Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

Journeying On

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

I had a lot of uncertainty at the end of 2009.  It started with headaches that lasted for weeks.  Then came news that I would probably lose my job.  My husband was to retire from the military soon, and I didn’t know what that would mean for him paying child support.  My Dad had a heart attack.

Well, life goes on.  And we get through!  And God is faithful.

First, my Dad is up and around and recovering.  I got to see him over Christmas, because he bought my son and me a plane ticket to California.  What a treat to see my family!

I had a neurology follow-up appointment on Friday and got to report that I haven’t had one headache to speak of in the month of January!  It’s amazing how much freedom from pain helps my outlook!  I went back on a preventative that I used for about a year three years ago — and it’s working beautifully.  I am so pleased.

As for my marriage, I was right.  My husband’s retirement does mean he’s planning to cut child support.  And it turns out I can’t get half the marital portion of his retirement unless there is a court order, which I can only get in a divorce.

So — I’ve decided to file for divorce.  It was a hard decision to come to, but I feel better and better about it, that the time is right.

Part of what made it difficult is that I truly believe that God has told me that my marriage with my husband will be restored some day.  That I am not supposed to look for a replacement man.  It’s a matter of obedience, for my specific situation, from the specific guidance God gave me.

However, I also believe that God has told me that I need to let my husband go.  That when he comes back to God it will be because of God’s work in his heart, and not anything I have done.

I also have to let go of my fantasy that he will come back because of his loving, forgiving wife who puts up with anything.  There are many laws protecting women in my situation — but only if I invoke them by filing for divorce.  If I just put up with getting along with what my husband sees fit to give me, it doesn’t increase his respect for me.  He concludes that he is right, that that is all I deserve.  It is time to respect myself enough to say that’s enough, that our 23 years of marriage deserve some respect.

Though I admit I wish it hadn’t come to this.

That leaves the job situation.  And this week, I applied for a promotion, for a Librarian III position.  I hadn’t thought I’d be eligible, since I am only a Librarian I, but my boss encouraged me to apply, and when I looked into it, sure enough, I do qualify.  And Librarian III’s are not going to be cut if the proposed budget cuts go through, so that would mean I’d keep my job, get to stay in the public library, and get a pay raise.

I brushed up my resume on Wednesday to get my application in before it closed on Friday.  In the process of doing that, I convinced myself I can do the job, which is the first step!  Although I only have two years experience as a full-fledged librarian, I maintain that my eight years at Sembach gave me a wonderful variety of experience that would apply.  And my ten years teaching math, while not exactly supervising, is still that same type of experience.  So we will see if I can convince them!

But either way, the experience interviewing will be a great thing.  It was also wonderfully therapeutic to focus on my good points and my abilities!  Gave me something to think about that was not the divorce!

It also reminded me how many times God has brought my way the perfect job at the perfect time.  I have been very blessed.  I do not need to be afraid of what the future will hold.

Guidance

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

I am amazed by how, when we ask for wisdom, “God gives generously to all without finding fault.”

I had been again wondering if God was really telling me what I thought He was telling me.

Is God really telling me He will restore and renew my marriage?  What about my husband and his free will?  If he really wants out and is truly divorcing me, then shouldn’t I move on and look for a better relationship?  Aren’t I hoping for the impossible?  Living in denial?  Being unrealistic?

Yet God seems to be telling me that He is going to restore and rebuild our marriage, and that my husband will end up a leader and a witness and a man of God — NOT because of anything I do, but totally God’s work.  My job is to pray for it, wait for it, and believe that God will do what He has promised.  To “move on” by working on becoming a great children’s librarian and mother and writer, not by trying to find a new man for my life.

But there are times when it doesn’t seem possible.  I get some insights about what went wrong in our marriage, and then I get discouraged.  How can we possibly ever have a healthy relationship together, after all our mistakes in the past?

So I asked God again, “Lord, if You can really transform and rebuild our marriage, if You can really make Steve a leader and a witness and a man of God, if You can really make me a good wife for him — then I need confirmation again.  Just a reminder that I’m on the right track.  I need to know that I’m not just denying reality and going with false hopes after something that’s dead.”

And God answered.  Today’s sermon was all about transformation.  The opening and closing illustration was even about a marriage that was dead that God transformed.

Without going into details, God specifically answered what I was asking.

God CAN restore and heal — both our marriage, and our lives.

I believe that God is telling me that He WILL restore and heal.

But I also know that this is GOD’s work to do, not mine.  Time for me to think about it a lot less and focus on being the woman God created me to be.  God gave me many passions that I didn’t have as much time for when I was trying to be a good wife.  It’s time to take advantage of this opportunity!

I’ve been a children’s librarian for two full weeks now:  I want to be a good one!

