THE WHATEVER MOMENT
When I was 9 years old, I walked the aisle at a church and gave my heart to Jesus. In retrospect, I had no idea what I was doing. Nevertheless, I had the foundation laid in my life, and I held to the values and convictions my parents had instilled in me throughout my adolescent years and into my late twenties. When I was about 26 or 27 years old, I became very lonely, restless and dissatisfied with my life. In loneliness, I met men over the Internet and went out on a few dates. I desperately wanted a relationship because I felt so lonely. It was the kind of loneliness that physically hurts, and it didn’t let up. At times, it was so bad that I didn’t think I could stand it. I thought a relationship would bring me happiness and fulfillment, but with every new man I met and went out with, the feelings of loneliness, restlessness and dissatisfaction remained. I became jaded and disillusioned.
I had a master’s degree and was working in my chosen profession, but I still didn’t feel satisfied. These feelings plagued me for months, causing me to examine my life and myself. I began to wonder what my purpose was, what was I supposed to do with my life, and why I didn’t feel fulfilled. I started praying and seeking God and telling him about the storm of emotions inside me. I remember thinking there had to be more to life than what I was experiencing.
One night, out of exasperation, I knelt beside my bed and prayed what I now call a “whatever” prayer. I told Jesus I was his. If I never made a lot of money; if I never got married; if my dreams never came true. I was his whatever. There were no conditions attached. As I prayed, I began to feel so free, and peace like I had never known filled my heart. I had finally found what I had been missing. I had found the only One who could satisfy and fulfill me. I had found the One who could give my life purpose and meaning. I had discovered the One who is Life. I had found Jesus, and I counted the cost and realized that I wanted Jesus whatever it required and wherever it might lead.
Since that night, I have had many other whatever moments. Moments when I forgave deep wrongs when I wanted to hold on to the hate. Moments when I gave up something I really wanted because I knew it wasn’t what God wanted. Moments when I let go of my dreams to pursue God’s dreams for me. Moments when I did the right thing even when it cost me. God has led me to countless whatever moments. Those whatever moments have often been hard, uncomfortable and painful, but every one has been worth what God required of me. Maybe you call those moments surrender or dying to self or defining moments. But, no matter how you label those moments, the only answer God requires of you is “Whatever.”
People have some messed up thinking. Maybe you don’t really pay attention to your thoughts, but this is an area where God has been working on me. Whether we realize it or not, what we think affects our feelings and our actions. What we think affects how we relate to others, and it affects how we view the world. Our thoughts are far more important than we realize.
Recently, my husband and I were talking about the power of thoughts. He quoted Proverbs 23:7, which states, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (NKJV). He related it to how his thoughts affected him entering into and continuing in an adulterous relationship. I have already shared how his affair began with a series of compromises, the most harmful of which was viewing pornography. As he viewed those images, he started becoming more of that kind of person. Those thoughts resulted in other thoughts which led him down a path of much devastation and destruction. His thinking became warped, dark, and impure, and that thinking produced rotten fruit. Twisted thinking kept him imprisoned in that relationship for approximately two years.
So, what is the remedy for our stinkin’ thinkin’? We find that answer in the Bible as well:
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8, NLT).
Here’s Philippians 4:8 worded differently: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (NKJV). According to these verses, we should think about things that are true, honest, just, pure, right, lovely, praiseworthy, and admirable. Think on good things.
Another important scripture that addresses our thinking, specifically how we can change our thinking, is found in Romans 12:2: “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” (NIV).
Here’s that same verse worded differently: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (NLT). According to this verse, as my thoughts change, my character and life will change, and I will be able to discern God’s will. Of course, this process is lifelong, because in any given day, we are bombarded by all kinds of thoughts. The important thing is to learn to recognize those negative, destructive, messed up thoughts, and then work to change them.
So, how do we begin to change our thinking? We must be careful of what we think about. How do we apply Philippians 4:8 to our lives? First, we must read God’s word. God’s word tells us what is right and wrong, what is true, what is pure, what is just, what is lovely, what is good. If my thinking does not line up with what God’s word says about an issue or situation, then my thinking is wrong and must change. God will not change His word to fit into my thinking. If I hold an opinion or attitude or perspective that is not supported by God’s word, then I am wrong. How sincerely or strongly I feel about that opinion, attitude or perspective is irrelevant. I can sincerely believe something, but be wrong, and I may have a strong opinion about something, but my opinion is worthless if it does not agree with what God has to say. God’s word is the standard by which we must judge our thoughts.
Second, we must be careful what we watch, read, and hear. At our house, we are careful about these things. What goes into us WILL come out of us, whether we realize it or not. Not long after I became a Christian, God convicted me about listening to secular music. For me, it is hard to listen to secular music without thinking about things I have no business thinking about and without it creating feelings in me that only encourage more messed up thinking. I will admit that I fought God about this issue. I did not want to give up my music. I liked listening to those songs. Those songs brought back a lot of memories, both good and bad. But, if I was going to live a life of obedience, I had to be obedient in this area, so I stopped listening to secular music, except under very specific circumstances, such as when my husband and I go on a date. That’s just one example of a practical way I began to change my thinking.
I have noticed something about myself, and it is something I believe many people struggle with. If something stressful or negative happens, I rehearse and rehash those things in my mind over and over until I have worked myself into a frenzy. The more I think about whatever happened, the more anxious and agitated I become. Before long, I am taking those thoughts and feelings out on others, which creates an entirely new set of problems. So, I am really trying to discipline myself in this area–to let things go, to stop dwelling on them. It is hard, but I am discovering that the more I practice not dwelling on things, the less anxious and the more peaceful my mind becomes.
Stinkin’ thinkin’ is destructive. Our thinking affects everything we do and how we do it. There’s no way around it. For example, if we are angry with someone, if we are not careful, we will treat that person according to how we think and feel toward them rather than how God would have us treat them or how we would want to be treated. We may grumble and complain about someone or about a situation because we have the wrong perspective. (God’s working on me about this, too). Most of us don’t realize how messed up our thinking is. Our minds are like battlegrounds, and every battle is first won or lost in the mind. If we put good things into us, good things will come out of us. If we put junk into us, junk will come out of us. What are you feeding yourself?
So, what stinkin’ thinkin’ do you need to change?
There is a story from the Book of Exodus that I have thought about many times. It is a story that shows the importance of holding each other up and praying for each other.
In Exodus 17, the Israelites are to go to war with the Amalekites. The Amalekites had long been a thorn in the side of the Israelites, and they worshiped pagan gods and often led the Israelites into sin. If you know the Bible, you probably know that Moses was the man God chose to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Leading the Israelites was no easy task, either. They so quickly forgot all the miracles God did for them and how God delivered them from Egypt. They walked through the Red Sea when God parted it as they were being pursued by Pharaoh and his army. They saw the Red Sea collapse on the Egyptians, destroying them. They were guided by God in the wilderness. He gave them manna and water, and he met every need they had. Despite all these things, however, they grumbled and complained, even going as far as saying they had it better in Egypt—a place where they were enslaved for about 400 years. Although the Israelites were stubborn, Moses was a strong leader. He was humble, he sought God, and he interceded for the people time after time, many times pleading with God to not judge the people too harshly. If it hadn’t been for the intercessory prayers of Moses, the Lord quite possibly would have been much more harsh with the Israelites.
Now, remember that God had entered into a covenant relationship with Israel, and He told them He was giving them a good land, a land flowing with milk and honey. The Promised Land. But, the Israelites had to fight for this land. They had to go into battle to drive other peoples out of the land before they could possess it.
Exodus 17:8-13 describes the actions of Moses while Israel, led by Joshua, fought the Amalekites:
“Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.’ Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.”
Here, we see how Moses interceded for the people. As long as Moses held up his arms, the Israelites were winning the battle. When he let his arms down, the Israelites began losing the battle. His arms would get tired to the point that he had to let them down to rest. His arms became so tired that Aaron and Hur had to hold them up for him. Because of Aaron and Hur, who came alongside Moses and held him up when he grew weary, the Israelites defeated the Amalekites.
