Archives For divorce

You Ain’t Done

April 15, 2016 — Leave a comment

ironclad

Your life is an amazing story. If somewhere along the way a great writer had been there to capture your finest moments or most bitter failures people would be captivated by it. Somebody, probably a lot of somebodies, would relate to what you went through, how you overcame, how you fell and got back up or how you have fallen and are trying to get back up right now.  You might not always appreciate it, you may not always feel like it, but you are awesome and what you do every day means something.

The greatest heroes of scripture were severely flawed yet went on to inspire and help change the lives of untold millions. In many cases it is their accomplishments despite their flaws that inspires us today. None of them, while in the midst of their challenges, had an idea of the impact they would have on so many people to come after them. Peter, a rough and tumble fisherman with a propensity for rash behavior. David, a shepherd, warrior and king exhibited the best and worst in all of us. Abraham, at times full of fear yet the father of our faith. All like us.

Their story is written yet the ripple effect continues on. As they lived their lives a great author documented their successes, their failures, the falling down and the getting up. That same great author documents our lives and our stories will be told for eternity. We battle in an arena as a great cloud of witnesses looks on, cheering our victories, sharing our defeats and anxiously awaiting our next move. We are clothed in armor and tested by the enemy. What we see as daily life, temptation, leading our families, sharing God’s love, extending forgiveness, receiving His grace when we fail, are seen as great victories from the heavens. Your story, YOU and what you do, is documented and will be revisited.

Maybe today there will be a pivotal moment that changes the course of yours, or someone else’s, life.  Maybe your mission in life is to lead your family and model for your children what it looks like to be a Christian man, full of flaws and imperfections but NOT GIVING UP. Maybe the most important thing you ever do will be to break a generational curse that has been in your family for years, abuse, neglect or an attitude of anger. Maybe you are the first man in your family to take his walk with the Lord seriously. Your daily actions will impact generations to come.

We, you and I, are Kings & Priests. We have the power to encourage one another, to lift one another up through prayer, a word of encouragement or just pitching in, getting our hands dirty and helping someone out.  That very act, by a faithful servant, was the catalyst that brought me back from the edge. (Thank you Mike.) We do not know the powerful impact our actions may have that may help change someone’s life forever, maybe change their family for generations to come.

Recently a friend from the Navy I hadn’t seen in 25 years stopped in for an overnight visit. He told me that if it wasn’t for my guidance and leadership back then he would not be where he is today. Despite me being a young chucklehead, what I invested into him, seemingly inconsequential at the time, would produce long term results. I am humbled. (Thank you Chris.)

My life is full of men who invested in me, my Dad, Tim Siddle, Jack Himschoot, Mike Leonard, Sherman Hare, Jamie Stilson and many more including my younger brother, Shannon. None of these men waited until they had their act together to invest in or encourage me. At the time, they had no idea that years later I would mention them in these terms. In the course of their everyday lives they chose to invest in or encourage me despite the “Prone to wander” tattoo I should have across my forehead.  Those men share in the legacy that, through God, I am creating in my family; the same way that I share in my friend Chris’ legacy that he is creating in his family.

Jesus is our example, He did something amazing for us before we knew Him. If we will let His love shine through us, by the way we live our lives, the words we say and the things we do, our ripple effect can go on for generations in our families, and others, for His glory. Please join me and ask God for the eyes to see and ears to hear where He needs us and then take action. Lend a hand, get involved, go out of your way to encourage someone, invite someone to church. The little things we do can have long term impact.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Divorced and Christian.

Divorce hurts. Almost everyone reading this has been affected by divorce.  You know the pain, it fades but can leave a raw nerve that heals slowly. Although God hates divorce He loves people and He is in the healing business.

The church is not immune from divorce. About 50% of 1st marriages in the US end in divorce but Focus on the Family reports that couples who “…generally take their faith seriously…”, (that means work at it) have about a 38% divorce rate.  I have seen figures that say the divorce rate is the same or higher inside the church as outside but there is a difference between people who call themselves Christians and people who take their faith seriously. (Read the article)

My parents divorced after 18 years and I went through divorce myself after 9 years of marriage. I have since remarried, am working on my 19th year of marriage and incredibly blessed with a great wife who I have 4 children with. However, the years I lost with my first two sons are gone. While our relationship today is very good we went through some difficult times as I struggled with my responsibilities to my sons vs my responsibilities to my new, growing family.

