God Stops A Wife's Divorce Plans

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From a reader – WOW!  THIS IS  TOTALLY GOD AT WORK.  AMAZING.  THANK YOU to this wife for allowing me to share.  I know it will challenge and bless many wives!

I wanted to quickly share with you the impact of one of your blogs on my life.

I am currently separated from my husband. I found out 2 days before Thanksgiving that he had been having an affair since around March of that year (2012). Our marriage was a mess, and I suspected and confronted him at least 20 times about stuff that didn’t add up, but the response was always the same; “I’m crazy, all problems are my fault because I’m so untrusting, I’m a B, I’m always fighting with him and accusing him of stuff, etc. etc. etc.”. We weren’t sleeping together anymore because he told me he simply lost his sex drive. He didn’t know why…

Of course I did everything wrong too, I clung even more tightly, I cried everyday, I begged him to love me, I tried seducing him to be rejected time and time again, etc. By the time I found out, I was actually relieved, because at least I wasn’t crazy! So I made him move out.

The roller coaster then began…I wanted a divorce (this is the 3rd time he has cheated on me in 10 years of marriage – we have done the whole counseling and forgiveness route and here we are again…). So, great Christians advised me that it was totally Biblical to divorce him and I believe that myself. However, the problem is I still love my husband. With all his crap, I still love him. So then I changed my mind and wanted reconciliation.

But in my fashion, I told him I wanted it and that we were going to reconcile, so he better get on board. I told him he needed to go to counseling and get fixed… lol (its funny now, but I seriously meant it). I explained to him that this journey would be very long and hard but that we  were going to make it. He yelled at me that I was not going to control this too… That if he was going to come back it would be on HIS terms and not mine.

Then I found out not only was he still seeing her, but he had taken our children to her house on the weekends he had them and they were all being a happy little family together. The rage came then and I wanted to kill him. So then I was really getting a divorce. The kicker came when he took this woman to a public event. Then I lost it. I called him and it was not pretty. N0t at all. I was divorcing him, he was a son of a you know what and she was a you know what and I was getting the kids, getting the house, leaving him the business debt…oh boy. He was just as ugly with me.

And believe it or not, I felt good about it. I was glad to get it all of my chest and I was glad to be finally making the RIGHT decision to divorce him. I would mourn the loss of my marriage and then be done with it. Me and the kids would be just fine.

A DIVINE CALL FROM AN INSPIRED FRIEND

So last Monday morning,  I was all set to start working on the paperwork from the attorney. Then my friend called me. And I was so happy to tell her that I finally was getting the divorce and all the things he did again… She stopped me dead in my tracks by telling me that I was dead wrong. WHAT???????? “But look what he did and has done and for goodness sake, HE IS STILL WITH HER…sleeping with her and God knows what else.” I was sick.

She said she knew it was NOT God’s will for me to file those papers because I was so angry and bitter. Because I was arrogant and hating. That is not God’s way she said.  BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT, was all I could say, ‘ LOOK WHAT HE IS DOING????  She said, “look what you are doing.”

If that friend would have been standing in front of me at that moment I might have taken her down!! I was so mad and upset. BUT LOOK at all he had done to ME. He had broken my heart and ripped apart our family and my little kids cry themselves to sleep at night that their daddy isn’t home. I asked, “What? Am I to just sit around and wait on him to change and decide to come back?” She said, “Of course not, but you are to sit around and wait on the Lord. AND HE will lead you.” She said that I wasn’t healed yet and that God was not going to bless me filing in anger and bitterness.   (From Peacefulwife – THIS is a true friend!!!!!!!!!!  WOW!)

It took me the rest of the day to process all of that and I was not a happy camper. I just wanted it to be over, because at least then, I knew the path I was on. Because I CONTROLLED IT. I am a fixer. A doer, a very successful person in everything I do, because I don’t fail. It’s not in my genes to quit. That’s how I’ve always been and I couldn’t fix this and it was killing me in many many ways. So ending it was how I could just control it. and then move on.

A DIVINE APPOINTMENT WITH THE PEACEFULWIFE BLOG

So…here I am the next morning, and I’m still crying at 6am…and I read your blog about “In Sickness and Health”. And you shared about how for 15 years you were this and you were that (telling my story basically), and then you listed spiritual sicknesses…and I was confronted like a tsunami, with my own selfishness over the last 10 years.

