Pitfalls in Restoration

Pro 27:12 NLT – A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

RMM has launched a new weekly devotional focused toward encouraging newly restored couples. The early days of restoration is a difficult time. I’ve been reminiscing lately about our time spent there. Looking back, I see now there were things that seemed to cause undue pain. I want to share them here, to help others try to avoid our same mistakes.

  1. Successful restoration requires understanding each other. Be prepared that you, as a stander, will need consolation and affirmation after being rejected by your prodigal. It is hopeful to receive this from them once they choose to come back home. HOWEVER, they are full of questions themselves and get attacked constantly from the enemy with guilt and condemnation from where they’ve been. They struggle so much, they just CANNOT give more than they have to soothe you. Understand this and seek your balm from Christ alone. Only God can edify you during this very painful, raw stage. 
  2. We found outside influences effected our marriage and our personal walks with the Lord. The Lord started leading us to disconnect from people, media, and technology that drew our attention away from each other and Him. We cleaned out our house of music and films that contained filthy language, premarital sex, etc. We withdrew from all social media. We turned off our house WiFi, only keeping internet on our phones. And we removed ourselves from others who were a negative influence on our marriage and in our lives. This may seem extreme to many, but it brought such peace, that we were able to hear God better and focus on each other.
  3. Keep in mind, too, that extreme emotions Satan attacks with are not to be taken as the general feeling of each spouse. Here’s two examples of what I mean:
    1. I stood for my marriage. I wanted my husband. I loved my husband, but in the thick of severe attacks, times when I would be exhausted from trying to make it work, or after a disagreement with my husband, I would journal that I hated him. I hated what he had done to me and done to our marriage. I begged God to release me and allow me to find someone who hadn’t hurt me so badly. If my husband had read my journal that day, he probably would have given up and left again, thinking there was no hope. However, I didn’t feel that way most days. Most days I’d look him in the eyes and thank him for coming back home. Most days I’d love him with all the strength I could and choose to fight for us. 
    2. On the flip side was my husband who had chosen to obey God and come back home. He knew this was what he should do and what he wanted to do. He may not have returned out of love for me at first, but the obedience was there. Well, he also suffered extreme attacks from Satan…obviously. One morning, he woke with constant thoughts of the other woman. He, too, journaled how much he missed her and wanted to be with her. He struggled with wanting to leave me again, and even suggested it might be best if he left again. About a week later, I found his journal entry throwing me into a tailspin of more doubt and mistrust, (Doesn’t Satan just love the twisted cycles he throws us in?) By this time, though, my husband no longer felt the same as he had that day. He explained that he did want to stay and fight for our marriage, that the journal entry was just a moment of struggle and attack. He was right, and we kept moving forward. 

All that to say: Don’t assume the emotions and thoughts felt under Satan’s attacks are how the person truly feels. Stay the course and remember how fragile you both are. Show grace and mercy toward each other’s struggles and imperfections. Separate yourselves from the world to get back what you’ve lost. Maintain the mindset that your marriage is permanent. God put you together originally and has placed you back together. Believe God knows what He’s doing. Restoration is unbelievably painful and hard, but it’s not impossible. All that pain won’t be in vain. And one day, in the near future, you’ll look up and find it’s not as hard.

Pain in Restoration

Isaiah 58:12 (NLT) Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.

I sliced my finger deeply months ago. A few weeks after the initial injury, the outside wound healed back together, but still felt weird on the inside as if it wasn’t healing to what it was prior to injury. All of a sudden, months later it became painful to the touch. I researched pain in scars and discovered that pain can occur as nerves regenerate and reconnect. I worried that the pain would remain permanently, even praying that it wouldn’t. After a few days, the pain subsided to more like sensitivity, and now it doesn’t hurt at all. I can finally say it feels normal as before the accident. It’s been a long process for such a small wound to heal, but it makes the best example. Restoration is just like this wound. Although, the prodigal has returned home and the marriage is back together on the surface – there’s much more to heal hidden underneath that requires a lot more time. HOWEVER, there is regeneration. There is reconnection. It’s just a more delicate process, and there’s gonna be pain in the healing.

God had to show me that restoration was not the end of what I’d been hoping, praying, and waiting for…it was the beginning of the work He was gonna do in us together! That perspective helped me wait expectantly for the changes I wanted to see in my prodigal, rather than get angry for the changes to not have already taken place. We, as standers, must realize that God reveals truth to the prodigal the same as he does for us…in layers. It will take time for the prodigal to realize all that he/she came from out of the Far Country. They were deceived to think another person could be this dream come true, and it takes time to realize it was actually sin and wrong in so many ways.

There were so many times, even after standing for my marriage and my husband coming back home, I begged for God to release me from the marriage, because I was so hurt and devastated by it all. I couldn’t understand why God didn’t bring my husband back as some radically changed man. I look back now in my journals and at my marriage the way it is now, years later, and see how it’s been a process of rebuilding. The breakdown of our marriage was a stripping away. The early days of restoration was the beginning of a rebuilding process. God tried to show me many times, but I was so raw with emotions going in every direction, I couldn’t catch on. BUT we pushed through and took baby steps everyday. God was repairing the breaches, at the same time Satan was still trying to destroy them! Marriage restoration is just like the Israelites in the days of Nehemiah (4:16-18) trying to rebuild the destroyed wall of their city. They were trying to build, while their enemy tried to tear it down. So the Bible tells us they would build with one hand and carry a weapon in the other! That’s what you and your spouse MUST do!

The enemy will attack you both with low self-esteem, doubt, insecurities, mistrust, extreme emotions, and fear. These will come like a flood and threaten all the progress that’s made, but you combat it with prayer, the word of God, the promises He gave you, worship, journaling, zipping lips, patience, perseverance, and cutting out the world’s negative influences. These are the weapons we use to fight the enemy, Satan, not our spouse!

I look back over those days written in my journal and can see where we’ve been. God was right. It was the beginning. We aren’t the same people we were when we first married. Thankfully, we aren’t the same people we were when we came back together. Our marriage now is what we always dreamt it could be. Just like my sliced finger, the pain will subside. Regeneration will happen. You will reconnect with your spouse. And one day, it will be stronger and better than it was before!