I have shared many times just how weary I became in my journey. There were times I did not feel like getting out of bed, and there were numerous times I could not even pray. I was just utterly exhausted and had nothing left to give. The battle wore me out. I know you can relate. I have also shared that had it not been for the prayers of some of my sisters in Christ, I would not have had the strength to keep fighting. They, like Aaron and Hur, came alongside me and held up my arms. They interceded for me. They saw how weary I was, how much I wanted and needed to rest, but they also saw the battle waging against me. They knew it was a battle worth fighting, and they knew the prize would be great if I could just keep going. So, when I could no longer walk, they picked me up and carried me. When I could no longer pray, they prayed for me. When I could no longer fight, they fought for me. They had my back and they covered me in prayers. I cannot say for certain that the only reason my husband repented and my marriage was restored was because of my prayers and the prayers of others, but I am certain that had I not prayed, and had others not prayed on my behalf, my marriage would have dissolved. I shudder to think about where I would be now, or where my husband would be now, if others had not stood beside me and held up my arms.
For a while, I did not want others to know about my husband’s adultery. I did not want to share my pain. I wanted it to remain private. However, I quickly realized that the battle was much too big for me to fight alone. I needed my sisters in Christ to fight with me and for me. I needed them to hold me up, encourage me, support me, strengthen me, and weep with me. I needed them, there was no way around it. Without them, I certainly would have lost the battle. As part of the family of Christ, my victories and defeats are not just my victories and defeats; when one person in the body hurts, everyone hurts. When one rejoices, everyone should rejoice. We should have the backs of each other; we should be prepared to go to war with and for our fellow Christians.
Our pride quite often keeps us from sharing our hurts and struggles with others. We tell ourselves no one will understand. Or we tell ourselves that no one really cares. Or perhaps we tell ourselves that others have their own problems to deal with so they don’t have time to hear about our problems. I thought I had to be strong, but no one could be strong for me if they didn’t know my battle. I thought I could handle it, but I was getting beaten up. I didn’t want to ask for help. But that pride had to go. My feeling of self-sufficiency had to go. My thoughts that I could handle it on my own had to go. I quickly came to realize that I could not fight for my marriage alone, and neither can you.
Throughout Scripture, especially in the New Testament, God’s people are called to bear one another’s burdens, to strengthen each other, to pray for each other, and to help each other. If people do not know what you are going through, what battles you are facing, what your hurts and fears are, they cannot help you. They don’t know how to help you. You have to be willing to ask for help, to ask for someone to lean on, and ask for someone to hold you up. And, once that person or those people come along, you have to choose to let them help you. It’s okay if those people do not understand exactly where you are, if they do not comprehend the magnitude of your pain. They can still pray for you. They can still go to war with and for you. Notice in the story above that Moses did not know exactly what the Israelites were experiencing in battle. He wasn’t on the battlefield, but he could see what was going on. He knew God’s people needed him; he knew the battle had to be won. So, he prayed, and when he grew tired of holding up his arms, two others did it for him, because they, too, knew how important the battle was. Maybe more importantly, they knew how much Moses and the Israelites needed them.
Just as God used Aaron and Hur to hold up Moses and to carry him, in a way, he can and will use others to hold you up and carry you when you cannot go on by yourself. So, like Moses, find two or three people you can trust, people who are rock solid, and lean on them. Allow them to help you. Allow them to carry you and to intercede for you. Let them know when you are feeling like giving up, when you are too weary to fight anymore, when you need to rest. Let them know when you need a shoulder to cry on, or when you need a listening ear. And, most importantly, at some point, let them know that you appreciate and covet their prayers and their help. Let them know that you could not have made it or done it without them, and, when the time comes when they need someone to carry them, be that person for them, as much as it is possible for you. Let God use you to hold up their arms so they can fight the battle they are facing.
Here are some verses you can meditate on:
“Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14, NLT).
“Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way” (Isaiah 35:3, NIV).
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, NIV).
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4, ESV).
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15, ESV).
“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:26, ESV).
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV).
A few weeks ago, my husband and I met his daughter for lunch. Her boyfriend is going through a difficult time, and my husband recommended that he listen to the song, “You are More” by Tenth Avenue North. I am posting the lyrics for your convenience:
“You Are More”
There’s a girl in the corner
With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she’s wandered
And the shame she can’t hide
She says, “How did I get here?
I’m not who I once was.
And I’m crippled by the fear
That I’ve fallen too far to love”
But don’t you know who you are,
What’s been done for you?
Yeah don’t you know who you are?
You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.
Well she tries to believe it
That she’s been given new life
But she can’t shake the feeling
That it’s not true tonight
She knows all the answers
And she’s rehearsed all the lines
And so she’ll try to do better
But then she’s too weak to try
But don’t you know who you are?
You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.
You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.
‘Cause this is not about what you’ve done,
But what’s been done for you.
This is not about where you’ve been,
But where your brokenness brings you to
This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.
You’ve been remade
You’ve been remade.
You’ve been remade.
You’ve been remade.
MIKE DONEHEY, JASON INGRAM
Lyrics © Peermusic Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC (emphasis, mine)
As my husband talked, he began to get tears in his eyes. He said, that now, even after almost 8 years of the worst choice of his life, he still sometimes has a hard time looking at himself in the mirror, knowing all the hurt and pain he caused, all the lives he nearly destroyed. I couldn’t help but cry, because I have seen his struggle. I have seen him deal with hateful, spiteful, angry words from the other woman, I have seen him wrestle with forgiving himself, I have seen him struggle not to accept the words of condemnation from the great Accuser (Revelation 12:10; John 8:44). You see, I have seen my husband be broken. I have seen the tears. I have heard the anguish. I have seen him repent and try to make things right with everyone involved. I have seen him struggle, perhaps most strongly, with forgiving himself. And I have hurt for him and wept with him.
You see, we all have a past. We all have done things we regret. We all have made choices that have hurt others and that have had severe consequences. No one has lived a life they feel completely good about. If there is someone who thinks they have lived a life like that, I feel sorry for that person, because they are far worse off than the rest of us who know we’ve messed up: “Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20, NIV). Further, we have all made choices as to how we will deal with the hurts and wrongs done to us. We can either allow those things to make us stronger and better, or we can allow those things to make us hateful and bitter. I’ve witnessed both, and I can testify that the first approach is the better one. Hate and bitterness will eat you up on the inside. It does no good to hold on to such feelings. You don’t control those feelings. They end up controlling you. I’ve seen that happen, too.
Regardless of what the other woman (or any other person) thinks about my husband, God has forgiven him and God accepts him. Her opinion is of no consequence really. Her opinion does not dictate who my husband is, nor does it accurately reflect who he is. Her opinion is her opinion–it is not the truth. What Satan, the great accuser, whispers to us, to condemn us, is nothing but lies, and those who stand in accusation against those whom God loves, are liars, too (John 8:44). What matters is what God says about my husband. God rightly dealt with my husband, convicted him, and my husband repented. He will regret his adultery to the day he dies, of that I am certain. But, when someone confesses their sin, when they cry out to God for forgiveness, when they turn from that sin, God is faithful to forgive that person: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NIV)
“‘I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.” (Psalm 32:5, NASB). In his mercy, though, God goes far beyond what many of us do.
He remembers the sin no more: “For I will forgive their iniquities, and remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12, NASB).
“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25, NASB).
“‘for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,’ declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more'” (Jeremiah 31:34, NASB).
He casts it as far as the east is from the west: “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12, NLT). Unlike the north and south, the east and west never meet.
He throws it into the sea of forgetfulness: “Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!” (Micah 7:19, NLT).
He washes it away with the blood of Jesus: “‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'” (Isaiah 1:18, NASB).
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7, NIV).
When the accuser, whether by himself or in the form of a person, comes before my husband to remind him of his sin, God responds to my husband’s heart by asking, “What sin?” He reminds him, “The blood of Jesus long ago washed that sin away. It is gone forever.” Let us not forget the admonition from the apostle Paul: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1, NLT).
“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us” (Romans 8:31-34, NLT).
Unfortunately, I, too, was once an accuser. I heaped judgment upon my husband with my words. I made him feel like the lowest piece of scum on the earth. I was angry and hurt, but that is NEVER a reason for making others feel like they are worthless. I needed to be reminded at times that I, too, am a sinner, a sinner saved by God’s marvelous grace. I, too, have grieved God. I, too, have done things for which I am ashamed. It’s very easy when we are hurting to lash out against the one we see as being responsible for our hurt. However, what God wants us to do is to be kind and loving, to be forgiving, and to be gracious to that person. No, it is not easy. It goes against everything in our nature. But, it is the Jesus way. Jesus said to pray for those who hurt us, who use us, to bless them, to be kind to them (Matthew 5:38-45; Luke 6:27-36).
