When We Feel Empty

It wasn’t even a full three days since I posted “Singleness is NOT a Punishment!” when my dear, sweet friend sent me this through Facebook message:

princess_warrior

If you have ever seen this or something like this, I want to just help erase any of the damage that it may have done to your heart.

warrior

First of all, who else saw Xena the Warrior Princess when you first starting reading that? Ha! But I digress. Let’s respond to the letter from the anonymous internet person to the Princess Warrior. (Which is supposed to be a letter from God the Father to me, His beloved daughter.)

First of all, I look nothing like sexy Xena the Warrior Princess nor do I feel like her, even though I do know I am a daughter of the King and in His army.  Second of all, I would have to honestly say that, for the most part, I desire the approval of God alone. When I was young I sought the approval of my parents and my teachers and now that I’m an adult I seek the approval of my boss. There is a certain crush of mine who I highly admire and respect and from time to time I will find myself desiring his approval but it’s only because I hold him in such high regard. I don’t think validation should come from anywhere but from above as we are complete in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9-10) but I don’t think the desire to feel accepted and supported is wrong. In fact, that’s not only normal but God designed it that way. Allow me to explain:

The letter goes on to say, “I designed you to desire Me and Me alone.”

I challenge you to find a passage in the Bible that says that. You will be hard-pressed to find such a verse because I guarentee it is not there.

Have you ever been in a crowded room, yet felt completely isolated? It’s not a good feeling at all, is it? Loneliness has never been part of God’s plan for his children. After all, in the beginning when God created the Heavens, the earth, the water, trees, flowers, birds, fish, and animals, He looked over each day of creation and declared it to be good. However, upon creating man, God stopped and for the very first time declared something as “not good.” He said, “It is NOT GOOD that man should be alone.”

Adam had God by his side and yet God still said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Not until after God created Eve did God say, “…and it was VERY good.” All this is to say that we need each other and to deny that is to deny God’s design. Yes, we were designed to desire God, but He also designed us to yearn for a helpmate in life. We are sexual beings and our bodies are naturally created with a longing to be intimate and to be fruitful and multiply. Is it a sin that we desire these things? NO!

Some Christians might tell you that desiring sex is a sin but that is not biblical. The distinction comes from the OBJECT of our desire. If our desires are fixating on something evil (i.e. adultery, fornication, etc) then the desire itself is evil (Matthew 5:28, Matthew 15:19, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20). If our desire fixates on something good (i.e. marriage, companionship) then the desire itself is good (Proverbs 5:18-19, Song of Solomon 2:5-7, Proverbs 18:22, Ephesians 5:28). Sexual desire is wholesome, honorable, and right when it is enjoyed within the boundaries of holy matrimony.

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” -Philippians 4:8

We have become a generation with a distorted view of marriage.  When we try to convince singles that we shouldn’t desire sexual intimacy or that longing for marriage is somehow unholy then we are giving Satan the credit for God’s beautiful design.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Psalm 37:4 is NOT an equation.

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. -Psalm 37:4

If Psalm 37:4 were an equation, then I’m pretty sure I would have a husband and children by now. Don’t believe for one second that if you’re still waiting on the Lord for this blessing that you must not be doing something you’re supposed to be doing.  Though it certainly feels like a curse, singleness is very much a blessing.  I know that it hurts, especially when you’re lying awake at night in your empty bed with nothing but pillows to squeeze for comfort.

Now let’s take a look at another passage in the letter:

“When you choose to live for Me, you will never again be thirsty for attention…”

Is that really true? What kind of a message does that send to people who struggle with depression? With aching emptiness and longing? With grief and loss associated with divorce? Just because we’ve given our lives to Jesus and chosen to live for Him doesn’t mean that we don’t still struggle with the pain of an empty womb or the longing to share our lives with a companion by our side. Telling a woman that she’ll never thirst for attention if she chooses to live for God… Do you see how that could be detrimental to her spirit? “Oh, I am still thirsty for love and affection…” She thinks. “I must not be fully living for God.” 

In the wise words of one of my favorite authors Alyssa Joy Bethke: “God is good and everything that happens is for our good. Not necessarily for our happiness but for our holiness. God’s goal is to make us more like His son, and often that involves trials and pain. But those difficulties are opportunities to rely on our Savior, to run into His arms, to nestle ourselves in His embrace and to walk with Him.”

