A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. Proverbs 22:3 (NLT)
The early days of restoration are a difficult time. I’ve been reminiscing lately about our time spent there. Looking back, I see how some things seemed to cause undue pain. I want to share them to help others try to avoid the same mistakes.
- Be patient in the process –
Successful restoration requires understanding each other. Be prepared that you, as a stander, will need consolation and affirmation after being rejected by your prodigal. Hopefully, you will receive that from your spouse. However, you need to keep in mind that they are full of questions themselves and being attacked by the enemy with guilt and condemnation from where they’ve been. They struggle so much, and they may not be able to give more than they have to comfort you. Understand this and seek your balm from Christ alone. Only God can edify you during this very painful, raw stage.
- Be intentional about outside influences –
We found outside influences affected our marriage and our personal walks with the Lord. The Lord started leading us to disconnect from certain people, media, and technology that drew our attention away from each other and Him. We cleaned out our house of music and films that contained filthy language, premarital sex, etc. We withdrew from all social media. We turned off our house Wi-Fi, only keeping the internet on our phones. And we removed ourselves from others who were a negative influence on our marriage and in our lives. This may seem extreme to many, but it brought such peace that we could hear God better and focus on each other.
- Understand the enemy will try to attack and derail your journey to healing –
Don’t let the enemy’s attacks invade your mind, causing you to have negative feelings toward your spouse.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:8-9
For example, I stood for my marriage. I wanted my husband. I loved my husband, but in the thick of severe attacks, the times when I would be exhausted from trying to make it work, or after a disagreement with my husband, I would journal that I hated him.
I hated what he had done to me and done to our marriage. I begged God to release me and allow me to find someone who hadn’t hurt me so badly. If my husband had read my journal that day, he probably would have given up and left again, thinking there was no hope. However, I didn’t feel that way most days. Most days, I’d look him in the eyes and thank him for coming back home. Most days, I’d love him with all the strength I could and choose to fight for us.
On the flip side was my husband, who had chosen to obey God and come back home. He knew this was what he should do and what he wanted to do. He may not have returned out of love for me at first but out of obedience. He also faced attacks from Satan. One morning, he woke with constant thoughts of the other woman. He, too, journaled how much he missed her and wanted to be with her. He struggled with a desire to leave me again and even suggested it might be best if he left again. About a week later, I found his journal entry throwing me into a tailspin of more doubt and mistrust (Doesn’t Satan just love the twisted cycles he throws us in?) By this time, though, my husband no longer felt the same as he had that day. He explained that he wanted to stay and fight for our marriage and that the journal entry was just a moment of struggle and attack. He was right, and we kept moving forward.
Don’t assume the emotions and thoughts felt under Satan’s attacks are how the person truly feels. Stay the course and remember how fragile you both are. Show grace and mercy toward each other’s struggles and imperfections. Separate yourselves from the world to get back what you’ve lost. Maintain the mindset that your marriage is permanent. God put you together originally and has placed you back together. Believe God knows what He’s doing. Restoration is challenging at times, but it’s not impossible. All that pain won’t be in vain. And one day, soon, you’ll look up and find it’s not as hard.
Jennifer in Mississippi