I just returned from a wonderful weeklong work/rest trip to Aruba. I had the awesome privilege of speaking at New Life Church on Friday and Sunday. I also keynoted an all-day Saturday seminar for Family First Foundation of Aruba, an organization with a mission to strengthen families for a prosperous Aruba. There is an astounding 90% divorce rate in this tiny island of beauty and brokenness. Leaders from many venues gathered together to learn how to help people have healthier relationships.
For fun we rode for several hours through Aruba’s north side on an ATV (got filthy dirty). Another day we went snorkeling and took a banana boat ride – and I was the first to fall off. I know now I am too old for that. A big thank you to De Palm Tours who gave us complimentary tickets for these lovely excursions. I also sat in the sunshine, soaked up plenty of beauty, read great some great books. I feel refreshed and restored.
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 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 blinded 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 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.