Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
A month or so ago, I was working on a bible study we were doing with the women's group at church and there was a question that asked- where is one place you were surprised to find God? I had to sit and think about my answer because I didn't want it to sound "churchy". So, I wrote down my honest answer- In the middle of my sin.
I spent 12 weeks purposely walking away from God. I didn't want him there because I didn't want him to know what I was doing. (How ridiculous is that?) I hid from him. And yet he pursued me. Every day he made himself known to me, even when I didn't want him to. When I made the choice to turn back to him, he didn't beat me with shame or punishment. He drew me to him with His love.
For 5 months I begged God to open his wrath on me. To pour it out on me so I could know the weight of my sin. So I could feel the shame and the sorrow. But God doesn't further smash the pieces of our broken hearts, he spreads his love on them like a healing balm. Instead of chastising me for the choices I'd made, He revealed himself to me in ways he never has before. He showed me that his love for me only grows deeper and my actions, my sin, my fear, my shame, my running- it doesn't change that. It doesn't change how he feels about me. God doesn't look at me and see my sin. He can't. When I chose to accept his salvation, I was covered with the blood that he shed on the cross. When he looks at me, he doesn't see who I was, the bad choices I've made, the fight. He sees his child, broken, needing love. Needing healing. He sees the child he loves. This changed things for me. It changed how I saw myself. No longer was I an unfaithful wife, a broken person, a product of my sin. I was a deeply loved child of God who was forgiven.
There are battles I will always fight. Always. I am an emotional person. In fact, emotions have always ruled my life. I've lived a life tossed about because I always followed the directions my emotions took me. I've learned the necessity of standing on God's truth. There are so many days when I have to take a minute and just say- God, I need your truth because all I can see is how I feel. If there is one piece of advice I can give, it's this- saturate yourself with scripture. Know the Bible. It's the truth I have to stand on. And God is always faithful. If I'm feeling particularly emotional about something and ask for God's truth, he always gives me a verse to stand on.
There is self righteousness so deeply rooted in my life that I think God will be weeding this garden till the day I die. I feel entitled to my dreams. I deserve my dream house, I deserve having that land, I deserve the perfect husband and kids. I deserve. I deserve. I deserve. But the truth is that what I really deserve is to live a life labeled by my sin and shame. I deserve God opening up that wrath on me. I deserve death. But because of that love I was talking about earlier, God will give me the best. And the best is his plans for me, not what I dream for myself. I've learned that daily I have to submit my dreams to God and to ask him to complete his will for my life, not the plans I have. Now, does this mean I live a life free of entitlement? Absolutely not. There are more days than not when I get mad at God and throw an "It's not fair" temper tantrum because I'm not getting what I want. But, God is working on me. Slowly, through His love.
And I've learned about love. Love is not a feeling. Love is a choice. Every day I can roll over in the morning and decide that today I'm not going to love Aaron, that I want to be done with him again. That I'm over the life I have with him. Because in truth, not every person is going to deserve love every day. There are days that Aaron drives me up the wall. I get so mad I want to just scream. But that's when I have to choose to do the hard stuff. I have to make the choice to extend him the grace I've been given. Those are the days I have to love him like God loves me. And every day has gotten easier. I can honestly say that there is a deeper love between Aaron and I now than there has ever been. God has honored our desire for a better marriage and he's helping us every day to become more like Him- ourselves and in our marriage. We are far from having the perfect marriage, that's for sure. But God has revealed himself to us through our healing process and restoring broken trust.
Don't ever follow your heart. Your heart will tell you all the things it's told me for so long- you deserve to be happy. Do what makes you happy. WRONG WRONG WRONG. I've learned that I have to do what makes me more holy, not what makes me more happy. Because in the end, God's not going to say- Where you happy? He's going to say where you holy.
Marriage is hard. Next to being a parent, it's the hardest thing I've ever done because it's exposed so much of my sinful self. But God has been faithful to me. And Aaron. And I know that he's not done with us yet. We've been praying about where God is leading us in our ministry, and we covet your prayers and we wait for God's leading in this area. God hasn't changed our calling to full time ministry. Walking the path we have in the last year only confirmed that for us. Does this path make us more hesitant? Absolutely, it does. Because not everyone is going to respond positively to our story. Not everyone understands God's redeeming love. We know that there may be more closed doors then open doors. But, God is still faithful. Regardless of what our past has looked like, we know he wastes nothing and He will use all things for his good.
I know this post has been kind of long, and I know that maybe you're tired of hearing about all this, but I can't feel like I've done our story justice if I don't say these things-
1. When you feel emotional, broken, beaten, angry, bitter- don't run to someone or something else to fix that or fill you up. Run to Jesus.
2. Never give up. Never give up on your marriage. Never give up on your spouse. And certainly never give up on God. We are living proof that nothing is beyond hope.
3. If you've walked a road similar to mine and you've dealt with shame, know this- God does not shame us. Satan does. You are NOT your sin. You are a loved child of God. I urge you to reach out to someone that you trust and share your heart with them. Send me a message, I don't care, just don't continue claiming this. Decide today that you won't walk around with that defining you anymore.
4. GUARD YOUR HEART. Stay away from situations that open a door for sin. If you are questioning if what you're doing is wrong, it probably is. Just don't do it. Sit down with your spouse, discuss what makes them feel uncomfortable, and agree on boundaries in your relationship. Like I said, I didn't wake up one morning and decide to have an affair. It started with a lot of rationalization over a long period of time. A lot of little things can lead to a big thing. I did a lot of little things I knew Aaron (and God) wouldn't like before I ever approached a full blown affair.
5. Never ever forget you are loved. God loves you more deeply than you can ever ever imagine. I'm just starting to scratch the surface of knowing God's love for me and it blows me away daily. He feels the same way about you. I promise. And he promises, too.
Thank you for sticking with me through this series. I can honestly say this has been one of the hardest things to put out there, but I'm so thankful that God has given me the right words. We thank you for your love, encouragement, and support.