  • My control issues
  • how I knew how to parent better than him (because I have two from a previous marriage)
  • I had the experience not him
  • I had been married before, so I knew “how to do it right”
  • I was very spiritual
  • I sing, I’m on the worship team. He hates singing.
  • I am always in the Bible and praying…he never does.  Obviously I’m the way more spiritual one here.
  • I was critical of the way he handled many things, including our sex life.
  • My husband is extremely good looking and women flirt with him in front of me. Like I’m not even there. So, I have taken it upon myself to make sure I knock him down a peg or two lest he get even more arrogant (he does struggle with arrogance and pride and he definitely knows he is good looking), so I needed to keep him in check.
  • He wanted to go out for drinks with his brother? I pouted and argued and begged him not to, why? Because I felt if I could control his behaviors, he would not cheat again. That worked well.

I am sharing with you all the bad things that God showed me in an instant about myself. All my best intentions to ‘save’ our marriage and help him. But I was selfish, self righteous, prideful, controlling, and extremely disrespectful. I even chased him out of the bedroom one time after he yelled at me that I didn’t respect him at all, and I said, “(Darn) right I don’t, you have to earn respect….”

WOW… as I read your blog and the Lord convicted me of so much, my heart broke. I was so ashamed of my own behaviors and all the anger I had toward him just left me. I felt the Lord say, “Do you think his sins are worse than yours? His are just out there for everyone to see, yours were kept hidden well within this home”.  Ouch.  Then He said (you know what I mean…I don’t hear voices, lol), “You have been begging me to restore your marriage and change your husband. But what if I asked you to take him back just as he is and YOU change?”

GULP, punched in the stomach.

Now don’t get me wrong, my husband is no angel. He has been emotionally and verbally abusive at times in our marriage. but so have I. And, he does have a track record of lying to me and cheating (I believe he has some serious strongholds, but instead of praying diligently, I have just held it against him). But, I felt the Lord tell me to stop looking at him, and just look at myself. Don’t go backward or look too much forward, just look at today and what I can do to change all those nasty little things about myself.

You should probably know I am well respected and everyone loves me! lol I am caring and generous and wonderful and truly love the Lord with all my heart. Go out of my way to help others, volunteer, etc. Yet, to my husband, what have I been? I realized also that I never before really understood that by dishonoring and disrespecting my husband, I was dishonoring my Lord. WOW… I was and still am, a week later, reeling from this.

A NEW WOMAN IN CHRIST – AMAZING!

In the past week, I have texted my husband and told him I do not want a divorce. I apologized to HIM for my selfishness and self righteousness and control and etc., etc., His response was that he had mixed feelings about it. The fact he didn’t scream at me that he hates me and wants the divorce was positive! lol. I know I can’t control what he is doing or the situation. I do pray that God would remove this woman. I pray that he would repent and turn back to God…but mostly I just pray that God’s will be done and I trust that it will. I trust God. I trust Him! That’s huge for me to say.

I am focusing on what I can do to change. Everytime I see him and talk to him, our conversations have gotten better. He tried to engage me in arguing by throwing up things I have done and said in the past (of course my flesh wanted to say, are you freaking kidding me? you are sleeping with another woman right now while we are still fully married), but yes, okay, I said that… I listened while he ranted.

I didn’t defend myself, I simply apologized and said I can’t fix the past, but I am working on me and changing my future. He then told me I’d have to give him my entire savings account to pay for his taxes he owes (this is a BIG one). I swallowed hard, and said, “Okay, you can have it.”

He shut up. He didn’t speak for like 4 minutes. Then said, “Well, I don’t want to spend that money because I like knowing you have that as a safety net for emergencies). He then got right up off his chair and came around the table and hugged me! HE HUGGED ME. Now that ain’t leaving his girlfriend, but it’s something.

So… I read your blog every day (well, I’m not reading the marriage is sexy blog, don’t think I can handle that yet), but I read all the other ones and I love your blog. And you have helped me immensely. Thank you and to my friend for telling the truth. We need to hear it. I know God is doing a great work in me, and I have to trust Him for the rest and leave my husband in His hands. He doesn’t need my help.

