Guilt, Hope, Pain and suffering, promises, Surviving Adultery and Divorce

Divorced…To God’s Glory!

I don’t pay much attention to the stats on my blog, but today wordpress sent out a year-end summary. I glanced through the stats, and I found that a post from October 2013 was the most viewed post for two straight years.

As I reflected on the words in that post, I began to think that perhaps it might be a very appropriate post to re-visit as we sit on the cusp of yet another new year. There are many who are still caught in the chains of bondage. Perhaps it is the shame of divorce, the guilt of adultery, the bondage of addiction. Maybe it is the more subtle and acceptable sins of pride or even greed. I don’t know what grave-clothes you are wearing today.

But, I do know the Resurrection and the Life. I know the Savior who is standing at the edge of the tomb with the stone rolled away. He is calling your name, begging you to come out. He wants to remove the grave-clothes that have you bound, wash away the stench of death. He wants to pour out his resurrection power into your life, to give you a new life.

And, he wants to get the glory for a life restored.

Let 2015 be the year of new life. Surrender your hurts and your pains, and trust him to do an amazing work in you!

God bless, and Happy 2015!!

********************************

I am divorced, and it’s all to God’s glory!

Before you start throwing the stones in your hands, please hear me out.

I grew up with a firm foundation in Jesus Christ and a conservative denomination. I gave my heart and life to Christ at the age of six and vowed never to date anyone who didn’t make God his number one priority. When I felt a call to full-time ministry at the age of ten, I knew the path my life was on–and I never looked back.

As I grew, I watched in horror—with stones in my hands—as well-known Christians announced their divorces. I vowed never to listen to their music or sermons again. How could they ever break their vow and humiliate the name of Christ, especially while serving in full-time ministry?

In my last years of college, God brought a man into my life. I knew without a doubt that God had sent him, that God had told me this was the man with whom I was to spend the rest of my life. I entered my marriage with a solemn vow before God and man. Divorce was never an option in my mind

Through 15 years of marriage and three precious children, we had seen our share of ups and downs. I had devoted myself to being his helpmate, a co-minister at our church, a mother. Although our marriage was not perfect, it was good. He would counsel couples having marital problems and come home to tell me how blessed we were to have such a solid marriage.

On September 9, 2008, my life shattered when my husband was caught in an affair with a woman in our church. After my fair share of yelling, screaming, and crying, my heart began to soften. I began to see this situation as an opportunity for God to be glorified, for Him to take a good marriage and make it a great marriage. I set my heart on forgiveness and reconciliation, and I prayed that God would open the doors to a new ministry.

For nearly a year, I worked and prayed. I endured untold pain and fear and hardship. I did everything within my power to keep the marriage together. In the end, I discovered that while it only takes one to walk away from a marriage, it takes two to keep it together. I could not save my marriage alone.

Now I was the object of scorn and condemnation. I was the one facing the angry mob holding the stones. I was the one who had humiliated Christ through a divorce.

I’ve asked God many times why He would tell me to marry a man who would cheat on me and not repent. I’ve reminded Him that I could have certainly found a man on my own who would do that. I’ve wondered why I should continue to walk in obedience if divorce was the blessing I received.

Although I know that God’s perfect will was for my marriage to survive, I have learned to factor in man’s free will. You see, God had a plan for my husband and I to have a great ministry, a great marriage. When my husband chose to walk in disobedience, God had a plan for reconciliation, a plan to receive the glory for a marriage repaired by the grace of God.

And, when my husband continued to walk in disobedience, God adjusted His plan once more. You see, now He wants to get the glory through my divorce.

I in no way argue that God wanted me to divorce. However, He did give me permission to divorce (Matthew 5:32). The important fact is that my response to my situation—even though it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to—can bring God glory. You see, God has taken my life and redeemed it. I went through a time of death, depression, and despair when I lost my marriage. But, through God’s love and faithfulness, He has restored me to life. I have truly become a new person! My faith has grown immensely through the trials and tribulations of this life! I have a new hunger and thirst for Him that is beyond my greatest dream! He has taken the hurt and pain that I have suffered, and He is now leveraging them for His glory—as He opens doors for me to share the hope of a life renewed.