Does it make sense? No. Will you feel like doing it? No. Will it change anything? Maybe, maybe not. Is it hard? Absolutely. But, it is good and it pleases God. Part of loving someone the way God loves us is by not keeping a record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5). Can you imagine what it would be like for YOU if God kept a record of all your wrongs, your sins, your transgressions? There would no hope that any of us could ever be forgiven. We could never be accepted by God. Jesus asks us to do nothing more than he did, and he did not and does not keep a record of wrongs. On the cross, in the most excruciating pain imaginable, looking out on a crowd who falsely accused him, illegally tried him, whipped him, beat him, spat on him, mocked him, cursed him, and hated him, Jesus cried out to His Father, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). That’s a powerful challenge. I have not endured anything close to what Jesus endured, yet He forgives me. That’s pure, perfect love. That’s the kind of love God wants us to have for each other. We will make mistakes, we will not always love as we should, but we should be striving to love others God’s way. We should be growing and walking in love every day, until it is perfected in us in glory.
We each have a choice. We can be condemning and hateful or we can be loving. We can be like the devil, the Accuser, or we can be like Jesus, the one who keeps no record of wrongs. We cannot be both at the same time. The way of love is harder, but it is so much more liberating and peaceful, and it is a glorious example of the heart of God. Be like Jesus, even when that person keeps hurting you, even when that person may not see their sin, even when that person has wronged you. Love like Jesus, and Jesus will defend you and keep you. Of that, I am certain.
I wish people would get this through their thick skulls. You make the choice, you have consequences. People are ruining their lives and their character by the “It’s not my fault,” and what I call the “victim mentality” in our society. I’ve seen it in too many people, and it is a big fat LIE. There is a saying, “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.” People just can’t handle the truth. They are who they are because of the choices they made. Put on your big boy/girl underwear and grow up and own YOUR choices!!!!
I can respect and have compassion on people who make mistakes and bad choices, and ADMIT their mistakes and own up to the choices they made. I do not respect, nor do I have much compassion for, people who refuse to admit their choices and mistakes, and instead expect pity from others for things they claim are “Not their fault.” The blame game never works. I didn’t buy that lie years ago when a friend of mine tried to blame something on his mother, and I don’t buy it now from anyone. No one is responsible for your choices but YOU!
I met my husband not long after I truly gave my life to Christ. My husband had recently gone through a divorce, and he had a 3-year old daughter. Neither of us were expecting anything more than friendship from one another when we met. However, God had other plans. Within two months of meeting each other, my husband and I were best friends. We were virtually inseparable. I knew I was developing romantic feelings for him, but I was so afraid I would get my eyes off of Jesus if I got romantically involved with a man, and my husband had similar thoughts, though neither of us knew it at the time. As I felt my feelings for him becoming stronger, I began to pray and seek God about the place this man was supposed to have in my life. I knew I wanted more than friendship, but I wanted to love Jesus more than I loved any other person. I wanted Jesus to be first in my heart. I was also concerned that my husband would get his eyes off of Jesus, especially since he had recently divorced. Without the other one knowing, we each started to pray about our feelings for each other, baring our souls to God about the desires of our hearts, but expressing the greater desire to love Jesus above all things.
While we were only best friends, though, we had not one, not two, but seven people come up to us on different occasions and ask us if we were dating. When we told them, “No,” they told us we belonged together. They said we just seemed to go together. It was so easy for us to be around each other and we seemed meant to be. My husband and I often talked about this, and it actually began to make both of us think about our relationship. Was there something we were missing? Was God trying to tell us something? We didn’t know, but neither one of us felt God telling us it was time to move forward in our relationship. We kept hanging out with each other, and our friendship grew deeper, but we both were reluctant to tell the other how we were feeling.
I had many talks with God about this issue, but God remained silent on that specific question. However, my husband and I had a dynamic when we were together. We seemed to complement each other in almost every way, and it came out when we were talking to others about Christ or leading a Bible study. Our ministry styles complemented each other. It was bizarre but awesome at the same time. Even though both of us were beginning to wonder if we misunderstood God, we still held back our feelings. I was so in love with Jesus that I didn’t want to mess that up by loving my husband more, and my husband was the same. He was afraid that I would get my eyes of Christ, and he didn’t want to be the one that was involved in that.
I continued to pray about it, and one night I had a dream. I knew the dream was from God, but I was uncertain at first what the dream meant. Now, I will admit that I was blown away that God would speak to me through a dream, but He did. He has spoken to people through dreams throughout history, so it isn’t unusual. Supernatural, yes, but unlike God, no. This is the dream I had:
There was a pan with three loaves of bread on it. Suddenly, a hand from heaven came down and removed the center loaf and pushed the other two loaves of bread together. Then, the hand went back up into heaven.
It was a short dream, but it was very vivid. I remember asking myself why I was dreaming about bread. What was the significance of bread? I was so amazed at the dream that I called my husband at 12:14 a.m. We talked for 77 minutes, and that call was on the fourteenth day of the month (I don’t remember which month I had the dream). I am also fairly sure that the cost of the call was a multiple of seven. Did you notice the number 7 and the other numbers that are multiples of seven? That’s because the number seven is significant in and of itself. In the Bible, the number seven symbolizes completeness, perfection. But, I am getting off track.
I called my husband and told him about my dream. I told him I knew the dream was from God but I did not know what it meant. He knew immediately what it meant, but he would not tell me because he realized it was something I needed God to reveal to me. After we finished talking, I started asking God what the dream meant, but He didn’t tell me immediately.
Something else that is interesting is that my husband’s and my first date was February 14. We drove an hour south to eat at one of my favorite restaurants and afterwards, we walked along the beach. On the way back, there was a particular song we both wanted to hear, so we stopped at a Walmart. Amazingly (but why should I have been surprised at this point?) that Walmart had the CD that song was on. While at Walmart, I went to the women’s restroom. I had thoroughly enjoyed the time I had with my husband, and I didn’t want it to end. I remember thinking that when I got married, I did not know how I would explain to whoever my husband might be that this man was my best friend. Shouldn’t your spouse be your best friend? Then, it hit me like a lightning bolt: The person I marry should be my best friend. That’s the way God intended it. Then, the contents of the dream began to be clear.
Jesus said in John 6: 35, 41, 48, and 51, “I am the Bread of Life.” He goes on to say that those who eat of His bread will never be hungry but will be satisfied. In biblical passages relating to the Last Supper, Jesus says the bread is his body (Matthew 26:26-27; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19) (see also 1 Corinthians 10:16; 1 Corinthians 11:23-24). There are parallels to this story when Jesus fed the multitudes and broke the bread to give to the crowd. There was plenty of bread so that all the people could eat and be satisfied, and there was bread left over (Matthew 14:19-20; Matthew 15:36-37; Mark 6:37-42; Mark 8:6-8; John 6:1-13). When the Israelite people were in the wilderness, after coming out of Egypt and waiting to go into the promised land, God gave them manna from heaven every day. The people had to eat the manna that fell on that day; none could be saved for the next day. It would be ruined. What was not eaten was to be left.
So, this was the meaning of the dream: God was telling me that Jesus was first in my heart. God had been keeping my husband and I apart until Jesus was solidly first place in my life. Once God knew that I loved Jesus more than anything, He moved us closer to one another and allowed us to enter into a romantic relationship. The three loaves of bread represented Jesus, my husband, and myself. The loaf that was removed symbolized that God was removing the obstacle. The hand visibly coming down from heaven let me know the dream was from God and that God was the one who brought my husband and I together. It was His work and His plan that was unfolding.
Once I had that revelation from God, my husband and I moved forward in our relationship with confidence and God’s blessing.
I am not sure why God gave us so much confirmation during the early months of our relationship. We didn’t ask God for confirmation, though there is nothing wrong with doing that. However, as I have pondered the overwhelming confirmation God gave us, I sometimes wonder if it was because He knew what my husband and I would face. He knew that we would need the confirmation at the darkest point in our marriage. I thought about the confirmation during my husband’s affair, so I do think that part of the reason why God gave us so much is that He knew I would need it. That knowledge helped me keep fighting for my marriage. I knew that God had plans for my husband and I and that He confirmed our relationship in so many ways. I could not just give up. I would not give up unless God clearly told me to do so, which he obviously never did.
