tending the garden

Posted: August 7th, 2012 | Filed under: life | Tags: , | 12 Comments »

I read a blog a few years ago that was from a lady who abandoned a second marriage to return to her first. She said that it is what would honor God the most.

As I write that, I still have the same feeling I did when I read it originally. Like someone got some wires crossed and was using God to do what she wanted. I think that if she realized she made a mistake and still loved her first husband, she should have just said that. She ended up sending a message of condemnation to every person who has ever been married before that the only way to please God was to do as she was preparing to do.

How did she, in a committed marriage, find the certainty that her former husband would take her back? I’m only guessing, so that means that I am moving from her personal story into the territory of “what if” and there is no truth regarding this woman from here out. I don’t know her name, her story, or her heart, so do not think that my guesses are about her, specifically.

A person could find out that her previous husband would take her back if she were stepping outside of her current marriage to find out. That is, cheating again. A person who ended one marriage to begin another is clearly wrong. However, I know that God can take our selfish sins and create something new. I know that He can and does bless second, third, or whatever, marriages. I’ve seen it and experienced it. It’s not without consequences, those are to be expected, but God can and does shower grace and mercy on those who don’t deserve it. Go figure.

I think that the bigger problem is that people are so unsure of grace that they still think they have to make sacrifices to earn it. Maybe a person who is in a second, or third, or whatever, marriage is afraid that God has not forgiven the selfishness and/or mistakes that got them there, so they think they need to backtrack to find Him. Thinking that grace is reserved for only a pocket of existence, people will accumulate damage and rip up new growth, trying to fix their lives into that pocket.

The sad thing is, sometimes they go back to their vomit and think it will be different this time. “Maybe,” they think, “God will love me more now.”

I learned a lot from my own sin. Immediately after, I learned about myself. I am a deceitful person who would spit on my own friendships for the sake of selfishness. That’s debilitating knowledge, of which I could not rise above. Not too long after that, I learned that Jesus would get just as dirty as the sinner to save her. He has no problem being lumped with me. That was life giving knowledge. Over the years, I learned that my selfishness was unnecessary and purely my own doing. That’s practical and useful knowledge.

I have been given another chance. I have been given the ground to do things differently, to apply my lessons and renew my perspective in such a way that would have shielded me from the traps that ruined my first marriage. If I had known then, what I now know about marriage and grace, I would not have had an affair. My fences are further out and much higher. They get stronger, even still.

There is a garden of grace where ashes of sin once smoldered. The interesting thing about burning out a plot of land is that it burns out the weeds, too. You can plant and mark new flowers and recognize the weeds as they try to grow in. It’s a big do-over even if you or I don’t deserve one. Like flowers pushing up through volcanic ash, or a field growing through the remnants of a torched house. Life pushes through death and eventually swallows it up completely.

This “forgiven much loves much.” I tend the garden born of ashes.

vf


12 Comments »


12 Comments on “tending the garden”

  1. 1 Jeremy said at 9:46 am on August 7th, 2012:

    Serena,

    I think it's really easy for us to invent some sort of "God Reasoning" for why we make some decisions…when the truth is, sometimes we make certain choices simply because that's what we want to do. But non of us want to sound that selfish, right?

    You know, when my second marriage ended I actually had people talk to me about trying to start a relationship with my wife from my first marriage since she was still single. These individuals were actually trying to feed me "God Reasoning" themselves. When I told them I just wasn't interested in a relationship with her I got looked at like I was a totally selfish freak. It left me wondering sometimes if I was doing something wrong for wanting to just live single for awhile, you know? But in the end I feel like I've learned it truly is better to be honest about these things…whether we're right or wrong with our choices there is always something to be learned…there is always something God can reveal to us.

    I hope all this makes sense…I feel like it may be confusing…
    My recent post the heart of the matter….

  2. 2 serenawoods said at 12:15 pm on August 7th, 2012:

    "But none of us want to sound that selfish, right?" Yes!

    What you wrote does make sense. I think that people can be pressured into lying, just so they can look the part. What's worse? Looking "right" and living a lie, or looking like a failure, but living honestly?

    If Satan is the father of lies, then is he the father of a life built on lies?

  3. 3 Jeremy said at 3:52 pm on August 7th, 2012:

    Wow, you ask some really good questions here, Serena. I know for me living a lie is just not something I'm wanting to do. I'm not going to start a relationship up with my first wife just to look like I'm being "Godly" or to appease a few individuals that want what they consider to be an "awesome" story to tell others.

    Do I think God could restore an amazing relationship with my first wife if I decided to reconcile with her? Yes, totally I believe He could do that. But here's the thing…I still choose not to reconcile with her. So how does that make me look now? Honestly, I can't say…I just know that for me the desire to be with her in a relationship is not something I want…and yes, I still believe God has amazing things for me in the future even though I'm not doing the "popular" thing or what some would consider the "righteous" thing.

    I totally believe Satan is the father of lies…but I also believe that we can give him too much credit sometimes. As long as Jesus gives us free will, we will always have the ability to make choices for ourselves. And whether they be a good or bad choice, we're still responsible. I think sometimes we have to take in consideration that WE have built our own life around our own lies…for me, sometimes Satan is a cop-out for we Christians.
    My recent post the heart of the matter….

