Over the past 3 weeks my relationship with a friend of mine has gone from 'really great friends' to courting and talking about wedding plans. How did this happen? When only 3 weeks ago I was still thinking I couldn't move past my ex-wife? I thought I had to wait for her to change her ways and come back. Because I thought that would be the ideal arrangement for my boys. But I think God has different plans. The ex is showing no signs of change, and now an amazing, godly woman wants to jump in the gap. And I'm left trying to reconcile my old position with this new event. Everything is just feeling so.. right. As though it was God-ordained. Let me express right now that I am terrified of attributing my feelings as God's direction. I am being VERY careful about that. So I'm trying to get a reading from other sources besides my own heart. Elders in my church, my parents, my kids, and of course, scripture. I'm praying hard that I would be guided in a way I can understand. I knew the signs to look for. I knew that if we are meant to be together there will be a harmony of occurrences. I knew first and foremost that my children would have to fall in love with her as much as I would. I knew I would get the blessing from my parents and hers. I knew our elders would approve and support us. I knew our relationship with God would take precedence over our relationship with each other. I knew we would agree on keeping ourselves physically chaste. Other clues I have figured would be there include being active in the church and respected by the elders. I assumed she would have to have a really great sense of humor, or there would be no way she could put up with me and the shenanigans in my life. Then there was the wish list. The ones I knew there would be no way in hell that any woman could have everything I need, PLUS these things. I wanted someone smart, fun-loving, easy-going, art-appreciative, musical, and of course pretty. I figured if I found a girl who had all the mandatory attributes she would surely be dumb, boring, high-strung, art-hating, anti-music, and of course ugly. Maybe it's the game designer in me that needs a sense of balance. You can't have a character that is strong, fast, and smart. You can only pick two. But no; she's got it all. Totally unbalanced from a game design perspective!
OK. So I've established that she has all the qualities I could ever want in a wife. But I haven't addressed my past assumptions and speculations. For instance, I was SURE that I could not trust myself to make a choice about marriage if I was in love at the time. And I guess I'm still standing by that. That's why I relying so heavily on the feedback of my church and family. So far, it has all been very positive. A few of her friends have expressed concern about her getting involved with a divorced guy with kids. Naturally. I've expressed concerns about that too. I told her there are other guys like me without the history. But she has a very good view about things of that sort. She says without my past, my kids, etc. I wouldn't be the man I am today. That is certainly true. It's amazing that God can use our own mistakes and failures to shape us into His image.
Anyway, let me try to stay on track here. First, my reasoning for giving up on my ex is that my kids (and I) would be better off in a complete family than waiting around for a mom that isn't showing any signs of coming back. Second, I admit I can't trust my own judgment on such an important life-matter that effects so many other people when I am under the influence of Eros. Therefore, I'm counting on God to work through others to stop me this if it isn't right. And I'm looking carefully and thoroughly. And now the part I'm still stuck on:
31 "It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' 32 But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
8 He said to them, "For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery."
Nothing slits Eros' throat for me like the thought of adultery. Why did Jesus say this? Times were very different back then, and marriage was very different. Women were practically property, and needed to be protected from the nature of men. God didn't like the men abusing and discarding women. The New Testament is full of exhortations for men to treat their wives as Jesus does the church. That is to be willing to sacrifice anything for them, even their own lives. That's what drove me to stay in my horrible marriage. That's what drove me to try to wait for her to return. But the mistake I made in staying in the marriage was that there were two other lives directly impacted by that decision. They saw and heard things that little children should never have to. I pray every day that the dysfunction that they witnessed as small children will never settle in their hearts to manifest later. And I saw myself making the same mistake after the marriage. I'm waiting through some of the most important developmental years of their lives; keeping them in a three-wheeled family, and running myself into the ground time and time again.