I know the pain of seeing my sons under another man’s care. Seeing my sons living in a situation that I didn’t approve of broke my heart. Hearing about them being spanked by their mother’s boyfriend enraged me. Listening to them call me out on my own poor decisions was humbling, convicting and heart breaking.

Many of you know what it is like to have your young children living under a roof besides your own. You know the difficulty trying to parent children who live under two sets of rules. You live with the split time on holidays and the animosity as you or her explore new relationships. The lingering hurt feelings often make it difficult to sort out issues that seem like they should be more easily managed. Divorce sucks and, like other scenarios, we seldom see the end results in the beginning of the process.

We all make mistakes in our lives but it is the mistakes that hurt other people, especially our kids, which hurt the worst. The good news is that God’s mercies are new every day and every moment of our lives is a new chance to start over. I love the saying, “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”  The moment we turn to God asking for help, the process of healing and restoration starts. The visible results of that process, especially in other people, often take longer than we think they should.

I have a friend who continuously wishes his ex-wife would act more reasonably. His sentiments are no doubt shared by most men and women in similar situations. My feedback to him is always the same, “Stop worrying about her, focus on what you need to do.” Taking care of what we need to do, pressing into God, deepening that relationship, leading by example and “taking care of the plank in our own eye before worrying about the speck” in someone else’s is the only way we can move forward.

Regardless of our current circumstances, as we commit to developing our relationship with God, we can live out a model for our children to emulate. If, by our actions, we can show them a life worth living maybe they don’t have to make some of the same mistakes we made. I don’t want my children to be spared the challenges that result in growth but I pray that each of them avoids the pain of divorce.  I am committed to living for Him and showing my children the beauty of a life and a marriage that is Christ centered. Please God, help me walk that out.

How I Fixed My Wife

There are some things that God reveals in His word that don’t make sense to me at first. Turning the other cheek is an example. Another example is reaping and sowing. We can commonly relate this to farming and I understand the principle there. However, it is a principle that applies to other areas. Giving is an example. Another example is our wives.

Ephesians 5:25-28 tells us to love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.  After we do that we will receive her back to us as Christ will receive his perfect bride.

  1. Give yourselves up for her. Sacrifice.
  2. Receive her back to you, perfected.

When I first heard this it was like a light bulb came on. “Sounds great!” Turns out,  actually sacrificing for my wife was harder than I thought. As a matter of fact, it was about 10 years from the day the light bulb came on until I finally got serious about it. It was easier for me to justify my own behavior than sacrifice or, “give myself up” for my wife.

Staying in the comfortable rut of our relationships can seem like the path of least resistance. We gradually put up with more and more until one day we look at where we are and wonder how we got here. It seems like there’s no way we can fix the mess we are in and divorce is the only answer. I’ve been through divorce and it sucks. No mas.

Sacrifice hurts. If it doesn’t cost you then it’s not sacrifice. Happily doing things for my wife that I don’t want to do is part of my sacrifice. Not holding it over her head is another part. Forgiving her is a sacrifice. I try to be the one who apologizes first. I have also made it a point to understand exactly what she wants and I try to provide that. (For this, I strongly recommend the book The 5 Love Languages). I am committed to sexual purity. Praying for my wife is another sacrifice. I gave up alcohol. I make few decisions without asking her opinion. For me, these are sacrifices and I willingly make them for her.

I fail in my commitments often. I indulge in selfishness and avoid the sacrifices I know I should be making. When I get off track like that I repent and try to get headed back in the right direction.

Really, it’s not about fixing her, it is about fixing me. I’ve got a giant plank in my eye and that thing deserves all of my attention before I worry about the speck in her eye. Fixing her was never the answer, working on me is the answer. God told me what to do, I am working on it and our marriage is better because of it. Big surprise.

You want to fix your wife? Give yourself up, sacrifice. Listen to what God recommends and commit. If you start to do it and it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t seem fair then you are on the right track!