SHE'S SMILING MORE
We are nearing the 5 year mark. At this point, we have gone through 5 years of concentrated efforts, prayer, forgiveness, moving forward, facing points that trigger instant memories and pain to emerge, emotional ups and downs and everything in between.
Nearly 5 years since I confessed to EVERYTHING I'd ever done in secret.
Nearly 5 years since I filed for divorce.
Nearly 5 years since I shattered my wife to the core with the devastating news that I'd been unfaithful more than once.
Nearly 5 years since I told my wife not to pray for me because there was "No way my heart would change."
Nearly 5 years since I ripped up the divorce papers and vowed never to use that word in our marriage again.
Nearly 5 years since I asked for forgiveness and we began to rebuild our broken relationship.
Many years ago, I used to pray and ask God to make my wife into someone who was interested in Him more - someone who prays - someone who wants to read the Bible with me - someone to partner with me, keeping Christ Jesus at the center of our relationship. Of course I resented that when I was living out my sinful choices.
Recently (meaning since the point we began to work towards restoration), my prayer had been for her to heal. I would ask that God would soften her heart from all of the hurt I caused.
Both prayers were answered. During the worst moments of our marriage - the darkest hours - she became a pillar of faith. She embraced me the way that Jesus would embrace any sinner confessing and repenting. She prayed like a warrior for my heart to change. She prayed for the redemption of my soul.
The second prayer has been answered over the last year or so. She has become lighthearted. She smiles more and more. Her laughter lightens the burden from my shoulders. I love to see her stepping out of her shell again. The silliness and love for life has returned to the spirit of my sweetheart. Her laughter and smile are infectious and so incredibly beautiful.
I look back with shame into the darkened hallways of my past, but I remember to keep my eyes fixated on my Rock and my Redeemer, Christ Jesus. In Him, all hope is found (Ephesians 2:8-10; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Everything can be restored. Everything can be made new (Revelation 21:5).
Moses (the author attributed to Deuteronomy) was writing to the people of Israel, reminding them to keep their covenant with God. I can relate to the sentiment contained in the following words -
When you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you back to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors. The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all of your heart and with all of your soul, and live.
My wife and I, as a covenantally-connected couple, in unity, returned to God. We aren't rich by a long shot, but the fortune and blessing of a wonderful marriage has been restored. We were scattered and now we are unified. I metaphorically banished my wife - I too wandered in the distant lands away from God's grace, but He has gathered us back together and now we LIVE, we THRIVE with absolute joy. I am not saying that life is easy. We still face the daily challenges of living in a sinful and broken world, but we face it together.
I wanted to share this post as a beacon of encouragement to those who might think their situation is hopeless.