And this is also my chance to write.  I have ALWAYS dreamed of being a published author.  I didn’t do any writing while my marriage was in such crisis, or while I was taking graduate classes.  Now it’s time to start up again.

And it’s my chance to write for Sonderbooks.  I have so enjoyed sharing books with people! 

And my blogs.  I like this way to connect with people.  I put my thoughts out there, and usually only those who are interested read it.  I connect with people in surprising ways.

I haven’t been writing so much in this blog lately–I’d like to do more of that.  I’m having fun with my other two.  Sonderquotes is the one I update most–I’m reading some great books!  And Sonderblessings is just to remind myself how MUCH I have to be thankful for.

So–even though this started with maybe too much thinking and worrying about my marriage, God has left me with a great sense of peace.  Some day, somehow He will restore our marriage.  It will be His work, not mine.  And it will happen in His timing, not mine.  Meanwhile, this is my chance to live a joyful life with God, striving to be the person He created me to be.

And He will be enough for me, reassuring me of His love, and His forgiveness.

God is good.  And God cares about my life.

He is not above giving reassurance.  And that’s reason to rejoice!

Keeping a Record

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared. — Psalm 130: 3-4

Love keeps no record of wrongs. — I Corinthians 13:5

Praise God that He doesn’t keep track of my sins, or my failings.  How easy it is to keep track of how many times other people do us wrong, rather than how many times they do good things.  There’s a feeling that after someone does bad enough things, enough times, you are completely justified in cutting them out of your life.

You might say, “You said such and such a terrible thing three times.  I can never love you again.”

What if we stood that on its head?  What if we kept a record of goods instead of a record of wrongs?  What if we kept track of kindnesses instead of offenses?

I might say to my husband, “You told me you love me 3,473 times.  I can never hate you.”

You stood by me and helped me through the birth of our sons 2 times.  I can never forget you.

You asked me to marry you and shared your life and your income with me.  I can never despise you.

You soothed me when I was sick and in pain 1,023 times.  I can never stop caring about you.

You opened your heart to me 5,471 times.  I can never stop loving you.

You love our boys and take good care of them.  I can never stop respecting you.

My friend talks about a well of good will that her husband built up that couldn’t be emptied when he had an emotional affair.  The well was too deep.

It’s our choice.  We can let the bad outweigh all the good in our minds.  Or we can decide to let the good outweigh any bad that might come along.  It’s not like there isn’t a whole lot of good there to do the job.

And funny thing, keeping a record of the good and thinking about that is a far, far happier and more peaceful result than obsessing over wrongs done.

Praise God!  He looks at the good He placed in us and never, ever gives us up as failures or hopeless cases.

Faith

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Today I had an opportunity to tell someone that I believe God is asking me to pray for my husband and stand for my marriage.  And I believe that God is telling me my husband will come back to God and back to me and be a leader and a witness.

Why, when I tell someone about this, do people feel compelled to say something along the lines of, “You know that sometimes God doesn’t work in the way we expect Him to.”?

It’s as if people need to apologize for God.  They don’t want me angry with God if He doesn’t do what I expect.

Instead of making allowances for God, I need to make allowances for those well-meaning people.  God is speaking to me, not them.  I know what He has said to me, and I can’t expect to be able to explain it.  Even my stories of amazing ways God spoke to me through circumstances may not convince them — because they were not there in my heart.  They did not experience the question asked of God — which God immediately and clearly answered. 

When I tell someone about this, they probably don’t realize that the process has taken years.  One of the first clear answers was years ago, when my husband was first leaving, and I asked God, “Lord, can’t you change his heart and stop this situation NOW?”  From that day for the next full week, every time I picked up a Bible or Christian book, I’d read something about waiting on the Lord.

But God keeps speaking, and He keeps confirming that:

— God is going to do magnificent things in my husband’s heart and life.

— If I will wait for it, God will restore our marriage to something beautiful.

— There will be great joy.

All I need to do?  I need to be willing to forgive my husband and take him back freely when he is ready to come back.  I need to refuse to look for someone else to satisfy my desires while I am waiting.  I need to pray for him, as my wedding vows declared I would do.  And I need to seek the Lord to work on my character to be a better wife when that day comes.

Not that I am some wonderful, spiritual person.  But that God forgives us, and God loves us, and He can teach us to forgive each other.

Is God asking a great sacrifice of me?  Is God cruel to expect me to wait for this man?

Certainly not!  In the first place, I love this guy.  Yes, there have been some hard things, but there were so many wonderful things, over the years.  He’s the father of my sons.  There are too many good memories over too many years.  My heart still yearns for him.