  4. 4 serenawoods said at 10:14 pm on August 7th, 2012:

    This reminds me of something a friend said to me a few years back. She would admit that her life was a mess, so I feel okay telling you that, oh yes, her life was messy. I loved her, though. And it was easy to love her. She hit a low point, got cited for drunk driving and had to stay the night in jail. It was a first for her, but indicative of the path her life was on. She went to a small church shortly after, gave her testimony, got "saved", and then the weird stuff started happening.

    I don't remember details, but she described the people at this church as being ultra territorial of her "story". Like her conversion was a trophy for their church. She wasn't even sure this is the church she wanted to attend, and ultimately didn't. Probably because of the way they were creeping her out. They started using her as an example and getting really personal, trying to make sure she was living up to it in a way they deemed would make a better "story." She lasted about three Sunday's and decided that a different church was better for her and her daughter. They still attend, here it is years later, and nobody is putting their personal stock in her success or failure. She gets fed and challenged and is constantly pointed to God.

    I think that people need to put more trust in God and the gentle way He leads His lambs, and not in their ability to disciple. This isn't a pyramid scheme where the more people you get under you, the richer and higher up you get. It's the Gospel and our worth is found in the unmeasurable grace of Jesus.

  5. 5 Jeremy said at 9:07 am on August 8th, 2012:

    Thank you for sharing this story and your thoughts. I agree with you, Serena, our worth IS found in the grace of, Jesus.

    Thank you for hearing me out…it means a lot.
    My recent post the heart of the matter….

  6. 6 Karan said at 5:39 am on August 8th, 2012:

    I find it interesting that when Jesus zeroes in on a sin, he simply states "go and sin no more." When religious people zone in on sin, its usually back-track and clean it up. God doesn't need my help or need me as his PR person, he just wants my love and trust. Thank you for these well-timed words of grace. I often struggle with the "what ifs" that the enemy uses to taunt me, and God has used your words to drive him back.

  7. 7 Karan said at 5:40 am on August 8th, 2012:

    This is the second part of my comment, sorry its so long!
    I also find it interesting that no matter what side of the fence you fall on where divorce is concerned (whether you were unfaithful or someone was unfaithful to you), the enemy is relentless in his pursuit to steal, kill, and destroy. No matter the side of the fence, the enemy is busy doing the same thing: heaping guilt and condemnation onto an already wounded soul. Even now, years later and I am in a wonderful marriage, I still feel shame and feel like I am wearing a scarlet letter "D." Very few believers want to get dirty by helping you, for fear that they may look like they "approve" of divorce. Approval isn't the issue, but bearing someone's burden is. Thank you for making mine lighter today.
    In His grace alone,
    Karan

  8. 8 serenawoods said at 8:54 am on August 8th, 2012:

    I know what you mean. I know a lot of people who deal with that.

    Sometimes I wonder how much of my own stigma is affecting my perspective and how much of it is actual disapproval from others. It's like a 14-year-old with a big nose thinks everybody is staring at her big nose. An overweight woman thinks everybody is disgusted by her fat. A balding man feels like a spotlight is illuminating his shiny spot. Sometimes these people are right, people are seeing what they're insecure about. But what kind of person does that? You know? People we would dismiss as jerks immediately, that's who.

    I say, give them the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise. Then know it's not about you, it's about them.

  9. 9 Jeremy said at 9:24 am on August 8th, 2012:

    I can totally relate to what you're saying here, Karan. I've been on both sides of adultery. When I finally confessed my affair during my first marriage I lost my position at the church (which I understand) and was asked to leave. Leaders within the church paid for me to see a counselor for a month…but they never called to see how I was doing…honestly there was no attempt made by anyone in the church to show they cared.

    To this day I can count on my hands the number of people from that church who offered me any kind of love or support. I understand there are consequences one must face in these situations…but after having been cheated on in my second marriage and experiencing the love and support I've received from my new church during that very painful time…I'm more certain than ever that we as Christians are not doing enough to support those that screw up…and especially those that have affairs.

    I'm trying to change this reality…but I'm only one person…but I am so glad there are so many others starting to help out. God is good!
    My recent post the heart of the matter….

  10. 10 Karan said at 5:48 am on August 9th, 2012:

    Thanks to you both for replying. Serena, you are so right – I need to give people the benefit of the doubt, after all, that's what I want people to do for me! Jeremy, I am trying very hard to help those people that other's do no want to help. I am trying to walk alongside other people with messy lives (who acknowledge the mess – all our lives are messy), no matter why the mess. I have found, too, that "victims" get plenty of help, and rightfully so. But everyone needs a helping hand, a burden bearer, a face that looks at them with love instead of condemnation.
    But today, my challenge is to give everyone I come in contact with the benefit of the doubt. Can't wait to see how things change when my perspective changes!
    Thanks again!!!

  11. 11 Garden Gates said at 1:45 am on November 2nd, 2012:

    Thank you for these well-timed words of grace. I often struggle with the "what ifs" that the enemy uses to taunt me, and God has used your words to drive him back.Good job!!
    Garden Gates

  12. 12 Robert Brown said at 10:19 pm on July 5th, 2013:

    I discovered a lot from my own sin. Right after, I discovered about myself. I am a fake individual who would throw on my own relationships for the benefit of self-centeredness. That is devastating information, of which I could not increase above. Not a lengthy time after that, I discovered that Christ would get just as unclean as the sinner to preserve her.


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