He Said-She Said: Starting to Date Again
- Thursday, June 24, 2010
Then Peter came to him and asked, "Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?" "No!" Jesus replied, "seventy times seven!" (Matthew 18:21-35).
Jesus never questioned what the sin was, what wrong was done, whose fault it may have been, the severity of the act or any of the circumstances. Jesus just said we need to forgive, period.
Christian music artist Sandi Patty once explained it this way, "Forgiveness doesn't make the other person right; it just sets you free."
When you forgive someone of wrongdoing, you are not condoning the action, you are not saying the person was right or just in what they did, and you are not relieving the person of any guilt. In fact, it's not even about the other person. Forgiveness allows you to move on by releasing it all to God, setting you free of the past relationship.
When you are truly able to forgive your ex-husband of the wrong he did to you, you will know you are on the road to recovery. From there, you can set boundaries for your future and begin your road to a healthy relationship.
As for how a godly man treats someone he dates, it all depends on the guy. Even among "godly" men, there is no consistent standard. As for me, I have always been told to treat a woman like I would want someone to treat my future wife—with respect and honor.
If we (guys) viewed women as the children of God they are and dated them as a privilege from our Father in heaven, it may change the way many of us (men) would act.
SHE SAID: First and foremost, let me say how sorry I am that you have had to go through such a painful experience. As a child of divorce, I have seen the devastating effects of what can happen when a marriage disintegrates and what that kind of a fallout means for everyone involved (parents, children, extended family, friends, church, etc.).
Yes, the effects can be long-lasting and you will likely struggle with some of these issues for a while to come. You might grieve what could have been or feel bitter about what you have endured through your past marriage. And you need to take time to fully feel through these emotions and work through them one by one as you process this difficult time of your life.
It can be gritty, and it can be tough at times. But that does not mean that God cannot take something that was and is so painful—something that might feel like a complete failure or an utter waste of your life—and turn it into something good as he brings restoration and renewal. Know that you are not damaged goods. There is beauty for ashes (Isaiah 61:3). And God can use even our most painful experiences in our ongoing and future ministry to others. (See Romans 8:28, Psalm 51:12 and Joel 2:25—my personal favorite!)
It's good that you can see you are applying your situation with your former husband to a negative perspective in how you view men today. As you know, all men are not your former husband and should not be viewed as such. You will need to continue to work through your feelings, emotions and wounds that you have endured so that you will have a healthier view of men going forward (And I trust you have worked with or are working with a good therapist or counselor who can walk you through this process).
When you do have a peace about your situation and the matter is settled in your heart, then you will be ready to move forward with a heart that has been healed and is ready to open up to a new relationship. But to whom? How does a godly man treat someone he dates? I believe that Jesus is the best example for how anyone should treat someone else—regardless of the kind of relationship.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers (1 John 3:16).
A man who is seeking the Lord will have a servant's heart and a self-sacrificial approach to living in all of his relationships—familial or otherwise.
Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:26-28).
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