The questions are swirling, circumstances haunting, and you can't even get out of bed. The sun seems to have set on your home, but oh friend, God has an amazing restoration in store for you! I know that in this moment that seems impossible, maybe even undesirable...but God. God restores marriages everyday. He brings back prodigal spouses who swear they will never come home. He breaks the bondage of the sin of that adulterous relationship. Daily. In this moment, it seems that you will barely survive the next 5 minutes, but God is doing 1000 things in this one thing....beyond what you can think, ask or even imagine.
5 steps to standing for your marriage
1. Wrap yourself in promise
Skip this one and you'll crash and burn in days. Over the past 3 years, I've met a lot of standers. Some standing for just 2 months, some for 5 years. No matter how long, they all agree that standing is the hardest thing you will EVER do. There is just something nearly impossible about loving a person who spats hate in your face, often daily. But, everyday thousands of people do it and so can you....if you are wrapped in promise.
You must learn God's promises and stand on them, daily. Make a list and put it on the fridge. Keep a running journal if you need to. Whatever it takes to remind you what God has said. I started with a list of who God is. It helped me tremendously to see that constant reminder that He is good, holy, right, truthful, faithful, and always working on my behalf.
You will also want to write out scriptures to pray over: for your prodigal spouse and for you. I've prayed some of the same ones everyday for years. At this point, I have so many to pray that it rarely feels mundane.
2. Freely mourn
Allow yourself to cry. Don't believe the lie that sadness is a lack of faith. Sadness is natural, normal and even necessary. Even our savior grieved in faith, because there is sorrow in the darkness. That's not to say we can't have joy. We absolutely have joy. It is our gift, but joy sometimes comes with tears. Friend, pain is real and sometimes out of our control, but coupled with joy we can get out of bed.
So cry when you need to. Laugh when it hurts and cling to the HOPE that is within you.
3. Let go
When I first started standing for my marriage, I was often accused of trying to control the situation. It's a silly accusation, as a person in this situation really has little control. But...are you grasping for it? Sometimes our stand can be out of a desire to control the situation. Sometimes we can respond in a particular situation in an attempt to control. Before you beat yourself up about it, remember that this is a fleshly struggle for us all, especially if you are a woman. You aren't the only one out there grasping for some say in your situation. As my sweet friend reminds me, you do have control. You get to choose, will you let God do this or will you give up? Will you obey or will you walk away? It is a choice.
If we are going to let go, we must give the problem to God. He doesn't want us to deal with our problem. He wants to deal with it himself. He is not surprised by one single circumstance and He has a plan. Let Him work it out. Afterall, I'm guessing you are like me and probably going to mess it up on your own. What do you let go of? Your spouse, your agenda, the outcome. Yes, the outcome. God isn't calling you to obedience for a particular outcome. He is simply calling you to obedience...even if the healing doesn't come.
Don't buy the lie that once you let go, it's done. Letting go and trusting God is not a one time event. For most of us, it's a daily dying to yourself, as you pick that cross back up and follow Him through the suffering.
4. Fix you
We just established that you have to let go of your spouse. No emailing great sermons or dropping Courageous in his brief case. Trust me, I've tried that, too. It doesn't work. Right now, his/her heart is hard to God and they can't hear or see the truth. Your job right now...fix you. Ask God to reveal to you what needs work. What can you improve upon as a spouse? How can you draw near to God? What does God want to teach you in this. Before adultery was ever uncovered in my home, a friend told me that God would be faithful to work in me, teaching me if I would let him. When the storms rages will you cling to Him for answers? Will you let Him teach you and mold you?
A VERY distant second to a strong relationship with God is to find community. Is there someone in your church standing for their marriage? Sadly, it's unlikely, but look anyway. I do have one friend here in town fighting with me and it is wonderful to sit and have fellowship with her in person. As special as she has been to me, I could not survive without the online community at Intentionally Standing. In this place, we hold each other accountable through prayer, encouragement, scripture, music, etc. Hundreds of people fighting for their marriage just like you are there to help you through the hard days, rejoice in the good days, and offer prayers over your marriage.
5. Help your kids
I put this last for a reason. It has to be. I am mom to 4 beautiful souls and their hurt wrecks me. But I can not help them if I haven't done ALL of the above things, first. Without being wrapped in promise, letting go, and finding help for myself, I can not help them. You know, it's the airplane mask theory. You must help yourself first, then those who can not help themselves. Because you are of no help to anyone if you can't breathe.
Helping children through this nightmare is the hardest part for me. When a parent leaves, everyone has advice for you, but no one can help. Most counselors won't see young children and even if they do the help is limited. I found that counseling for myself was more beneficial for the kids. Many reminded me that I needed to be truthful with them, because the truth is they're not fine. I have written a 10 day series for parenting a hurting child if you have children, I pray that you will find it helpful.
You might also check out Rejoice Marriage Ministries, who offers a daily email devotional for standers.
And we've got a Marriage Toolbox right here at Intentionally Yours, with books, websites, and encouragement.
Your turn...what is the hardest part for you? Let's encourage one another.
Intentionally Yours is a 501(c)3 organization committed to sharing God's truth, hope and vision for marriage until every home is a godly home. Will you partner with us in this mission? Thank you for your support!