So, here I am…almost 8 years later, still feasting on Jesus, still giving Him first place in my life, and reaping the reward for continuing to fight when the odds seemed to be against me; still believing there is a higher purpose and calling for what my husband and I went through; still watching God’s plan for my life unfold. I hated that battle, though. It was long, hard, bitter, and painful, but, for me, it was a battle worth fighting. It was a prize worth earning. It was a fight worth winning.
This post will not be like my usual posts. What I am sharing with you tonight is actually a word God recently gave me, and it keeps resounding in my spirit. I know you are in a world of pain. I know you have cried more tears than you ever thought possible, and I know how despondent and desperate you are. When I was going through what you are going through, God was my ever present help in trouble. But, like all of you, I am human, and there were numerous times I got my eyes off of Jesus. Many times when this happened, my soul was so unsettled within me. I could not rest. My mind would race with fretful thoughts that only worked me into more despair. I often felt like God had deserted me. Those are terrible and dark places to be, and I hurt for you.
Several months ago, something happened that got me very distressed and anxious. I just kept going over the incident in my mind, rehearsing it, and as I did, I only became more agitated. I was so uneasy and upset that I emailed a dear Christian lady friend of mine and shared how I was feeling and why. She responded to my email by asking me for more details, which I provided in another email. Once she knew what was going on, she reminded me that God is a God of peace and order. He is not the author of confusion, chaos or disorder, though it may sometimes seem like that. God is a rock. He is solid. He is stable. He does not change. He does not move. He does not waver. God is not scared, intimidated, threatened, or anxious. He is the peace in our chaos. He is the calm in our storms. He is the shelter and refuge when the rain is pouring down and the wind is howling.
As I thought about all my friend told me, I kept hearing this scripture echo in my spirit: “Be still and know I am God” (Psalm 46:10). I actually have that verse as my screen saver on my laptop. God reminded me of that as I thought about my friend’s advice. So, the question became, “Why did you point this verse out to me, God? Why is it resounding in my spirit?”
“Because you don’t rest before me; you are not still before me. You busy yourself with the responsibilities and cares of this world, when what you should do is be more like Mary and less like Martha. Taste and see that I am good. Let my word restore and refresh your spirit. Let my life revive you. You have no burden, no need, no desire that I cannot meet. But, you have to be still before me. I AM!”
The New American Standard Bible words it this way: “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold.”
Being still denotes being relaxed, at ease, at peace, without anxiety, fear, or concern. It means quieting my noisy heart and listening for the voice of God. It means resting in God, knowing that I am in the palms of His hands, nothing can touch me without His knowledge or permission. It means trusting Him even when things seem to be out of control, even when darkness encompasses me. It means leaving matters with God. So, why then, does my soul not rest? Why then is my soul not still before God? Why then is my mind anxious? Perhaps it is because I do not realize all of who God is. I do not realize all of His nature, all of His power. I do not understand the depth of His love and compassion for me. I do not fathom the fullness of His mercy, kindness and goodness. I sometimes fail to see His hand of protection on my life, and I sometimes fail to recognize His blessings on my life. In short, I forget Who God Is. I forget His faithfulness to me.
Instead of casting my eyes up to the heavens, I look at the circumstances surrounding me. I see the problems, the complicated situations, the difficult people. I see the obstacles; I see the harm others are trying to inflict. How easily I forget that God is my strength, my shield, my fortress, my tower, and my hiding place. He hides me in His love; with his love, He covers me. He is a mighty mountain that cannot be shaken; He is a rock that cannot be moved. He is my defender; he is a mighty warrior. At His voice, the earth trembles. When He opens His mouth to speak, only truth comes out. He is an all-consuming fire that burns within my soul. What He orders happens. All of nature is at His command. He is not a God who is double minded or fickle. He has a purpose and plan, and the gates of hell shall not overcome Him. The grave could not hold him. He is the final and ultimate authority.
I can choose to be anxious, to have my soul disquieted within me, or I can choose to rest and be still before God. The apostle Paul reminds us:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
Peace is possible. It is possible if I lift my burdens and my requests up to God. It is possible if I will remember who God is. God’s peace will guard my heart. Guard my heart from what? Guard it from despair, worry, discouragement, anxiety. It will guard my mind. Guard my mind from what? From restless, agitating thoughts. From thoughts that exalt themselves against God. From thoughts that lead me into captivity. From thoughts that rob me of joy. From thoughts that detract me from God’s unique purpose and plan for my life. From thoughts that keep me from being all God desires me to be.
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (NIV)
Psalm 37:5: “Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” (NIV)
Psalm 55:22: “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”
Psalm 56:3-4: “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” (NASB)
Matthew 6:25-34: “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns—and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifespan? And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans pursue all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.”
So, no matter where you are right now, no matter how chaotic or out of control your life seems, take some time to be still before God and reflect on who He is. Allow Him to comfort you and love on you. Let Him speak peace to your troubled mind. He is there, waiting for you, calling out to you, to come before Him and just be still.
As I have shared in earlier posts, my husband was the last man on earth anyone thought would commit adultery. That speaks a lot to his character and integrity, as well as his love for God, before he fell. My husband was (and now is again) the kind of man that does not like to listen to music or watch any television show or movie with foul language in it. Before his affair began, when he was still able to drive, he did not like to drive above the speed limit. He wasn’t doing it out of legalism but rather out of a heart that wanted to obey God, and God says to obey the law of the land (Romans 13:1-7).
Not long before he met the other woman, my husband began working out. He became rather obsessed with it. We would spend money buying the protein powder and other supplements, and he would spend a couple of hours in the gym behind our home almost every day. In his workouts, he liked to listen to peppy, upbeat music. He started out listening to Christian groups, like the Newsboys, but he soon began to add some rock/pop songs to his play list. A lot of the songs had curse words in them, and though it bothered him a little, he continued to include those songs in his playlist. Before long, the words didn’t bother him. That was a small compromise. There were some other things that occurred that were also compromises, but I will not delve into those matters. The point is that compromise started the whole affair. Compromise is dangerous. Being tempted is not a sin. All of us are tempted. We sin when we give in to the temptation: “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1: 13-15, NIV). My husband was enticed by his own desire, and when he acted on that desire, that resulted in sin. Sin always has consequences.
Sometime in late 2006 or early 2007, we let the filter on our internet expire. Neither one of us took the time to renew it. The filter would have kept either of us from visiting websites with violence, profanity, and pornography, among other things. Once that hedge of protection was down, my husband began to look at pornography. At first, the pictures were enough to feed his lust, but over time, he wanted more. At some point, he began visiting adult websites where women and men would advertise themselves for sex and desired to hook up with others, and that is where and how he met the other woman. Now, common sense alone should tell anyone that the people who are on and use those sites are not the kind of people you should want to get involved with. It’s kind of like “you get what you ask for.” What did you expect? What kind of relationship do you really think you are going to have with someone on one of those sites? What kind of people do you really expect to meet? If you are on or use those sites, then you need not complain when you have to deal with consequences of your own immorality and indecency. But, as I have made clear, my husband made a series of choices that were based on poor judgment. That was one of them. The lust had taken over, and it was out of control.
The woman he met on that site does not live that far from us, and he began visiting her. Every time he saw her, he told himself he would not go back, and he felt guilty, as he should have. However, he ignored that voice we call conscience and continued the relationship. Before long, he was in so deep, he saw no way out. He has told me that there were many times he wanted to end the relationship for good. He actually broke up with her a few times, but was always drawn back to her. He had hoped to end things without massive fallout, without totally devastating me, our family, and her, but he soon began to realize that was impossible. No matter what happened, there would be massive and destructive fallout. It was inevitable. He realized that everyone was going to get hurt in some way or the other.
