The day my wife told me she wasn't happy was a blessing, not for the reasons you may expect though. Didn't matter that I was unhappy as well. I was hurt... pride and ego were bruised. So I reacted in a way to protect them no matter how bad it hurt her. I left work early that afternoon, drank large quantities of beer, and when she came home, I exploded.... telling her to get out of my house. She loaded up her two kids (from first marriage) and left. I haven't spoken to her since February 17th, 2011 the night she left.
I was still fighting to protect that pride and ego the next night when I went out with my first wife's brother... got drunk, eventually passing out on his couch. The next day I woke up knowing that I needed a change, but not quite certain how to go about it.
My first wife (her and her husband have become two of my closest friends) suggested I call the Christian counselor that I had sessions with during my first marriage. I did, and it was the first step in this journey I am on now. I told him that I wasn't serious about changing the first time I met with him, but I was going to try this time. We arranged meeting for Tuesday of the following week.
Over the course of the next few days, I began to have withdrawals from alcohol (I thought I take a few days off drinking to clear my head). This was the first indication that I had that I might have a serious drinking problem. When I arrived at the meeting with the counselor, I had suffered from three days of insomnia, confusion, panic attacks, night sweats... I was completely broken. It was the counselor (Bill) that suggested that divorce, no matter whether we had both been married before, the circumstances, whatever, would not be pleasing to God. Great! My wife told me she was unhappy and I have to be the one to work on the marriage. Sound familiar?
So, I had to chose to love her. I didn't know exactly how to do that so I just sent her a text to ask her to just wait... don't rush into anything... no major decisions. Of course, she replied that she had made her mind up.
Around the time I met with Bill, I had begin to realize how unmanageable my life was and begin to earnestly seek God's will in my life. Not that I knew exactly how to do that, but I was trying. I had also realized that I was in the early stages of alcoholism and joined AA.
The next few weeks were pretty good for me. I was growing closer to God. People were beginning to notice a difference and comment on it. Things weren't any better with me and my wife, but I was focusing more on myself and my walk with God than getting her back. Then, three weeks after she left, I got the divorce papers. She filled them out online, dropped them off in a self-addressed stamped envelope, and texted me asking to return them to her. I went home, signed my page, had it notarized, and was about to send the back but God said.... wait.
Over the next couple of hours, I became distraught. I was barely able to function. I could sign the papers and have a date by the weekend... move on as she had said in a text. But signing the papers just didn't seem right. Going out with another woman just didn't seem right. Instead of turning to God, I began to manipulate the situation. If I could just talk with her, I could get her to hold off. I had always been good at getting to her... part of the reason I suspected that she refused to talk with me. I texted her a picture of the signed page and told her if she wanted it, she would have to talk with me. No response.
But man, I was a mess inside. I think I was feeling the pull of the Holy Spirit and the pull of the flesh and I just didn't realize it at the time. I spoke with my pastors wife, who is an amazing woman of God and a prayer warrior. She told me that I had began to find forgiveness and comfort in Jesus... who did Melanie (my wife) have? And then, she said that I wasn't doing enough! Really? I thought I was supposed to put this in God's hands... let Him do it, because I just screwed things up like I did with my attempt to manipulate her!
Well, I spoke with Bill and he just said what I had already heard... wait. Pray and wait until our next meeting which was 5 days away! Seriously, wait for 5 days and do nothing!!! That might have been the most difficult thing I've ever had to do. Wait. I like instant gratification.. instant resolutions.. I WANT MY WAY WHEN I WANT IT!!!! It was a difficult 5 days. I was in spiritual turmoil. I think it had a lot to do with God telling me to wait and my flesh telling me to move on. The funny thing is, what finally got me to realize how important my marriage was, was a vindictive act that Melanie took against me. On the return envelope containing the papers, the stamps were stamps of wedding rings. At first I laughed it off, but it began to hurt. I did love my wife. I did respect my commitment to her that I made in front of God. I will fight for my marriage. Ironically, my wife had witnessed enough of my sarcasm and snarkiness that the stamps were just a reminder that that was something I would have done. Something she had learned from ME!