Why Are Many of Us So Unprepared to Be Godly Wives? – Part 1

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Here are comments from two Christian men that I believe deserve our time,  attention and some prayerful consideration.  Then I have some observations about why I believe Christian women are  often so unprepared for biblical marriage and some warning signs that there may be trouble ahead before a woman enters marriage that I will be sharing tomorrow. 

 Let me warn the ladies – this may be quite painful to read.  Men are sinners, too.  I am not addressing that issue or addressing men in this post.  I teach women.  And it is time for us to allow God to shine His light on our condition of extreme spiritual poverty as Christian women in our culture.  I pray that we might be broken before Jesus and see our own sinfulness and cry out to Him for healing.

FROM ANONYMOUS: (A Christian single man, he begins with a quote from one of my posts earlier in the week on www.peacefulsinglegirl.wordpress.com)

“But we are contaminating our minds and our relationships when we indulge in this selfish, sinful, disrespectful (to God and to our men), resentful, bitter behavior. We are poisoning our hearts against our guys when we criticize and ridicule them to others. If things are truly that awful with him – please do some serious praying about whether this is a man to consider for marriage. If you can’t respect him now – you are going to have a MUCH harder time after you get married! YOU MUST BE ABLE TO RESPECT YOUR GUY AS IS RIGHT NOW! You can’t change him! You’ve got to appreciate the masterpiece that he is or move on to someone else who is more in tune with Christ.”

Most Christian women don’t break up with men because they “are not in tune with Christ.”
They deliberately date men who aren’t!

They are influenced by society and break up because they want and believe they “deserve” more ______! They believe that God wants to give them everything they could possibly hope for or imagine, and discard anyone who fails to meet their own culturally-derived definition of perfect. If anything, they themselves are not in tune with Christ, and they use their religious, self-centered, self-righteous mindset to rationalize and justify why they should have more _______!

They use God to rationalize why they deserve a man who is rich, tall, dark, and handsome (whether or not he is godly).
They also rationalize and use God as their excuse, not their real reasons why they are allowed to break up with godly men (because he isn’t rich, tall, dark, handsome.)

They abuse scripture and disrespect both God and Christian men!
They conveniently forget, minimize, justify, and excuse themselves of all their own sin
They are not honest with God or men, or even with themselves.
They are deceived.

I should also add that while they talk A LOT about the value of godliness, it is usually not anywhere near their highest priority. Once they obtain a boyfriend/husband who is some version of rich, tall, dark, handsome, popular, and high-status, they might also use God as their excuse to break up with him if they decide (according to their own personal standards) that he is not “holy enough” for them. So they have no problem violating scripture to obtain the man they want (they probably knew whether or not he was “holy” before), but then they turn around and use scriptures as an excuse that he isn’t “good enough” or “holy enough” for them now.

Ironically, it doesn’t seem to matter if he is holy, but rather if she thinks he is “holy”, or if she is somehow holy enough herself to forgive him. If he demonstrates that he is human and makes mistakes, she is likely to break-up with him on-the-spot, because she is more concerned about herself than him. She sees him as the perpetrator of sin, rather than the victim of it. She is quick to look at the sin, not the sinner that still wants to love both God and her. She feels justified to reduce his entire being and the full-array of his character down to a single weak moment or turn a minor or temporary struggle into the permanent all-encompassing label of “bad” or “unholy,” as if a single snapshot in a single moment (of her choice) defines all of who he is as a person. Without realizing it, she acts as if its okay for her to be human, but its not okay for him. She expects him to be as perfect as Jesus, and is determined to hold him accountable to that impossibility!

Sadly, some men actually are holy, rich, tall, dark, handsome, popular, high-status, outgoing, spontaneous, easy-going, entertaining, charming, charismatic, ambitious, passionate, romantic, responsible, etc., etc., etc., and they still have difficulty finding godly women who want to be godly wives according to scripture.  

Women’s motives and actions are often selfish and self-righteous. They are only concerned with getting what they want, without any concern for who the man really is or how they might be hurting him.

If they get hurt in the process of dating a given man, then it is blamed, labeled, and filed-away as all his fault (not also their own willful sins and decisions).

Ultimately, women expect a man to be respected by everyone else (according to cultural standards) before they are willing to respect him (according to their own rationalized version of biblical standards), but they still holds onto their “right” to withhold respect at their will and at anytime they choose, for any reasons they choose. They just use God, scripture, and “holiness” as their excuse.