Emptiness is that feeling left over after you give something your absolute all and it still doesn’t turn out the way you worked so hard for it to. You’re exhausted of energy, depleated of hope, and disappointed that it didn’t work out. Perhaps you have some unfulfilled dreams or a place in your heart that aches because your beloved didn’t return your love. Perhaps, like me, you fought hard to save your marriage and did everything possible to redeem it but it still fell apart in your hands.

God’s Word offers some promises to combat the emptiness and find fulfillment in Christ.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” – Psalm 81:10

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13

“I ask God from the wealth of His glory to give you power through His Spirit to be strong in your inner selves,  and I pray that Christ will make His home in your hearts through faith as you open the door and invite Him in.  I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, so that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. Yes, may you come to know the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love—although it can never be fully known—and be so completely filled with the very nature of God.” -Ephesians 3:16-19

Just because we’ve completely given our lives to God doesn’t mean the longings He’s plsb10065339i-001aced there will completely go away. I believe they are from Him and they aren’t sinful. I mean, not all of us are called to be nuns!!! On the plane home from my sister’s wedding last weeekend I saw a nun. I immediately was drawn to her because of her calm, elegant beauty and of course the curiousity of what made her decide to live under the vows of poverty and chastity but especially the latter. Perhaps she doesn’t have those desires? I can’t imagine not having those desires. If she DOES have those desires then I applaud her for her strength and uncompromising commitment to purity.  She is SO KICK-BUTT! Wish I would have had the courage to ask her my questions. Again, I digress.

It’s healthy to recognize that sometimes the longings we feel aren’t for anything Earth can provide. Psalmist cries out to God, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1). Just like the Samaritan woman at the well who thirsted for Living Water, God put a longing in our heart that was intended to lead us back to Him. There is an emptiness that ONLY HE can fill. There is a deep thirst that ONLY HE can quench. If His love doesn’t fill you up, then nothing else will.

“Now let me ask you again, My beloved daughter: Whom do you seek?”

If you’re like me, you’re COMPLETELY honest with yourself and if your desires are the same as mine then you’re seeking a husband. The Bible says, But seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” -Matthew 6:33. It never says it’s wrong to seek a husband, but make sure God is first in your heart.

As for me, I’m allowing God to use this loneliness and emptiness to teach me what it means to depend upon His strength and love every day. I know that having a husband won’t satisfy the craving that only God can fill. When you allow yourself to be controlled by Christ’s love you have the indwelling of God’s presence and are closer to unity and maturity. I don’t think we can ever experience the whole measure of the perfection that is found in Christ (Ephesians 4:13) this side of Heaven, but I do believe we can experience joy and fullness here on Earth. I pray this for us both, dear reader, that we would be filled with His love and be content in our single season.

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A Letter

To the man who promised me forever:

I forgive you.

I remember the black and white checkered pattern of the hospital floor, pacing back and forth that day you were in detox, pondering hopefully, as I am oft-inclined to do, that our situation can only look up from rock bottom. I had never loved you more than in that moment when I thought I would lose you forever. I loved you more than life itself and I would have done almost anything to stay by your side and help you through your darkest hour… but you left me… your faithful wife who only wanted to support you.

I thought my heart would always belong to you and I would never get it back. I thought I might never heal from that intense pain. I thought the aching emptiness might never go away.

But I forgive you.

There has been more than one man who won’t date me because I am your “left overs.” You chewed me up and spit me out and now no one seems to want me. I feel like Hester Prynne with a giant scarlet letter on my chest warning everyone to stay far away because I’m unable to keep a marriage together.

I finally met a God-fearing man who doesn’t mind that I’m divorced. “It’s your past but it doesn’t define who you are,” he assured me. But he thinks that his family won’t understand. He thinks they won’t accept me, at least not right away. He asked me not to tell them just yet.

Tears fought to spill from the corners of my eyes. I thought I had worked through my guilt. I accepted my truth and learned to love myself even when I wanted to despise myself. The harsh reality is that I may have moved on from mourning but people may continue to judge me (as I had once judged others in my situation) and that judgment may stir up the regret and sorrow I thought I had buried and finished grieving. Every time a man I hope to date rejects me for being divorced I feel the grief once again.

