How could they have gotten here?
Kara dropped onto the nearby chair, tears slowly dripping off her chin. Plunk. Plunk.
Through breaks in her brain fog, she caught glimpses of joy, good times with Brian. But then, her recent discovery of porn on his computer negated those happy memories.
How could he? Why? What had she done or not done?
Kara felt adrift with no lifeline. She couldn’t look at Brian these days. Nor did she believe a word he said. She felt isolated. Alone. Scared. Confused. She felt disconnected and discarded.
Her marriage was falling to pieces, but what could she do?
If you relate to Kara, as I do, please read on. There is a safe place to run and hide, someone who feels your pain, understands it, and provides hope and healing.
That person is Jesus, the God-Man.
How do you cling to God when your marriage is falling to pieces?
Take a deep breath.
When you first discover the betrayal, whatever it is, you can’t breathe. I remember feeling like an elephant sat on my chest. Each breath felt heavier than the last. My heart raced with the shallow breathing. In Psalm 34, God tells us.
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
With each struggling breath, call out to God. Often the only way you can do that in a crisis is to cry “Jesus” repeatedly. That’s okay. God hears that cry. He meets you where you are. I sat on the bed, whispering Jesus’ name over and over in those initial moments until I could slow down my breath. You can too.
Acknowledge your pain.
Tell God what’s happening in your heart and mind right now. Admit the level of pain to yourself. God won’t reject you because you’re hurt. He’ll reach toward you because He understands what’s happened. His heart breaks over the destruction betrayal brings to a relationship. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus tells you to bring all your burdens to Him. He’ll shoulder them and give you rest.
While your mind races to solve the crisis, allow your soul to reach toward God in quick prayers like, “God help me,” “I don’t know what to do here,” “It hurts!” and anything else. As you pray, the Bible tells us the Holy Spirit intercedes for us as well. You don’t have to be coherent. I know I wasn’t. I felt like I was imploding and exploding simultaneously. But God heard my desperate calls for help and met me right there.
Sounds contrary to what you think you should be doing, right? I’ve discovered that the best thing I can do in a crisis is get quiet before God. It’s not what I want to do. Sometimes the adrenaline pumping through my body won’t let me get quiet. But quiet doesn’t mean no physical activity. I’ve paced and talked with God until I felt my soul quiet down. You know that place—where you can slow your thoughts long enough to listen?
Psalm 46 says,
God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear when earthquakes come
and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam.
Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!
“Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”
Spend time reading the Bible.
How do you know God’s heart if you don’t know Him? Listening to podcasts, sermons, radio programs, speakers, and such can be helpful. However, to know God as He is, it’s imperative to read the Bible.
As I recovered from my suicidal depression and Dave’s porn addiction, I spent precious time with God this way. I needed to know what He had to say about my life. Looking back through my journals during that time, I see verse after verse where God revealed Himself to me. For several months, I spent time reading the Psalms. I discovered the authenticity of the psalmists during their pain. I learned how those writers who questioned God’s actions ended up praising Him toward the end of the Psalm. This understanding gave me the freedom to be brutally honest with God.
My faith grew as God, and I hashed out many problems in my life. I learned to praise God more in the crisis. Before this, I thought I understood God pretty well. But that wasn’t true. I read passages in the Bible as if I’d never read them before (even though I knew I had). The Holy Spirit seemed to shine a light on specific verses or phrases, which I’d pause and study longer.
Rehearse God’s attributes.
To calm the mind even further, say out loud who God is. What has He done for you up until now? Here are some thoughts to get you started
- Our Provider: Genesis 22:14
- The God Who Sees You: Genesis 16:14
- The Almighty One: Genesis 17:1
- Faithful and True: Revelation 3:14; 19:11
- Defender of widows: Psalm 68:5
- Never changes: James 1:17
- Redeemer: Job 19:25
- Strong: Proverbs 23:11
- The Beginning and The End: Revelation 1:8; 22:13
- Living Water: John 7:37-38
- As you repeat who God is, you discover peace. There were many times in my recovery when all I could do was recite God’s attributes. Nothing made sense, but I reminded myself I wasn’t alone in this crisis by reciting His attributes. He was present with me. Not far away but as near as my breath.
Get your thoughts down on paper where you can look at them and process each one. In our current society, we get bombarded with over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. Yikes. What a staggering statistic. While our God-created brains accomplish amazing feats every day, that amount of information is mind-boggling.
We need the opportunity to process data, reject that which isn’t for our good, and quiet the noise. Journaling helps you do that. Part of my “being still” each day involves journaling, where I record my thoughts about what is happening in my life, my conversations with God, my frustrations and aspirations, my questions and concerns, ideas, or questions about what I read in the Bible that day, and prayer requests for others I know and love. I ask God to give me guidance and insight into each one. I often grab my journal, find a quiet spot, and start writing when a crisis comes. The physical act of writing with a pen and paper helps me tune out the distractions and pour out the noise in my head. In those times, I write until there aren’t any more words. I don’t worry about making sense, grammar, sentence structure, or creativity. I pour out the commotion in my head.
God tells us to ask Him. See how He words it in Proverbs 2:
Tune your ears to wisdom,
and concentrate on understanding.
Cry out for insight,
and ask for understanding.
Search for them as you would for silver;
seek them like hidden treasures.
If you’re new to journaling or you’re not sure how to use this tool to communicate with God in your crisis, please download this free resource here.
Neglect your calendar.
In a crisis, you need time to deal with the matter at hand. During the discovery period, nothing else matters but to get a grip on the situation. If you have a day full of meetings, reschedule them. Give yourself the gift of time to process with God. You can’t get quiet (#3) and maintain a hectic schedule.
When Dave and I started our intensive counseling, our counselor advised us to cancel everything else in our life until we finished the counseling. Brilliant advice that we did heed, thankfully. We needed that time to process the enormity of our situation and to spend time with God individually.
About a year earlier, in another crisis, I left work to deal with the problem. It was the best thing I did. As I drove home, I cried out to God about the pain. Upon arriving home, I continued to wrestle with God about what was happening. That process went on until I found some measure of peace. The crisis wasn’t over, but I’d worked through the emotions to a healthy place.
How do you cling to God when your marriage is falling to pieces?
Run to Him. Use some or all these options to help you find God in your marriage crisis. He’s there always because He promised He would be. He’s THE only one who never changes or runs away.
Still not sure you can find God in your marriage crisis?
Or perhaps you need assurance you’re on the right track toward healing? Please reach out. I promise to listen well, encourage, point you to Jesus, pray for you, and help you discover your next step. Let’s talk.