How well do you stand your ground? When push comes to shove with your beliefs and values, are you someone who will flow with the current of society? Or do you stand like a 300-year-old pine tree with your roots deep into the bedrock of what you believe in?
I’ve always thought of myself as fairly rooted. What I believe I believe with my whole heart, because those beliefs are rooted in the Bible, which defies time and culture. It sounds simple enough until real life tries to cut your heart out.
My husband and I are getting a divorce. The past several months have been a whirlwind of confusion, hurt, and hope, and it was only in the last few days it became apparent that since neither of us was willing to budge, there was no other course of action for us to take but to end our marriage.
It's amazing, and devastating, how simple it is.
“Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand” (Matthew 12:25). This passage has hit home for me in several ways the last few months, but nowhere more significantly than in my marriage.
I’ve resisted disclosing any details about what’s been going on primarily because I haven’t been sure as to how things were going to work out. Now that I know, I believe I can be open, respectfully, and share what God has been doing, and continues to do.
Since April, God has been gently guiding me away from a religious mindset of do’s and don’t’s and into a relationship of being with Him. A relationship that stands in the light and has continually worked to set me free from bondage. Free from a victim mindset and standing in one of victory - one slow, inching step at a time.
I chose to follow the Holy Spirit, knowing my marriage and my church affiliation may never be the same again. The Holy Spirit is good, but He is neither predictable nor is He safe in the world's standards. He leads followers of Christ where He pleases in accordance to His Word. When we’re in step with Him, we're protected and it’s often where we already desire to go. When we’re not, His leading seems utterly impossible.
Both my husband and the church I used to attend were far on the side of making sure they did everything “right” according to the traditions of their doctrine, and yet missed the heart of Jesus in relationship. As I sought to be in step with the Spirit, seeking the heart of God for me and my husband, He led me into the light; into truth I wasn’t ready to see.
A streak of deceit had been poisoning my relationship with my husband from the very beginning - even before we said our “I do’s.” Without realizing it, until recently, I had been withholding my heart from him in fear. He withheld things about his past and his present behavior in order to ensure I would marry him. He openly admitted he knew I’d never marry him if I knew the truth - and he was right. I wouldn’t have.
I had been seeing a counselor to help me connect with my husband for months. My trauma from a long history of sexual assaults made intimacy with him very challenging, and there were things I was engaging in that weren’t helping either, but as I worked on renewing the pattern of my mind I was making progress.
It was in the midst of that progress that I learned my husband had a sexual addiction. It wasn’t the addiction that hurt as much as his intentional deception every step of the way to cover it up.
We went to counseling together, and it was there that I learned he knew exactly what he was doing was wrong, and yet he did it anyway. Rather than be willing to work on it, he expected me to be supportive and understanding of his weaknesses.
I couldn’t. I needed him to change if our marriage was going to work.
I also needed to forgive him, but forgiveness does not mean a lack of boundaries. Forgiveness does not mean someone’s actions are acceptable or that everything is suddenly okay. Forgiveness simply means holding no animosity toward the person, and releasing them to God's judgment rather than your own.
As things in my own character surfaced I, too, needed to change. I began taking those steps, not knowing whether it would make a difference in the outcome of our marriage - but it would make a significant change in my relationship with God.
My husband’s lack of repentance of his sexual sin and my refusal to allow it to continue in our marriage has divided us. His refusal to find another church that would allow us to get the help we need, and my refusal to go back to the church he attends, has divided us.
If a man looks at a woman lustfully he’s committed adultery with her in his heart. The heart-level adultery didn’t hurt as much as his refusal to tell the truth and repent. It was his deception that shook me to my core. How could I have missed all of those lies and the signs?
I ask again: how well do you stand your ground? How well do you stand on the Word of God as truth when the most important person in your life calls God a liar? I’m discovering the answer to that question.
God says, I am protected (John 17:11). I am His gift (John 17:24). I am kept from the evil one (John 17:5). I am free from condemnation (Romans 8:1). I am freed from the vicious cycle of sin and death (Romans 8:23). I am strongest when I’m weakest (2 Corinthians 12:10).
I get to choose whether I will believe what God says, or things my husband says, about me.
I thank God for His Word and what Jesus has already done, so I can close my eyes to the circumstances around me and stand on what He says is true. I’m thankful for the women He’s given me to hold up their shields of faith when I’m too weak to hold up my own, and for the family I have who has, without question, given their support.
I hold my ground making Christ the most important person in my life and let Him call everyone else a liar, not the other way around. Being faithful to Christ when every fiber of my being wants to point a finger and blame Him is no easy task. But I have to stand on the Word as my bedrock - not what others say and do.
The day before Thanksgiving I filed for divorce, and while my heart grieves, I’m finding it’s still possible to rejoice because nothing anyone does can ever take away what Jesus has already done. For that, I’m thankful. Because of that, I can be faithful.