Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thy Compassions, They Fail Not

Our friend Sarah shared with us in her chapter and video blog on Body Image that she really didn’t want to write that chapter and would’ve preferred to skip right over it. I can relate as it pertains to this current topic on Love and Dating. I’ve been attempting for a while to find the right thing to blog about for tonight but, truth be told, I’d rather crawl under a rock or clean the grout in the floor than say anything on love and dating. 
I’m probably the poster child for what you don’t want to do...

I started serving God for real at the age of 20. Prior to then, my “track record” was far from pure.  I didn’t care about consequences. I did whatever I wanted with whomever I wanted. I was angry, rebellious, and was all about me. My heart got harder and harder and I cared about people less and less. Thankfully, I had an encounter with Jesus at a pivotal time of my life and He redirected my path.   

At the age of 25, after prayer and counsel, I married someone who I truly loved. I had a simple but beautiful wedding where the presence of God showed up. An answer to a prayer I’d prayed as a baby Christian, before even dating, that when I got married, people would see Jesus. The theme of my wedding was the faithfulness of God. Songs like “Great is Thy Faithfulness” (which was my favorite hymn) and “He’s Been Faithful” were sung and my wedding favors were little stones in organza bags with verses from Joshua 4 inside – representing holy memorials as I crossed over into a promised land. Except it ended up being a wilderness.

Not very long after that covenant day, in what should have still been honeymoon bliss, I learned that my husband no longer wanted to serve the Lord. His choice to walk away from the faith led to a series of decisions and consequences that ultimately resulted in our divorce. The details are irrelevant because the reality is, whenever anyone chooses to walk from the grace of God, we are all capable of doing anything. If not for the grace of God, who knows where I’d be right now. Thankfully, he has embraced God’s grace again. Still, the pain I experienced in that season was something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Though it was sometimes hard to hear “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” God remained good and faithful and brought me through that rough patch. And a few years later, an opportunity presented itself for me to be in a new relationship. However, that opportunity was not from God. Though I had red flags initially, I moved ahead because nothing appeared wrong. In fact, everything seemed to be right. And no one else around me who I sought advice from had the red flags I did so I wrote it off as fear and anxiety about dating again after my divorce… only to walk into an enormous disaster. Thankfully, God removed that person from life shortly after I was engaged and He rescued me from what would have been a living nightmare. I rejoice every time I think about it. 

Though the pain and shame of being divorced {as a Christian} was heavy, I can honestly say that I thank God for allowing me to go through that dark season. Was it His perfect will? Probably not. Had I known what I know now, I am sure I would have approached it all differently. But I honestly have no regrets. In a time where I was unloved by my earthly husband, I experienced the love of God, my heavenly Husband, in the most powerful way. I look back and see how His grace was poured out in abundance and it made me who I am today.

As for the other one, it was a lesson learned. A lesson to go with my gut aka what God was trying to show me. No lie, that was a horrible time of my life, in some ways worse than my divorce. The pain at times seemed unbearable but God continually made Himself real to me. He was so compassionate and so comforting. He truly poured out His love and grace to me time and time again, allowing me to grow, heal, and forgive.

I share all of this with you for a few reasons… First, I do not want anyone to have to go through what I went through. It was straight up anguish. Secondly, to emphasize the wisdom in a book like Stress Point that presents such though-provoking scenarios and prudent questions related to this topic (and just life in general as a young adult). It may not be comfortable to tackle some of the stuff in this Stress Point study but, as you reflect and open your heart to the Holy Spirit, it may be the very thing that prevents a catastrophe from occurring and paves the way for blessing.

Now, I can’t go back and change my past. I can’t live under condemnation for my mistakes or the mistakes of others. But what I can do, with my crazy testimony, is share these tidbits with you so you don’t end up with the heartbreak and depression that I dwelled in so many years of my life. I’ve surrendered the “why’s” and “what if’s” and have embraced God’s Sovereignty in these situations but I also know that, though God does work all things together for good, a lot of what I went through was not His perfect will for my life. And I know that it is possible too for people to live pure and holy and to avoid such emotional destruction by simply worshiping and waiting at the throne of the King and living according to the Truth of the Word of God. I’ve seen it first hand in people close to me.

So, if I was the poster child of what not to do in love and dating, that’s okay. Because if my suffering can be a part of your blessing, 
then it was all worth it.  

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. - 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

And, by the way, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” is still my favorite hymn. 
God took away the sting of that old memory and replaced it with new reality: His faithfulness is even greater now. It gets greater and greater. 
I pray that if you have not experienced God's faithfulness, that you would come to know it today. He is faithful.


Mom said...

Dear Jenn the best day are ahead and great is our Lord's faithfulness!!!!

Sarah said...

I love this! <3 And I love you!

Wilma M. said...

Blessings all min with ten thousand beside......thank you Lord.

Thanks Jen for sharing this. Encourages my heart today.

Rick Ringle said...

You are loved by many Jenn.

alifewelldone said...

This might be my favorite post from you, even though your testimony is not one I can directly relate to. Your writing is exquisite friend. Glad you did this study.

Betty said...

I wanted to shout Jen after reading your post. The lessons God teaches us through our mistakes, others mistakes, are something He never wants to waste. Anguish is for a season and out of it has flowed your ministry. It has soften your heart for others, given you wisdom from the Lord and courage to act upon His will for you. God would love for all of His children to not make mistakes or walk in the world and a day will come when it will be so. But not here on this earth...we battle the world, flesh and the devil until He shouts to take us home. Take courage my sister and continue to be a learner.

Jennifer Roth said...

Wow. Thank you all for your encouraging words. You have no idea how much that means to me. God has been faithful and He is the One who brought me through those crazy seasons. I am so blessed to know that others can be encouraged by what He did in me (and continues to do). Love to you all, friends. :)

Anonymous said...

Awesome!! Excellent and wonderful word!