I learned in Blogging 101, when you write an epistle in response to someone else’s post, Julie Sheppard’s in this case, (to join her discussion, click here to read it), it is best to write a post in your own blog! So that is what I am doing. I have actually shared this story a number of times, so I might as well tell the whole story here!
But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven. He lets the sun rise for all people, whether they are good or bad. He sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong. If you love only those who love you, why should you get a reward for that? Even the tax collectors do that. And if you are nice only to your friends, you are no better than anyone else. Even the people who don’t know God are nice to their friends. Matthew 4:44-47 ESV amp
In Julie’s post, she asked, how do you love someone who hates you? Aren’t your enemies those who hate you? For me, I can only share my own experience and what worked for me. You see, I learned to hate my husband, and in fact, I hated him so much, I divorced him. We had one daughter so you can imagine that is a drastic step to resolve hating someone. And that type of hate seems to be common place as divorce is at an all time high. Now let’s see, will my same experience help in other extreme examples, such as someone of a different faith/culture/belief system that hates you so much they are willing to blow you up, shoot you or even cut your head off? You see, that seems to be more and more common every day as we hear of these events taking place around the world.
a : intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury
b : extreme dislike or antipathy (from Merriam-Webster)
In my case, I guess you could say I had an extreme dislike as I filed for divorce, but it became more like intense hostility and aversion as anger took over when he was not willing to have a “friendly” divorce. You see, he had no idea what why I would go from 13 years of allegedly loving him to one day saying “it’s over.”
The sharing of our story begins here, from Chapters 2 – 26. But what I’ve never really shared was HOW I began to love Bill again. You see, there was a huge trust issue lingering AFTER our miracle of forgiveness.
Don’t most marriages begin with starry eyed and “in love” couples? Then after a few months or years, things become “real.” Couples have a choice to make, either keep on going down the negative road, sweeping issues under the carpet, or learn how to resolve their differences. We swept things under the carpet and never learned how to resolve our differences until we remarried. And, YES, we did remarry and it was a miracle!
There has been a syndrome around for a long time: “Take my wife, I mean really TAKE my wife…” joked Rodney Dangerfield for years. Or just plan old male bashing by wives, maybe not so jokingly. TV sitcoms are filled with examples, but since we don’t watch them, I can’t mention them.
Bill never felt like Rodney Dangerfield, his friends said he was lucky. He was married to a “man’s woman” meaning I didn’t nag him! Little did they know I was a volcano waiting to go off! But I fell into the male bashing syndrome, slowly at first. At work, on breaks, we would talk about how our husbands didn’t do this or that.
I have to digress for a minute: I found a fantastic “recovering” divorced man and father who is transparent and really shares beautifully about himself and his former marriage. He’s now dedicated a blog to helping men see what they can do to prevent a divorce. Click here and just read the opening letter and then scan the topics over each “volume.” Please excuse some of the foul language. I generally won’t read a blog full of such language, but sometimes it is needed to drive home a point.
After we forgave each other, the chains set us free. But I was not ready to remarry him. I had tried three other times to get him to “see the light” at seven years of marriage and then at 10 years. Now in our 13th year of marriage, while he was saying all the right things, I had gone this far, I needed another miracle to say yes to remarriage. It was a process.
My biggest complaint was we had left the Lord at the alter of our marriage. I want and need a spiritual life, to read my Bible regularly, to be in fellowship with other believers, to attend church faithfully, to listen to psalms, hymns and spiritual songs! I grew up in a tumultuous home and KNEW I needed a different life for our daughter.
I began to attend a friends church and Bill even returned to church. So God was able to start speaking to us, but our pride was still intact. We had not yet become humble. Bill’s brother and his wife began praying faithfully for us as well as had their church do the same. They met and married in the same ministry we met and they wed in the same year. I will say, my sister-in-law is a saint, but she will confess she is struggling with her own sin as much as anyone! She was the one who got us both to read Love Life for Every Married Couple. I wrote about it a lot in our marriage posts, especially the BEST Principle. This book is straight from the Bible, written in a way to help a couple’s marriage be the BEST as God intended! But it didn’t tell me HOW to LEARN to love Bill, whom I had grown to hate.
I began to consume the Bible. I listed to Christian radio for both music and programs like “Focus on the Family.” I found a great church (we moved) and wonderful fellowship. The Wednesday night prayer group began to pray for me before I started to attend.
But it was the things I now know was God showing me. First thing He revealed was I would make the same mistake in my next marriage. So I said, “Don’t worry God, I won’t marry again.” Famous last words! I knew in my heart if Bill wasn’t the most perfect man for me, no one else could make me “happy.”
Next thing He showed me was what LOVE is. You see, I did become cynical and felt there was no such thing as LOVE. But God defined it for me as I consumed 1 John:
This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:13-16
So FINALLY, I got it! “Heavenly Father, YOU are directing me to remarry Bill, on faith. That YOU will raise him up to be the spiritual head of our household, that I only need to trust in YOU! So God, I can’t love him, but YOU love him, so LOVE him THROUGH me. AMEN.” And then it happened. I was filled with so much LOVE for Bill I could hardly contain it. So when Bill finally proposed to me again, I said YES!
And then I discovered, every time someone unlovely was put in my path, I just say the same type of prayer….and suddenly I am filled with a love that transcends understanding for the person.
I have great peace in my life. I still have volcanic eruptions from time to time, but for the most part, I know how to love the unlovely. That doesn’t mean I don’t have righteous indignation at some of the craziness going on in our country. I could blow a gasket at some of the insanity, but I have to leave it in the Lord’s hands. I am trying to do what I can in a quiet but bold way.
If you don’t have this peace, it is simple. First, you have to want it, then all you have to do is ask for it by praying a simple prayer, acknowledging your NEED for a savior and that you believe it was Jesus Christ who died for the forgiveness of your sins, ask for His forgiveness and then go and GROW! If you want more details, click here for more info in a wonderful post of another blogger I follow.
Let me know if you do say this prayer. Read the Bible and I would recommend starting with the Gospel of John. You can read on-line (I read it daily here) or better, visit a Christian book store and ask them to help you pick out a Study Bible. That was where I began my journey. Find a church that fits your lifestyle/schedule. Be a serious student of God’s Word. Read other blogs by Christians. Listen to Christian Radio. I listen to Joy FM at 90.5 in most areas, on Sirius XM Channel 63, or on Direct TV channel 826. Have faith, God will reveal Himself to you as you seek Him!