Have you ever been struggling with making a decision – and even though you felt a little voice inside you telling you what the right thing is to do, every fiber of your being was still fighting against it? So, you asked God for a sign, some kind of reassurance that the thing you know you should do but don’t want to do is the path you should take. I recently found myself in that situation and wow, did God ever come through!
I am currently going through a divorce that I don’t want, and I have been in a position where so much has been taken out of my control. Some things are still in my control though, and I have struggled with when I should exercise control or just “let go and let God.” Several situations have come up where I have been faced with the choice of fighting for myself at the expense of fighting against my wife. I have struggled with threading that needle.
Because what I ultimately want it to reconcile the relationship, I have repeatedly chosen to not fight for myself. I keep telling myself it isn’t worth it to win this battle at the cost of the war. The frustrating thing is that even when I do this, it seems like my wife has not seemed to recognize or acknowledge it. So, the reconciliation I hoped for still seems like a far off and impossible dream. I have begun to question whether I made the right decision. After all, if she isn’t going to give me any credit for not fighting her tooth and nail, and she is still going to treat me like I’m the enemy and interpret my every action as a strategic plot against her (even going as far as to characterize my being nice and generous as somehow trying to manipulate her and reel her back in) then what is the point? All I am doing is losing ground.
Back in January, I made one such “unacknowledged” sacrifices and chose to not fight my wife on something she wanted that was going to cost me greatly. The only way I could figure out how to protect myself, however, meant throwing her under the bus and doing damage to her reputation and possibly even putting her in legal and financial jeopardy. I love my wife and don’t want any harm to come to her, and I chose to make a vow to protect her no matter what, so I ultimately decided to not put up a fight and let her have what she wanted at my expense.
Of course, from my wife’s perspective she was entirely justified in what she was trying to take from me, and she cannot even seem to fathom how I let her win and she got off easy. Because of this, I have struggled for the last two months with the outcome and questioned whether I did the right thing or not.
Yesterday, I consulted with an attorney who offered me a glimmer of hope to re-litigate January’s fight and get back what I lost without tarnishing my wife’s reputation. In order to do this I was going to have to start fighting the divorce on a different front and basically use that as a bargaining chip. The problem is, I had already made the decision to not fight the divorce in that way – and that was a decision I felt perfectly comfortable and at peace with. If I took up this fight it was going to drag the divorce out for at least another year and I was going to have to ask for concessions from my wife that I didn’t really want (but had a right to ask for). The idea was that if she didn’t want to drag the divorce out she might be willing to not fight me when I asked the judge to overturn an earlier decision in exchange for me not continuing to fight her on this new front.
Divorce is messy and complicated, isn’t it?
The alternative for me to get what I want would be to just take it on faith that, given time, God will soften my wife’s heart and perhaps after a few months she will be willing to undo the January decision or at least not fight me on it if I ask a judge to overturn the previous decision. I have not seen any positive signs that my wife would be willing to do that and so taking that path means a huge step of faith that God will work behind the scenes – faith that I just don’t feel like I have in me right now.
So, I set an appointment to meet with this attorney this Saturday to discuss my options and I started doing the legwork to prepare for this new battle. I got all excited because I finally felt like I was back in control and I had a path to “win” and get what I want. But I still felt conflicted.
I felt conflicted because I was now going to have to start fighting for something that in my heart I really didn’t want. I felt like I was violating my conscience taking this path, but I kept trying to justify it because, after all, if it meant getting back what I had lost – something that in my heart I really did want – then didn’t that cancel it all out?
It was in this state of conflict that I went to the midweek service at Mosaic last night. I sat down before the worship began and started to prepare my note taking app and open up my Bible app for the message. When I opened my Bible app, this verse popped up for me as the verse of the day:
“Even now,” declares the Lord,Joel 2:12
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
I started to become convicted that I have taken my focus off of God and have started to obsess over my marriage again and how I could restore it and how I could fight the divorce and protect my “rights.” I have struggled with this in the past and realized that I have made my marriage and everything it represented – all my hopes and dreams for a family a future together with the most amazing woman I have ever known – into an idol. “Lord, help me return my focus to you,” I prayed.
At times, I feel like the best way for me to pray is to write it all out, so I started to write out a prayer. Sometimes, if it is a prayer that I want others to join me in, I post the prayer to social media. So this is what I prayed:
“Send me a sign,” I whispered to God, “Show me what I am supposed to do.”
I knew what I was supposed to do, however. I was just too afraid to act – or not act in this case. I had too many voices of logic and pride in my head telling me to take control of the fight and fight to win at all costs.
The message that night was very good and quite appropriate to what I have been struggling with. It was titled “The Letdown” and about turning your focus back to God when you come to a place of bitter disappointment in your life.
What was amazing, though, is what happened after the service. As soon as the last song was sung and everyone turned to leave, a man approached me out of nowhere and said God had put it on his heart to speak to me. I have never seen this man in my life and he was actually just in town visiting from London for the week (he is a pastor at Hillsong London), and he had come to Mosaic that night to worship.
He told me that he felt like I was currently in a situation where I was fighting to take control, as was my nature, but in this particular situation God wanted me to just let go and let him have full control and for me to trust him. He said that if I did this, if I let God take control, God would bless me by allowing the situation to bear fruit that I would not see otherwise, but the choice was up to me. He also mentioned that he felt like this Saturday was a significant date to this situation and he didn’t really know any more beyond that.
Of course, this was exactly the sign I was looking for. It was the sign that I shouldn’t have needed and certainly didn’t deserve, but God had seen fit to send to me anyway. Isn’t that amazing how God is willing to meet us where we are in our weakness and still bless us with what we need to be strong and take just one more step forward?
And so, I have made up my mind – again – that I am going to just hand this one over to God and stop trying to fight for control of the situation. I trust that my decision to not fighting my wife back in January for her own protection was the right thing to do and that my reasons were right, even though it cost me greatly and my wife is not in a place where she can acknowledge what I sacrificed for her.
And I trust that if I keep obeying what God places on my heart to do – day after day – that he will reward my obedience with fruit. That fruit might not even be something that I will receive. Perhaps, that fruit will be born out in my wife’s life or in someone else’s life. Perhaps, I will never even see the harvest. But the point is that God promises that he will use my obedience to him to further his kingdom on this earth and that is something I trust and believe with my whole heart and that is why I have the strength, through the grace of God, to take one more step and to survive one more day in obedience to him.