Leading up to leaving or taking a break from RMI, my wife Jodi and I started to encounter some old problems and some new ones. Whereas we had overcome one set of obstacles previously, new ones came up. We had divisions about how we spend money; how are we parent-and especially step-parenting; and the return of old friends.
So, for a while, from May 2015, we had a church-brokered separation. Despite that, my wife constantly complained that I was controlling her, and desiring her own peace and space. In my world, I was starting to see my wife’s old friends come back into her life most of whom were non-Christians; and it seemed to me that my wife was going back to an old lifestyle. In addition, how we used money completely divided us. We got to a point where we could not even pray-together because my prayer time is very fixed, whereas my wife is more free-flowing with a prayer and devotional time. So it seemed that asking my wife to pray with me was almost forcing her.
I kept on writing the monthly newsletters for RMI knowing that this was a test and I really had to live out what I had been writing to you about. I kept on asking the Lord, to crying out to Him, asking Him to help me push through this.
Towards the Christmas of 2015, I moved back home, for about two months, but there was a lot of pressure again with how we dealt with money, especially because we went down to one income. A lot of things came to light about my stepdaughter and what she had been up to. My stepdaughter openly declared that she did not like my wife’s decision to work on our marriage several times. My wife felt she had to provide for her a place she wanted to be. It was a very tumultuous time because she being about 16 years old, we found ourselves in a constant state of having set boundaries being pushed. I constantly contended that she was slowly going into the world and setting a bad example for the two younger ones. My wife did not like that. My role as a stepparent is vastly different to being a parent, so I had many limitations on what I could do apart from pray.
In February 2016, my wife said she wanted another separation. So I felt I would be hypocritical if I kept talking about marriage restoration to you, whilst our testimony was eroding. So I chose to take a break from ministering to you.
Completely crushed, feeling very betrayed, very discarded, I engaged in a lot of doubt, not seeing God’s plan. I had felt very foolish with my wife with the return of her old friends (some male), but despite that I really wanted our marriage to work. Once again, I was faced with the fact that my wife didn’t want just a separation, she wanted a divorce. However, the same repetitive dreams about staying married that I had previously in past years experienced, started to come again. Whilst apart, I got the courage to write my wife a letter and send it in the mail about not giving up on our marriage. When she received it, she sent back a very harsh and crushing reply about moving on; and the determination to get a divorce once and for all.
Despite believing in marriage restoration and I did not think God would do it again, I felt that we had blown our only chance to make this restored marriage work: we’d wasted all the chances and perhaps it was best for a divorce. However, the dreams where Jodi and I remained married would not stop. So I continued to pray for my marriage, sometimes very forcefully (laying out all my emotions before the Lord) really crying out. My wife and I hardly spoke for about three months and then speaking between us resumed at her request. We had a meeting in which we attempted to convince me to pay for the divorce (as I was working and she was not). Because I was having repetitive dreams about my marriage working out, and I felt the ending it would be disobedient to the Lord (He speaks to us in dreams- Job 33:15). So I said I could not pay for the divorce. My wife was more shocked than angry. She had somehow expected me to agree easily. Then it seemed she did not know what to do.
Dear brother I want to focus on what happened plus how I reacted which was sometimes very poor. I want to highlight to you but despite my flaws and my shortcomings, I felt the grace of God constantly reaching out, constantly calling back, constantly reassuring. In fact, in 2016 my biggest lesson was that His grace is not measured out for you dear brother. Today, the grace for you and your marriage is not a slice of cake on a slab, or a glass of water poured out for you out from a bottle that will get finished. When Jesus says He’s a spring of living water, he means exactly that. Grace is a river, it’s refreshing, renewing, strong, constant and continually calling us back to Him. I said “yes”—will you?
John 4: 13-15
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Patrick is our Men’s Minister, thankful to have such an amazing man of God to share Words of Encouragement with our men.