But I get it. I really do. If I’m honest with myself, I’d rather not date someone who has been divorced, either.

Whether I like it or not, you’re part of me and you always will be. You’re part of my love story because you’re the first man I ever passionately loved; the first man I would have laid down my life for because I loved you that much. You taught me how to love unconditionally… Not because you showed me what that was but because I learned to love you despite you not loving me. My world revolved around you. I was infatuated with the spell you cast on me. Even when you were absolutely horrible to me I couldn’t see anyone but you.

I won’t deny that you were once the most important thing to me on Earth.

After you left I tried desperately to win you back. I must have been plumb crazy. But that’s how I know I am a fool when I am in love and I will make someone an amazing wife one day because of you.

So thank you.

When God Speaks

When we are praying, how can we know a message is from God or just our own thoughts telling us what we want to hear? There’s an old joke: When you talk to God, we call it prayer, but when God talks to you, we call it schizophrenia.

The featured image for this post comes from the Bible story in Samuel 3 when Samuel’s name is repeatedly being called in the night and he finally answers the third time, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

I do not doubt that God speaks to us today as He spoke to Abraham, Moses, Job, and Samuel, I just think it’s a rare occurrence (even though according to to a Gallup poll, 23% of Americans reported hearing a voice or seeing a vision as a response to prayer.) I can only think of one time in my life that I believe a message was truly from God and it was when I was at rock bottom at 16, feeling like I didn’t want to live anymore and God whispered to me, “I have big plans for you.”

Recently my crush told me that God said “no” to dating me.

If God said “no” then God said “no” and so that’s the end of the story. God didn’t give a reason but as my crush so eloquently and firmly declared, “We have some serious problems if that’s not enough,” which was so damn sexy because SPIRITUAL LEADER PUTTING HIS FOOT DOWN. *RAWR.*

Once upon a time a man told me that God told him he would spend the rest of his life with me. I was speechless. Here was a man who I believed at the time to be a righteous and God-fearing follower of Christ. Surely if God told him he would marry me then never mind the fact that God didn’t give me the same message. Who am I to argue with God?

As it turns out, that man was wrong because if God had really meant for me to spend the rest of my life with him, he never would have abandoned me. Right? So forgive me if I’m a teeny bit skeptical of when people tell me God told them something, especially if it involves me.

I always ask this married couple at my church to tell me their love story because I love hearing it over and over. I can see God’s hand in every aspect of their relationship and one can almost be certain God meant for these two to be united as husband and wife. The husband was madly in love with an unbeliever. He kept asking God to take away his desire for her but every day he only loved her more. He couldn’t understand why he felt so strongly because women who smoked, cussed and were hardcore atheists were the most unattractive women to him and yet here was a woman he couldn’t stop daydreaming about. He had a nasty past before he became a believer and one day he was crying out to God and demanding to know why He wouldn’t save this woman. “You forgave my sins and they were even worse than hers. Why won’t you forgive hers?” Suddenly, in his mind’s eye, he kept seeing an image of himself pulling an index card out of a cup of Bible verses in the middle of the table and so he pulled one out. It was Isaiah 43:25 which says “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Except this verse was in Spanish and it could be read in the third person as “her” instead of “your.”) He fell to his knees and sobbed. Was it a coincidence that this exact verse was written by his mother on chalk board in the kitchen earlier that day? Eventually, his wife did realize her need for a Savior. She describes her conversation as an irresistible pull on her heart that made her see the love and grace of Jesus Christ and she couldn’t refuse. 

Another story involves my friend who recently had a dream where God revealed her future husband to her. Whenever she tells someone about the dream she had she says the Holy Spirit jumps inside her. She asked her pastor whether he believed the dream was from God and he confirmed that the man in question had been speaking fondly of her to him. I don’t know whether this dream came from God or was just a product of brain activity during a normal REM cycle, but I guess we’ll find out in time.

TIME. That really is the answer, isn’t it? True love requires committing time to really know a person. Two people have to feel comfortable enough to be openly honest with one another, vulnerable enough to expose themselves to one another, and after knowing all their dark and beautiful  idiosyncrasies, accepting them and choosing to love.

