Pray for those who Despitefully Use you.

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I am very confused about my marriage sees my husband raped me when we were dating and I became pregnant. My parents literally forced me to marry him, I wasn’t brave enough to tell my parents what had happened and now after 4 yrs of marriage we constantly fight about everything. I hold a very strong resentment towards him. I feel like I hate him sometimes.

Signed,
Confused in CA

I would pray and talk with my pastor or another trusted elder in my local church body. It does sound like you shouldn’t have married him, and I suspect such situations are why Catholics permit annulments. I’m not sure about the laws on that, you might want to seek legal advice. If you were forced into the marriage, and really didn’t consent to this, maybe you could go that route. I wouldn’t look at leaving until I’d done some serious soul-searching with God. Start with confessing to Him your own guilt in this, not telling your parents the truth if nothing else, and asking Him what He would have you to do. You might have to fast to get an answer, but He always answers honest seekers.

Don’t forget to pray for your husband, too, God has been known to change people and it’ll help you forgive him. Hard to hold onto pain and anger when you’re praying for the person who caused it. Unforgiveness hurts you more than it does anyone else. Even if God does release you, that could carry over into a new relationship and continue hurting you.

Love In Christ,
Andrea

Idolatry: the Relationship Killer

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I’m only using excerpts from this letter for brevity and to maintain the writer’s privacy. The woman referenced was a long-time girlfriend.

Phil: Sometimes I feel that God is punishing me for something I’ve done by taking the most important thing away from me. After all, I have been spending a lot of time with her, and not as much time with Him.

God should be the “most important thing” in your life. Anything else that is “most important” is an idol. In his own words, God is “a jealous God.” He wants the top shelf in your heart and he has been known to take away things that we put before Him.

Phil: Basically, I think maybe she left me because we spent literally almost 24 hours a day together for the past year, and neither one of us have many friends outside of each other.

I hate to say it, but your instincts are probably right here. If you think you were smothering her, the odds are you were.

Phil: I really want her back, but I don’t know what to do right now.

Have you heard the saying, if you love someone, let them go, if they ever were really yours, they’ll come back again? Back up. Let her go and give it all to God. It sounds like you got too close too fast. Release the relationship to God, tell Him everything you told me, and everything you were too ashamed to tell me, if there was anything. He already knows, so he won’t be surprised.

Casting down idols isn’t easy and when we’ve made a person an idol, it’s as bad for that relationship as it is with God. Putting a person in God’s place puts a burden on them they weren’t designed to carry. The inevitable result is crash and burn.

It sounds like you have a lot of pain and trust issues built up that you need to get resolved before you’ll be ready for marriage. You may want to make an appointment with your pastor to work these issues out, he should be able to direct you (if he’s worth his stuffing.)

I think I should also mention I don’t believe in “dating around,” as she mentioned. The greatest romance of our lives should be with our spouse. The focus for singles should be, in terms of human relationships, on friendship. Romantic relationships should be reserved for exploring the possiblities of marriage in the immediate future. Guard your heart, you want to keep as much of it as possible for the woman you’ll marry someday. Before marriage, the best way you can show love is giving out as little of it as possible, if you catch my drift.

Right now, make new friends, get God back where he belongs, release your past hurts and relationships to him, and give him your future, too. God’s not a dating service, but he does want to help you figure out who he wants you to spend the rest of your life with.

It’s not going to be easy. This will all take spending a lot of time on your knees in prayer. And you’re probably going to need a lot more guidance than I can provide, so again, I urge you to talk to your pastor or another person over you in the Lord in your local body.

In Christ,
Andrea

Confronting Clergy is Sometimes Necessary

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Confidential to Debbie:

You have two options from where I’m sitting: confront him or just find a different church. The truth will hurt, I guarantee that, but as Jesus said, the truth will make you free. Granted, changing churches is a whole lot easier than facing a clergyman that may not be willing to be honest (been there, done that.) If you don’t talk to him and tell him why you’re leaving, though, you take away the opportunity for him to learn and you allow the same situation to develop again with another woman.

Regardless, it does sound like it’s time to find a new church. I don’t think he’s in a position to shepherd you right now. Keep praying. You do need to put space between you, but again, you really should tell him why. I understand how painful it is, but what he does with the truth is his responsiblity, not yours. As your pastor, he is in a position of authority and bares some responsiblity for what happens within his flock. You need to give him a chance to change any behavior patterns on his part that may have caused your problems.

If you do talk to him, don’t accuse him of anything, just speak the truth in love letting him know how his behavior has effected you. Unless he’s an accomplished actor, his response will answer the question even if it’s true and he tries to deny it.

If there is any risk of harm to yourself, don’t confront him alone. Consider having both spouses present. If you only take yours, he will feel ganged up on. If your spouse is out of the question, take a trusted friend with you.

In Christ,
Andrea

Hope Ye in the Lord and Renew Your Strength

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Andrea,*
My husband has never taken responsibility for his own actions. Somehow he figures out a way to blame me for everything… During quiet times I try and show him how his actions are affecting his kids, he flew into a rage… He told me that its my fault he does this stuff. Andrea, How do you deal with this kind of sickness? I pray for him. He blames God for our finances, his work, our relationship. Is there help for a person like this or should I give up… Andrea, I am real tired.PS we did the whole counseling thing, when the doctor would disagree with him he would fly in to a rage and storm out of the office. ….Let me tell you it is really exhausting. I am getting real tired. I am a good mom. No one can tell me different, not even him.

Thanks for any help.
Tired Mom

**modified for length and to protect the writer’s privacy.

Dear Tired,

The first thing to give up is any attempts to change him. God can, but you can’t. There’s nothing you, a professional counselor, or I can do to make him take responsiblity for his behavior. I’ve found our attempts to change our men (there’s always something, even in healthy relationships) tend to backfire. All we can do is give them to God and take responsiblity for ourselves. Be prepared for that, when we wear out the carpet seeking God for help in our marriages, in my experience, God will deal with our spouses, but in responding to us, he will focus on what *we* need to change. When we’re getting torn down by our partners, we’re often too busy defending ourselves to take an honest inventory.

Don’t let him make you the victim. To begin with that means stop letting him make you defend yourself, take a breath, and strive to grow. I’ve found, Spiritually-speaking, that is the greatest danger to you. Physically, on the otherhand… when you married him, it was until death do you part, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay in a situation where you or your children are being hurt, so ask God if he would have you stay or leave. In abusive situations, remarrying is where I draw the line, that’s only biblical in cases of adultery, or as Paul said, if an unbelieving spouse divorces you.

If you think what I said about remarrying is harsh, take it up with Jesus, he was the one that called it adultery. (Which means if you do leave and he remarries, he’s even deeper in the spiritual stew, but you’re off the hook)

That said, the feeling I get is what you really need right now is a break. A christian woman’s retreat would give you the breather you need and help ground you spiritually. Take a look at your budget and see what you can afford.

Also, take stock of yourself spiritually. Are you in church? You need to surround yourself with women strong in the faith who can lift you up in prayer, as well as your husband. Taking off for a weekend (or longer if you can arrange it) with christian women you can trust could work wonders, too. It can be tough to do with children, but it’ll be worth it.

If you can’t, you also need to find a way to put at least 15 minutes aside (preferably closer to an hour if feasible) every day to get alone with God and let Him refresh your Spirit through prayer and His word. A devotional can help, too, both for it’s commentary and in choosing bible reading.

This is a case where the saying, “Let go and let God” is so true. If something new comes up, first calm down, pray, then talk to him once (sometimes in writing works best.) After that, leave it to God.

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Philipians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

We’ll be praying for you.

Love In Christ,
Andrea