Now, of course, by now you know that I had been fervently praying for my husband. God revealed my husband’s struggles to me, and He showed me what was going on in my husband’s mind and spirit. He also revealed things about the other woman to me, although she never realized it. God’s spirit knew both of them. He knew the motives and intents of their hearts. He knew and saw everything both of them did, said and thought. Nothing was hidden from Him, so when He talked to me about either one of them, I listened and I took it as the truth because God is Truth. Because God was revealing these things to me, I knew how to pray and what to pray for my husband. I kept praying even when it seemed like the prayers were not being effective.
My husband has paid dearly for his sin, and it started with compromise. The problem with compromise is that one small compromise leads to another compromise, which leads to another compromise. Before long, the series of compromises take you so far from the truth and take you to places you never imagined you could be and result in actions you never thought yourself capable of. My husband lied to himself when he started making the compromises. He told himself he could control the situation, he wasn’t going to look at any more pornography, he wasn’t going to visit that adult website again, he wasn’t going to talk to her again, and the list goes on. When you are out of God’s will, you have no power over sin. You have no strength to resist sin. It controls you; you never control it. Sin is never satisfied. It becomes hungrier and greedier and always demands more. Sin is destructive. Satan’s desire is to destroy you, and he will use any means necessary to do so. That is why the Bible warns us:
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, NLT).
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10, NIV)
I have talked to so many women whose husband’s stories are much like that of my husband. In almost every case of infidelity, pornography is involved to some extent. As a matter of fact, if you take Jesus at his word, a man or woman who looks at pornography has already committed adultery (Matthew 5:28). Because sin begins in the heart. Always. And what’s in the heart eventually comes out in our actions. We can’t hide what’s in our hearts forever. We are fools if we think we can.
Our family has paid a steep price for my husband’s compromises and sin. His compromises nearly destroyed our marriage and family. The journey to restore what he allowed the devil to take has been hard and arduous and long. Because of what we both learned about the destructive nature of compromise, we are extra vigilant about what we read, what we think about, what we see, and what we hear. We have safeguards in place to protect both of us and those we love.
Despite what many of us tell ourselves, we cannot flirt with temptation or get so proud as to think we would never do “that” (whatever “that” may be). My husband never once thought his compromises would lead him into adultery and into the worst and most destructive relationship of his life. He never thought he would do “that!”
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12, NIV).
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18, NIV).
“Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12, ESV).
“Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:12, NLT).
No matter how we are tempted, the Bible offers ways we can guard ourselves against falling into that temptation:
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV).
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4: 7, NIV).
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11, NIV).
So, my hope for you reading this post is 1) that you will be on guard about compromises in your own life 2) that you will realize God’s strength and grace is always there to help you when you are tempted 3) that you will understand how your spouse may have gotten to the point where he/she could commit adultery 4) you will do whatever is necessary to safeguard your marriage.
Do you remember the first time you saw the other woman? (Or if you are a man, the other man?) I do. By the time I saw the other woman, I had known about her and my husband’s sinful relationship for several weeks. At the time, my husband was running his business out of our home, and I was in the home office doing some work. There were photos in a pile and I began rifling through them. All of a sudden, I saw it. I saw her. I looked at my husband in bewilderment, and held up the photo. I was practically yelling at him when I asked him, “Is this her? Is this the woman you’ve been seeing?” He looked at me and nodded. I then responded in all honesty, “She’s a DOG!!!” I was angry, no doubt about that, but I meant what I said even though it was said in anger and disgust. You see, I already knew that she was ugly on the inside. No pretty person sleeps with a married man. Her continuing to see my husband after she knew he was married told me all I needed to know about her character (rather LACK OF), and it was not good! No good, respectable person–woman or man–sleeps with a married person, especially after that person finds out the other is married. A good person with a good heart just doesn’t do that! (Even if the OW would have been a model and had the perfect figure, her heart would have still been ugly. Sin is ugly. Lack of character and lack of morality is ugly. God looks at the heart, not at outward appearances.)
Now, my husband has since told me many times that if he had been in his right mind, he would have never found anything attractive about her. He would not have found her physically, emotionally, or intellectually attractive. She was just not the type of woman he was typically attracted to. (That’s not to say that other men would not have found her to be those things). But, lust and deception do those things to a person. Once the fog of deception that had been hanging over his mind lifted, he began to see things much more clearly. Just as he began to realize that what he had been calling “love” was not love at all.
Since my husband’s affair ended, he and I have talked a lot about how he ever got involved in such a sinful relationship with such a loose woman. It started with compromise, which I will address in a future post. Like most of you ladies who are sorting through the remnants of your marriage, I asked myself many times what was wrong with me. If you are honest, you have asked yourself the same question many times. I used to be a member of a couple of groups on Facebook that were for women and men who had been cheated on. At one point, people in the groups began posting pictures of the other woman or other man and asking the group what they thought about the other woman or other man. I never got involved in the discussion. It got to the point where people were beginning to express the same questions that I expressed: What’s wrong with me? I left both groups because the discussion got ridiculous and extreme, and that kind of stuff is not helpful, IMO. But, here’s my answer to you for that question: There is nothing wrong with you! THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH HER! THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH HIM! It is not you!!! Do not beat yourself up about it. Don’t over analyze the months or years of your marriage preceding your husband’s affair, examining every thing you said or did to try to see where you went wrong, what you did wrong. It’s not about anything you have done. You have to realize that any man or woman who cheats on his/her spouse has a major problem. He is being completely selfish and self-centered and self-absorbed. Any woman or man who gets into or stays in a relationship with a married man/woman is also totally selfish, self-centered, and self-absorbed. In contrast, unselfish, caring people do not do that kind of things to others. Selfless people think about how their actions will affect others, about how much pain or anguish they may cause someone. If a person has any shred of self-respect, any shred of respect for others, any compassion for others, they will make choices that are not so selfish. That’s how I see it. And I believe that’s how most rational people will see it. I think it’s how most of you will see it, if you haven’t come to that realization yet.
Many times since my husband ended that ungodly relationship, he has made it clear to me that there was nothing I did wrong. I was in no way inadequate, not good enough, not pretty enough, etc. I have been a great, loving, godly wife and mother. I have brought him much joy and pride. I admitted to him that I did used to wonder about those things, but I long since stopped, especially once he ended the affair and our marriage was restored. The Bible has a lot to say about immoral women and godly women and their hearts. In Proverbs chapters 2, 5, and 7, 22, and 23, men are warned about sexually immoral, loose, adulterous or promiscuous women (but it can just as easily apply to those types of men). And these passages are not an exhaustive list. Those types of women are called “cruel,” “wayward,” “wicked,” “lewd” and “evil” and “promiscuous” depending on the version of the Bible you are using. They are compared to a “trap” and a “snare” and a “robber.” Some versions refer to such a woman as a “harlot.” These same passages warn that such a woman (or man) will lead a man (or woman) to danger, ruin, destruction or to the grave, basically equating such a person with death (whether spiritual or physical). Many liken this woman to a “Jezebel.” I won’t say a couple of the other words used to describe such a woman, but I’m sure you can use your imagination and connect the dots. The Bible also states that this type of woman is looking for “prey,” trying to “allure,” “entice,” and “seduce” and “ensnare.” You can clearly see that the Bible does not say good things about this kind of woman or man. It also does not at any point let either the loose woman or the straying man off the hook. In all of these passages, both people are guilty. Imagine that!!! God actually thinks both are guilty…
Here’s what the sexually immoral, loose woman or man and anyone who commits adultery (or other types of sexual sin) need to know:
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4). The adulterer is the spouse who commits adultery and the sexually immoral applies to the woman or man who is having sex with someone else’s spouse (doesn’t matter if she/he knows the person is married). Fornication involves any sex or sexual activity with someone to whom one is not married. God will judge ALL the sexually immoral. There are no exceptions. God is not a liar. God will do exactly as He said He will do: He will judge the adulterer AND the sexually immoral. He does not care about anyone’s reasons or excuses. He determines what is sin–not us. If you think you did not sin, then you are the liar, not God or anyone else. If you are the other woman or the other man and you have not admitted that sleeping with a married person is a sin and have not been forgiven of it, then you will be judged by God. If you are that person, I pray that you will heed the warnings of scripture while you still have breath in your lungs. Because once you breathe your last breath, if you have not made things right with God (which requires confession–agreeing with God that what you did was sin– and repentance) and have not been forgiven of that sin, then you will spend an eternity in a Hell that is far worse than the hell your selfish, sinful choices caused someone who never wronged you to experience.