From Peacefulwife – I believe that his observations here are correct in many cases (not all!  Praise God!) and I believe that this is one of the most devastating problems in Christian romantic relationships and marriage today – the loss of respect by women for their men – and the loss of the understanding that the husband is the God-given spiritual authority in marriage.  The concept of unconditional respect for men, for husbands and for all God-given authority was destroyed in the 1960s and 70s.  Women today have almost no idea what respect is to a man, how to give it and what disrespect is, what it does to a man and how to avoid it.  Our mainstream culture is extremely disrespectful towards men and husbands and authorities.  So we think that disrespect is just normal.  Plus, we think so highly of our own spirituality as women, many times, that we think ourselves “more qualified” to lead spiritually because we read our Bibles more, can quote more verses and want to talk about the things of God more.  This is unscriptural!  God gave the husband the position of God-given authority in marriage (I Corinthians 11:3) and no wife can take that away from her husband.  He can’t give it away.  He IS the God-appointed head of the marriage and family.  And he is accountable to God for his leadership.  We are accountable to God for cooperating with the God-given leadership of our husbands – unless they ask us to sin or violate God’s Word.

I’m not sure how much you agree with any of these thoughts.

Obviously, I shouldn’t say ALL women are like this.
I’ve just personally encountered more of them than I wish!

Thanks again for taking the time to consider my thoughts!
I appreciate it!

AN ADDITIONAL QUOTE FROM ANONYMOUS THE NEXT DAY:

While I can’t comment on marriage, I will agree that I’ve heard several, several young Christian women use versions of the phrase “There are faithful single women out there that love God and want to live a life that is pleasing to Him.” Sometimes they say to me, “Don’t worry! There are plenty of good girls out there!” They usually think they are one of them, and don’t realize that I’ve already discerned them not to be.

It’s almost like saying, “If everyone were as great as me and my friends, then you have nothing to worry about,” which just make me cringe even more.

I’ve seen enough of my godly male friends ditched, cheated on, and divorced by their “good” Christian wives to realize that young Christian men now can’t just marry the women who (as David J put it) “attend (church) eagerly” or “absolutely revel” in worship. Sometimes the woman who looks so spiritual worshiping with her hands in the air on Sunday can be a nightmare to be around every other day of the week.

Many times, the women who think they are “right,” “good,” “godly,” “holy,” or somehow more “qualified” to date “good” men, are just as bad as those “other,” “less qualified” girls who they label and discredit as “bad” and “wrong.” They just don’t know it yet, because they’re too busy going to bible studies and volunteering for church activities.

Here are a few verses that illustrate what we all (men and women) have to be aware of before, during, and after we date and marry:
2 Timothy 3:5-7 (AMP)
5For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them]. [ ] 6[For among them are those who worm their way into homes and captivate silly and weak-natured and spiritually dwarfed women, loaded down with [the burden of their] sins [and easily] swayed and led away by various evil desires and seductive impulses. ] [ ] 7[[These weak women will listen to anybody who will teach them]; they are forever inquiring and getting information, but are never able to arrive at a recognition and knowledge of the Truth. ]

FROM DAVID:

M and Anonymous: God bless M for her desire to have a good marriage in spite of the lack of positive examples in her own family. I’m glad that the young women she knows do not seem to match up with Anonymous’s experience, but I have to tell you that I’m skeptical whether M’s friends are being honest with her or themselves. Since I’m an old(er) guy who was married for 29+ years, my personal experience is more with the married women of friends and at church rather than with younger single women. But of the population of Christian women with which I’m familiar, I have to say that the overwhelming majority fall on the wrong side of what Anonymous (and April) have described of what is typical. My own ex-wife would be one of the most obvious and egregious examples, but even setting her aside, I have very few friends who have wives who treat them with the kind of respect that April is (thankfully) urging on her readers. Like, count on one hand among all current acquaintances and maybe two hands of all acquaintances ever. That’s bad.

My suspicion is that marriage uniquely challenges a woman in ways that reveal more of who she really is than any pre-marriage environment does, with the result that both the woman herself and her husband are surprised when the disrespectful wife shows up. This means that Christian guys have to be unusually discerning in their dating, and that’s very hard to do. How are they going to spot non-obvious signs of rebellion and disrespect that even godly young women like M haven’t seen in each other?

