My friend, *Marjorie, feels misunderstood. . . because she has been.
She fought for her marriage for years, privately holding back the scenes and hurts that no one else saw. On the outside he looked like the perfect guy. The perfect Christian. The perfect dad.
Marjorie winced when she was reminded of how lucky she was, but inwardly she prayed.
God, let Him become the person everyone thinks he is.
Her godly counselor advised her to set healthy boundaries to protect the hearts of her children, and that of her own.
He resisted those boundaries. His behavior spiraled and he blamed her.
If only you supported me more.
If only you were different, I’d love you more.
When the reality is that she fell to her knees every day. She tried to love him while hating the decisions that affected their marriage and family so deeply. She never pretended that she had all the answers, or that there weren’t areas God was working in her, too.
Then one day he left.
That’s when the hard part started.
Friends called with well-meaning advice.
If you’ll spice up the marriage. After all, 15 years is a long time.
Maybe you need to meet his needs better. Speak his love language. Let him know how much you love him.
Her in-law family confronted her.
We always knew he married down.
If you had done/been/said something different, he wouldn’t have left.
Someone in the ministry, who she respected, questioned her faith.
Maybe if you prayed more. Believed more. Tried harder.
Neighbors talked about the perfect marriage gone sour.
All she ever wanted was God. She trusted Him. She stayed in her marriage long after the feelings subsided, always hoping for a miracle.
In her hardest hour, she just wanted to be seen for who she really was. She wanted people to quit talking and just love her and her children.
It’s hard to be judged when you’ve tried to do the right thing while another chooses to do wrong.
It might even make you want to isolate — just hide away until the pointing fingers stop.
It might make you want to walk away from church. You want all of God, but you’re more than a little angry at God’s people.
So, what do you do?
Don’t confuse God with people
He sees your heart. It’s not the time (it’s never the time) to walk away from a God who loves you like crazy. You need Him. He reaches for you.
Did God care about Marjorie’s marriage? Yes. Did He hear her prayers? Yes. That never stopped.
Does God grieve over the secret and, later, very public choice of divorce that her husband made? Yes, because He loves Him too. He wooed him from the cross, just as He has all of us. That unconditional love will not go away, for God grieves over the broken.
Don’t give up on people
You may choose not to surround yourself with negative people (not a bad choice), but don’t choose to push away all people.
Surround yourself with those who love you. Not “yes” people, but those who see you and will be truthful with you, layered with grace and encouragement.
Live the truth
Live out who you are, not what people say you are. Don’t let someone else’s false assumptions become your truth.
Marjorie knew she was a good mom. She knew that she loved Jesus with all of her heart. She knew that she worked for years to salvage her marriage.
She also knew that, for her children’s sake, her husband’s private and hurtful choices would not be made public just to make her look better.
When people let you down, speak the truth but understand that you can’t change another person’s mind. You can’t fix them. You aren’t responsible to change their behavior, nor are you big enough.
And if you are the one pointing the finger?
You have no idea what this person has walked through in secret.
You don’t know how many times she fell to her knees crying out for help.
You don’t know how hard it is to hold your head up when you’ve done nothing wrong, but accusations fall on your ears like stones.
You don’t know what it’s like to do the right thing to protect the little ones in your life, only to be judged.
What an opportunity for mercy. What an opportunity to pray for her. What an opportunity to “do to one another what you want done for you” when she needs it most.
The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness is a powerful, yet gentle resource to help you live free when people let you down.
Suzie speaks with the warmth of a friend and the wisdom of a sage to one of our common struggles—forgiveness. Offering down-to-earth help built on a deep scriptural foundation, she reveals a many-layered truth that forgiveness isn’t the one-size-fits all proposition we’ve so often accepted. I feel relief and joy in realizing that God fully acknowledges the difficulties of forgiveness while still holding it up as the healing tonic against bitterness and debilitating anger.
Amy Carroll, Proverbs 31 Ministries Speaker
Also, I’m linking up with Kelly Balarie today on Purposeful Faith where she shares how to take bad self-talk to a Good God. (It’s so good.)