Anger, Christian Walk, Divorce, Forgiveness, God's Power, Healing and Reconciliation, Marriage, Suffering, Waiting on God

Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving

It’s not always easy to recall the two years I spent running from the Lord, because those memories seem so distant and foreign to me. But, I share stories from that time because I know for so many standers recounting my path to restoration is helpful in order to better understand the heart and mind of a prodigal. My desire isn’t to rehash past events that bring about guilt and shame, but to paint a picture of how far God has brought me is such a short period of time. Thankfully, Thanksgiving of 2015 is one holiday experience I can retell but never have to relive.

Let’s take a glimpse back at November of 2015. Tommy and I had been separated for nearly eight months and were living in two households. I went to great lengths to distance myself from him, only communicating about matters that directly involved our children. Earlier in the month he appeared at one of our divorce hearings and pleaded with the judge for an extension in our case. The extension was granted and my desire to be permanently estranged from my husband was foiled. Needless to say, I was angry! I was angry at the judge for taking pity on him. I was angry at my lawyer for not convincing the judge otherwise. I was angry at Tommy for delaying the inevitable. But, most of all, I was angry that I wasn’t getting my way. My pride and rebellion was at an all-time peak, and anything that stood in the way of promoting my sinful lifestyle infuriated me.

I know Tommy felt the wrath behind my anger, even though he never openly communicated that to me. I intentionally ignored his messages and when I did respond, I kept the texts short. As Thanksgiving was approaching, the messages and phone calls between us increased. With every interaction, I could feel the tension mounting. We were met with making decisions about things we had never had to face in previous years and this was new territory for both of us. It was especially challenging because we did not have the same expectations regarding the holidays. 

Tommy wanted nothing other than to celebrate with me and the boys. He longed to take part in the Thanksgiving traditions we had created together over the past ten years. I would have probably been open to the idea of a joint holiday had Tommy been willing to go along with my wicked plans and not attempted to delay our divorce proceedings. But, my schemes went awry and I intended to punish him for his lack of cooperation. I was so blinded by my anger towards him that I couldn’t see his desires were genuine and good for our entire family. All I could see what that he was standing in the way of what I wanted, which was a declaration to end our marriage. Despite his request for togetherness, I chose to host Thanksgiving for family and friends in our home without him.

That year Thanksgiving was different. After the feast was over and my guests had left, a deep loneliness set in and the reality of my choices started to hit home. I was living life entirely on my own and it was solely based on my poor decisions. The company of my friends and family could not fill the void that I had hoped it would. In reality, Tommy could not fill that void either, but turning back to my marriage would have been a step in the right direction. I had fallen so far out of the will of God that I had tunnel vision. I was consumed with my will instead of God’s will and I was seeking the happiness that I felt I deserved. I was willing to do anything to please my selfish desires, and oftentimes in ways that were damaging and sinful.

Praise the Lord, God gave Tommy clarity to see right through the devil’s schemes. That Thanksgiving, Tommy continued to respond to me in love. I knew I had hurt him deeply, which was my intent, but he did not retaliate or respond to my sin with sin. The Father provided him comfort and love as well as great restraint, which didn’t go unnoticed. Tommy could have easily faltered in his stand due to the cirumstances, but his foundation for standing was grounded in the love of Christ. His absence from our family dinner wouldn’t deter his fight for our marriage. He knew that the Lord had more work to do in my heart, so he thanked God for the process and prayed for me that holiday weekend, as he did every weekend. Tommy’s spirit of gratitude wasn’t based around a day, but it was a lifestyle choice that he chose daily. 

The following Thanksgiving, we celebrated our first holiday as a restored family. I still get emotional as I reflect on the goodness of God. The Holy Spirit renewed my mind and set my feet back on the path to righteousness. The Father took our dead marriage and restored it back to life in a miraculous way that only He was capable of doing. 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭100:4-5

Dear friends, I know many of you may find yourselves in desperate family situations. Some of you may even question what you have to be thankful for in the midst of your crisis. I want to remind you of the Father’s may provisions, the greatest of all, a Savior. God loved us so much that He sent His one and only son to take our place and bear our burdens on the cross. Let’s never forget to be grateful for the gift of the cross! We can also come to the Lord with thanksgiving knowing we serve a Master that is actively working and fully capable of performing God-sized miracles in our marriages. Despite the longsuffering, let’s be thankful for the process of transformation taking place in our lives, and let us continue to pray for our prodigals to make their way home to Him!

Authority, Divorce, Faith, God's Power, Healing and Reconciliation, Waiting on God

Our God is Able

For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?

Isaiah 4:27

For so many standers, there are times when we start believing the lies of the enemy and begin to waiver in our confidence that the Lord will restore our marriages. We witness our circumstances changing from bad to worse on a daily basis and see the hearts of our prodigal spouses growing harder and harder. For some, the situations are compounded due to the fact that we have failed to exercise restraint and grace while interacting with our husbands and wives. While these events certainly don’t serve to help matters, they are in no way to be seen as a “deal breaker” as it concerns God and His designs for restoration.

I remember a specific event during the course of our separation that for a time, caused me to believe I had ruined my chances for a restored marriage. The memory remains quite vivid in my mind. The specifics won’t be shared here, but in short, I had violated one of the boundaries Amy put in place for me regarding how and when personal interactions would occur. While the motive for my actions were not wrong or sinful, it was nonetheless a misguided move on my part. After the event, I retreated to the place where I was staying and completely broke down, feeling as though all hope had become lost. I fell on my knees and wept uncontrollably thinking that this time I had really done it. I was convinced Amy would never trust me again and there was absolutely nothing that could change things.

In a moment of desperation, I reached out to my pastor who had been counseling me at the time. I tearfully shared what had happened. In a kind and loving way, he responded to my emotionally charged ramblings by assuring me that I didn’t have the power to change God’s will. There was nothing I could do to stop the Lord from achieving what He desired. Hearing this was both comforting and reassuring. I eventually took this truth to heart and gained the correct perspective as it related to the power of myself, versus the power of Almighty God.

When you think about it, the notion that we can blow it, really does seem silly. The One who spoke the world into existence cannot be prevented from bringing about His will. Even if our efforts to thwart God’s plans are intentional, they will ultimately fail. We cannot stop God from accomplishing what He has purposed to do.

It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

Jeremiah 10:12-13

It’s not possible for us to control every situation. Even if our motivations and intent are godly and pure, sometimes conflict is unavoidable. This is most certainly the case when dealing with a prodigal spouse who is running from the Lord and looking for every conceivable way to accuse, blame, and mischaracterize our words and actions. I know in those heated moments it becomes so difficult to hold our tongues, but putting on the whole armor of God will serve to protect us from ourselves. With that said, it is of great comfort to know that even if we falter and react with our flesh rather than spirit, God is still faithful to overcome and compensate for our weaknesses and constant missteps.

If you are experiencing regret, and perhaps even hopelessness right now because of things you have said or done that you feel is jeopardizing your chances for restoration, do not be disheartened. Our God is loving, forgiving, compassionate and long suffering. He knows our weaknesses. He also understands the emotions and inner conflict we face in the heat of battle. There is no part of our identity or existence that escapes Him, and He generously extends His grace to us from a well that never runs dry. May we take comfort in this as our hearts and minds become conformed to His will.

In Christ,

Tommy Larson
Purposed Marriage

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