Here’s where I will use my ex-wife as an example. I met her at a very conservative Christian college, which she was attending eagerly, not reluctantly. She was a Church Ministries major who thought she’d probably marry a pastor and would have been happy to do so. She absolutely reveled in the spiritual emphasis on campus — dorm room prayer meetings, hall prayer meetings, society prayer meetings, evangelistic outreaches, etc. She became a leader in all of these areas. Her father was a devout (albeit extreme fundamentalist) Christian. Her grandmother, who paid for her freshman year at the college, was a devout (albeit cold) Christian. Her mother was a promiscuous, oft-married alcoholic, but she wanted to be the opposite. Her faculty adviser was a very godly, gracious Bible professor who thought the world of her. And so on.

Looking back, with the benefit of experience in general and specific experience with her, I can identify signs that existed when we were dating and engaged (a total of almost 4 years). And my parents had some reservations that they gently (perhaps too gently) raised at the time. But the general consensus was that we were the perfect couple and that we would do great things for God. Only later did I start to see the selfishness, self-absorption, self-rightousness, pride, inability to admit being wrong, judgmentalism, and the over-arching FEARFULNESS that would soon be turned against me when it became clear that I wasn’t anywhere near perfect and when life (including especially finances) didn’t go as planned. [M, I’ve described my situation in more detail elsewhere, but the short version is that my wife ultimately divorced me without a biblical basis, contrary to pastoral and counselor advice, blowing up our lives and the lives of our 4 kids, ages 21-14 at the time; she then proceeded to meet (online), date, and marry a twice-divorced man within 13 months of the divorce, and has now moved 400 miles away to live with him, taking our 18-year old daughter with her and leaving our 16-year old son behind.)

I also believe, as April has noted from time to time, that somehow there is a difference in the two genders’ ability to spot their own tendency toward marital sin. For some reason, wives don’t seem to be able to have the light go on — either at all or as quickly — as husbands do. Give most of us a book or a seminar or a counselor and we’ll generally see our faults pretty quickly, and we’ll generally acknowledge them, apologize for them, and try to do better. (This is a generalization; I’m well aware that some men are obtuse idiots who never get it.) Not so with wives, in my experience. I wouldn’t ask you to put much stock in my experience alone, but I understand from April that hers is the same, with a much broader sample size.

So, between the fact that marriage is a unique crucible and the (admittedly generalized) fact that women don’t seem to be as self-aware as men, Christian young men have a much harder task than just finding “faithful single women out there that love God and want to live a life that is pleasing to Him.” That’s what I thought I had found, and it wasn’t enough. Then throw in the tilted playing field that is divorce in this country — churches (and individual Christians) that don’t want to get involved or “take sides” and a legal system that allows (even financially rewards) unilateral unbiblical divorces — and the long-term prospects for Christian young men can be very sobering, if not outright frightening. I am going to have to have some extended sessions with my own adult sons if/when they ever get serious about looking for a wife.

Giving Our Children the Gift of Peace

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Many parents are scrambling to find the BEST Christmas gifts for their children – spending hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars on toys, electronics, clothes and jewelry.  It’s so normal now for Christmas to be all about STUFF.  We easily turn Christmas into a monument to materialism, selfishness, greed and things.  Santa and gifts and decorations can become idols to our children, even to adults – as we set our hearts on those things above our desire for Christ.  It is a struggle to focus on Jesus and His truth in our culture and not allow Christmas to become something ungodly.

But there is something even worse, in my view.

TURNING CHRISTMAS INTO WAR

Christmas is supposed to be to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ – the coming of the Messiah – the Prince of Peace.  But for many families where Christ is not Lord, celebrating His birth becomes another occasion for feuds, hatred, bitterness, contempt,  rage, screaming, cussing and even violence.

  • DIVORCE – What an ugly thing Christmas can be in this situation.  Each parent battles to have the children for themselves on Christmas.  Or they have to measure out the minutes and it has to be “exactly equal” or it is NOT FAIR because “he got the children one more hour than I did.”   It can become a competition to see who can buy bigger and better gifts sometimes so that the children will “love” the more generous parent more.  Some ex-spouses even use the celebration of the birth of the Son of God to create hostility in front of their children, screaming and calling the other parent the most dreadful things and saying, “I hate you!” in front of their children.
  • DIVIDED FAMILIES – Other families are not in a divorce situation, but there is incredible tension and division in the home between parents.  The celebration of Christmas becomes a battle ground of who gets to have control and power and make the decisions.  And the bickering, fighting, yelling, cursing, hatred and sometimes violence become the main event.

