I just returned from a long travel schedule from Nashville and Ancaster, Canada. Thanks for your prayers. I leave again Thursday for Akron, Ohio and am speaking Saturday all day on relationships, healthy, and unhealthy for women. I would love to meet you. Click here for more details.
Next week I head to New Jersey to speak one last time before I take a much-needed vacation. Continue to pray for safety and impact. I love speaking about these topics but getting tired of all the travel.
Thanks for all your prayers for me. They are deeply appreciated.
Today’s Question: Some of the friends that my ex-husband and I had together in the church left the church where he attends and joined together with our pastor to form a new reformed church. My ex, however, still goes on backpacking trips with them. These friends know that he was abusive in our marriage and they also know that he refused to cooperate in seeking counseling for possible reconciliation. They also know that he hurt me deeply.
I am working to forgive these people for “associating” with an unrepentant abusive man. I do hope that he will gain something from being among them; however, I cannot help but think that in his self-centered mind, this is a victory for him.
I am working to just let God handle it but I have moments when I feel betrayed to some degree. How do I steer away from thinking that this is really not right? Should I distance myself from this new church or learn how to accept that they may never know the depth of what I experienced and they are just not equipped spiritually to know how to handle this situation. I know they love both of us.
Answer: Let’s start with the fact that you know your friends love both of you and go from there because if you know that’s true, then you know they are not going backpacking with your husband to take sides or to intentionally hurt you. It might be he has invited himself to go with them and they don’t know how to graciously tell him no. It is also true that they might not be equipped to know how to handle this situation. However, they might have tried to handle it as best they knew how and your husband remains blind to his own sinfulness.
When a couple divorces, especially when there has been a betrayal of trust or abuse and there is no repentance, it is natural for the injured spouse to want their friends and family to take their side. We want them to bear witness to the reality of our betrayal and the sinfulness and injustice of the situation. It hurts when it seems to us as if they are acting like it’s not a big deal anymore or that both sides were equally at fault.
You asked how to steer yourself away from obsessing about the injustice of it all. Excellent question because steer away you must. Please don’t allow yourself one more moment’s angst whether your ex considers backpacking with church friends a victory for him. You don’t know what he’s thinking. But when you continue to link your well being to him or his thoughts about things, you still give him the power to torment and hurt you. Don’t do it.
I’m so glad you recognize that it’s important to forgive your friends for associating with your unrepentant abusive ex-husband. Have you considered the possibility that your husband is not only unrepentant, but he is not even a Christian? Perhaps your friends realize that despite what he professes, his actions do not reflect the heart of someone who knows God.
For example, the Bible says, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in darkness.” (1 John 2:9). “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are. Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” (1 John 3:10). “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20).
Your church friends may see these backpacking excursions as “neutral” ground to have deeper conversations with your spouse about his relationship with God precisely because of their awareness of his abusive relationship with you.
The apostle Paul does tell us to distant ourselves from unrepentant believers, but not from unbelievers – for if we did that, how would we influence or share with them the gospel of Christ? (1 Corinthians 5:9-11). Could it be that your friends want to be a light to him and to continue to have opportunities to bring him to the truth?
I want you to remember an important truth to steer your thought life towards truth. Our perception determines our reality. When you view your friend’s backpacking with your ex-husband as something they do as friends and they are not thinking or caring how deeply it wounds you for them to associate with him after he has treated you abusively, you will be tempted to feel hurt and betrayed. However, if you look at it from a slightly different angle – that your friends feel compelled to continue to have opportunities in a “non church” venues to speak truth to your husband with the hopes of helping him see himself more clearly, then you might feel differently about what they are doing and it might not hurt as much.
Finally friend, please work hard to take your eyes off your ex, and off your mutual friends. They love you but they will disappoint you at times.
When we look for justice or fairness in the kingdom of this world, we often are let down, but when we fix our eyes on Christ, the knower of all, the guardian of our souls, the keeper of our heart, then we can let go and trust Him to breathe new life into the broken places. Click To Tweet
Your ex-husband trashed your marriage, ravished your spirit through his abusive attitudes and actions, please do not allow your understandable hurt, anger, or unforgiveness rob you of one more minute of your life.
Trust God as you work hard to rebuild your own life and make some new friends. That will take enough of your strength and energy. Don’t waste any more mental or emotional energy on what they’re doing or not doing.
Friends, what have you done to refocus your thinking when you’re stuck in hurt or anger over what your friends have or have not done to support you?