In John 11, we read the story of Jesus’s good friend Lazarus. Lazarus’s sisters sent Jesus an urgent message, telling him to come quickly.

When Jesus heard it, He said, “This sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. John 11:4-6

Did you see that? When Jesus was called to heal his good friend, he didn’t rush to Lazarus’s side; instead, He stayed where He was for two more days. By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead and in the tomb for four days. Surely if Jesus had shown up in a timely manner, Lazarus would have never died!

But, Jesus said, “This is for the glory of God.”

You see, God could have shown up in my marriage. He could have prevented my divorce. He could have heard my relentless pleas. But, He allowed my husband to exert free will.

What did Jesus do when Mary, Lazarus’s sister, came to Him and fell at His feet? Jesus wept (John 11:35). He experienced the emotions of the situation, the pain of losing a dear friend.

What did my Savior do when my marriage crumbled? He wept with me. He cried over the hurt, the pain, the devastation. He cried for the lives impacted by our divorce. He cried over the broken vows.

Then, as only Jesus could do, He called for the stone over Lazarus’ tomb to be removed. His sister, Martha, protested. “But, Lord, his body is decaying! He stinks! We can’t do that!”

When I filed for divorce, people around me began to pick up their stones and accuse me of breaking my covenant, of humiliating the name of Christ. I walked in shame and condemnation. I had a heavy burden of guilt. I felt as if there was an overwhelming stench that surrounded me.

As the people obeyed Jesus and removed the stone from Lazarus’s grave, Jesus gave the command.

Then Jesus raised His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You heard Me. I know that You always hear Me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so they may believe You sent Me.” After He said this, He shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him and let him go.” John 11:41-44

After Jesus’ wept with me over the death of my dreams, He called me—the dead woman—to come forth. He proclaimed, “I am the resurrection and the life!” (John 11:25). He told me that He would resurrect my life, that He would take the death I had experienced and give me a new life. He told me that He would replace my heart of stone with one of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). He told me that He would do something new (Isaiah 43:18-19). He told me that He would do something amazing in me so that He could do something amazing through me. He commanded me to remove the graveclothes of guilt and condemnation and to put them behind me.

As I continue to walk this path, I am amazed at the new life I have. My trials and tribulations have worked into me a new compassion for hurting people. While I certainly don’t recommend divorce, I am the first in line to offer a word of hope and encouragement to anyone walking through the pain. I no longer pick up my stones because I realize there’s always more to the story. My heart has a burning passion for purity and encouraging those whose lives have been ravaged by the storms of this life. My purpose in this life has become proclaiming the restoration that only God can bring!

It doesn’t matter what life throws at you: divorce, adultery, medical problems, financial ruin, addiction. It doesn’t matter whether the storm was heaped on you by someone else or by your own acts of disobedience. The only thing that matters is what you do with what life gives you. No matter what the situation, God can—and will—redeem it for His glory. You must simply choose to surrender to the Resurrection and the Life.

While divorce was not God’s perfect will for my life, I choose to let it be for His glory!

Thank you, Lord, for taking my life from the depths of the grave and breathing new life into me. Thank you for taking the failures of my past and using them to encourage others. Thank you for taking my divorce and using it for your glory!

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24 thoughts on “Divorced…To God’s Glory!”

  1. I love this. Beautifully written. Where you wrote, God allowed my husband to choose free will. That hit home for me. I too prayed and prayed for my marriage and for God to restore my husband (as I was pregnant when I uncovered multiple affairs). My husband left and impregnated one of the mistresses and has already cheated on her. I praise God for saving me from a lifetime of adultery, a lifetime of betrayal and a lifetime of lies and manipulation. 2015 is a start to the new year. To praise God for his glory and for all the blessings to come in my future.