So I will just keep praying for peace about God’s decision and keep asking God to take away the feelings that shouldn’t be there because it isn’t God’s will. After all, I can’t move forward in any relationships with anyone else when my heart is all wrapped up in someone I can’t have.  Because of the nature of my work, I have very little free time to spend with others and so I need to be careful about which ones I give my time to. I’ve already eliminated many possibilities due to red flags such as a lack of respect for Hebrews 10:25 and Hebrews 13:4 and even a disagreement with “happy wife, happy life.” (Deuteronomy 24:5 supports that saying by the way!)

I guess since God is being silent about the matter the only thing I really have to go on at this point is feelings. I believe feelings are neither good nor bad, they are simply our response to information and personal experience. Feelings are legitimate and must be acknowledged and understood so that they can be expressed in healthy ways. While no one is ever wrong to feel a certain way, the information one is reacting to may not be accurate or their interpretation of information may be a misunderstanding. Therefore, before a feeling is shared with others, it must be balanced against the Truth of scripture and be in harmony with facts.

My feelings tell me nothing right now except obey God and focus on being the best foster mother I can be.

Wednesday night Bible study is going to focus on God’s will and how we can know it so I’m pumped for next week!

The Truth Will Set You Free

The truth is a gift. The truth will set you free. No matter how hard and scary it is to speak the truth, you must find the courage to get beyond your vulnerability to reveal how you honestly feel. Speak the truth as kindly and gently as possible, but never hide the whole truth. It is the key to living an authentic life that honors God and honors yourself as well.

The truth?

Mathew wants to get back together with me. He has written e-mails stating thus. However, my pastor has talked to him and does not feel that Mathew wants to be reconciled with the right reasons. He feels Mathew only wants a roommate, but not a wife.

The truth?

I am completely open to the possibility of reconciliation, but it can only happen if my husband does a complete 180° in the direction of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He must totally surrender his life to Him and follow Him with all his heart, submitting to the Lord’s headship as the ultimate authority. I care so very deeply for my husband and it hurts that he wants nothing to do with Jesus. A marriage simply cannot work if he is unwilling to yield to God. God is number one in my life and I have nothing in common with a man who does not trust in God. I was willing to try to make it work for years and years, but when he finally abandoned me, it gave me the courage to move on from what was a very abusive marriage in which I was unequally yoked with an unbeliever.

The truth?

I drove to the courthouse to file the papers. The whole way there I listened to Christian music. It was a very difficult road and I almost turned around and went home twice, thinking that I love my husband very much and maybe I could give him one more chance to make some positive changes in his life. When the song by Casting Crowns based on Psalm 103:12 came on the radio, tears streamed down my face during the lyrics “You know just how far the east is from the west… from one scarred hand to the other.” In His great love and grace, Jesus sacrificed his life to remove my sin as far as the east is from the west. He remembers it no more. His compassion and mercy gave me the freedom to continue on the journey to the courthouse and file the papers that have been signed and sitting in my house for months when I did not yet have the bravery to stamp them officially.

It took me another couple months to actually have the papers served to my husband. This morning they were served. I felt a mixture of relief that it is finally done and a little bit of grief that it’s over.

This is my story: I am getting a divorce. I, who am a daughter of the most High King and who hates divorce, yes, I am divorcing my husband. In a way, he already divorced me in his heart two years ago and I’m simply just making it legal.

I never thought this would be my story. I am a stronger woman because of the pain that I’ve experienced and the grace that has set me free. I trust God with my future and I can’t wait to see where He leads me next. I am totally open to Him and ready to go where He guides me.

Remembering a Special Day

“Your wedding day is still one of my most cherished memories,” whispered my best friend Anna who was a radiant bridesmaid on that special day five years ago. “The fact that he left you doesn’t make that beautiful day any less sacred or meaningful.” (That sweet lady always cheers me up no matter how low I am feeling.)

Anna and I on the Happiest Day of My Life

Anna and I on the Happiest Day of My Life

On this particular evening, I had begun to regret the day I ever said “I do.” My wedding day was once the best day of my life and I was beginning to feel guilty that I still thought of it that way, circumstances being what they are. “If it’s inevitably going to end in a divorce, then wouldn’t that make my marriage a mistake?” I wondered out loud. “Is it wrong to keep those Facebook wedding albums public? Is that precious picture of me smiling ear to ear with my sisters after the ceremony somehow tainted now and better preserved in a private scrapbook rather than displayed in a pretty pink frame on my buffet table?”