When we are living “in the flesh” we will have results like these.  It is a guarantee:

Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.  

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.  I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control…

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Galatians 5:16-17,19-24

OUR CHILDREN

What does it do to a child to witness his parents tearing each other down, berating each other, hating each other, calling each other horrible names, accusing each other of terrible things, fighting over the children, trying to take revenge, trying to cause as much pain as possible to each other, using their children as weapons against each other, full of rage, bitterness and resentment – all in front of their children?

A child loses:

  • his sense of security and safety
  • his understanding of a loving God
  • his ability to have trust in relationships in the future
  • his ability to have peace himself
  • any joy that Christmas might bring

A child gains:

  • incredible anxiety and fear
  • a desire to try to control others to attempt to maintain his own safety
  • a sense of guilt – that the hatred is somehow his fault
  • grief over the dream of his family being a loving, joyful, beautiful place
  • a picture of God being as out of control and unloving as his parents
  • an inability to respect God-given authority and to submit to God and to God-given authority
  • health problems related to stress

This list is not exhaustive, certainly.

TO HATE A PERSON IS TO BE AS A MURDERER IN GOD’S EYES

Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.  I John 3:15

We love because He first loved us.  If anyone says: “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar.  For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.  And He has given us this commandment: “Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”  I John 4:19-21

It is time to ask God to examine our hearts under the surgical light and instrument of His Word.  It hurts to lie still while He removes all the filth and rot and does open heart surgery on our souls.  But we NEED it!  If that root of bitterness and hatred does not come out, it will destroy us and our fellowship with God and we forfeit the power of God to work in our hearts and lives.  We cannot afford the luxury of hatred!  We need Jesus desperately!  And we need His power in us so that we can be the people He wants us to be.

THE GREATEST GIFT

What I desire for all of our children for Christmas this year is that they might see the peace and power of God modeled in their parents and that they might experience the peace of Christ in their families and homes.

For this gift to be a reality – it will take each of us submitting ourselves fully to Christ and His Word and His will.  We will have to give up our rights, our way, our desires, our wisdom, our plans, our will, our selfishness and be willing to embrace God’s will, His way, His wisdom and His glory.  It will mean looking out for what is best for our children, not just what I want.

It will mean my willingness to humble myself and return evil with good, to pray for those who misuse me and for those who mistreat me.  It will mean that I must be willing to sacrifice of myself for the good of others.  For example:

  • If I am divorced, I may decide God is calling me to be generous and allow my ex-husband to have the children all day on Christmas day, and I can make arrangements to celebrate with my children another day that week graciously and cooperatively.
  • Even if my husband or ex-husband is hateful towards me – I can choose to submit to Christ and to be filled with His Spirit’s power and to respond with gentleness, respect, godly love, peace and strength.
  • I can lay down my agenda and my way and my insistence on being “right” about how to celebrate or where to celebrate Christmas and cooperate with my husband and realize that the details of the celebration and the gifts are no where near as important as the gift of giving my children peace of mind, unity, love and respect between their parents.
  • I can respond to hatred with blessing.
  • I can respond to cursing with the power of prayer.
  • I can respond to mind games and power plays with generosity, kindness, cooperation and respect (unless I am being asked to sin).  THAT will bring glory to Jesus and might just cause my husband or ex-husband to go, “HUH?!?”  And start thinking that maybe this Jesus that I have is really a treasure.
  • I can refuse to yell and scream and cuss.  I can ask God to fill me with His Spirit and give me self-control so that my children don’t have to witness the horror of their mother being full of rage and out of control and scary.

When I genuinely have God’s peace in my own soul – God will empower me to have peace with other people AND I will also be in a position to share God’s peace with my children and teach them His ways.  There is no better gift than the Lordship of Christ and all the spiritual riches of heaven!

Lord,

How I pray that You might change OUR hearts today.  Convict us of our hatred, bitterness and wrong doing.  Show us the ungodliness in our souls.  Help us to have godly sorrow and to turn from our ways and our wisdom and to humbly turn to You – knowing we are wretched sinners who desperately need Jesus every moment!

