This is Part 3 – if you haven’t read her story, you’ll want to start at the beginning HERE
I sat with that thought for hours, and with every second that passed by, I knew that pleasing God far outweighed anything else I would do in life. It was in that instance that I made the decision to truly forgive my husband for all he had done. I chose to no longer see him as what he was doing, but as what he was…God’s created. These shifts in my perception led to another lesson, which taught me that as God’s children, we are to love anyway. Regardless of how it is received, love must prevail in what we do, say, and think. God showed me that there was a big difference between His love and the world’s version of it. Love really is powerful in how it is forgiving, unashamed, unconditional, and edifying to its core. To truly give it, we have to know Who it comes from, how we are created in it, how we receive it daily, and how we are to recognize ourselves as being it so that we can see it in others.
God made it so simple for me to understand. He is love, and we are created in His image. How can we not view each other in the same truth? How could I not love my husband, even if he didn’t understand it or know how to reciprocate it? Was I not in that same position in my relationship with God on the night I was saved? Yet, God saw past my hurt and loved me into better. Now, I can tell you, my husband didn’t make it easy for me to apply this lesson, but it did not matter. Even though his verbal attacks grew worse, I noticed that God kept pouring His truth into me, and that grew me to feel less offended every day. I started viewing myself, my marriage, and my husband through a healthier lens. I saw him hurting, and instead of getting angry or bitter because of his response to it, I started having more compassion for him. I started praying for him more. I began setting healthy boundaries which helped me show that even in the midst of our differences he still mattered to me. This change he witnessed in me completely bewildered him. He just knew I had lost my mind. I can’t even count how many times he looked at me like I was crazy as I followed the Holy Spirit’s lead in loving him. It was important to set a better example as a godly wife because I trusted that God’s love would prevail in the end. It was truly a great season of spiritual growth for me.
In time, as I was softened through God’s love, my husband also softened. There were no more battles for us to fight because I chose to love. There was an overwhelming sense of freedom and peace that I felt, and it was now commanding the steps of my journey. I would like to say that in the end we were able to make amends and have the marriage we set off to have in the beginning, but that wasn’t our story. He still pushed for a divorce, and after 3 attempts the papers were signed on July 7, 2007 ending 7 years of marriage. There was no great sadness, no anger, no resentment, and no hurt. The divorce did not change how I saw him because God had already opened my eyes, not only to my truth as his beloved, but also to his truth as God’s beloved. Nothing we do will ever change how much God loves us, or how we are called to love one another in the same way.
It’s quite extraordinary how God uses marriage to spiritually grow us. For me, I not only came into relationship with the Father, but I learned how to be in relationship with someone else, even in the midst of hard trials. The covenant commitment we make with our spouse is never void of God because He is the One that designed the purpose of marriage. However, we do choose whether we are led by Him in how we interact with one another. Our emotions should never rule greater than our commitment to God, and we are to truly love the person we have been bound to. No matter what season we are in, love will always cover a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). No matter how crushing circumstances may appear, hope is always present where the Father is.
Take a moment to reflect on your relationship with your spouse. Is there an area where you notice you have been emotionally led more than Holy Spirit led? What would it look like for you to surrender your hurt to God, and show love over everything? I believe it would bring you the same results it brought me. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are all the wonderful gifts that produce good and edifying fruit in your life and the lives of those around you. Most importantly, your relationship with God spiritually grows, and there is something so soul satisfying with knowing that we are pleasing our Father in heaven. So, be encouraged! Know that you are not alone in your journey, and you have an army of God’s beloveds cheering you on. Choose love today, and walk in great faith knowing that your reward in being obedient – to the two greatest commands of loving God and others – will be far greater than you could ever ask or imagine. Be blessed.
D.R. Kelly is a Board Certified Christian Life Coach, based in Loganville, Georgia. She has degrees in Biblical Counseling from Luther Rice University, and Human Services Counseling in Marriage and Family from Liberty University. She is a member of the International Christian Coach Association (ICCA). As a proud and devoted mother to her teenage son, she not only mentors young adults, but is also a member of her local church where she actively serves as a small group leader to lift and encourage middle and high school students. Whether through creative lettering, writing, or Christian life coaching, she is fully committed to her calling in walking alongside and edifying the lives of others. Currently, she is writing her first Christian devotional, Encouraged Growth: A 40 Day Devotional of Encouragement and Prayers, set to be published in Spring 2017. For more information about D.R. Kelly, she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org