Now, compare the sexually immoral or promiscuous woman to the Proverbs 31 woman (the virtuous woman), who is said to be beautiful because she fears the Lord. She is considered to be a crown to her husband, a prize, a treasure, a woman of great wisdom, understanding, and one worthy of respect and great honor. She is a woman who is praised by her husband and does her husband good all the days of his life. She is a woman of true beauty!
Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character
10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
1 Peter 3:3-4
Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. (See the emphasis on the heart? How the heart of a woman of good character, a woman who loves God, contrasts to that of an immoral woman? Once again, it is not about the outward appearance but about the heart. What is in the heart determines one’s character. Character defines us. That’s why a good, pure heart is of such beauty and worth to God.)
1 Timothy 2:9-10 states that “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.” A woman with the right heart, with a heart that is pure before God, will do good works out of her love for God. This type of woman will fear the Lord and hate evil. Her desire to please God will keep her from promiscuity and immorality. Her inner beauty will shine forth. It is this type of beauty that is precious to God, not the beauty that comes from outward adornment of any kind. God’s focus is on the heart. You show people your heart by the way you live your life, by the kind of character (or lack of) you have, by the kind of person you are (or are not).
So, for you Christian ladies who may feel that you are not beautiful or that you are not worthy because of what your husband and the other woman have done or are doing to you, take heart. God has you! Your worth and beauty are never determined by men but by God. If your heart is right before God, if you desire to please him, then he will take care of you. He will judge your husband and the other woman. It may not happen in the time frame or in the way you would do things, but it will be the best, most perfect, most just way. God does not take it lightly when others abuse and mistreat those he calls his own. He will lift you up in due time.
Let your light shine, along with your true beauty!
The first few years of my marriage were difficult. I became a wife and mother on the day I married my husband. He had a 4 year old daughter from his first marriage, and although I loved her, it was quite challenging to adjust. I also had to deal with her mother and grandmother, and that was sometimes very difficult to do. I felt like no matter what I did, it was not good enough. Someone was always finding fault with me. My husband often took my step-daughter’s side, not necessarily because he agreed with her, but because he was scared she would go live with her mother. As a result, our marriage became strained. I grew increasingly frustrated and angry with him and began to close myself off as the resentment grew. I told my husband many times what he was doing and tried to explain to him what it was doing to me, but I felt like he was not listening. I felt alone and alienated. The tension was evident. Over time, my husband began to see how his actions were affecting me and he found a balance, but it was a hard journey for both of us to get to where we needed to be.
A few days a week I was walking with a friend from church. I began talking about how my husband was treating me, how frustrated I was, how hurt I was, and how confused I was. She gave me a sympathetic ear and support, but she shared what I was telling her with my small group leader. As a result, a few of the ladies in our church began to think negatively about my husband. Many thought he was oppressing me. I know their hearts were in the right place, but what they should have done was point me to God’s word. What did God’s word say? How would God want me to handle the situation? That’s what I needed to hear, whether I liked it or not. Of course, with all the sympathy I was getting, my frustration and resentment toward my husband grew. I made a mistake in talking about my husband in such a negative way with my friend. I went into too much detail and revealed too much. I did need support and to feel understood, but my heart was not in the right place. I wanted to feel like I was right so I could use the words of my lady friends from church against my husband. That was wrong, and it became quite evident later.
In addition to all of these problems, I was taking birth control, and it messed me up badly. My emotions were unmanageable. I would be calm and fine one minute, and the next I would fly into a rage over something so dumb. I was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This further drove a wedge between my husband and myself. It caused a lot of problems. Eventually, we decided that what the birth control pills were doing to me was not worth it, and I stopped using birth control. In a few months, I was back to my normal self. But, I had done a lot of damage, and that damage had to be resolved.
During the first 2 to 3 years of my marriage, when all this crazy stuff was going on, I often asked myself if I had make a mistake in marrying my husband. Had I made a mistake in marrying a man who had a child? Had I somehow missed God or misinterpreted what God said? I wanted out, I told God. I did not sign up for this, I thought. I was not prepared for this, God. I didn’t know it was going to be like this, God; I expected more, God. But God reminded me of my marriage vows–for better or worse. There were no conditions attached. It was all or none. I either meant what I said before God and a multitude of witnesses or I did not. If I meant what I said, then I had to live it, no matter how hard it became. God also reminded me of the tremendous amount of confirmation He gave to both my husband and myself when we were talking about getting married. I realized I had not missed God or misinterpreted what He said. Basically, I went into my marriage with unrealistic expectations (we all do), and I was realizing that those expectations had helped create many of the problems.
As God dealt with me about my feelings and expectations, He began to impress upon my heart that I needed to pray for my husband, especially when I did not agree with him and did not want to submit to his leadership. Pray? But, God, he’s wrong, not me. “Pray!” That’s what God kept telling me. So, after arguments in which I told my husband how I felt, how much I disagreed, how unfair I thought things were; arguments in which I refused to submit to him, I prayed (but it was not what I felt like doing). Sometimes, God used those prayers to change my heart and mind. He often told me, “You do what I said to do. You submit to your husband even if you think he is wrong. He may be wrong, but you are only doing more damage by arguing with him and refusing to submit. You are not respecting him.” That was the truth I needed to hear, but it was hard to accept. Eventually, I got to the point where I would just tell my husband how I felt, state my opinion, and then let it go. I remember one instance in particular when I told my husband I disagreed with him and why I disagreed. He didn’t see things my way. Instead of arguing, I took it to God in prayer. A few days later, my husband came to me and told me he was wrong about that particular issue, and that he had changed his mind. I was amazed, but I knew it was not what I had said to him that had changed his heart and mind. It was what God had been saying to him. God had been convicting him. When I gave up control, when I took my hands off the wheel, and gave it to God, only then was he able to sort things out with my husband.
I recently read a devotion from Proverbs 31 Ministries, in which Lysa TerKeurst says:
“The first five years of my marriage were really hard. Two sinners coming together with loads of baggage, unrealistic expectations and extremely strong wills.
There was yelling. There was the silent treatment. There were doors slammed. There was bitterness. There was a contemplation of calling it quits. There was this sinking feeling that things would never, could never get better. That’s when I first started hearing the three lies:
- I married the wrong person.
- He should make me feel loved.
- There is someone else better out there.
I believed those lies. They started to weave a tangled web of confusion in my heart. All I could see was all that was wrong with him. I became so blind to his good. I became so blind to my not-so-good.
And I wasn’t shy about sharing my frustrations about the whole situation with my friends.
Most of them nodded their heads in agreement with me, making me feel ever‑so‑justified. But one didn’t. Instead she said, “I know what you think. But what does the Bible say?”
Ugghhhh. The Bible? I didn’t think her “religious suggestion” would help me. But over the next couple of days, her question about looking into the Bible replayed over and over in my mind.
Reluctantly and with great skepticism, I tried it one afternoon. I turned to a couple of verses she suggested, including 1 Corinthians 13. As I read the list of everything love is supposed to be, I got discouraged. My love didn’t feel kind, patient or persevering. The love in my marriage felt broken.
I closed the Bible. It didn’t seem to do anything but make me feel worse. So much for that.
Then a few days later, I heard an interview on a Christian radio station where a couple was talking about these same verses. I wanted to gag and turn the station. What do they know about how hard love can be? That’s when they said a statement that grabbed me, “Love isn’t a feeling; it’s a decision.”
I went home and flipped to 1 Corinthians 13 again. This time, instead of reading it like a list of what love should make me feel, I read it as if I could decide to make my love fit these qualities. My love will be kind. My love will be patient. My love will persevere. Not because I feel it — but because I choose it.
At the same time, God was working on my husband’s heart as well. We decided to make some 1 Corinthians 13 love decisions. Slowly, the cold stone wall between us started to come down.
It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t overnight. But slowly our attitudes and actions toward one another changed. And I stopped believing the marriage lies and replaced them with these three marriage truths:
- Having a good marriage is more about being the right partner than having the right partner.
- Love is a decision.
- The grass isn’t greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water and fertilize it.
Maybe you’ve heard the marriage lies before. My heart aches for you if you are in a hard place in your marriage. And believe me, I know tough relationships are complicated and way beyond what a simple devotion can possibly untangle. But maybe something I’ve said today can help loosen one knot … or at least breathe a little hope into your life today.
