4 posts categorized "Grief"

When a Spouse Leaves the Faith -- Part 2

Ann here again! Tears

When a spouse leaves the faith, Part 1

Today we're going to continue with the above topic, and I thought I would start with a little story:

Last year, I attended a ministry conference. We were a small group, perhaps 100 in the room, and Auckland is a small place so we often see family faces. There we were in an interactive session, when the conference leader asked a question. A man on the far left of the room shot up his hand as if to say ‘Over here! I have something to say!’ The mic was carried to him, and for the third time that day he spoke something super insightful into it. All the while, his wife sat beside him, nodding. 

I looked over at this couple from over on my side and quietly did a happy dance (inside!) In fact, I just kept on looking over, grinning. See, I knew their story. He was one of those husbands who’d fallen away. For eight years, in fact, he’d stayed home every Sunday while his wife carried on -- Dismayed, determined, confused. But now he was back -- And honestly, everything he said into that mic was so good.

The Come-Back Kid!

My friends, this isn’t the only story I know of a spouse coming back to faith. It might be natural to think that this situation looks particularly impossible. If we're going to really not sugar-coat this thing, you might even fear what your spouse has done. For sure, we know free will is a big part of this, and this thing is no game.

But there's also this: The fruits of the Holy Spirit are joy and peace. This alone tells me that God -- who grows these fruits within us -- will be encouraging us to NOT walk through this situation peace-less. Only God knows the destination of a given soul, but if our spouse has fallen away He actively encourages us to grow joy and peace. Somehow we have to let God bring peace to this terribly difficult situation, but of course fruit grows slowly and usually within the opposite circumstances.

The Lord led me to this amazing verse this morning, which speaks of how He sometimes works two or three times in a person’s life to bring them back from the pit.

“Yes, his soul draws near the Pit, and his life to the executioners.

If there is a messenger for him, a mediator, one among a thousand, to show man His uprightness, then He is gracious to him, and says, ‘deliver him from going down to the Pit; I have found a ‘ransom’;

His flesh shall be young like a child’s, he shall return to the days of his youth. He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him, he shall see His face with joy, for He restores to man His righteousness. Then he looks at men and says, ‘I have sinned, and perverted what was right, and it did not profit me.’

He will redeem his soul from going down to the Pit, and his life shall see the light.

Behold, God works all these things, twice, in fact, three times with a man, to bring back his soul from the Pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life.” Job 33:23-30 (NKJV):

What a wonderful verse for those who are hoping for a ‘fallen-away’ spouse to be restored! I guess it tells me that this thing is far from impossible, and these spouses are certainly not the 'least likely' or a hopeless case. In fact, I will say that I also feel my husband is the least likely to convert, and he's never yet been a Christian. So perhaps we all feel it: 'Mine is the least likely!'

Least likely does not mean impossible!

Ultimately, God has given us a tremendous shared testimony here in this community. This blog has over one thousand readers, and many were once prodigals. Even Lynn, our founder, describes herself as the ultimate prodigal child, and now she is one on-fire Christian. We know from the parable of the prodigal son what kind of excitement lands on the one who comes back. And so many of the SUMites themselves are living, breathing, walking examples of God's miraculous restoration.

It's hard huh? We will carry on with this topic on Monday. But in the meantime, if you would like to share any thoughts in the comments, please do!


When A Spouse Leaves Their Faith -- Part 1

Ann here! Tears

Today I want to talk about a path that is walked by so many here, and it's a really difficult one: ‘When a Spouse Leaves the Faith’.

In our community we have many a story to tell about how we found ourselves in a SUM. In my case, for example, I was far from God when I married, then turned and changed. That's a common scenario. But there’s another story within our ranks that seems especially weighty: The situation where one spouse falls away. 

It looks something like this: A husband and wife intimately share their relationship with Jesus. They pray together, dream together, and serve together. Faith is the bedrock of their shared life and they are wedded to church. Then, out of left field one loses their faith and the other has to stand by and watch. The sense of loss is profound.  

In these next couple of posts I'm going to write about that. It’s not my path, so I asked several other SUMites for help with this. The following words come from their shared stories. And, as I have written it up I realize all over again what brave soldiers they are.

Why is it so hard when a spouse leaves the faith?

