I wrote a blog a few weeks ago on the issue of Erasing People From Our Lives. But I just didn’t feel settled that I had covered all that I needed to say on this matter. So, I want to revisit this issue once again. I want to add a few more points that need to be voiced.
This is especially important to bring up during the Christmas and holiday season. That is because although the songs say, “this is the happiest time of the year” that’s not true for a lot of spouses and families. Sadly, it’s a time of clashes, upsets, and a lot of separations.
Over the years, we have literally received hundreds of emails, and comments posted on this web site from spouses that are experiencing the pain of being “erased” in some way by their spouse. They are being treated as if they no longer exist. It’s heart-breaking to read and hear the stories of the “erased” person. Behind each story is a mountain of pain buried within and rivers of tears being shed.
Now, let me first give a disclaimer here. I realize we are only hearing one side of the story. There may be a different “truth” than we are being told, which definitely can change things. When it comes to abuse or addiction issues, it’s sometimes necessary to push the other person away (for at least a determined period of time) to see if changes can be made in the abusive behavior. But I’m not talking abuse, addiction, or safety issues here. I’m talking about non-abusive spouses that truly WANT to reconcile with their marriage “partner” to work through the problems. These are spouses who would do almost anything to have a “do-over.” But they are not given the chance any longer.
It may be that the spouse who experienced the erasing suddenly had an “ah-hah” moment of revelation as far as the problems they have contributed to the relationship. They’re asking for the chance to build relationship bridges of reconciliation. Or it may be that the erased spouse feels they’re in a “sucker-punch” situation. They may never have seen the break coming. It could be that the other spouse has “found someone else” and is building a new life apart from them. There are other scenarios that bring this push away, as well, that are too numerous to go into. But whatever the situation, the heartache is enormous.
To make my point, the following is a portion of something one spouse wrote on this issue. It’s a case where the whole family is in the place of feeling erased. What follows is absolute confusion as to “why” this is happening.
This husband wrote:
“My children were 18 and 21 when my wife left 4 months ago. It was summertime, when both of us were at home. It was several weeks before our 18-year-old was to start college. Our 21-year-old was about to start commuting to a local college after a disastrous year at a residential college (he has learning disabilities, and still lives with me).
“My wife gave me three hours notice of her plans to divorce. She spent only 15 minutes telling the kids what her plans were before she left town to live with her family. It was supposedly to never return to our home or the home area, where our kids grew up.
“These theoretical adults (I’ve learned even more so in the time since my wife left that college kids are still kids) were both devastated. I told them that the problem was between me and her, and had nothing to do with them. But that did little good…”
Sad, so, so, sad. From this point on, their lives will be changed forever. Here’s a similar testimony from another husband who is experiencing this erasing.
“I’m sure you hear from men like me all the time. My wife and I are currently separated (married since 2007) and I believe I’m totally at fault. I was never a caring loving husband throughout our relationship and marriage. I just didn’t know how to express my feelings or show love like that. It was me who left (2012). I did this after my wife wrote me a letter stating that she didn’t feel like I was into our marriage. My pride and ego told me that I would be okay by myself. So FOOLISH! I truly was blinded by my own selfishness and ego.
“3 months after I left it hit me in the face that what I was doing was totally incorrect. I went to a random church and they were preaching on Ephesians 5:22-33. It was just for me. I truly wish I had opened my Bible and listened to GOD on how I should have been treating my wife all this time.
He then wrote:
“Now she wants nothing more to do with me. She used to love me soooo much. It pains me dearly to think of the hurt and anguish I caused her. I ask for your prayers. Please pray for my wife, me, and our marriage. I want nothing more than one last chance to be the head of our household. It is my desire to be the man and husband GOD created me to be. I know nothing is impossible for GOD and that marriage is His creation. But at times I just don’t know. This truly has been the hardest time in my life. I miss my wife dearly. Her indifference to me, and lack of communication is like a dagger in my heart, which I feel I put there myself.”
And then here are two others (among hundreds of heartbreaking ones) that make this point.
“A few weeks ago, my husband left me because he said he’s not happy. I tried convincing him that we can work things out and I could help him to find his happiness, as long as we’re together. But he is determined to leave and find his happiness. Until now, he’s not back yet. I found some things that may have caused his leaving, but I choose to believe in my husband. After everything I’ve done to save the marriage, I am praying and surrendering myself to God. God will do the rest, for if I can’t change my husband’s heart. I know God can change and lead him back to me.
