SUM family, today we have a guest post from one of our long-time SUMites, Jan Bittner. I'm so happy to hear her voice on here as she has walked a great story. So now, over to Jan:
By Jan Bittner
“Get over it,” I felt God say to me just a month after my husband revealed he no longer believed in Jesus. I remember feeling briefly amused by God’s command before pain flooded my heart again. We’d spent a long month fighting – my husband wondered why things couldn’t just continue with this one small change, and I wondered how things could possibly continue. The pain and grief were real. My marriage felt irreparably altered. Friends, it took a long time to ‘get over it,’ and in the meantime, my marriage, my children’s hearts, and my physical health were damaged as we teetered on the edge of divorce for nearly a year.
If only I’d known then what I know now! Learning that my spiritually unequal marriage is more ‘spiritual’ than anything has changed everything.
The first evidence of this was following an argument where divorce was again discussed. I prayed, “God, please give me a verse!” I felt Him say, “2 Corinthians 2:8.” “Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.” NO, I thought, I WON’T! And then…Okay, God, if I do this, you need to bless it. I then said aloud, “I affirm my love for my husband,” and within minutes, God supernaturally replaced the rage I felt with an overwhelming love for my husband! It was so remarkable, unlike anything I ever would or could have done in my own strength, that even my husband was dumbfounded. THAT IS MY GOD!
I learned that day that when I am unable to cast out bitterness, resentment, anger, and pain that I only need to be OBEDIENT to God, and He will help me. I also learned that the physical act of speaking out an affirmation of love caused a powerful shift in my heart and the spiritual atmosphere in my home.
That scripture is one that I return to, time and again, when I feel the need to set my heart right. But it's the rest of the chapter that really settles it for me:
“Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one [he] might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. For to this end also I wrote, so that I might [c] put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes. (2 Cor 2:6-11 NASB)
In this letter, Paul was talking to believers who were hurt by another believer, but I think the spiritual lesson applies equally well to our SUMs. Paul basically told the believers who were hurt, “Enough is enough, get over it! If you continue to punish this person, you will cause excessive sorrow and open doors to the schemes of Satan.”
Is it possible that holding on to offense and unforgiveness against our spouses opens the door for Satan to create havoc in our families? Though we feel hurt by them, could unforgiveness cause our spouses to experience ‘excessive sorrow,’ that may spiritually manifest as sadness or depression, a desire to spend less time together, irritability, anger issues, division, self-medicating behaviors, and more?
Jesus also warns, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14–15 NLT) That’s a sobering warning. God’s forgiveness is directly related to our forgiving others. Forgiveness is that highly regarded by God, and unforgiveness is equally prized by Satan. By forgiving those who hurt us, we not only disrupt Satan’s plans, but we also wield stronger spiritual weapons. We can either partner with our Father to fight the spiritual battle for our husband’s salvation, or we can work against Him, as Paul warns, by harboring unforgiveness.
Further, God recently revealed a bombshell! My season of unforgiveness EXTENDED my husband’s season of unbelief! Knowing this, I repented to God and apologized to my husband for my behavior. ‘Getting over it’ CAN reap supernatural rewards!
I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments.
My name is Janice Bittner, and I’ve been married to my husband for 20 years. We have two children, 19 and 15, and live in Virginia. I found the Spiritually Unequal Marriage ministry in 2014, and I am so honored to be a guest writer. I pray my story encourages you as much as the SUM ministry has blessed me.