Hebrews 13:1 – Let brotherly love continue. (NKJV)
Full of heartache, a friend wrote me and asked for my advice. It was a long letter, and my intent here is not to make his situation public, but simply to use the very common points of his distress to present some general Christian advice for all. Here are the lowlights:
- After a long, troubled and unhappy marriage, the wife filed for divorce, marriage over
- Note: I don’t know why they divorced, and so I’m not going to address divorce and remarriage in this answer. This particular post is not about that, or about issues of any children involved or legal matters.
- The husband has become fixated on a new relationship that has many difficulties
- He admits at the end of his note that he is not involved in any Christian fellowship or activity
My general response:
My friend, you “know” me well enough to know I will give you the answer the Lord leads me to give, whether or not it feels good or is what YOU want. I assume that it why you wrote me.
About half way through your letter, the question kept running through my mind over and over, “Does he have a Christian family?” By family I mean a steady group of other Christians with whom you regularly fellowship, pray, study and serve. This kept flashing through my mind like a lighthouse beacon.
When I got the end of your note, that thought was confirmed when you wrote “I have not been in fellowship with other Christians”. I believe this was the Lord leading me to the most important part of my advice.
Another Relationship Is Not the Answer
Decades of painful history with a woman (your ex-wife) is not going to be “fixed” by another quick relationship, especially an extremely difficult one. You feel you “need” someone to love and love you back. The idea of rescuing this new woman by caring for her many needs appeals to your sense of wanting a purpose in life, for someone to love you back for what you do and who you are.
Helping someone in desperate need is a good desire under the right circumstances but this is not it. Right now another relationship has the appeal of making all your pain go away and “fixing” all the brokenness. It will not. It will be like a shot of emotional morphine but soon it will wear off and the pain will return because you are not healing the original source of it.
What you need most is to find a group (friends, church) of committed, Bible practicing, serious Christians to belong to, fellowship with and befriend.
- 1 Peter 3:8 – Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; (NKJV)
- Hebrews 13:1 – Let brotherly love continue. (NKJV)
- John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (NKJV)
- 1 Thessalonians 4:9 – But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; (NKJV)
- Romans 12:10 – Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; (NKJV)
I give you those verses to show you that the kind of love and acceptance you long for can be found in the relationships you have with other Christians, not hopping from marriage to marriage hoping to get it right. You need to diligently begin to build relationships with other Christians.
Not only that, you need to actively seek out ways to SERVE them and invest in their lives. By serving, you build love and relationship which is what your heart longs for, and thinks this other relationship will fulfill.
Given what you have told me, you need to commit to a time (a year? 2?) of not pursuing, seeking or looking out for a romantic relationship with a woman. You need healthy friendship-based relationships of love, caring and service that are developed through investing time and sacrificially serving others.
Help some widows. Volunteer to help kids. Get involved at church. Find some neighbors who could use your help. Visit the nursing home. Look for needs to fulfill. Let your new Christian friends know what you have been through and that you need some fellowship and activities to start filling up your life rather than spending hours on end thinking about how nice a “new woman” would feel.
Joel 2:25 & 27 (NKJV) “So I will restore to you the years… …I am the Lord your God And there is no other….”
The Lord can, and will, restore the broken years. I’m living proof but you must let go of your effort to get love and acceptance through trying to rescue this other woman or pursuing a replacement for your painful broken first marrage hoping you will feel loved, appreciated and needed in return.
You need to find these things in healthy relationships with Christian friends and fellowship before seeking marriage.