Divorce, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Judging, Suffering

Are You Really Sorry?

In this episode of the Purposed Marriage Podcast, we discuss the importance of genuine repentance and the role it plays in the process of reconciliation.

“I Want to Say I’m Sorry” by Andrew Peterson
youtu.be/ZEjf0oOBbe8

Divorce, Forgiveness, Marriage, Suffering

I’m Sorry

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

James 5:16

Coming to grips with the responsibility and role we may have played in helping create an environment fertile and ripe for divorce is a tough pill to swallow. Oftentimes we don’t become fully aware of how selfish and sinful behaviors can affect our spouses until it is too late. For me, when I finally looked in the mirror and became aware of what I had become, my wife’s heart had grown cold and calloused. Sadly, we hear so many similar stories from standers who waited too long before they realized the error and foolishness of their ways. So often it’s only when they’ve heard the words, “It’s over” does there become an awareness of the need for true and genuine repentance.

Shortly after being asked to leave our home, I desperately looked for ways to express sorrow and remorse to my wife. Phone calls, letters, text messages… I exhausted all the options I had at my fingertips. Nothing was getting through. I remember thinking to myself that if she only knew how sincere I was, her mind would change. But as the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months, and months into years, the more I realized and understood the unforgiveness reigning in her heart could not be brought down by mere words alone.

My pastor, who had been counseling with me at the time, shared a music video he thought I’d relate to. From the first moment I heard it, I was moved. So perfectly did this song capture what I was feeling and thinking on the inside, that it became an instant favorite and to this day, occupies a special place in my heart. The lyrics captured the very essence of my emotions at the time and effectively expressed what I was unable to with my own words.

Over the next several days, I found myself listening to this song constantly and felt a strong desire to share it with my wife. I hesitated and waffled back and forth over whether or not I should. Ultimately, I decided to go ahead and do it. In my text message to her, I remember saying something along the lines of, “This song was shared with me and I was deeply moved by it. It sums up what I’ve wanted to say to you for a long time.” I sent the message on a cool Saturday morning with low expectations for a positive reaction from Amy. A little while later, while on my way to a local park with our boys, I received a text message back simply saying, “Thank you for sharing this…” There was no sarcasm or anything close to what resembled so many of the other messages I’d been used to receiving. I was very grateful for this and thanked the Lord the communication was received with the right spirit. I prayed that God would take the song’s message and use it to speak to Amy’s heart.

We never spoke of that shared experience until after the Lord brought us back together. When we did, I was surprised to learn how deeply the song had moved her. Amy informed me that after hearing it for the first time, she finally began to understand how truly sorry I was for everything. Up to that point, she would have told you that any expressed sorrow on my end was done solely with the motivation of fixing our marriage. In other words, it wasn’t genuine. But after hearing the message of the song, her perspective dramatically changed. I was also quite surprised to learn that she would often cry herself to sleep at night while listening to it. Although the piece wasn’t enough to change her mind about going through with the divorce, it did ultimately have an impact. Over time, it served to help soften and quell the anger inside her heart. God used this powerful song to touch my prodigal. There is no doubt about it in my mind. To this day, I still get choked up and emotional when listening to it.

We can’t ever be sure of what or who God is going to use to help bring our prodigals home. One thing is certain though. He can use anything or anyone, even a song like this. Perhaps you find yourself in a situation where you are living with sadness and regret over the role you may have played in hardening your spouse’s heart. If this is the case, please know and understand that if you have confessed the sin to God, He has forgiven you. If you have gone to your prodigal in the hopes of seeking forgiveness and your efforts have been callously rebuffed, do not lose heart. Forgiveness and healing can often take extended periods of time. The “quick fix” solution that exists in some of our minds must be overcome if we have committed to remain in this battle for the long haul. We need to acknowledge that it is God who determines how and when restoration will occur. Yes, we have a role to play, but we will never be in a position to control or manipulate the hearts and minds of our prodigals. Let the Lord do what only He can, and while you wait, continue to walk humbly and with perseverance as you travel down this road.

In Christ,

Tommy Larson

Christian Walk, Church, Couseling, Divorce, Forgiveness, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage

Zero Shades of Grey

zero

When defending my decision to divorce, one of the phrases I used often was, “The Bible is full of areas of grey.” It’s also a phrase I’ve heard others use since starting our marriage ministry. For me, it was a tactic to divert the attention away from myself and onto Tommy. I ascribed greyness in my pursuit of divorce, at the same time condemning Tommy for his past failures and defining them as black and white.

It was also a convenient way to shut down the conversation before it ever began, so I wouldn’t have to face the fact that I hadn’t done everything possible to make my marriage work. During our pause, I refused to attend Biblical couples counseling, neglected to talk with any pastors or church staff members, nor was I willing to allow God to help me forgive Tommy, although he was desperately seeking my forgiveness. I’ve found the majority of people that bring up areas of grey are those looking for loopholes in Scripture. Those wanting to justify their sin or provide a less guilty conscience for themselves tout the Bible as being foggy.

Reality was Tommy had been humbly broken before the Lord, submitting to the Holy Spirit and changed from the inside out. Although I saw clear evidence of God leading his life in the direction of holiness, I felt it was my right to condemn his sinful actions from the past. But, I had forgotten Romans 8:1: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus.” Instead of trying to guilt and shame my husband for his past behavior, I should have been seeking God and asking for His help to bring about reconciliation in my marriage.

Although I claimed to have forgiven Tommy, it was clear I had not by continually condemning him and bringing up his past transgressions . Forgiveness in my eyes meant saying a string of words (I forgive you), then proceeding with divorce. It looked like having a stranger knock on his apartment door unexpectedly to hand him a manila envelope followed by one simple phrase, “you have been served.” It was my push for divorce that left Tommy desperately heartbroken and confused at his front door that day trying to figure out how he could walk back inside and pretend like everything was okay in front of our boys.

Is that what forgiveness looks like to you? Is that the representation of Christ’s forgiveness in Scripture? True forgiveness was Jesus taking the sin of the world upon His shoulders, being beaten, bloody and bruised while hanging on the cross with a spear-pierced side and nail-pierced hands and feet. Forgiveness was Jesus crying out to the father in Heaven, “forgive them for they know not what they do,” as the soldiers cast lots to divide His garments at the foot of the cross. Forgiveness was Christ looking over to the thief hanging beside Him just before He took his last breath, assuring him, “today you shall be with me in paradise.” It’s about giving a second, a third and a fourth chance. It’s not seven times, but seventy times seven repeatedly forgiving the sinner that has sincerely asked for forgiveness.

How could I reconcile a decision that honors God when He makes it very clear that he hates divorce? I couldn’t because the Bible is in fact very black and white. It is true, the Bible doesn’t address every specific issue we may face in life. However, it does provide principles we should live our lives by to govern our thoughts and actions. When we examine our choices through the prism of God’s Word, we’ll find zero shades of grey.

There are a number of questions we can ask ourselves that will help bring clarity to our decision making. Will this help me grow spiritually? Is this harmful to me or to others? Will this decision cause my brothers or sisters to stumble? Of all the questions, I think the most important to ask is, will this decision bring glory and honor to God. We were created uniquely in the likeness of God to bring glory to Himself.

Therefore, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

Are you pleasing God and striving for holiness or are you lost in areas of grey, excusing your behavior and rebelling against our Heavenly Father?

In Christ,
Amy Larson