I felt angry at myself for not having been able to see red flags that this marriage was not going to last. All the expenses to make June 7th, 2009 the most incredibly amazing and unforgettable day of our lives were pretty much kicking me in the stomach like a huge waste of money. My once gorgeous, white wedding gown is now yellowing with age and collecting dust in my childhood closet… it feels less and less to me like the flowy, satin raiment of a virgin queen bestowing her beloved king with the treasured gift of her everlasting commitment and more like the gown I wore on the last day of my purity I can never get back.

I wish I could write a happily ever after ending for this entry like my husband and I are now living out the purpose God has intended for us, but that would not be accurate. Too many times I fantasized ways out of my destructive marriage… the sudden, unexpected death of one of us, for instance, because I was slowly dying each day and death was better than abandoning the one I promised to love, honor, and respect “until death do us part.”

The very few people I told about the domestic violence asked me, “Why don’t you just leave him? One of these days he’s going to go too far; you need to protect yourself.” I can’t pretend I didn’t think about it. I had an emergency escape plan in place just in case I needed it, but I prayed it would never come to that. I was going to be faithful and loving ’til death do us part, even if I died trying, so help me God.

Just as Christ washed his disciples' feet (John 13:5) my husband and I promised to serve one another. I truly meant this with all my soul.

Just as Christ washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:5) my husband and I promised to serve one another. I truly meant this symbolism with all my soul.

I’m in a better place now. Tragic though my story is, it is also a story of hope. I no longer pine for a way out or desperately cry out to God for some kind of miracle. His ways are above my ways and while I don’t understand them, I know His will is good. Now I look forward to the future, forgetting the former things. I’m done dwelling on the past. I am making a way in the wilderness and straining toward what is ahead. (Isaiah 43:18-19, Philippians 3:13)

If you are struggling in a difficult matrimony, please don’t ever believe the lie that your wedding day was a mistake. If you truly meant those vows with all your heart that day, they are just as real and valid today as they were then. If he’s told you, “I regret the day I married you,” that doesn’t mean you have to regret marrying him. I chose to love my husband for better or worse within God’s Divine Providence. I committed my marriage to Jesus Christ and tried my absolute best to make my relationship honor God. He could have disallowed it if He intended, but I’m convinced everything happens for a reason.

If you are grieving over the death of your marriage, please remember that your pictures and memories of that special day are still just as precious and it’s okay to feel warm and happy when remembering that day you put so much time, energy, and money into making memorable.

I still look back on my wedding day fondly, even though now my memories are tinged with an edge of bitter-sweetness.

Uncertainty

I always seem to be in a perpetual state of confusion and uncertainty. Questions plague my mind. Every choice seems huge and every decision feels wrong. What does my future hold? What does God want for my life? Will life ever stop being so stressful working three jobs just to make ends meet? Will I ever be loved and taken care of again someday? Will I make it through this difficult time in one piece? Will I mess up my testimony if I make the wrong decision? Will I always be this lonely?

DOUBTI’ve been praying a lot lately. It seems I’m in a constant state of prayer. Verses keep coming to my mind…

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” -Proverbs 3:5-6

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need.” Luke 12:29 -31

I think for now I will hold off on getting a better apartment and a car and just wait for six months to see where my financial situation is then. I am miserable with no hot water in my apartment and I’m tired of wasting hours upon hours waiting for the bus, riding it (it takes four times as long to get to any destination riding public transit) and being late for work if it’s behind schedule. But hot water and better transportation are luxuries, not really needs. I test-drove a Camaro this past Easter weekend and I imagined how much easier it would make my life to have it. (And of course how cool it would feel to be behind the wheel of one.) But coveting is a sin and letting my mind feast on this desire for a car is wasting precious time I could be thinking about other things of more importance like God’s goodness and His grace. I have brought my petitions to God and He will either bless me with a better job or He will tell me to wait longer. As it stands now, I can afford the car payments and insurance but I would have to finance the car and I’d rather save up and pay for it in cash so that I can avoid the interest.

