on twisting God’s arm

Posted: November 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

I decided to twist God’s arm behind His back and force a blessing out of him when I was 18 years old.  I had been dating a guy for a couple of years.  There had been a good deal of romantic stuff, but there had also been quite a bit of chaos.  My parents didn’t approve of the relationship and had tried to express their concerns for my well-being.  They just don’t understand our love, I thought.  He and I had been fighting quite a bit – there had been way-past-curfew tearful discussions, and we had broken up, only to find our way back to one another.  We were sneaking and hiding to see one another.  I kept getting caught, but it never stopped me from the next sneak.

I had asked God for a sign – weather-related, actually – of His blessing on our relationship.  Make it rain tonight if we are to be together.  It didn’t rain.  In the midst of the torment came a positive pregnancy test.  This was my ace in the hole.  I hadn’t gotten there on purpose, but it opened a door for marriage.  I’ll marry him, and I’ll do it in a church, in God’s name, and He will HAVE to bless it.  That’s the decision I went with in the end.

That marriage did not make it.  I could focus here on the pain I experienced, but the truth is, I was just one of many who were hurt by my decision to try to force God’s hand, rather than follow His ways.  He got hurt too – for a long time after the divorce, I told myself what a great person I was – oh, not perfect, not blameless, but Really Very Good – and I focused on what I felt he had done wrong.  It wouldn’t be until much later, after I’d “worked the steps,” when I would start to really understand that he was no more to blame than I was.  Really not A BIT more.

A lot of other people got hurt, too.  The end of the marriage taught me that my marriage wasn’t only about me and him.  The pain of our divorce reached out and touched so many people.  Sure, the kids, maybe you’re thinking.  The kids were the biggest targets of that pain, but they were kind of just the tip of the iceberg.  The destruction of a marriage is the killing of a living thing, the undoing of a covenant, and it has far-reaching implications in the greater community.  This is why when I counseled the couple that I married last month, I was adamant in telling them:  this promise you are making is not just to one another.  You two are not the only people impacted by it.  You are making a promise to yourselves and each other, yes.  But also a promise to God…and a promise to your community.  It’s a holy thing you are doing here.  Don’t take it lightly.

Because of the depth and breadth of the pain I and so many others experienced in that passage, I approached my initial relationship with G in a whole other way.  There would be no more attempt to twist God’s arm behind His back or force a blessing from Him via a technicality.  God was in charge, I was not.  I reminded Him and myself of this daily.

I had a mental picture that I carried with me constantly that was both a prayer to God and an admonition to myself.  The picture was of my hand, extended, open, palm up.  Sitting on the palm of my hand was my world.  It’s Yours, God.  Do with it what you will.  When I would feel my emotions causing my fingers to curl around that world, my prayers would become fervent.  I’d step aside from life to focus on letting go.  My life is not mine.  It is Yours.  Your will be done, no matter what that looks like.  

As my relationship grew with G, the little world in my hand often represented the relationship.  My hand was open.  If this is not what’s best for G, Lord, only tell me and I will draw on Your strength to walk away.  I am willing to inflict that small hurt now, if it saves him from a bigger hurt later.  You know that I want this relationship.  But more than that, I want what’s best for G.

And…If this will get between me and You, Lord, only say the word and it is over. I want You more than anything.  If Your heart’s desire for me is single forever, I’ll walk it out in joy.  I will.  

This was no light, intellectual exercise.  Every time I prayed the prayer, I felt the real and present possibility that He may indeed tell me to move along.  I prayed it trembling, but I prayed it willingly.

Prayer was not my only tool in this passage.  The other thing I did was RUN to seek accountability.  I had friends on several fronts speaking into the situation, friends who weren’t connected, who didn’t even know each other.  Friends who knew my skeletons and had my full permission to call me out.  Friends who wouldn’t just go along with whatever I wanted.  Friends who prayed, and whose first priority was, “What would God say about this?”  And I made sure to check and verify that G was seeking the same, on his end.  It’s so easy to fool yourself, when acting on your own private “counsel.”  There was too much at stake here to risk self-deception.

In some ways, walking a relationship out in such a surrendered way is hard.  It requires constant intentionality, perpetual self-examination, and the difficulty of going slow when every instinct shouts this is the one!  Grab this and run!  It had felt easier in some ways the first time around, when I acted on my own emotions and desires and avoided interactions with doubters.  But in the end, the surrendered walk made things so much easier.  The work done up front paid off in the long run.  I am “safe” in my relationship with G in ways I had not experienced before.  Not *boring* safe, but instead free from worry, free from insecurity, free from doubt, sure in his love for me, sure in his integrity, sure that he will never take me by the hand and help me to run away from God.  Plus, there’s the cool benefit that as far as I can tell, not a single person has been harmed by our relationship, ever.  That’s a light and free place to live, and having borne the weight of the pain I’ve caused others in the past, I cherish it.

His ways are not our ways.  The longer I walk with God, the louder that truth gets.  Our ways lead to pain.  His ways lead to freedom, even though they feel so restrictive at the outset sometimes.

May you walk in safety, and freedom, and light.

O praise the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever.

  1. Shane says:

    Thank you Karen!!!

  2. Laurie says:

    Echo Shane’s remark – Thank you Karen. Your words provoke examination.

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