Change us!  Make us the wives and moms and ex-wives You desire us to be.  Let Your Spirit rule in our hearts.  Let Your powerful love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control be the hallmarks of our lives!  Richly bless our children through us.  Pour out your Spirit on us and remove anything offensive to You and pour through us to our precious children.

Let our homes be sanctuaries of peace with God and peace with one another.  Let our homes be full of the joy and strength of Christ.  Let our homes be full of faith in the almighty God.  Let us make room in our hearts for You this Christmas and every day, Lord!

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE AUDITORY LEARNERS, here’s a Youtube video on this topic!

http://youtu.be/7WjPhS7MHCo

Bitterness is Contagious and Toxic!

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Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.   Hebrews 12:14-15

WHAT IS IT ABOUT ONE PERSON’S BITTERNESS THAT DEFILES MANY?

In this passage – there is a TON of spiritual meat!

  • it is impossible to live in peace with others and be bitter
  • it is impossible to be holy and be bitter
  • it is impossible to see God without holiness
  • it is impossible to grasp the grace of God and be bitter
  • bitterness grows to cause trouble (in the church, in families, in businesses, in neighborhoods, ANYWHERE)
  • bitterness yields a toxic harvest that contaminates many people

1. My bitterness may lead others to become bitter towards the same person/thing I am bitter about

When I am bitter – I am seething with unforgiveness and a sense of justifiable anger.  I am fueled primarily by PRIDE – pride that I don’t deserve this treatment and that I am better than the person with whom I am bitter, that I ought to be sovereign instead of God, that I know best for myself and for others, that I should decide and dole out what the punishment for sin against me should be… LOTS OF PRIDE.

I cherish my grudge more than my relationship with God.  My bitterness leads me to more sin.  As the bitterness tree grows – it takes over my heart, my life, my thoughts, my words and my actions.  The tree begins to develop fruit.  Fruit like – hatred, avoidance, lack of love, lack of faith in God, deceit, lying, being divisive, gossip, possibly even violence or adultery – depending on my situation.  And the fruit drops into my life and the lives of those around me, rotting and allowing the small seeds of bitterness to spread and germinate in other places.

When I am bitter, I WANT to gossip about the person with whom I am bitter.  I WANT to run them down.  I WANT to hurt their reputation and try to build myself up by stomping them into the ground.  Gossip defiles my listeners.  And the people listening to me may become convinced to become angry, unforgiving or bitter towards the target of my bitterness, too.  Or, at the very least, they will lose respect and regard for the target of my bitterness or for me!  This happens at work, in extended families, in the church and especially in the home.

Children who have a parent who sets out to turn them against the other parent often develop great bitterness and unforgiveness themselves towards that other parent – not realizing until they are adults how much they have been defrauded by the bitter parent.  They can literally be robbed of the love of one parent and a relationship with that parent by having a bitter parent try to turn them against the other parent.

2. Others may become bitter towards me because it is HARD to love a bitter person.  My bitterness is so obnoxious, foul and toxic.

When I am bitter, I become more and more consumed with my anger, my justification of my own sin, my pride, my rights, my desire for revenge, my needs, my purposes, my will, MYSELF – that I can hardly see anything or anyone else around me eventually.

There is certainly no room for Christ to co-exist in my heart with a tree of bitterness.  Even a tiny seed or root of it offends His holiness.  I have to choose – Christ or bitterness.

It is HARD to love someone engulfed in bitterness.  They are sharp and prickly.  They practically develop a force field around them that love bounces off of.  It is exhausting to be around them.  They are depressing and draining.  They are an endless pit of need and negativity.  It is EASY to begin to develop bitterness towards a bitter person.  Of course, Jesus can give us to power to continue to love them  – but if we start reacting in our own flesh, we can be very tempted to be bitter with one who is bitter.

3. Bitterness can become my idol.

I can become completely entangled if bitterness continues to grow unchecked.  My very identity becomes BITTERNESS toward a person, an event or even God.  The tree of bitterness, and many generations of offspring trees that grow from the seeds of the fruit of the first tree – produces a FOREST of sin in my life that is inescapable.

If I am a very bitter person, I only want to talk about one thing – my bitterness.  (Bitterness grows in stages and is progressive, so it may start out only consuming a portion of my attention, but if given plenty of fuel and a  nourishing environment of continued anger, pride, rebellion against God and unforgiveness – it will completely take over my soul.)