As to the situation with my husband, the latest news is that he still wants to get back together with me but he wants me to give up the Bible which he claims “brainwashes” me. He says that until I start thinking along the same lines as he does, there is no possibility of us ever reconciling. Even though he lost his faith years ago, he was willing to dwell with me. I have absolutely no idea how unequally yoked couples do it! There were so many problems in our marriage because my husband did not want to submit to God. Untimately, it was our major differences in worldview that caused him to leave me. (This is the answer he gave when I asked him last night “WHY did you leave me!?” .) He said we are just too different and we have absolutely nothing in common because I follow Jesus and he doesn’t.

Some of you reading this may be asking yourselves if my telling you all of this really all that necessary? Maybe not, but I still think it’s important to share my testimony. I need to. I need someone to say, “I’ve been there,” or “I’m going through something similar,” or “I don’t know what you’re going through, but I’m praying for you and I’m here for you.”

Here’s what 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 says:
“Since God has so generously let us in on what He is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.” ((The Message))

One Year

Today is an anniversary for me… but not one of celebration. April 3rd marks one year since my husband told me he was leaving. My father advised me to give Mathew one full year to have a change of heart and that amount of time will have elapsed officially on April 5th when he took a bag of stuff and left. Nothing has changed since then. I have been struggling with a huge decision: Do I divorce my husband and move on or do I keep waiting for the Holy Spirit to work on his heart?

It matters not what I want; what matters is pleasing God and doing right in His sight. All my friends and family believe I am justified in making legal that which is already a reality- I am an abandoned wife whose husband has no desire to make amends. But just because all the people I care about, respect, admire, and look up to say that I should divorce him doesn’t mean I should. Just because divorcing him and moving on is easier and less lonely doesn’t mean I should do it. We live in an age where personal peace and happiness are more important than obeying Scripture and I don’t want to be part of the crowd who says, “Screw what God says, I’m doing things MY WAY!”

I’ve been waiting for four years for my husband to return to the faith but as I type this, he still claims to be Gnostic and tells me that unless I convert, there is no hope for us as he does not wish us to be (his words) “unequally yoked.”

When my husband first left me and told me that there was absolutely no chance of reconciliation, I was deeply hurt and also depressed that this meant I would have to remain single and biological-childless for the rest of my life or until the unlikelihood that my husband should die or commit adultery (according to Matthew 5:31-32). This is what I believed since childhood and was reinforced in Dr. Firmin’s “Marriage and Family” class my senior year of college. The severity of divorce and permanence of marriage really hit home when I meditated on the fact that remarriage for any reason other than his adultery was in turn committing adultery against my spouse. (I don’t know for sure if my husband committed adultery sexually, but I know for a fact he did so emotionally.)

However, my pastor and elders have sat down with me and told me that they feel I am not sinning by divorcing my husband as he has claimed to be an unbeliever, has deserted me, and according to 1 Corinthians 7, I am no longer bound. This gave me great hope but I still feel convicted by my previous interpretation of Scripture and the thought that I might be sinning against God weighs heavily on my heart.

My dear friend Anna told me that I should research this business for myself once and for all and come to a final conclusion of my own after much study. I borrowed book after book from the library written by different Christian authors but by far the most constructive book was called “Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views.” Each of the four biblical scholars believe the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God… they just all interpret the meaning differently. Unfortunately, this book has actually caused me more confusion than anything else because I understand and agree with the logic in how all four men came to their conclusions.

And so I must come to a decision myself that I feel at peace with. On the one hand, I believe in a merciful and gracious God who would not fault me for something that was beyond my control. Why would He forbid me from becoming who I believe I was meant to be… a godly wife and mother? After all, God is forgiving of sin and full of lovingkindness; surely I will be in His good favor once again. On the other hand, should I remain single as Paul advocates and avoid having to be forgiven in the first place? But maybe remarriage isn’t a sin in my case after all.

What does the Bible say? The Bible says, “What God has joined together let no man separate” (Mark 10:9).