    1. Sometimes God’s rescue doesn’t look the way we expect. Yes, many times I have felt the same way. I’m not sure I would have admitted it, but God saved me from a difficult–and increasingly (emotionally and verbally) abusive–marriage. He definitely answered our prayers, just not the way we expected!

      Thank you for joining me on this journey. God bless!

      1. Yes! Amazing what we see in hindsight isn’t it? I think we should hang out Dena. 🙂
        Our stories are so similar. We have mutual friends I’m told.

      2. Divorce Always an taboe word for every churches and each one christian people in this world , it s nothing wrong with it ,but some times we have no choice to be a good persons as christian who got confrontation in our relationship between husband and wife, We are trying to save our marriage , we do our best as christian . My experienced I was married with NARCIST whom i discovered after 10 years divorced ( my marriaged was 12 years and i was only in fears and high intens in each moments of my life during my marriaged , every day cried and under his manipulated and he monitored me in every moment and activity of in my daily life , .finally he had affair with a married woman from our chuch , that was the last drupped of my pain and sufferring.He beat me he yalling at me he did allow me to be with my own daughter ,he influenced my daughter and he expect dat I’m not exist for my own daughter. He sabotaged all my life during our marriaged. if you do understand and know what kind NARCIST PERSON ,I think my stories is completely clear for each one of us . We are christian but my husband has two faces and two maskers. I decide to divorce him and he was trying to say sorry and forgive him as ussualy but after max one hour he comes to me with the same ugly behave and action. 12 years he did the same action and sometimes during we make love he did attack me and left me with his anger without any reasons ,I was affraid I was felt guilty because I thougth was because of me. I have a lot of examples and so much experienced ,self I coild make a book if I would love too.

        Actually I would love to have christian friends or a group christians who has the same experience married and divorce from NARCIST MAN.

        I realized that God hates divorced but with all considers and concern in everything ,I did it and I’m sure God knows my my pains and suffers .

        If somebody would love to talk and sharing ,feel free to contact me.

      3. I understand your experiences so well. I think narcissism is one of the leading causes of divorce, adultery, abuse, and addiction. It is at the root of so many sins, so many divorces.

        I was telling my brother today that I was trapped in sin myself: I either continued to allow my husband to mistreat me, abuse me, manipulate me (which is sin), or I divorce (which is considered sin). How do you determine which “sin” you should allow in your life? In the end, the healthiest, most healing, best choice for my kids and myself was to walk away and let him deal with his own sin. And, I believe that God clearly gave me the right to walk away.

        As I read your words, I relive so much of what I’ve walked through: the apology that doesn’t last, the manipulation, the desire to keep us (for appearances) but refusing to give up the other woman. Been there, done that.

        The beauty is that God has a life for you far beyond anything you could ever hope or imagine! Hang in there! Know that there is now no condemnation in Christ. He came to set the captives free…of which you are one!

  2. This was awesome, you bought the story of Jesus and Lazarus alive in this divorces piece, I pray that God will continue to use you for his glory. May his blessings always abound with you, truly I am encouraged. I am not a divorcee, but you have really encouraged me in my spiritual growth. I thank you, and may God bless you always.

    1. Thank you! I am so glad that God can use my experiences to enciurage you! I see that trials–regardless of whether they are divorce or something else–are universal, and the lessons learned in one type of trial can translate to other trials. Thank you for joining me on this journey. So humbled that God can use me. God bless!

