There is a deep ache in my heart over couples whose wedding I officiated, that did not finish the race they so ardently began. They were parted not by death as they vowed before me, but by what is known as irreconcilable differences. Isn’t it true, that people have turned away from following Christ for the same perceived reason? I.E. The relationship has lost the chemistry it once had and recovery attempts have been unsuccessful.
Exhilaration & Hope
Growing a friendship on the front end is exhilarating. When I knew that Anne was the one I wanted to marry, the celebration in my heart was a catalyst to know her on a deeper level. It was like swimming downstream with the current. We both were committed Christ followers and bringing glory to His name was our utmost priority. I felt immovable, unshakable, in my focus.
Our personalities complemented one another, the ways we differed being kind of cute and humorous. Once married, living together put lots more on our plates, opportunities to grow in understanding and acceptance. You may have heard it said, Before marriage, opposites attract; after marriage, opposites attack. In all fairness, it is a giant leap, going from dating, to living together in a covenant bond.
In the dating phase you have times apart, to prepare for the next encounter. In marriage, it’s pretty much game on all the time. Keeping the heart in a state of readiness, one that will respond with grace and patience, must be established in the secret place with God and refreshed time and again. This is every person’s mandate for walking in love, single or married.
Reconciling My Own Heart
In reality, that which enables irreconcilable differences to live up to it’s name and reputation in our culture, is often the failure to reconcile something within one’s own self. The majority of Christian couples that call it quits, only to move on in search of someone else, carry within them an estranged heart. Not only is there a divorcing of the spouse, but often a breach God-ward as well.
In other words, the deconstructing process between two covenant partners will often send a tremor of realignment into our commitment to Christ. Yes we still love and follow Him, but oftentimes a distance creeps in.
In our first book, Longing for Eden, I discuss the challenges of remarriage after divorce. In the chapter entitled “Unequally Yoked”, I cite these points to consider. (paraphrased for our context)
First, hidden issues in your own heart, have likely burrowed deeper and grown even stronger, going underground in the divorce battle. They will surface with a vengeance when triggered. Jesus is unrelenting in His desire to transform us. You WILL be presented with your stuff AGAIN.
Secondly, in throwing off the marriage yoke, certain aspects of Christ’s yoke were also removed. Many will compromise in their assignment from God while navigating the chaos of the marriage break-up. God is determined to reclaim His portion; His gifts and callings on one’s life being irrevocable. Your new spouse will need much grace to understand this process. Your “realignment” with God might make you a different person, one that he or she didn’t anticipate.
Deepening your marriage friendship requires a forward focus that will never entertain options of separation or divorce. We must remain immune to the enemy’s propaganda, running rampant in our culture. The deception is, “You always have options if this doesn’t work out.”
It’s a slippery slope to a shallow friendship.
A balancing point here: There are divorce situations where a spouse has no choice but to leave, due to cruelty, abuse, or desertion. If that’s you, and you have sought to carry your heart before God to the best of your ability, with accountable relationships as a healthy boundary, I commend you.
Reflecting back over forty years of ministry, I have met with many couples: pondering divorce, going through a divorce, or trying to recover after a divorce. In every situation, my main mission is to connect the person’s heart to Christ in a way that will give fresh perspective.
When a couples’ gaze has become fixed on each other and not the Lord, everything seems to sink to the lowest place.
One question that I pose to couples who have come to the end of their rope and say they’ve tried everything, is this: Have you reconciled your own heart with God? Is there any area of your heart that you are withholding from Him? Are there irreconcilable differences with Jesus?