Complicated, fruitful and blended

It’s not a vanilla post today.

My friends, this week a multitude of chances to demonstrate the fruit of the spirit will present themselves. I know it, you know it.
The message this morning at church focused on the fruit of the spirit. I sat there and I realised that our complicated life – his and mine, is a massive opportunity to witness for Christ and grow in faith and in fruitfulness.

Our weeks are rarely easy ones. And I continue to grapple with, and battle against, my desire for ease, my desire for right, justice and perfection.
Marriage, people have said, is an amazing opportunity for God to refine you – and it is. Remarriage has been an amazing opportunity for God to further refine.
For a number of reasons remarriage has given both of us an extra set of antagonists.

I know that there are people who don’t believe that either he or I should have married again. I know that there are a small number who would look at the complexities and difficulties that we face and suggest that we face these challenges because we are not in line with God’s plan for families. The suggestion might be made that we are paying the price for our disobedience. Honestly, who among us are perfectly in line with God’s plan? There’s only One who could have ever claimed to be doing that and it cost Him His life. None of us if we are honest can say we live entirely in line with God’s plan. At the same time we’d be foolish to say the only reason we face difficulty in our life is because of sin or disobedience. In fact I believe that rarely that is the case, we face difficulties to remind us that without God we are nothing, without His spirit within us we will fail over and over again and in my case He patiently waits for me to learn the bliss of trusting and allowing the Spirit to rule me and my actions, and reign unrestrained, uncontested and unlimited in my life. Why else would James tell us to count it all joy when you fall into various trials?

I believe completely that in our remarriage God has given us a chance to exhibit the redemptive power of God in broken lives. He is doing this daily for him, me and our children.
I believe that He has given us a chance at something new … yes, it is difficult at times and no, it’s not perfect, yes, our marriage and family life reminds us daily that we are broken people but who among you can not say the same of yours.
I have been told a number of things, that have not been helpful to me or us, I’ve read a book or two that seem to directly contradict the words of Jesus in Matthew.
People wax quite lyrical when the topic of divorce is raised, I say topic because I think that’s what people view it as and it’s much easier to debate about as a topic than an event. Rarely do these lyrics carry a tone of understanding, grace or mercy. Some of you may have heard or even said – “God hates divorce”, yes I get that. As a person who has been through it, I believe my understanding might actually be more complete than even you can imagine. There are other things He hates:

A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.

“Blended families aren’t God’s plan for families”, believe me if anyone knows that, it is us. But thank you for your understanding!

If you do have the opportunity to speak to those who have had this experience, it would perhaps, be good to remember that you are speaking to people who have suffered betrayal, disloyalty, hurt and pain like nothing you have experienced. They need to be treated with gentleness. Their children need to be treated with the same gentleness, possibly even more. If there was ever a generation for us to reserve our harsh words, judgments, criticisms and thoughts about divorce and blended families, this is the generation. You only increase the hurt and harm of these little ones when you judge the parent/s they love, when you judge the people they love.
People have said things to our children which I’m sure serve only to confuse them in their already addled minds.
“Your parents will always be one in God’s eyes”. Umm no they won’t, they should have been but someone broke that bond in pursing fulfilment outside of the marriage.
Yes, we each have a “soul tie” as someone eloquently put it to me the other day, in our children but … honestly folks, the two being one bond was broken – resoundingly.
What should not happen, did happen. To suggest that we are then permanently bound to a person who broke the bond, and then go one step further and suggest that God requires that we remain alone then for the rest of our lives because of the sins of others, is a long way from grace, a long way from mercy, it does not give us hope for redemption but curses us to a life of bondage. To communicate to the children that the marriage they see played out day to day is not what God wants, is hurtful to them and to us. Especially when our one aim and desire in our marriage is for Him to be central and for Him to be glorified.
To say as a prominent writer says that our bond is an abomination is something that reduced this woman to floods of tears – not tears of repentance either as he would suggest. Tears of shock that one so prominent could have the audacity to discount the exception clause in Matthew as “I don’t believe that it what Jesus meant.”
To say, as I have heard, that I would be “divinely, termed a harlot” because I have married another!! Horrifying.
This is not the God I love and serve, this is not the God who loves, this is not the God who demands justice.
Now don’t get me wrong this doesn’t account for all that we’ve heard over our three years of marriage, some of you have been massively kind and so happy for us. We may have nearly broken the internet the day we announced our engagement. What we have received from you has on the whole been overwhelming support, kindness and generosity.
Words of life and love.

This morning we heard those words again, incredibly refreshing to hear from the lips of a fellow Christian, and in all honesty that is what has driven me to write today. Some of the words I have written above have been festering for a long time, years. I have forgiven the speakers of them. But I have carried the words with me, I have let them play over and over in my heart, I have repeated them when I have been low, I have let them limit me and reduce me to less than He wants me to be.
The words I heard today were these; “What a blessing for you both that you found each other.”
That’s it – that’s the way we feel about it. My life is infinitely richer because of the man who is in it. A man I can promise you God brought me to, and to whom I was brought.
My son’s life is infinitely better because of the man who is the father figure in our home.
I would not be writing were it not for the encouragement of this man. My son wouldn’t have learnt to ride a bike if it wasn’t for this man. My son would not have the dog, the nice man, the sister, the brother or the house with steps that he prayed for if it wasn’t for God choosing to answer that prayer.
What we have in our marriage is a testament to our God being able to bring good out of bad, to our God planning something for our good that others designed for our hurt, to our God being the one who is prepared to give people a second chance, to that fact that we as believers we are recipients of a new covenant, to the fact that He can heal the broken hearted, that He can set captives free, that He can heal, restore, renew and give life where death once was. God has blessed us in many different ways through the situation that we are in. He has as his word promises “placed the lonely in families”.

I’m not for one minute suggesting that everyone needs to experience divorce and remarriage in order to understand redemption. I’m not for one minute suggesting that this is the only way what we could develop the fruit of the spirit. I’m also not suggesting that this is the only way we could have been refined. I am saying that this is what God has chosen for us.

I’m going to try this week to be more conscious of the opportunities I’m presented with that the Spirit wants to use to shine through me. Opportunities that I would never have been given were it not for the complexities of our life.
Opportunities to show:

Love
Joy
Peace
Patience
Kindness
Goodness
Gentleness
Faithfulness
Self-control

And yes, some of the people who say silly things to us – are actually benefiting from the work of the spirit in my heart and mind and mouth. 🙂

For those of you who are going through this horrible journey at the moment – there is hope, there is healing, there is love and life in the One. For those of you who maybe, would be classified as the transgressor, the same is true for you. There is always forgiveness, there is always redemption available. For those of you who know people in the middle of it – they need your words of love and comfort. They know that God hates divorce and they know why. They need to know that God loves them, your job is to show them.

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