Dear Lord, thank You for this truth, no matter how hard it is to read. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit, who gives me strength to turn from the lies and walk in Your truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self‑seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (NIV)” (Taken from Proverbs 31 Ministries, March 17, 2016, Lysa TerKeurst)
From experience, I know Lysa gets it. She understands. She has been there, and God gave to her the same revelation He gave to me. Love is a decision. Love is evidenced by action. Love is something we must exercise and grow in every day, moment by moment. The very nature of love is sacrifice. Love is not about how we feel, but about how our lives should look and what our actions should reveal. I choose to be patient. I choose to be kind. I choose to not envy or boast or be proud. I choose to honor and respect others. I choose to be unselfish and to consider others more than I consider myself; I choose to not be easily angered and to keep no record of wrongs. I choose to rejoice in the truth. I choose to protect, trust, hope, and persevere. Even when I don’t feel like, even when those qualities are not being demonstrated by others, even when others are not giving these things to me. Love is a choice, and what you choose matters. I know I will mess up, but I refuse to give up and stop growing in love.
I did not write this piece; someone with whom I am friends on Facebook wrote this, and it is 100 percent true. Not only does God know that someone has not truly forgiven because he sees their heart, others can see if we have truly forgiven by how we treat those who have wronged us. I know people who are so bitter, angry and hateful, who attack and insult those who hurt them every chance they get, as if those people did nothing wrong or have never needed forgiveness, as if it is their place to remind others of their wrongs while overlooking their own. It is sad that someone lets that kind of cancer grow in their hearts. Those people are not fooling anyone or God. What is in your heart comes out. No one has the right to withhold forgiveness from others. If you want God to forgive you of your sins, and we all sin, then you must forgive others. I am not saying it is easy, but it is necessary. Refuse to hold on to feelings that will only lead to the demise of your soul and destroy you.
Forgiving Those Who Hurt Us
Forgiveness is something we, as Christians, should take very seriously. The forgiveness I am speaking of is that which we must do for others. If someone hurts us – physically or emotionally – what do we do? Do we immediately forgive them? If they ask for forgiveness, do we, really? Or do we keep a mental record of what they did, a tally of their mistakes, hurtful remarks or actions; and does it color our reactions towards them? Do we bring it all up the next time something happens? What if that person does not ask for forgiveness? Perhaps we never hear, “Forgive me”. Does that person remain, forever unforgiven, by us?
Jesus did not treat this lightly. It was imperative to Him that we understand the consequence of unforgiveness on our part. Peter broaches Jesus with the subject of forgiving a brother in Matthew 18:21-35, Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus’ reply in v. 22 gives us some idea of the extent to which we much go, ”I tell you, not as many as seven, “ Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven.” My father said it this way: If you multiply, that is, 490 times; but that was Jesus’ way of saying to forgive and keep on forgiving.
Jesus then goes into to telling the parable of the king who began to settle accounts with his servants, and the servant who was unforgiving to others who were in debt to him. The word, debt, in many Scriptures Jesus uses, can be interchanged with the word, sin. To paraphrase: The king lessened and forgave the debts that his servants owed to him, and even had compassion and forgave all, to this one servant who could not pay anything. But, this same servant did not have any compassion for one in debt to him. When the king was told of this, he became extremely angry and took drastic measures when he punished him for not having compassion and forgiving as he, himself had forgiven. In verse 35, Jesus states, “ So My heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you who does not forgive his brother from his heart.”
We are given an idea of what awaits the person who does not forgive the person who has done wrong to him/her. And, also note, Jesus says, “from his heart.” It is not just saying the words, “I forgive you”. We MUST also MEAN those words in our hearts. God KNOWS our heart, so we CANNOT HIDE unforgiveness from Him! He KNOWS our hearts!! We must, cautiously and continually, remember what it tells us in Matthew 6:15, “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Jesus gave us a formula(if you will) of forgiveness, in the Lord’s Prayer, which is found in Luke 11: v. 12. Jesus says to pray, “And forgive us our sins, FOR we ourselves also forgive everyone in debt to us,…” Some translations say “as” instead of, “for”, but the meaning of “for or as”, in either case, means the same – “ while; when; at the time that:(i.e.I ask forgiveness of You, Father.)” We MUST forgive others, no matter what. We cannot come to the Father and ask forgiveness for a sin we have committed, unless we have forgiven a person, any person, who has wronged us. In Mark 11:25, we are told, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing.”
God has loved us since He created us, and He has always had a plan for bringing us back to Him. That plan included His only Son, Jesus. Jesus accepted His purpose in His Father’s plan. He was the ‘willing, sinless’ sacrifice for us. He accepted that it did not matter what was done to Him as long as the Father’s plan was fulfilled. He could have written us off as unworthy, but He DID NOT. Jesus could have called His angels at any time to save Him from the shame of a Roman cross, but He DID NOT.
Because of His love for us, He wanted to make sure that the Father forgave us. That was the plan. That was His goal. He accepted the pain and agony His body felt, the shame and disgrace he suffered and the desolation and abandonment He felt, as His Father turned away leaving Him alone in His final agonizing moments of death. Jesus knew that it was the Father’s forgiveness we must have, and that was His final plea to His Father – Luke 23:34 But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
We also have the example of Stephen who was stoned to death. His final actions and words reflect the same example of Jesus: Acts 7:59, They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Acts 7:60, Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!”
Our examples are many, and they are placed in the Scriptures to remind us we are forgiven of our sins and made right with God because of Jesus. Now, we are to forgive those who sin against us, just as we have been forgiven. …….just saying,
I can write these things because I have been on both sides of the issue. I have been the other woman and I have been the innocent spouse. When I was in college, I met a man from Mexico. The first time I saw him, he was quite overtly checking me out. I saw his eyes moving up and down my body. I could see the lust and desire. I’m not going to lie. I enjoyed having a man find me desirable. It made me feel good. We began hanging out together, but the relationship did not become physical. One night, I was on the phone with him, and he casually mentioned his wife and child. I had no idea up to that point that he was married. I was shocked. He deliberately misled me and deceived me, but that was on him, not me. The moment of truth for me came, though, when I found out he was married. If he wanted to commit adultery, I was not going to be a willing participant. I have too much respect for others, myself and marriage for that. I also have reverence for God. I knew what I had to do if I was to be a woman of good character and morals, as I was raised to be—I had to end it. That is exactly what I did right after he told me of his wife and child. I told him I could not and would not see him anymore, nor would I be friends with him, and I stuck by it.
It seemed like common sense to me—to end it. I mean, what kind of person gets involved with a married man (or woman)? If I had been foolish enough or dumb enough (whatever you want to call it) to continue to see him after I knew he misled me, I think I would have deserved all the consequences I would have surely received. His wife would have had every right to not like me, to not trust me, to not respect me, and to think of me as a “loose” woman or as a “homewrecker.” That’s the kind of reputation I would have brought upon myself. Fortunately, I used the good sense God gave me and avoided a relationship that would have been sinful and could have gotten complicated. I was not going to be the woman who could have destroyed a marriage. I was not going to have that on my conscience.
So, I write this to all the other women and other men who recklessly enter into or continue in relationships with a married man or woman. Just as I had the choice to do right or wrong, so do/did you. You have no idea what you have done or are doing, I can assure you of that. You have no idea of how the spouses of those men or women see you, and you have no idea about the way you have shown yourself to be by your actions.
I have talked to many women who have said the same basic thing of the other woman: She does not think she did anything wrong. Of course, there are variations of that theme: It’s not my fault; I’m innocent; I’m not to blame; He lied to me; I’m the victim, etc. At the heart of the issue is that it is deeply disturbing and profoundly sad that any woman (or man) who gets involved with a married person can knowingly, willingly, and purposefully make such sinful choices that inflict an enormous amount of pain on a person who has done nothing to deserve it, and then not even care! That is the epitome of arrogance, pride, selfishness, and cruelty. I do not think any woman (or man) who has been cheated on would disagree with me about these things. Am I correct ladies?
Character matters. Integrity matters. You choose to throw aside your character and integrity when you get involved in a relationship with a married man or woman. That is the truth. If it is hard for you to accept, then maybe you need to hear it. Maybe you can still change who you are. I know the truth hurts, but if you want to change, you have to first acknowledge your flaws and sin, or you will repeat them.