  3. I am currently standing in my marriage. I believe very strongly that God has given me this command. My husband is bipolar, and as such, can be very emotionally abusive at times, we have separated and reconciled several times, but remained together even through the separation. Each time we reconciled I thought it would be different this time. It wasn’t. Finally in the Spring of 2013 we separated and were following our usual path. I was quite happy with the arrangement; I saw him when I wanted to, left and went home if he was in a bipolar state and spent the night a couple of times a week. After 3 months of separation, something different happened, He spent one night with me and the next day began an affair. I was crushed and ready for divorce. I had strayed far from God and yet for the first time in 20 years, I heard his voice telling me to be still and wait and stand, so I did. There were several ups and downs, he would want to talk about divorce and each time would change his mind and wait. During this time I prayed and became closer in my walk with God than I had ever been. When my husband ended the affair, I thought for sure it was God at work. My husband never even apologised and yet I took him back with open arms and waited and prayed for God to bring my husband to Him. I rejoiced that we were restored! I prayed for my husbands salvation and for him to show signs of his heart softening toward God. That did not happen. I have been back in this marriage for one year and 4 months now and I am still considering myself a stander because I now realize we are NOT restored, as we are still very much unevenly yoked. I am still putting up with emotional/verbal abuse and praying for his salvation. Lately, I have started to think that the restoration God has intended was for the relationship between HIM and I. I do not believe it is his will for me to continue to suffer in the name of God hating divorce. Yes, he does hate, divorce, but I believe he hates to see one of his children turn their back on him even more. I turned my eyes back to God and they will stay there, firmly. However, I think I am ready to stop standing for my marriage and start standing for my husband’s salvation. Reading this tonight helped me to get over some of the guilt I have been feeling over moving out of my marriage. I will continue to pray and be open to restoration and I will not file for divorce, but I will also accept divorce should my husband file. I can no longer live with the ups and downs of verbal and emotional abuse and pray that this step forward in my life is the right one.

    1. I am so sorry it has been such a difficult road, but I am SO blessed that you have turned your eyes to God! I know people who are called to stand. I pray strength for them to stand firm in the promise God has given them. And, I know many like myself who felt God give permission to divorce. God is an individual God, one who will communicate with you his plans for you. All he wants is for us to get so close to him that we hear his voice and obey.

      Yes, God hates divorce, but he hates ALL sin. If you look at the entire passage in Malachi 2, you see that it is talking specifically about the unfaithful spouse. He talks about the unfaithful spouse who divorces his wife heaping evil upon her. Those are the actions he hates. And, i become more convinced every day that he hates divorce because of the deep pain and widespread devastation that it brings to his children.

      God does not want you abused. Jesus Christ came to elevate the wife from a piece of property to a priceless treasure. You are worthy of being loved!

      Lord Jesus, I lift Marie to you today. You know the hurt and pain that she is experiencing. I thank you that she has renewed her relationship with you. I pray for wisdom and direction for her. I pray for strength and courage to face the days ahead. I pray for an amazing relationship with you. I pray for her husband’s surrender to you. I pray for resurrection life to rise up in her. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

  4. Dena, I love to read your posts as you walk your path with God. The way that you plumb the depths of scripture to deepen your walk with God is encouraging and inspiring. You have been so open and honest before your readers that I know many will be deeply touched. Thank you for sharing your most private moments of pain and joy, I’m not sure how I discovered your blog over here in England, but I love to tune in and read. I’m happily married with two children of my own and can hardly comprehend the pain you have been through. I am so encouraged by your continual and habitual return to the scriptures to find meaning in your situation and know it is the only way forward in a devastating situation. I constantly remind myself of John 10;10 “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” God’s word is living and active and full of truth. We can pray to see the fulfillment of this in our lives knowing God will accomplish it. The preceeding line reminds me that it is the enemy who comes to steal, kill and destroy. Praying that you and your family will be blessed with abundant life in 2015 and for every opportunity to write and fulfill God’s call on your life. Bless you Dena!!

    1. Thank you so much for the precious words of encouragement! I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support around the globe. Isn’t this a crazy world in which we live, a world where we can connect with other believers across the ocean? How fun is that!

      Just this morning, our pastor spoke on risk-taking, big faith living. No more living by fear. No small-minded living. I want to live life on the edge, taking risks as God leads, experiencing the abundant life he came to give! Let us turn this world upside down by trusting HIM to change the world through us! What kind of life could be more abundant than that!

      So glad to havd you on this journey with me!! God bless!

