I love all the Scripture verses you shared with one another this week. As we understand the whole counsel of God, don’t you see how much he cares for each one of us? Even when we make a mistake, God is there, teaching us to walk in his ways and to do the next right thing. Our pastor just spoke in Genesis 31 about Jacob this past Sunday. Jacob is taking some new baby steps of faith, but not perfectly. After trusting God and deciding to leave Laban, he resorts to his old habits of deceit and doubt. God doesn’t turn his back on him but continues to move Jacob forward in his journey of growth.
This leads into this week’s question. She asks: Is it possible that in forgiving and moving forward with an adulterous spouse one could have gotten in the way of what the Lord was going to do in their life? After more than a year of all the expected and normal consequences of discovering a betrayal (and seeking Godly council) I resumed our relationship even though my gut kept haunting me about the “repentance” I received.
Now after these 2 years of very wonderful normalcy, subtleties of past behaviors started to show up again. Here I am today, my spouse involved in pornography (even though he was not when he committed adultery the first time), voyeurism, and online sex solicitations. So, I rephrase my question. Did I interfere with the work of the Lord in my spouse’s life by re-entering the relationship too quickly?
Answer: Perhaps you reconciled prematurely but you’ll never know that for sure so please don’t beat yourself up. You did the best you knew to do at the time. Even if you did circumvent your husband’s full repentance two years ago by reconciling with him prematurely, God is always at work. Right now he’s at work in your situation and wants to get you and your husband’s undivided attention. We can never thwart God’s work. However when we refuse to listen to him and stubbornly cling to our sin or our idolatry, we do experience greater pain and I think that may be what’s happening to you both right now.
As I’ve mentioned before, for women one of our idols is to be husband-centered instead of God-centered. We love to be loved, cared for and secure and we seek these things from a man (who will surely fail us in one way or another – at least a little bit – even for those in good marriages).
Maybe your desire to be your husband’s woman again (after the affair), or your fear of being alone, or the pressure you felt from friends, family and/or church, or your own anxiety about confronting the deeper issues in his heart, or your belief that extending grace and compassion towards him meant restoring full marital privileges propelled you to short-circuit some of the work you both needed to do to bring about a deeper healing. It felt better back then to say this was behind you rather than continuing to tend to the deeper issues.
But God is God. He brings the hidden things to light so that we can see them, repent of them and learn how to walk in newness of life. It took two years but now those deeper issues are surfacing again and you both have work to do.
Your work is to step back and allow your husband to experience the ugliness of his sin through the gift of consequences. Your work is to trust God in this process and to keep your heart focused on God and not your marriage or husband. Your work is to not be overcome with evil but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). Your work is to figure out how to handle your own hurt and negative emotions that are as a result of his sin. Your work is to learn how to live without him if that’s what it takes to help him see the depth of his depravity.
His work is to accept responsibility for his problem. His work is to figure out what he’s seeking from pornography, voyeurism, and on-line sex solicitations. His work is to enter into a deeper relationship with God instead of trying to solve his problem his own sinful way. His work is that he must feel more than the pain he is in for getting caught or for having negative consequences, he must feel pain for the hurt he has caused you again. He has broken your trust and your heart and he will have to carry that awareness without running away from it in order to understand it. His work is to learn how to be sexually pure and faithful if he wants to be a godly man.
It’s important that you accept that you CANNOT do his work for him, nor can he do your work for you. Each of you must carry your own load (Galatians 6:5).
All of life is a series of choices, good ones and bad ones. As Jacob did in Genesis 31, he made some courageous choices and some foolish ones. He walked in faith and he walked in fear. I believe God shows us the very real flaws in biblical characters so that we don’t lose our way when we mess up or we see others do so.
You fear you messed up by reconciling prematurely. But had you not reconciled when you did and your husband ended up in the same place he is now, you probably would have beat yourself up for not reconciling. Satan is the accuser and he’s always accusing us to keep us from God’s presence (Revelation 12:10).
So dear one, my advice to you is stop fretting about what you did or didn’t do. As a young child runs into her mother’s arms, RUN don’t walk into God’s presence. God is much more concerned with your heart than your mess or mistake. When we present our mess to God with a humble and contrite heart, God can take our biggest messes and transform them into our message, the things that speak the loudest to those who are watching us live out the reality of God’s grace, love, and forgiveness.
Friends, how has God helped you when you feared you messed up? What helped you turn back to him instead of turning in on yourself?