Listen more than you talk. I promised myself I would be patient. I would not force the issue, but that in time the conversation would develop into something mature, exploring topics that had been avoided, and eventually becoming an opening for questions and answers that could be shared without fear of criticism or arguing. Somehow that never happened.
What are three things that I do that you really like?
I like that your a tireless, dedicated individual who when given a task will always put forth the best effort. That your love for family has grown with your walk with The Lord. That you find joy in simple things.
I am weak. I am confused. But through His word I am given direction. Because I've been down this path before with my wife, I am strengthened and find peace by reading these books that have opened my heart to seeking the rewards God has promised.
I remember during my first divorce from her I would walk round and round through my neighborhood, calling out to family and friends, waiting for someone to give me balance to make it through. Until the next event that swept my foundation, then I would do this cry out again. Over and over. At times it seemed daily. Who wants to live that way?
This time I have turned everything over to The Lord. I desire to be wiser, not through the words of man, but in the truth of His love. Listen. "If I believe it's truth, I will be set free."-John. 8:32. I find myself available to God and seeking His transformation of my life. "It brings me stability during the storms of my life."-Matthew 7:24-27. I don't walk around in circles anymore. When I talk to my family and friends, I am empowered to share His word and revel in how It is making blessed changes in my life. My hurt is less, and my joy is greater.
Your Identity. Your Center. Your Headquarters. In my reverse study, what a statement to lay my foundation to life. "The heart of man reflects man." Proverbs 23:7. When I moved out to Stockton, I think I was an okay guy. I was ambitious and creative, but that all took a back seat to my overwhelming passion for this woman. As my heart represents my center, I am so thankful that The Lord gave her to me. Like the line a movie, "(she)you make me want to be a better man." Every area of my life has been impacted by her. Because of her, I am grateful ever more to God because I believe He placed her in my life to bring out my gifts. Though she and I are going onto different paths, my children, those I have worked with, both young and old, this community, we are all recipients from the talents our Lord, my savior has molded into this man I am today.
The Love Dare says it's foolish, it's unreliable, and it's corrupt. Here I stop to pray, Lord, thank you for shielding my heart. Amen. I have loved my wife to the best that I know how. I will always honor our coffee time, our long walks, the quiet movies. These moments give me strength that my God gave me a wonderful gift in my wife. This divorce is not a weakness of my heart, a fickle emotion. No. I have made a lifelong commitment that reaches beyond this worldly set of feelings and emotions.
I honor God's gift by not letting circumstances change my love for Him and therefore her. Though my shield is not strong enough for two, I will fight the good fight. I will not excuse myself from God's will for my life just because the heart is selfish. "Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to The Lord our God." 1 Kings 8:61
I moved here in 1998. I believed my heart was guiding me to fully pursue a relationship with to be wife. Love led to truth, and truth to kindness. As a young believer in Jesus Christ, I thought a premarriage class would armor me against the world. As I continued my awkward walk with The Lord, I think I could have been stronger. Yet He still put dreams to fulfill, and the skills and abilities to develop for His glory. I may not have always put Him first, which I see as a reason for some of my early misguided perceptions of marriage. I think of how I lost her love in these early struggles and have spent every minute since working my way back to her. I will continue to seek her forgiveness, but am comforted knowing that The Lord my God has put His hand upon me. He will step in and fulfill the good desires of my heart.
"You have been given the power by God to take your heart off one thing and to set it on something else." Words from the end of the Love Dare. As I read in reverse I reflect on what I've learned about myself. In my marriage did I ever really know what love was? I was married to the most beautiful woman in the world. She would warm my heart with a slight touch, her generous laugh, or this smile that was both playful and sensual. But was that love? "...our hearts are so subject to change and so utterly untrustworthy, the Scriptures communicate a much stronger message than "follow your heart". I convinced myself that my feeling, that warmth that she provided for me, was enough to validate love. I have struggled mightily to maintain this condition, even as the touches, the laughter, and now the smile have drifted away. In my weakness I have prayed for forgiveness for those things that took her love from me. In this time I believe that God has opened my eyes to a different viewpoint of love. "Give me your heart, my son, and let your eyes delight in my ways." Proverbs 23:26. Is it that I gave so much control of my heart to her that I didn't see the full picture of what He has planned? As I come to know His love I better appreciate the warmth that comes from His gifts: my beautiful children, the wonderful people I've been able to associate with at work, the opportunities that have suddenly become available. In the darkness, His light directs me to love.
The Love Dare ends with this question. My investments lead my heart. What is its value? I feel as though I have poured myself fully into this relationship. I promised to honor her even in the face of continual rejection. Some have said this makes me a fool. However, It's not a question of love. It's about valuing what is right. Investing on setting my heart to her is not enough. I must raise that bar to the mighty expectations of The Lord. It's under His guard that I will find the return for my investments. Though I pray that I would be strong enough to protect both of our hearts and our family's, I know that it is in these moments of weakness and sadness, that when I turn to Him, I get an increase in value.
Through these trials I have held to a few books that have helped me stay grounded to God's purpose. I highly recommend them to any individual who is struggling in love and relationships. First, read Boundries. Then, I contrast and bounce between Dr James Dobson's Love Must Be Tough and The Love Dare. As a resource I have found a few books analyzing Love Languages. These are staples in my life library and in many ways has intertwined itself to my life journey. I will quote from them regularly. As I grow I ask The Lord to continue to bring wisdom in its many forms.