So, I will tell you how the innocent spouse (and probably anyone else with any scruples) sees you and how you can change what you have done.
Let’s start with how the innocent spouse sees you, the other woman:
- You are a person who has poor character and little to no morals. If you have a conscience at all, it is either very weak, or you just don’t listen to that little voice that tells you, “This is wrong, and I know it, so I shouldn’t do it.” Your actions reflect what is in your heart and tell people who you really are.
“And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person”(Mark 7:20-23).
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person” (Matthew 15:19-20).
“Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy” (Proverbs 12:20).
“Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin“ (James 4:17).
2. You are not a trustworthy person. They cannot and should not, under any circumstances, at any point in time, trust you or believe a word you have to say. They would be insane to trust you!
3. You are a selfish, cruel, cold, mean, and callous person. A good person who cares about others would not sleep with someone’s spouse.
4. You do not care about them. If you cared at all about them, you would not have slept with their spouse. That’s common sense. Expecting them to think that you for one second care about them is ludicrous!
5. You do not respect them. If you respected them at all, you would not have slept with their spouse. That’s common sense, too. Don’t add insult to the injury you helped cause by even hinting that you care about them and respect them and their marriage. Your actions spoke volumes to them, so don’t bother defending yourself.
6. You do not respect or honor marriage, nor do you understand the significance and sacredness of marriage. “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4). Note this verse because it references both the spouse committing adultery and the one who participates in that adultery by being the other woman/man. Sleeping with someone to whom you are not married is fornication, which is a type of sexual immorality. Fornication is a sin and adultery is a sin. God will judge both people! A man or woman is to have his/her OWN wife/husband, not that of someone else.
“But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2).
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17).
God instituted marriage, and He takes it very seriously. Marriage is symbolic of the relationship Christ has with the Church:
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washingwith water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:22-32).
Do not deceive yourself into thinking that God will overlook your part in trying to destroy or in destroying a marriage. Those who mess with marriage will be judged for it.
7. You lack compassion and the ability to empathize, as well as have no regard for how your sinful choices and actions affect others. You have no idea how much your selfish, self-indulgent, cruel actions have wounded or are wounding the innocent spouse. You have no inkling of how much pain, agony, and anguish you put them through or are putting them through. You cannot fathom the number of tears they cried or are crying over your sinful and wrong relationship with their husband/wife. Anyone who can inflict that kind of pain on another person and then try to excuse themselves has a severe and deep character flaw and a major spiritual problem. Do you not know the Golden Rule? “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you” (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31).
“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14). Would you want someone to sleep with your husband or wife? If your answer is “No,” then you should not sleep with or have slept with someone else’s spouse. That is common decency really. If someone is married, they are off limits! Period! End the relationship, and let it remain so.
8. You have no fear or reverence for God or His word. God will not let you off the hook or hold you blameless. He is a holy God and judges according to His truth and His standard, not according to your delusional, twisted, or warped version of truth.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
9. You are guilty! You are not innocent, blameless, or above reproach. You chose to do the wrong thing instead of the right thing. What you did or are doing is absolutely 100 percent your fault and your fault alone, no matter how you try to spin it or what you have told yourself or others. You freely chose or have chosen to enter into the relationship and you freely chose or have chosen to remain in the relationship. You could just have easily chosen or could just as easily choose to end the relationship, which is what a good person with a pure heart would have done or will do, as this is the only right thing to do. When you chose or choose not to do so, you showed/show your true heart and bad character.
“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:15-15).
“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).
“For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:5-6).
“Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience” (Colossians 3:5).
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11).
According to God’s word, sexual immorality is the only sin that is against one’s own body: “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). So, you sinned against your own body, against God and against the innocent spouse. If you want to argue about that point, take it up with God because it is completely supported by scripture.
10. You lack sound judgment and lack foresight and wisdom. Think before you act. A wise person carefully considers her/his choices and actions, not just for the present, but for the future. Your lack of judgment, wisdom and foresight helped get you into the mess you helped create, so you have no right to absolve yourself of any and all wrong doing. Your lack of judgment, wisdom and foresight resulted in sinful choices that had/have consequences. Since you helped create the consequences, don’t cry “Foul!” when it is time to reap what you sowed: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7). Be a mature, responsible adult and deal with the situations you helped create or are helping create.
“The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly” (Proverbs 5:22-23).
“But she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives” (1 Timothy 5:6).
Now that I have made it clear how the innocent spouse sees you, let me address the issue of how you can make things right.
- Try some humility. Admit your sin to God, make things right with him, and then make things right with the spouse you sinned against.
“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6).
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10).
“Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor” (Proverbs 29:23).
“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).
- Do not attempt to justify, rationalize, excuse, or defend yourself or your pathetic and hurtful choices. That is only demonstrating more disrespect and disregard for the innocent spouse. The only thing you can say to that spouse that matters is “I’m sorry. I wronged you. Please forgive me.” Until and unless you get to that point, just keep your mouth shut. Your inability to admit your fault and your wrongdoing is insulting and disgusting to the innocent spouse. The innocent spouse does not, for one second, buy into your excuses, nor does God. When you say things like, “I did nothing wrong,” “I’m innocent,” “It’s not my fault,” “You just don’t understand,” “I’m the victim,” yada, yada, yada you are insulting and disrespecting the only innocent person in the entire situation, which is the spouse of the person you slept with. Shame on you for perpetuating that destructive lie and continuing to live in it! You are also demonstrating profound selfishness and callousness.
When Adam and Eve sinned, Eve blamed the serpent, and Adam blamed Eve. God, however, does not let us play the blame game. He held Eve accountable for her sin and determined the consequences Eve would pay for her sin. He held Adam accountable for Adam’s sin and made Adam pay the consequences for his sin. In God’s eyes, both were guilty. God gave Adam and Eve free will, just as He gives that to each of us. You can read the story of the fall of man in Genesis 3. We act according to our own free will. We choose to sin or not to sin. No one can make you sin, nor is to blame for your sin. That is a truth expressed in God’s word many times. God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11; Acts 10:34). If God did not accept Adam and Eve’s excuses for their sin, He will not accept excuses for your sin. You ignore this truth to your own peril.
- You don’t have to tell the innocent spouse anything at all about her/his spouse. Believe me, they know of their spouse’s sins, lies, and deceit, but they also hold you responsible for your sins, lies, and deceit. Why should she/he trust you anyway? Worry about fixing what is wrong with your character instead of attempting to minimize, excuse, or justify your sin. It is repugnant to the innocent spouse and to the God you will one day answer to.
Here’s the thing about the truth. Once you know the truth, you are accountable to it and will be judged according to it. Your refusal to admit your sin and accept any blame does not make your estimation of yourself true. It shows that you have deceived yourself. The truth is the truth whether you believe it or not and whether you like it or not. When you find out the truth, that is the test of your character. How you responded/respond to the truth shows just as much about you as it does about the cheating spouse. Further, for anyone reading this who entered into a relationship with a cheating spouse and later found out that person lied and deceived them, if you chose to remain in that relationship, you demonstrated a severe lack of good sense and good judgment. By not ending the relationship, you became culpable. Don’t lie to yourself. Your foolish decision to continue the relationship was YOUR decision. It told the innocent spouse all he/she needed to know about who you really are.
“And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, EACH ONE OF THEM, according to what THEY had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:13-15). This verse is about how each one of us, individually, is responsible for our own actions and sins. It comes down to personal responsibility.
The good news is you can still change and do right by the innocent spouse and get your life right with God. There is still hope for you. God is ready, willing, and able to forgive you if you will humble yourself. The harsh reality is that if you continue to hold yourself above reproach, you will spend an eternity separated from the God who so desperately loves you. Is your soul worth it? Is your pride worth it? Is that how you want to be remembered–as a woman or man of poor character and no morals? The choice is always yours, just as it has always been yours and no one else’s.
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The beautifully fierce woman has an otherworldly strength derived from a source beyond herself. Father God holds her heart so completely that her identity is forged through abiding in Him. Her courage is displayed by her commitment to Him. He is her driving motivation and propels her by the wind of His Spirit……….
“ Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
Ruby Hearts-Hope For The Broken. By, Carrie Young
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