      1. Yep, you’ve got it right there Dena! A crazy world where our paths would never cross, yet with this technology, we can connect. Amazing! What is incredible is that God can use our shared, and different, experiences to change us and the world. My husband is a pastor in a city church, I’m a mum and school teacher (and wannabe writer – I WILL write that book!) I keep thinking I should fathom the technology required to blog but so far it eludes me! I am encouraged by your writing so perhaps one day I will follow. My eldest daughter has Down’s syndrome and asks every day, “Tell me what we’re doing today. Tell me in a row and start from now.” This routine was just starting to frustrate me when I realised I can be like this with God! I pray but want to know the answers all in a row. Will I get that job, will x be healed, when will this comes to pass? Tell me in a row God and start from now! You have definitely walked that path of uncertainty and therefore learned to trust in God when I imagine it has been very difficult. Here’s to allowing God to plan our paths and trusting Him to show us in His time and not ours. I will keep tuning in across the miles. Every blessing! Allison xx

      2. Start writing!! You never know what God will do! I am living proof. I started this little blog in a moment of sadness, yet somehow knowing that I needed to tell my story. I never dreamed that I would be here today, connecting with people around the world. Never did I imagine that God would take my simple dream and use it as he has. It’s totally a God thing! God bless…and I can’t WAIT to read your book!

  5. Thank you for posting this, i’m struggling with my husband abandonment and multiple unrepented adulteries, and feeling like the biggest sinner and ready to go to hell or thinking about filing for divorce.

    1. God’s grace is far bigger than divorce! He loves you and has a beautiful future prepared for you. You are his princess, the apple of his eye, his treasured possession. Hold your head high! You are approved by your savior! Silence the voice of the enemy; he is the one who comes to heap guilt and shame and condemnation. Your Father is whispering his love to you, holding your tears in his hand, waiting to do an amazing transformation in you! You are greatly loved–by the Father and by me!!

      1. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer, and thank you for your supportive and loving words, wow i was in so much pain for all the situation, hurting for “leaving my 2 boys without his father” for thinking about divorce, and hearing i’m not having enough faith in God for restoring and transforming my husband

      2. Sometimes, the healthiest thing for our kids is to get out of an unhealthy situation. My kids (including 2 boys) are so much healthier than they were before. Your kids will be only as healthy as you are. So, get healthy and stable. Determine that you will thrive and not just survive. Show those boys that you have enough self-respect that you won’t be treated as a second class citizen. Raise God-fearing, amazing young men! That’s what I am doing! And they would not have it any other way…

  6. Dena,
    I really enjoy your blog and have a couple of questions for you. I wish I wasn’t so analytical but I am, this question is just for my growth. Can you expand on the part where you say “God adjusted His plan once more”. I believe God doesn’t change his mind and like in your next blog has planned our days out before we were born (Psalm 139).

    Also even though I don’t consider myself a adamant stander, I do believe that is what God is calling me to do. My husband is going through a midlife crisis and we have reconciled once, which I guess is considered a “false start”. He went back to OW after 4 months. He then returned 8 months later was talking like he wanted to reconcile even though we are divorced now, but I didn’t take the bait. So he again returned to OW in another state away from our kids. I feel like God is telling me he’s still coming back and he wants me to take him back. I love God, but I don’t want to. I already feel humiliated and used after the first time. He is also an alcoholic and has been abusive. I just don’t understand why God would want that. I would appreciate any thoughts you have.

    1. Barb,

      I believe one of the great mysteries is how man’s free will collides with God’s sovereignty. And, it is a mystery we will never fully grasp this side of heaven. Yes, God has a plan for our lives from before we are born. He has a perfect trail mapped out to get us to our purpose. Hiwever, he knows that as humans we will not travel that path perfectly. He has to make allowances for our free will–and the free will of others that will directly impact us (i.e. A wayward spouse).

      I believe God’s overall purpose for my life is to glorify him, to write and encourage others. That has been his plan from before I was born. I believe his perfect plan was for my ex-husband and I to have a great ministry together. However, my husband chose (free will) to take a path that impacted the perfect path. But, God will not change his plans for me; I only find myself on another path to get to his purpose. And, God is using the pain and struggles to prepare me for his great purposes.