In response to her comment, a husband writes:
“I totally understand what you are going through… the pain and hopelessness. My wife and I are separated almost 2 years now with no sign to reconcile on her part. I do almost everything to show her love and respect but nothing seems to matter to her anymore. We have 2 small children that I believe sacrifices should have been made for them. But it does not seem to matter to her about their happiness and being raised in a stable home and family. I pray for my marriage and family to be restored. The rest is left up to God to renew my wife heart.”
They are all feeling erased. Children involved don’t seem to change the direction this is headed. Repentant hearts don’t seem to matter. Even scripture doesn’t sway the spouse who seems to be “in charge” of pushing the other away. In Matthew 18:21-22 we’re told that Peter came up to Jesus. He said, “‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’”
It’s important for all of us to realize and live out the fact that forgiveness is important to God. Our being forgiven, and then us forgiving others, is important. But so is unity. I read something written by Bob Gass that makes that point concerning erasing. It’s something that I wish the “eraser” would consider. This quote can be found in the November 11th “Daily Devotional — The Word for You Today.”
The last prayer Jesus prayed before His crucifixion was that we would come together in unity. …So how can Christ’s prayer be answered and His people united? We can start by acknowledging that unity is God’s will and committing ourselves to work toward it. Next, we can learn as Paul teaches the principles of unity to the divided church at Rome:
(1) Unity demands that we don’t judge one another.
God alone is authorized to hand out verdicts. Even when you’re right, or you’re the more knowledgeable party, you still have no right to judge. Your job is to ‘make every effort to keep yourselves united in Spirit‘ (Ephesians 4:3 NLT) Discuss it with God, then trust His wisdom.
(2) Unity requires us to respect each other’s convictions.
The desire to make someone else over in your image is a form of idolatry and pride that destroys any possibility of unity. God reserves the right to raise His own children without your interference! He’ll mold and lead them where and when He decides, because He understands their needs and capabilities. So trust Him with His job, and do yours by loving and respecting others [including your spouse].
Yes, I realize that most often, there is a world of pain that went on before the erasing spouse got to his or her place. But the problem is that we forget how often God tells us to forgive “as we’ve been forgiven.” We fail to trust Him to work on the offender. We also forget the calling to “unity.” Plus, we forget that we serve the God of reconciliation.
Consider God’s Ways
Whether you are the erasing spouse or the spouse who is feeling erased, we need to consider what God feels about all of this. He knows what it is like to have others who want Him to go away. He knows what it is like to never be acknowledged or thought of again. But no matter how much we try to close our eyes and hearts to Him, He is who He is. He won’t be erased. If it isn’t happening already, there will come a day when our knee will bow (Romans 14:11).
What’s important is when we will bow our knee and our will to live in full acknowledgment of Him. It’s important to be a part of His plan in building His Kingdom, following His ways.
Life is Unfair
Lets face it, life on this side of heaven won’t usually go the way we want it to. And people don’t always act the way we think they should. But may we never forget how important it is for us to do our part in “the ministry of reconciliation.” We are to make “every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy.” This is because we are told that “without holiness no one will see the Lord.” We’re urged (in Hebrews 12:14-15) to “see to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” It DOES defile many, and hurt many who are innocent.
This is where I want to put in my plea. If you are the one who is erasing your spouse out of your life, please have mercy. Try to imagine what it would be like to be the one who is having this done to them. It is a horrible place to be, torturous. Even if your spouse didn’t show you mercy previously, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do as God does. He shows us to show mercy even to those who don’t deserve it. Please ask God to show you how you can participate with Him in the ministry of reconciliation.
Below are a few additional scriptures we should consider when we’re tempted to erase our spouse. May we never forget:
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ. God is making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 ESV
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit —just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call —one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Ephesians 4:1-6:24 ESV
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:1-13 ESV
“To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.” 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 ESV
If you are the one who is feeling erased, I realize the pain you are in. (We have close family members that have done this to us.) There is NOTHING that can describe this pain. It is heart-wretching, worse than anything you could ever describe. But eventually, you will need to get to the place where you have to find and create a “new normal.” I wrote a blog previously that might help you as you look to get to this place. Please consider reading:
This is my prayer for you… I pray it with all sincerity:
“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ to whom be the glory for ever and ever.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)
“May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ —to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.