Most challenges in a spiritually unequal marriage are commonly experienced. For example, almost all of us battle loneliness, find it difficult to be open about faith at home, and church is complicated. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But when a spouse loses their faith there’s something extra: Grief.

These are seriously lost dreams. The spouse who leaves their faith might have been a vibrant disciple of Jesus at one time. That is perfectly possible, it happens. So, the remaining one knows what it is to be spiritually matched. And they cry tears of grief -- Tears that may well be mixed with a bitter sense of betrayal.

Then it happens: Their spouse’s character begins to change before their eyes, and this can happen quite quickly once they've decided they no longer believe. Their priorities shift and it can extend into some quite contrasting areas of behavior and opinion. They might even start to despise their prior faith.

“This isn’t the person I married”, sobs the believing spouse into their pillow at night.

The unbelieving spouse may or may not question the marriage itself. In most cases they will still love and want their spouse. And if that's so they'll just want to be loved back. “Just love me please, the way I now am.” Alternatively, they might actively despise their old life including everything the believing spouse now stands for. In that case it's more precarious. Or there’ll be some mixture of hostility and love. Either way, it’s tumultuous change. 

In terms of their mindset, the unbelieving spouse might hold a strong belief that they have excellent ‘insider knowledge’ of Christianity. If that's the case, Christian apologetics arguments, or even testimony, will be especially unlikely to help. Intellectual debate is futile, and testimonies are rejected. Possibly these spouses have had testimonies of their own and now somehow those testimonies have become a distant memory. "What will it take to change their mind?" one wonders.

Well, is it their mind, or is it their heart? So much of this is about the heart.

Meanwhile, Christian friends will treat the unbelieving spouse (their friend) as a ‘fix-it’ project that they most likely can’t fix as easily as they hope. And it’s hard to stay connected to these friends because the dynamic has changed and they probably don't really understand the full story. The couple might slowly lose their friends, bit by bit. By bit.

Of course, it looks different in different couples. Some have spouses who now are active atheists after having been elders. For others, it's simply a case of the spouse having gone quietly lukewarm. That one is a more placid situation and perhaps slightly easier to handle than a full-on missionary-turned-atheist who has 'all the answers' (I know one of those myself, he lives down the road and remains married to a very strong Christian lady!)

So what would God say to us about this particular path? And what practical tips are helpful here? There is more to share so we will continue in the next post. And, again, I thank the SUMites who have helped with this post -- so much.

In the meantime, if you are walking this particular path, what is the hardest part for you?


Take Six Steps Out Of Disappointment

SUMite Family:

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

I struggled in my prayer time so I made myself write down the many past encounters, blessings, provisions and favor the Lord has poured into my life over the past 20 years. My undeniable encounter, with the power and love of Christ was on October 12, 2012. That moment changed me and everything about my life and faith. I would cling to that truth as the anchor in this dark period. Then I would write down the love notes God sends me. I wrote about some of them here and here

I would then pray.  And I’m still praying today. I walk in the vineyards, walk and pray. I sing worship songs to the King of Kings. Worship is essential to keep us from losing more ground to the enemy. I would pray honest prayers and I would keep practicing what I have always done even if my heart wasn’t fully in it, even in my doubt I continued to practice what I knew was right.

I walked through a process and I’m thankful it only took me 30 days. It is my hope that by sharing what I walked, others will walk through their struggle quickly and /or become unstuck and reach the end of their captivity.

Process to overcome Disappointment in God.

  1. Grieve – your loss, your expectations, your disappointment, your faith, your confusion.
  2. Surrender – Give Him your plans, hopes, expectations, and again your confusion. Ask for understanding even knowing you might never receive it in this life. Forgive God.
  3. Pray – begin to pray again. Gather others around you to pray. Rely on scriptures. Psalm 91 became very powerful to me. I listened to it in a song so I could memorize it. I studied it. Looked at the Greek, Hebrew translations.  I believed!
  4. Listen and wait. – I waited. I’m not patient. But I began to perceive that God wanted me to enter a season of rest. He also wanted my focus and attention in an area of my life for which I'd been asking for healing for years. So I started to understand His intent in this season was to heal ME and just be with ME. My healing was more important to Him than another book.
  5. Choose to believe - I also thanked God and remembered and relied on my past experiences with God. His faithfulness in so many areas. Years and years of faithfulness in my life is what i leaned on in my confusion.
  6. Allow Time – In the rest and waiting I discovered that He never left me. He began speaking to me about four weeks after my disappointment. I haven’t nor do I expect an explanation. But God’s not finished with me and the healing and new dreams I’m receiving are unexpected and amazing.

