faced with splitting time between two parents. They are the collateral damage of sinful choices.
And, they don’t like it.
But, life isn’t fair. And, I find myself as Mama Bear, claws out, ready to tear apart anyone who messes with my kids’ happiness.
As I contemplate all of the bitterness that has arisen in my heart this week, I am faced once again with the ugliness of my heart. I realize just how much anger and hatred is still buried deep within.
My son and I have committed to pray daily for his relationship with his dad. We’ve been praying for several months. Today, as I thought about our current circumstances, I suddenly found myself wondering if this current situation was God moving to answer our prayers. That’s when the truth struck me: I don’t want God to answer this prayer.
You see, if God gives my children the relationship they want and deserve with their dad, then I am no longer justified in my anger and bitterness. If God gives my children the relationship with their dad that we are praying for, then it might take away from their relationship with me. If God gives my children a great relationship with their dad, they might choose to spend time with him instead of me.
I am selfish. I am bitter. I am prideful.
The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is? Jeremiah 17:9
The true condition of my heart is painful to face, but I find myself looking straight into it tonight. As God has brought me to this point today, I have repeatedly heard Him say, “Pray for him.” It’s a painful reality that I don’t want to pray God’s blessings over him; I want to hang on to the bitterness. But, I have still eight long years of raising children. That bitterness can do considerable harm to me in that time. And, it can also do considerable harm to my children.
Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. John 13:1-5
Do you see that? The devil had already prompted Judas to betray Jesus. What was Jesus’s response? He got up and began to wash the disciples’ feet. Do you think Jesus washed eleven sets of feet? Or did He wash twelve? Judas had already decided to betray Jesus. It was as good as done. And yet, I’m certain that Jesus still washed Judas’s feet. He chose to become a servant to the one who would betray him.
Several years ago, I was listening to a sermon when the pastor asked if we would be willing to wash our Judas’s feet. Today, I could honestly answer yes, I could wash the feet of the other woman. It would not be easy, but I am ready and willing. In fact, I reached out to her Friday and offered to meet with her, to share with her all God has done in my life over the last five years.
Today, I find myself called by God to humble myself and wash my ex-husband’s feet. The one man who committed to love me, to forsake all others, to love me as Christ loved the church. The one man who betrayed me in the deepest, most intimate way, who chose another over me, who left me deeply wounded and questioning my own faith.
And, God is calling me to wash his feet.
Will I obey? If I truly love my Savior, I will. Will it be easy? Absolutely not.
My forgiveness of the other woman came at a time when she was still actively involved with my husband. Did my forgiveness change her? No. Did it change me? It forever altered the course of my life by setting me free to heal and move forward.
Will my prayers change him? I don’t know. Will he choose to become the man God created him to be, to surrender fully and completely to the life-changing power of a Savior who loves Him enough to die for him? I don’t know. Will my prayers change me? Absolutely, without a doubt.
Will it be worth it? If I know my Savior, He will make it better than my wildest imagination!
Lord Jesus, I come to you in anguish of soul admitting the pride in my heart, the bitterness that still lingers. I admit that I have been righteously clinging to this bitterness, to justifying my attitude because of all he has put me through. But today, I lay at your feet my right to my anger. I set aside my own personal agenda, and I ask you to let your work flow through me. I don’t know exactly what this will look like, but I ask you to enable me to see my ex-husband as you see him. Enable me to wash his feet.