By Tuesday's meeting,God had made up my mind to NOT sign the papers. That's not saying I haven't questioned that decision on a few occasions, but it usually the voices of people that don't know God that encourage with the tired cliche, "If you love something, let it go" nonsense. In fact, I had made certain that she could still divorce me without a problem, I just wasn't going to participate in it. I had asked God to inspire me to write a letter to Melanie and express to her that I have realized that some changes need to be made in my life, that I was responsible for allowing things in our home that help lead us too unhappiness and that I CHOSE to love her whether she wanted me to or not. It took 4 or 5 letters and a lot of prayer to get me out of God's way, but it finally happened.
Now I knew of The Love Dare (Fireproof was actually filmed where I live... I worked at that fire department a few years ago... my counselor goes to church where the producers of the movie go), but I had not even considered it for saving my marriage. It's a good thing because I would not have been in the right spirit to complete the dares. That Tuesday, I informed my counselor of my decision not to sign the papers and stand up for my marriage, but that I the urging of my pastor's wife, I still needed to do more and I didn't know what to do. He mentioned flowers, but that was just too gimmicky. This had to demonstrate unconditional love... the kind of love that Christ had for the church. He mentioned The Love Dare and it clicked. That's it!!! Yes, I do want my marriage restored, but The Love Dare was a way for me to be obedient to God. A way to exercise my faith.
I've shared my day journal entries with you so I won't go into each day, but I can tell you that the journey has been a blessing beyond what I could have ever imagined. I know I made a few mistakes early, but I sincerely sought God's direction. Each morning, I read a dare and each day He provides me a way to be obedient to Him. Each day my love for Christ grows. Each day I grow closer to God. Each day, something wonderful is revealed to me. Each day a relationship gets better. Each day, I put off the old man and put on the new. It is nothing short of a miracle and it's happened in just a few weeks.
Melanie still is not speaking to or responding to me in any way and I have no idea whether she has actually filed for divorce. It's not easy not knowing, but each act of faith make it easier for me to put this in God's hands and let him worry about my marriage and all my problems. Just as Sean mentioned in his journals, I put Melanie before God. He had to take her out of my way so I could fulfill His destiny for me. I do want God to bring her back to me, but I need to be the man that God wants me to be before I can be the husband that Melanie needs me to be. That will take time. In the meantime, I will pray for Melanie's and the kid's salvation and well-being.
I had avoided giving advice to others because of the magnitude of my mistakes and the current state of my marriage, but God made it clear to me yesterday that waiting around until you "feel" right is one of Satan's tricks he will use to prevent you from being productive in Christ. Start serving God in any capacity NOW! Get involved NOW! Lead your heart, don't let it lead you.
So I will share something I have learned in the last 5 weeks. When you feel like YOU have to do something... that it absolutely cannot wait..... WAIT! WAIT! WAIT! Step back, detach and hit your knees and sincerely ask God for direction. Sometimes the best action is NO action at all. Stick to the dares, or at least the spirit of the dares if you can't do exactly as they read. For instance, if your spouse hasn't had much success in their own eyes, pray that they will have success and tell them that you know they will be successful! Maybe you can tell them that you are praying for their success. Let God lead you. God will find a way for you to be obedient to Him if YOU ASK HIM. But YOU HAVE TO LISTEN!!! Get out of His way and give it to Him. He will not go back on His promises.
Love you guys!
Christ is the most patient... He waits for us and the funny part is we never have a clue that His plan is already in progress. Sometimes we must ask, why do we still try to do things our way.
The definition of insanity is trying to do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
When we submit to Christ things just are so much easier. And each day in the dares you will start to look back, you will see how far you have come away from the world.
If you are not writing a journey, do so. It is great to look back on.
And do not feel to bad that she has not communicated with you. I am sure it is part of Gods plan. You must be where He needs you to be before that happens. You are to be a testimony. And maybe her spitefulness will not be something you can handle in Christs image.
Be happy knowing Christ is handling her right now.
I journal in the book, but I have been thinking (I should be praying) about journaling here.
Well, sometimes I do feel bad. A couple of weeks before my explosion, things were great. We had a great Christmas. Things changed so quickly. Her spitefullness is a product of me disppointing her.
But I know that God is using this for His good and I am prepared to submit to His will, not mine.
You should keep a journal in private as well. One that is specific to daily things such as your feelings, hers very specific. This way you can look back on how bad things were and where you are at the time you read.