Divorce is not God’s highest standard. He permitted it because of “the hardness of man’s heart,” (Matthew 19:8) but he still hates it (Malachi 2:16). Though it was permissible, it was still not righteous. Divorce and remarriage for any reason other than adultery is a sin. “But wait!” I can hear you saying. “What about 1 Corinthians 7:15?” Ah, well, did you ever notice how Paul states in verse 12 of the chapter, “I, not the Lord, say…” Why would Paul take the time to tell his readers that HE says, not the Lord, and at the end he tries to justify it in verse 40 by saying “I think I have the Spirit of God.” So he THINKS he is filled with the Spirit when he gives this instruction, but he doesn’t actually know for sure. Notice he doesn’t say, “I AM Spirit-led when I say this,” but “I think.” This concerns me. I don’t know why Paul would contradict the Lord Jesus Christ. If Jesus said, “Only for adultery,” why would Paul feel the need to add, “and desertion by an unbeliever?” Maybe he was saying divorce is okay if he leaves me (the brother or sister is not bound in such cases) but remarriage is not okay? See verse 11, which states that if a wife leaves her husband she should either be reconciled to him or remain unmarried and her husband should not divorce her. (Does this also go for wives whose husbands deserted them? I wonder; the text does not say.) See also verse 39 which says, “a wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.” So the real questions are: does “no longer bound” mean that I’m free to divorce and remarry or just divorce? And secondly, does Paul really have the right to speak for God? If he were inspired by God when he wrote that, he wouldn’t have felt the need to add the little prerequisite, “I, not the Lord, say…”?

There are some that argue that the English translation of the original Hebrew in Malachi 2:16 is a poor rendering. Albeit, God DOESN’T enjoy it when a beautiful, sacred gift He gave us such as marriage is rejected, but it is said that the verb “hate” actually belongs to the husband as the subject of the hate. Nevertheless, if God hates divorce so much, why did He permit the Israelites to divorce their pagan wives in Ezra 9-10? Here we observe at least one instance in Scripture in which there was a Divinely-appointed divorce. God would never command His children to sin, so how could divorce be a sin if God ordered it through the prophet Ezra? Of course, this was a special case, but the point remains: God sanctioned divorce on this occasion.

I must come to a place where I feel at peace about divorcing my husband if I am to ever move on once and for all. I still have not found that peace. I am legally bound to him, but meanwhile, I feel like a single person in many aspects and have felt this way for some time. When certain friends and family of mine advised me to “harden my heart” against my husband so that I could get out of bed and get through the day in one piece, I started to let go of my husband slowly but surely. Of course I still feel tender affection for him but I do not feel very much more than that. He deeply hurt me by leaving me, repeatedly lied to my face before and after we tied the knot, and did things behind my back for the majority of our marriage. I could forgive these and take him back if only he’d place his faith and trust in Jesus Christ as his Savior and follow Him with devotion. I was living with an unbeliever for three plus years and I don’t think I could go back to that now that I’ve been free for a whole year and feel the total liberty and difference it has made on my well-being. I certainly can’t have a family with him; I can just imagine trying to instruct my children according to the Bible’s teachings while he thwarts my efforts every step of the way telling them the Bible isn’t true. No, the only way to live with Mathew again is to lie to him and tell him I no longer believe the Bible is true and I cannot do that. The only other way is if the Holy Spirit moves Mathew to denounce his pride in knowledge and human wisdom and cling with reckless abandon to Jesus.

Meanwhile, my vulnerable heart is susceptible to the charms of single men here in Tucson. I have a “special friendship,” with a certain Christian man at church here but it can go no farther than a friendship until I am “no longer bound” to my husband both legally and in my heart.

I was fully prepared to go down to Town Hall today and sign those papers but something is keeping me from it and that something is God’s will. I am not going to divorce my husband for any reason other than the fact that it is God’s desire for me. Please pray that this matter will be solved soon. Marital purgatory is no fun at all.

Some examples of how wearisome marital purgatory is:
*I couldn’t catch the bouquet at my cousin’s, David and Vanessa’s, and Joanna and Shane’s wedding.
*Every time I sign my full name on checks to pay for rent and utilities, I am reminded that I still belong to someone who has promised me the world but broke his wedding vows and has no remorse for doing so. I no longer wear my wedding ring as it yet another painful reminder. I can’t wait to change my last name back to Albert or be proud once again to bear his name next to mine.
*Every day I turn the key in my lock, I come home to an empty apartment with no one to greet me or ask me how my day was and no one to hold at night when I go to sleep… and no foreseeable future of when I may ever have this again.