How we pile on anguish for the woman in a difficult marriage

She knew that she could expect to feel lonely.

She expected to experience a measure of financial set-backs, if not a complete financial fall-out. His poor choices, his decisions without regard to his family. Her husband’s sin has taken a toll.

She’s gotten used to picking up  the jagged pieces of her life, the extra responsibilities she’s had to take on, the emotional wounds of her children, making hard decisions while dealing with the anguish of her sorrow-filled heart. But she never thought she’d experience rejection within the Body of Christ.

But it happens all the time with women.

It doesn’t mean they are innocent and don’t have some responsibility in the downward spiral of their marriage relationship. But when it comes to unrepentant sin that a man refuses to turn away from or repent of…often, she will experience a sort of severing, at least for a while. She’s already suffering through the tearing of her heart and her home. Every single day and every single moment within each day, she is having to come to terms with the results of her husband’s choices and sadly, she will often, pay in a way she never expected.

Surely there is a better way to address these types of circumstances other than simply telling her if she could only pray a little more, hope a little deeper, suffer a while longer. She has already suffered. She has already been willing to stay the course, trust God and continue to go before the Throne of God over and over again on behalf of her wayward husband.

Surely there is a better way than to make her feel guilty for what was not her choice.

Surely, we don’t have to be so cut and dry and give pat answers and send her away, only with a list of things to read because we don’t know what else to do with her.

Surely, there’s a better way that involves getting involved. It’s like telling a young woman she shouldn’t have an abortion and not giving her or sharing with her beautiful and brave options.

It’s like telling a starving man that you have Bread of Life for him without attempting to quiet his ravished body that screams for nourishment.

It would be like the Good Samaritan bending down to the man who had been beaten, robbed, left for dead…and simply saying there’s hope and then moving on, thinking he’d done enough.

Because I tell you. Her needs are so very real and it might astound you the pain she has been suffering and most likely, in silence and certainly in isolation. There might be those few she can confide in but she must be careful. She doesn’t want to disrespect her husband and she doesn’t need to hear that she should divorce, move on and get over it.

She doesn’t want to get over it, she wants to know how to walk through it.

She’s willing to wait. She shouldn’t feel as if it would be more likely for her pit-dwelling husband to repent than for the Body of Christ to reach out and truly, without shaming, walk alongside her. She’s learned to be so very guarded because she’s learned that if she speaks the truth completely, there will be a price to pay and she’s already been emptied out.

I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it and I still see it in women way too often.

We are good at being an “organization” who speaks truth, who encourages, who equips but we aren’t so very good at being “individuals” who are willing to take the time to walk through the dark and winding valleys where some of these women dwell. She really isn’t interested in being project or a statistic. She doesn’t need another Christian celebrity to make her feel good for thirty minutes. She needs someone who will be willing to get dirty with her problems. She needs someone who will not make her feel like she is less because so much has failed around her. Her struggle with failure, fear and shame is enough to last five lifetimes.

She really doesn’t need to hear another series on how to be a good and Godly wife.

Because here is the truth: some women have been good wives. Some women have really fought hard for their marriage. They have prayed and fasted and remained faithful. They have not allowed despair to be their identity. They have desired the perfect will of God and desired reconciliation.  But the avalanche of sin smothered her life and all around her is a lay-waste that she could neither stop nor control. I’ve watched incredibly, mature Godly women be ravaged within their home and marriage only to receive a very cold shoulder within the Body of Christ.

Maybe it’s because we don’t know what to do with her?

But isn’t the answer – when we don’t know – to look at God’s heart, at His response, how He moved while in the flesh – don’t we look at Christ?

No where do I see Jesus condemning someone for another person’s sin.

No where do I see him place the sin of another upon anyone’s shoulders…except for His own.

He has covered our shame.

Then why do we find it so difficult to look around the sin of the husband who refuses to repent…why do we view his wife through that lens?

And if we tell her that should have done and could do better…if we tell her that she needs to just keep hoping, pull up her boots straps and just keep walking…then we are ignoring the fact that her heart feels as if it has been severed in two. And worse than that we are taking his sin and placing it upon her shoulders. We are in a sense making her responsible for the outcome. Believe me, she would love to have restoration like yesterday! If there were something, anything that she could do to change the circumstance or him…don’t you think she would have done it a million times already?

She’s beat herself up with her sin, with all that she has done. She has repented over and over again. She knows there is more that needs to be purged from her heart. Oh, she is willing. Maybe if she were better. Maybe if she could get her act together. Maybe if she could live as if Christ truly is enough. She knows that is the ground-centered truth that her soul needs to be content with Christ alone. She knows that His grace is sufficient. But she has watched as the man she has loved, man she is one with slowly self-destruct.

Grief bearing down on her?

You bet it is.

Can you imagine being smothered with something so thick and so choking that there isn’t one area of your life that isn’t covered? If someone is unfortunate enough to be on a mountain when an avalanche of snow consumes them it seeps into every nook and cranny of their body and clothing; into their ears, mouth, under their finger nails. Rescuers aren’t spending precious moments lecturing about mistakes or why they were there in the first place. No, they are tending to their physical, vital needs. But often, the wife of a man who has chosen the desolate path of sin is tended to in a way that disburses shame and a sense of failure, rejection and the fear of being discredited.

While her heart is grieving for all the loss of dreams, time and relationship the very last thing she needs is to have even more shame heaped upon her by the very ones who should be the most compassionate and caring.

God is perfectly patient with her.

He isn’t attempting to punish her so neither should we.

God has covered our shame. He has certainly covered hers.

So how about we get to tending to her and her family’s needs rather than get hung up on what we cannot change… and help foster healing and hope for a heart that is willing to be changed – hers. 921730_538951619476906_1750185027_o (4)

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May friendship, encouragement and grace abound!