But God is also giving me a chance to pursue some things I wouldn’t have time for if I were also trying to “please my husband.”  As Paul mentions in Corinthians, now I am free to focus on my relationship with God.  And some other things as well.  I was able to get a Master’s in Library Science.  I can work on my writing, my website, and my blogs.  I confess there are some nice things about not sharing my home with another adult!

We married right after college.  I never lived on my own as an adult.  There are some fun things about it.  This is only a stage in my life, but it can be a beautiful, vibrant, joyful one.  And I’m thankful for this stage, even if I wish it hadn’t happened.  God can bring great good out of anything.

At Christmas, the verse said of Mary comes frequently to mind:  “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.”  The Lord has spoken to me.  It’s my choice to believe that He will do what He has promised. 

Grounds Against God? Never!

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

My husband and I invited God into our marriage, right from the start.  Steve looked for a wedding band for me with two diamonds, to represent us, with the larger diamond on the engagement ring to represent God.

Right now, I’m wearing a necklace Steve gave me for Christmas right before we married, a braid of three strands of gold.  Steve told me this was to represent God, him, and me, our lives entwined together in the marriage we were beginning.

So, God was invited into our marriage, right from the start.

And God uses the language of marriage when He describes His relationship with us.  Isaiah 54:5 says, “For your Maker is your husband — the Lord Almighty is his name — the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.”

I got to wondering.  If you wanted out of a marriage with God, how could you do it?

Could you claim that God had abandoned you?  That can never be, “because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'” (Hebrews 13:5).

How about Cruelty?  Again ludicrous.  “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Of course, God cannot be accused of Adultery or a Felony.

However, in Virginia, you’d be able to get no-fault grounds.  Even if your spouse does not want a divorce, if you leave them and are separated for one year, you can get a divorce.

So–do you think that would work on God?  God, Who has “loved you with an everlasting love” definitely would not agree to a separation.  You would have to leave on your own.  After a year of staying away from Him, a Virginia court would grant you a divorce.

But would that dissolve your marriage in God’s eyes?  I don’t think so.

If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself (2 Timothy 2:13).

So how can you possibly dissolve a marriage when God is one of the participants in the marriage?  Legally, maybe you can do it.  But morally, how can you ask God to renege on his part of the covenant?  And even if you ask Him to, what makes you think He ever would?

Positive Deviance

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

I’m taking a class this quarter called “Management of Information Services.”  In it, we have to do a group project and present a management tool.  My group chose Positive Deviance.

Positive Deviance focuses on people who act outside the norm–on the positive side.  “Deviance is generally viewed as a bad thing.  But on one end of the curve, we find deviance in the form of excellence, the very behavior we want to promote.”–Robert Quinn, interviewed by Dennis Sparks in “Change: It’s a Matter of Life or Slow Death,” Journal of Staff Development, 22 (4), p. 49.

As I was reading the article above for background material, it struck me that positive deviance applies to marriages!

That morning, I read a quotation that struck me in A New Kind of Normal, by Carole Kent:  Paul and Silas’s discipline of praying and praising not only broke their own chains, but it also broke the chains of every other inmate in the prison.”–quoting Karen Beck, p. 98.

I thought of that passage when I read this in the Quinn interview:  “When we have successfully experienced a deep change, it inspires us to encourage others to undergo a similar experience.  We are all potential change agents.  As we discipline our talents, we deepen our perceptions about what is possible. … We must continually choose between deep change or slow death.”

Continuing:  “So now when people say something can’t be done, I ask for examples of positive deviance.  But people are often uncomfortable with these notions because they suggest that we all have the potential to do things that many claim are impossible.

“To tie all of this together, if we are not growing, we are dying.  And if we are growing and pushing the edges of the system, we will meet great resistance.  And yet it is possible for us to be positive deviants, and positive deviants change the world.”

“When people become empowered, they realize that they had put constraints upon themselves.  Suddenly, they are able to do all kinds of things we previously thought were impossible.”

How does this relate to marriage?

Well, if I look around at the norm in America, a marriage as far gone as mine is surely doomed.

But why should I copy the norm?  Wouldn’t I rather imitate the positive deviants, the people who have succeeded in healing and restoring their marriages, with God’s help?  They have done exactly the thing that seems impossible.

Positive deviance tells us that if you want excellence, find those who are acting with excellence and imitate them.

That’s why I choose to follow the example of the good people at http://www.rejoiceministries.org/, and choose to stand for my marriage, and choose to trust God.  Truly, He can do the impossible.  As more and more of us choose to rise above the norm, this positive deviance can spread.  We can see the power of God to heal.

I know that marital healing after severe hurts is NOT impossible–because people like Bob and Charlyne Steinkamp have shown me what can happen when you put your marriage into God’s hands.  I’d rather imitate people like that.