Lessons From a Failed Marriage
God brought me to my knees pleading for forgiveness because we were not able to hold our marriage together. Now my faith is based solidly on God’s forgiveness and grace. I walk in His strength and not my own weakness.
It is now over 50 years ago that I was very happily joined in marriage with a brother. During the years, something went terribly wrong. I learned that choosing and marrying another Christadelphian will not guarantee success. Many years later, our marriage lay shattered. We are broken human beings in a broken world, and it proved impossible for us to put the pieces back together again.
Was it any easier for our daughters, because they were almost grown up and sisters in Christ? What did it do to their faith to have what they thought was a solid family foundation and refuge torn away from them? Did our broken marriage lead to theirs?
The sorrow of our separation and divorce radiated quickly to affect the whole extended family–both natural and spiritual. Joyfully, our daughters are still faithful sisters today. Would our marriage still be intact if we had made different choices and had greater strength? Undoubtedly.
However, it has taken the broken marriage and the consequent years of struggle to learn what it is we needed to know then. God is gracious. His forgiveness and healing is complete. He still can, and will, save us both to the uttermost (Heb 7:25).
I rejoice that my former husband is still my brother. It is likely that we will spend eternity together in the wonderful Kingdom of God. Not as husband and wife. Because marriage, as we know it now, will not exist in the Kingdom. Instead, there will be a joining together of all saints in an unimaginably joyful eternal “marriage” with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
What could I have done differently? Would I do anything differently if I had to do it over again? I tried to be strong, but it was not enough. One thing I needed to do differently was to rise above my own fear and pain and speak openly with my then-husband.
Also, to recognize the danger of my own weaknesses much sooner. I needed to face the problems head-on and not retreat. It is much easier to see that now. And perhaps with the skills I have now, I could have done it. There is a need to make up your mind beforehand that you will stand by God’s principles no matter what pain it causes when the test comes.
It is all too easy to justify your actions when it is your marriage that is breaking down and your heart that is breaking; when the pain is so great you just want it to stop by whatever means possible.
Now I can only give thanks that my Heavenly Father and my Lord Jesus Christ never left my side. I know without a shadow of a doubt that they are utterly trustworthy and so merciful to weak floundering children. By recognizing the weakness of my own flesh and knowing that God is strengthening me and helping me to grow in His grace, I know that my brothers and sisters are also growing.
I imagine that, if they could go back and change their reactions, some of them would choose to do things differently as well. It is much easier for members of the body of Christ to rally around those who lose their spouse in death than through separation and divorce. But the need for support, comfort and the recognition of the great pain involved is just as great when a marriage comes to an end before death.
How can you help someone in that situation? Number one is to remember our Lord’s words not to judge, lest you be judged also. We are all broken people in a broken world. Be thankful if you are in a strong marriage and remember you do not know how you would react in identical circumstances.
Recognizing principles and standards of behavior and the ideal is one thing. Condemning those who fall short of the mark is quite another. The Bible is full of real stories of people (e.g., Samson, David, Judah) who stumbled into sin but who will be in the Kingdom. God has provided a way for us to be forgiven and that is the core of our great hope.
I walk in His strength and not my own weakness
I can look back and see that the foundation of my faith was based on trying to be a “good” Christadelphian. This included attending the meetings regularly, teaching Sunday School and young people. Every summer the whole family attended Bible Schools. I listened with much note-taking and learning. I tried so hard to be the very best wife and mother I could be.
In my inmost being, I was trying to be good enough for the Kingdom. It did not work and never could, so inevitably I fell flat on my face. God brought me to my knees pleading for forgiveness because we were not able to hold our marriage together. Now my faith is based solidly on God’s forgiveness and grace. I walk in His strength and not my own weakness (Phil 4:13).
That is what it means to be redeemed. God saved me from my own arrogance and wretchedness. I know the strength of sin and recognize the enemy of my own human nature. Better still, I know the strength and beauty of grace that triumphs over sin. This world is to be made beautiful again. Paradise will be restored. And the great joy that lays ahead is that we can be a part of that restoration.
We can be there, not because we have lived exemplary lives, but because of God’s tremendous love and mercy. Praise be to our Loving Heavenly Father who has designed the earth with a great purpose, and praise be to His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who leads His sheep and calls us back to the right path whenever we stray. He is calling. Are we listening?