It can become my IDOL.  I want to wallow in it and luxuriate in the mire of it.  I want to run the other person down – or run God down.  I wants the world to know what a victim I am and how powerless and wonderful and innocent I am and what justice I have been denied.

Bitterness blocks my view of God’s sovereignty.  When I am bitter, I cannot accept God’s grace for myself or for my offender.  I cannot receive grace.  I cannot give grace.  I cannot forgive.  So God will not forgive me.  It is a dark, depressing, lonely, cold, miserable prison.

If I am bitter with a person – I am ultimately also bitter at God.

For anyone who does not love his brother whom he has seen, CANNOT love God, whom he has not seen.  And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God MUST also love his brother.  I John 4:20b-21

We don’t understand that God counts the way we treat other people as if we are treating Him that way.  The person to whom I show the least amount of love is the way I love God – that is how He judges me.

Whew!  What a scary thought that is!

The whole book of I John is an incredible study on NOT living in bitterness and hatred, but living in the love of God.

Idolatry destroys my fellowship with God and destroys every facet of my life – my soul, my relationships, my finances (eventually), my health, my emotions, my family…  Idolatry has a steep price – it causes discontentment, an insatiable desire for more that cannot satisfy, frustration, anxiety, worry, lack of joy, lack of peace, misery and sometimes even death.

4. Others may become bitter with God because of my bitterness

If I am bitter – I won’t forgive.  I won’t accept God’s grace for myself and I won’t extend God’s grace to others.  God says I am wicked if I refuse to forgive as I have been forgiven (Matthew 18).  I am a slave to sin and the flesh, and I can’t have God’s power or His Spirit or the fruit of His Spirit in my life.  I don’t see the sovereignty of God to work through this situation for my good and His glory.

So – I cannot shine for Christ.

In fact, if I call myself a Christian but am holding on to bitterness, I convolute and distort the image of Christ that I am projecting and will REPEL others from the gospel and the truth of God.

Why would anyone want to come to Christ if living for Him looks like ME – living in bitterness?

Especially my spouse and children will be affected.  If they are not believers, my horrific “witness” will erect a massive stumbling block for them to come to Christ.  I am an awful billboard for Christianity and for Jesus when I live in disobedience to Him.  If they are believers, my poor example will influence them greatly towards ungodliness, too.

My sin will trip others and entangle them.  They may resent God and be bitter at Him, too.  Because my bitterness is contagious and because I can make it hard for them to see the sovereignty of God, the love of God, to accept the grace of God.  And, I make it REALLY hard to love me.  And if they don’t love me, they can’t love God.

THANK GOD HE HAS PROVIDED VICTORY FOR US IN JESUS!

If Jesus is not your Savior and Lord – you can pray and ask Him to be.  Check out the post on my home page about how to have a relationship with Christ!

For those of you who have accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord – here is what we can do when we are convicted of sin:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  I John 1:8-9

PRAISE GOD!

The blood of Jesus is strong enough and more than sufficient to cover any sin we might commit.  We can ask for forgiveness.  We can agree with Him that what we are doing is sin.  We can turn from our sin and decide we want to walk on God’s narrow path that leads to life.  And then we need HIS power to be able to obey Him.  So that means, we allow Him to remove all the sin in every corner of our hearts.  We abide in Him – we stay in His Word often.  We pray continually through the day.  We seek His will, His wisdom and His glory and we lay down our own selfish desires and our wisdom .  We long to obey Him in everything.  We ask Him to fill us with His Spirit.  We are still and listen for His voice and read His Word with a deep hunger.  We want HIM more than ANYTHING in life.

Precious sisters in Jesus,

The bitterness has to go!  I am looking at myself first.  We cannot afford to hold on to this destructive sin anymore.  How I pray that God might speak to each of our hearts and tear out every trace of bitterness -replacing it with His Spirit, the fruit of His Spirit and His abundant life!

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

RELATED POSTS:

Exploring the Depths of Bitterness

Finding God’s Victory Over Bitterness

Be Still, My Bitter Heart

We Are Always Wretched Sinners on Our Own – We Never “Arrive”

A Peacefulwife VIDEO about nonverbal disrespect