When I first separated from my marriage, friends and family asked if there was anything my ex could say to “fix” things.
Let’s start with:
“I’m sorry” “I’ll never do it again” “Please forgive me” “I didn’t mean to” “I need help” “I’ll get help” “Jesus take the wheel”
Say something! “I’m coo-coo for cocoa puffs!” Something! Anything – to show remorse and an understanding of the gravity of what’s happening. But he didn’t.
Post-divorce, I get similar questions: “Do you think you two will ever reconcile?”
And then my brain begins to stutter. I have different versions of the same answer. Under my breath I pray – “I’m sorry—forgive me—I need help. Jesus, take the wheel”- and I say, No.
Not wanting to appear unforgiving and hard-hearted- or unwilling to make room for the Creator of the Universe to perform another miracle that rivals the parting of the Red Sea, I qualify my “no”. Here’s my qualified response: Apart from Jesus renewing his mind (Romans 12:2) and sitting on the edge of my bed, directing me to go back, we will not reconcile. And He has not done either yet.
“Not even for the children?” Ouch. No fair.
For the children. This is one of those situations in which my theology can feel a bit prickly. In 1 Corinthians 7, the Apostle Paul is very clear on his view of marriage and divorce. There’s very little wiggle room to getting out. Rather, he dangles a carrot, asserting that the unbelieving spouse is spiritually covered if he or she chooses to stay with the believing spouse. Similarly, children are also covered, prepared for God (vs. 14) if you choose to remain married. That’s my paraphrased version of the scripture. What Paul actually says is much harsher:
Otherwise your children would be unclean (unblessed heathen, outside the Christian covenant.), but as it is, they are prepared for God [pure and clean]. Verse 14, AMP
I know, right! So when you ask me, “Not even for the children?” — What I hear is, “Are you going to make your children unclean, unblessed heathens?”
Like most moms, I want the best for my kiddos. I make sacrifices without thought or hesitation. The threat of injustice or harm to them conjures up a fearless and formidable side of me. I am their fiercest advocate and most faithful cheerleader. Who knew it was possible— that at the very sight of their 6 lb+ frame, I knew instantly I was willing to die for them, capable of killing for them, but committed to live (right) for them, that they may have life and life more abundantly. My children – and yours – will never understand the inexplicable, indescribable, immeasurable depth of a parent’s love until they have children of their own.
Well, since I did leave my marriage, I’ve obviously made peace with Paul. I didn’t find a loophole. I didn’t try to rewrite the Word or twist the interpretation to fit my lifestyle. In truth, during that season of my life my faith was frail, my trust in God had time limits, and my pride just wouldn’t let me stay.
So how have I reconciled the Word with my choice? Indulge me as I present a scene befitting of a bad Lifetime movie.
A mother, covered in soot, is rescued from her burning home; unconscious from inhaling too much smoke. As the medic attends to her, she slowly comes to. Groggy, half alert, she asks about her children. The medic does not know. And then suddenly- fully aware and fully present- she realizes that her babies may still be inside. She sees flames. The 20-something medic is no match for a desperate mom on a rescue mission. She pushes past the reporters, bolts through the neighbors, and hurdles over the authorities, desperate to reclaim her family, her memories and her life from the inflamed structure. Right as she’s about to run into the house, she’s forcibly stopped by a fireman. Frantically, the mother tries to break free of his hold. The fireman yells at her, albeit with compassion, “Ma’am I can’t let you go back in there!” In a panic-stricken duet, of sorts, the mother shrills over him, “But my babies!!” Feeling the angst of her pain and the force of her passion, he relents and says he will go into the burning timbers to recover her life.
When the firefighter runs into fiery blaze, the mother is left praying- pleading to God to save her family, to bring everyone out alive, healthy and whole. She keeps watch of the door or whatever opening will provide a way of escape. Her prayers are fiery like the house; emboldened and emblazoned. Wringing her hands, she holds her breath until she sees life—her life carried out safely.
I escaped a burning building. When you ask, “Even for the children?” Sober minded, I still say no. I’m leaving it to Heaven’s Army, God’s firefighters to run into the fiery rooms and recover all- my children, my soul, my mind, my heart; maybe even my marriage. But I’m not going in.
The Word says He will charge His angels concerning me (Psalm 91:11). He will perfect those things that concern me (Psalm 138:8). So whatever is valuable in that house of a marriage, I’m expecting my Father to bring it all out to me safely.
No loopholes here. If your husband clips his toenails in the bed or your wife flosses her teeth in the living room, spewing the particles into the air, yeah, that is gross. But it’s not grounds for divorce.
If you’re dealing with lust unchecked; adultery unconfessed; emotional or physical abuse; a spirit breaking, soul-harnessing existence—you need a refuge, you need a medic. I’m not telling you to get a divorce, but I am telling you not to go back into the fire. The longer you stay in an unhealthy, toxic environment, the more likely you will be unhealthy and toxic, and so will your children. God will grace us to endure for a season. But we need to keep an ear to His heart so that we know when it’s time to move.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2 NIV, emphasis added
You have to know that God is for you (Romans 8:31). He will lead you out, unburned; not even the smell of smoke will rest on you. Once He has rescued you, you have to trust that He is able and willing to quench the fire and save your dwelling. Ask God to command His angels concerning you.
So, what concerns you? What’s in that house that’s worth fighting for, worth saving? And then tell your Father, “Go get my stuff!” Like our television mom, commit yourself to fervent prayer (James 5:16) and wait expectantly for your heavenly heroes to perform a good work. Maybe they’ll even bring your spouse out, too. But you—you sit your butt on the grass (Psalm 23:2)!
The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me], I shall not want.
He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still and quiet waters.
He refreshes and restores my soul (life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the [sunless] [a]valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You have anointed and refreshed my head with oil; My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord.
Psalm 23 AMP
SCRIPTURES REFERENCED IN TEXT
Romans 12:2, NIV, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.
James 5:16, AMP, Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].