      God doesn’t change his mind, and yet he has to work with us, with our free will. Did he know my husband would cheat on me and it would lead to our divorce? Ultimately, yes I think he did. He also knew i would surrender and let him use the pain to confirm me to his image, to get me to a place where I was ready for the purpose he has for me. Did he know that my husband would not repent and that’s why he set me free from my covenant? Maybe so. No matter what life brings, he promises that he will use it for good.

      I love your honesty about your situation. I wish I could tell you why you are where you are. I can’t. I can tell you that you will NEVER go wrong by being obedient to his leading. Just make sure it is the voice of the Holy Spirit, not the voices of others trying to sway you. If he is leading you to stand, then stand head held high believing that he is always faithful, always good, always has a beautiful future for you. If he gives you permission to walk away, experience the freedom and the peace of being released from bondage.

      Ultimately, you have free will. A counselor once told me that if I divorced, God’s grace was big enough to forgive me. Ultimately, I did not even feel that divorce was a sin in my circumstances (as it would not be for you, either). God sees your heart. He knows your desire to be obedient. He knows your love for him. Whatever you decide, he WILL redeem you and give you a beautiful life.

      Lord Jesus, my heart breaks for Barb. I know her hurt and pain, her shame and humiliation. I know the struggle to walk in obedience and the desire to escape the pain because you can’t bear another moment of abuse. Father, wrap your arms around her today. Help her to breathe deeply of the love and grace you are offering her. Let your perfect peace guard her heart and mind. Give her clarity and courage to move forward in the direction you have for her, knowing that you have only her best interests in mind. Be near her broken heart today. Bind up her wounds, and make her new. In Jesus holy name I pray, amen.

  7. Dena,

    Thank you for being so gracious in answering my question and providing clarity. Also thank you for your advice on my situation. I feel like every time I ask God for confirmation he gives it to me. However, whenever I read of obedience in the Bible or other’s stories the obedience is for something immediate in the present. But in my situation I am waiting to do what I think He is asking me to do.

    I would consider myself a baby Christian and am not very confident in discerning the Holy Spirit. I want to obey God because I know that is what leads to my best life, even though it may be difficult. I know God’s grace is big enough for any decision I make, but I want to use my free will to do His will. I have lived so many years of my life doing what I want to do and not acknowledging Him in my decisions I just don’t want to make any more mistakes. I not only have to think of myself, but of my children too. I just try my best to take day by day and see what happens. Thank you for your beautiful prayer for me, I relish every word.

    1. Let me start by saying I love your heart for obedience. Know that God sees your heart and will bless you. More than anything, he wants a heart that is fully his. I think sometimes we get so bogged down in trying to discern his will in specific situations that we miss the bigger picture. Please understand: I know this is a HUGE situation. But, maybe right now God wants you to just let go and trust him to lead you into the beautiful future he has planned for you. Maybe he wants you to simply release all plans and expectations and grab tightly onto him so he can guide you day-by-day to your promised land. Maybe all he wants right now is for you to learn to walk by faith one day at a time.

      I will also tell you that i struggled immensely with whether i should walk away. Every time i felt the release to leave, i would read something or hear a sermon about never giving up. It was when i finally made the decision and acted on it that God gave me tremendous clarity and revealed things I had no idea about.

      Just yesterday, I read a great article about when to let go. Here’s the link: http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2015/01/should-i-give-up-on-my-ex/
      I know I have found myself clinging more to promises God has made than to God himself–many times. It’s all about clinging to God…no matter what.

      Love and prayers and blessings!

  8. Thanks for this post. I’ve been looking for some different scriptures and perspective to lean on. Hard to keep everything in perspective sometimes. My soon to be ex-wife uped and left me without ever communicating there was a problem, cut me off and is completely unopen to any attempt at reconciliation. It does take two… The whole thing, which has been a year of her taking everything we built: house, money, friends, family and more without a word of remorse has been ridiculous. All without ever saying a word as to why or what the issue ever was. Working through it trusting God though. More to it all than I ever imagined.

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