My friends, tomorrow I am going to share a prayer that I prayed and I continue to pray that defeats the demonic.

Through my experience can it be that God is shouting to you in your dark place? DON’T GIVE UP. Don’t listen to the lies of the enemy. Fight back with everything you have. Put on the full armor of God. Remember and trust in your past history with the Lord. Focus on every good thing Jesus brings to your life. Choose to look up and not at your circumstances. And my friends pray even when you don’t feel like it.

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com


When God Disappoints - Chronicles Continuing

Hello SUMites;

Isaiah 55 8 9My friends, where do I begin? I have experienced tremendous defeat and disappointment in the last 30 days as well as amazing breakthroughs coupled with providential appointments, miracles and more.

The spiritual warfare has been relentless.

My friends, now I’m mad. I want to punch satan in the face and I promise you this, my mission for the rest of my life is to hurt the devil and destroy the demons.

But before I bring you to this place of war, what I found is that God needed to teach me about surrender. And man, can I just say, bummer! It’s hard.

Most of you know that I’ve been working on a new manuscript for over a year. My ability to write came under intense warfare last year through my son’s arrival in California. His family moving in, baby and all. His marital separation shortly after and what followed was six months of illness. Both myself and the baby. I kid you not, I was ill every two or three weeks, on the couch, in the doctor’s office, ill. I couldn’t pull myself out of bed let alone try to be creative and write. A entire year of warfare in one form or another was at hand.

But there are great answers to prayer even in the midst of spiritual warfare. My son’s wife returned to her marriage nine months later and the family is doing well. This was an outright miracle! Truly! Time marches on. I finally complete my book proposal and four chapters of the book.

Then on June 16, 2015 my manuscript was turned down for publishing. My title and content were now old and many new manuscripts with similar content and title were already in the process of coming to market.

I missed the window.

Disappointment doesn’t come near to describing the feelings that swirled within. I have learned to release offense and disappointment which I experience at the hands of people. But my friends, what do you do when you feel disappointed by God?

You see, I KNOW the Lord gave me the outline for this book. He spoke the title to me, clearly during my prayer time. I had several people, who don’t know me, speak prophetically over me about it. So, what do you do when you feel like God set you up for a great disappointment?

I truly struggled with trust for the first time in a long while. During the past year, I believed scripture promises and I spoke them over myself and my writing. I believe so fully that this book would come to market, that I had set a number of things in motion in support of the future book launch. I was that confident in my faith and in hearing the Lord.

Devastated, I wrestled with confusion. My prayer time faltered. I felt a terrible and great distance come between myself and God. I cried. A lot. I asked Dineen to pray for me. I tried to understand why God would tell me to do something then allow the warfare to ensue to keep me from completing the assignment.

Am I alone in this?

Anyone?

In this season that I experienced beginning mid-June through early July, faith was difficult and the core of my belief was challenged. But ………

Praise be to Jesus because He will not leave us in this place.

I have so much more to tell you, so stay tuned, as you have me all week. (Dineen is traveling this week) Get ready for some blondeness, some crazy antics, and get ready as we learn to deal with “our stuff.” Do you truly want to walk in freedom? Do you want to walk in powerful faith? Well stay tuned as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. There is something waiting at the end. And can I just tell you…. Everything is going to be okay.

Today, in my heart I’m moved to pray for you. Perhaps you are also dealing with faltering faith or great disappointment, let me pray for you. Tell me how to pray and the specifics in the comments. Because our God is not dead. He will bring beauty from ashes. We are on the road to learn all about His redemption of disappointment. We need to know how to walk fully in this kind of tried and true faith because it’s going to take every bit of our conviction to walk in the months ahead in this world that is growing increasingly darker and more evil.

I love you, SUMite Nation. You are more powerful than you know. You are braver than you think. God has not abandoned you. He will, in due time, explain all things. He loves you WAY TO MUCH to leave you where you are.

See you in the comments. Love you so much, Lynn And stay tuned because there is MUCH more to come. Hugs.

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com