It felt as if I had entered a privileged, sacred moment and that I did not belong. I watched as this big, strong young man got onto his knees in the counseling room. He crawled over to his wife. The tears were running down his cheeks and with sincere apology and repentance, in body and in voice, he begged her for forgiveness; for the infidelity, for not putting her first, for not loving her like she deserved.
She wasn’t expecting this brokenness. She had never seen it. She looked up at me as she held his head on her lap. Panic and fear filled her voice and she asked “How do I know if this is real?”
It’s almost easier to deal with someone who is not repentant. It hurts but it’s pretty much cut and dry. But what about when your spouse commits to change and is truly repentant? I will say this with boldness: all broken marriages can be reconciled through true and sincere repentance.
All people can be sorry but not all people are repentant. How do you know if repentance is real?
- Behavior changes. A person who is sorry and wants to change does. A truly repentant person does not go back to the old way of doing things.
- There are no more secrets. No passwords, computer, whereabouts are off limit to the spouse. Nothing. Trust is rebuilt by being open about everything.
- Repentance is evident every day. It looks like this: Kindness always. Kindness no matter what. Kindness with patience.
Saying the words “what do you need me to do?” to your spouse and living the answer out. (Come on, wounded spouse, the request must be doable and legal! )
- Patience and Love prevails. It takes a while to rebuild. A repentant person will patiently and lovingly continue in 1-4 indefinitely. No time limits. Not from a “have to” mentality but a “want to” mentality. Patience and love describe good relationships.
- A repentant spouse will be open to wise counseling. Couples counseling is usually very important in order to rebuild. It helps figure out what happened and how to prevent it. Often wounds are deep and can cause skewed perceptions. A trusted third party can gently walk people through the process of healing.
[pullquote type=”right”]God the Father is the glue that holds a marriage together. [/pullquote]I recently heard the words “children are the glue that hold a marriage together”. I disagree. God the Father is the glue that holds a marriage together. It is God who gives us the handbook for successful relationships, for instruction on how to forgive, what it takes to be a loving, kind and patient partner. He sets the standard for unconditional love and reconciliation. He shows us how and it is God who gives us the ability to do what is required. God through Jesus set the example as this: He is slow to wrath, He separates the person from the sin, His only condition is faithfulness and even then the door is always open for repentance, He is long suffering and so very patient. He is forgiving and kind. He is an amazing model to his bride, the church.
One of the most beautiful verses in Scripture is Isaiah 61, verse 3: To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. It’s a prophecy which tells us why Jesus will come to earth. Then in Luke 4, Jesus himself quoted from Isaiah 61 and said “This day is the Scripture fulfilled…” One of the reasons the Messiah came is to create beauty from ashes! How is it even possible for anything beautiful to come from ashes?? Well, a destroyed and completely broken marriage can become whole, loving and functional again. It’s a promise and it comes through true repentance which lays the foundation for true forgiveness. That is beauty at its best!