So what is it about this relationship that turned me around? Well, I guess there are a couple of things. One of them was the process I've been going through over the past couple of months. My ex wanted a letter outlining what I thought would need to happen for her to come back. I've purposely taken a lot of time as I've worked on this letter. I've prayed heavily, and gotten feedback from my dad, uncle, elders, and even her dad. My first draft was a manifesto of sorts. A list of what I would never let happen again. I tried to smooth it out with a call to God, but it was just not right. Everyone who read it agreed that I needed to address the core problem more, and not sweat the other stuff, because if she turns back to Christ that stuff will fall in line naturally. My second letter I thought was great. Totally focused on what she needed to turn her life around. Then I showed it to her dad and he very, very strongly discouraged me from giving it to her. He said he has a very similar temperament as her, and he sees that it would only make her more stubborn and drive her further away. Beyond his input on the letter itself, our talk really sharpened a point that I had been trying to ignore for years. He kept saying, "If you really want this to happen, you'll…" If I really want it to happen… I've expressed before how little I really want this to happen. In fact, I really DON'T want this to happen. I've been acting on obligation for so long, (about 12 years now) that I just didn't consider listening to what my heart was calling me too. Or rather, what God was calling my heart towards. I always knew that God could call me to marry another woman, but didn't see how that could really happen. Anyway, I went back to the drawing board and my third revision of the letter was just a call to salvation, completely separate from me, and any chance at reconciliation. Finally, I had come to the point where I wasn't mingling my role as a husband, with my possible role as a tool for her to find God. Our remarriage does not have to be the logical conclusion of her salvation like I've been thinking for so long. Once that clicked into place for me I saw that God truly could have other plans for me and my children than the ones that I dreaded so fearfully.
So that led me to the point of being open to the possibility of romance again. But not the way I expected. I wasn't suddenly free to 'play the field' as it were. I was always confused by that thought… How does a divorced father of two go about looking for a wife, and mother for his kids? The timing of my new relationship solved that problem. I wasn't looking for anyone because I had just fallen in love. And this isn't the kind of 'love' that I've ever had before. I'm not questioning it, wondering if this is really what love is. This is simply undeniable. This relationship is fundamentally different than any relationship I've had before. It's not like I've loved other women 6, and her 9. It's just not on the same scale. It's not more; it's a new kind of thing I've never had. We have known each other for over half a year, and watched each other from a bit of a distance for that time. But over the past couple of months we have been slowly and naturally getting closer and closer. I started taking her to swing dancing, concerts, movies with the kids etc. (Sometimes with others, sometimes alone.) And we were just really good buddies. There was no pretence or pressure. We came together is such a natural way. Neither of us was trying to 'get' the other one. But finally, we realized what was happening and started investigating what it meant.
Besides that, I can't say enough how thrilled I am that we are both in total agreement about our physical relationship. No kissing. This has so many benefits. Firstly, since we are both waiting on God to confirm to us that we are meant to be together, it keeps our ears open to a "No". We want to have our experience together be positive regardless of our future callings. Secondly, it keeps us from letting the important aspects of a relationship slide, or problems getting smoothed over by physical intimacy and the accompanying hormones. I know that I love and appreciate her for who she is, not how she makes my body feel. It builds spiritual intimacy, rather than physical.
19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.
I am seeing this time before marriage as an investment into our eternal souls. Physical jollies are great and all, but they don't build unmarried people up. They don't improve the soul, the part of us that lasts forever. We won't be young and beautiful forever, but because we are building our relationship on the deeper aspects, when the flowers fade, the spirit of our romance will remain. She is so much more beautiful to me because I am seeing her heart. And it is a thing of incredible, delicate beauty. I get the same sense of the sublime when I see her spirit that I do when I see a mountain sunset or a bedewed spider web in the morning light. God surly pulled out all the stops when he created this woman. And when her body is old and frail I will still see that beauty, 30, 60, or 100 fold more as He blesses her with the fruits of the spirit. I'm seeing how my crush on 'That Darn Girl' was a deep-rooted desire to have a girl with these attributes in my life. God put those desires there, and it looks as though he special built a woman with all that goodness just for me. If this is God's will, then I have found just what I've wanted all my adult life. A woman who complements me spiritually, who will make a team for serving God with me. I am praying very hard for guidance right now. It's difficult for me to accept this because it seems too good to be true. But it could be that God will teach me that there are other sides to living for Him besides hardship.
11 "No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening – it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way."