Oh the thoughts I’ve had about my ex and the other woman! The comebacks I’ve considered for their mean and spiteful comments, the responses I’ve rehearsed to their false and damaging accusations, the scornful piteous glance I’ll offer that other woman when she learns the truth.
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t gone through some of that. I’d be lying if I said I don’t catch myself every once in a while falling back into that trap.
But that’s exactly what those negative thoughts are – a trap.
In Sunday’s Gospel Reading from Mark Chapter 7, the Pharisees questioned Jesus about the disciples’ lack of proper protocol. Why didn’t the disciples cleanse their hands? Why didn’t they go through proper purification processes? Why didn’t they…?
Jesus responded to their questions in this way:
He summoned the crowd again and said to them,
“Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.
“From within people, from their hearts,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.”
This is an excellent lesson for those going through abandonment, separation, and divorce as well as for the Pharisees and others. Each of us must look within and discover where evil lies and what makes those evil thoughts appear.
It is easy to obsess about a husband’s affair on the other woman and the evil within the man who does such things. It is easy to get angry, bitter, and seek revenge. It is probably even justified to do so, but we must ask another question.
What within your spouse caused him to have an affair? If your husband’s heart and mind had been filled with Goodness, with Love, with Hope, with Faith, with chastity, generosity, life, loyalty, honesty, morality, concern for others, humility, wisdom would he have had an affair? Would he have sought that divorce? Would he have fallen from Grace so weakly?
You know the answer.
The evil of divorce can be blamed on many things, and rightly so, but there are plenty of individuals who withstand those many things and defeat temptation, lift their families, and live rightly. The greatest evil cannot be blamed on outside forces but on that within ourselves that allows us to succumb to deceit and temptation.
The corruption within ourselves allows some to succumb to temptation, to blame everything outside of ourselves, and to seek that elusive emotion of happiness by breaking marriage vows.
The abandoned spouse cannot change that. Free will is a God-given gift that is too often used to curse.
The challenge to faithful spouses is to not fall for the same evils within. Satan is smart; he knows each person’s weakness almost as well as the Father does.
Satan knew your husband would fall for divorce.
He’s hoping you will fall for bitterness.
It is the same evil within your husband that made him seek another, seek to please himself above all others, and seek to destroy the marriage and family you worked so hard to build that begins working on your heart when you have those thoughts of scornful revenge.
You must fight against that evil with prayer and peace.
Playing a tit-for-tat with your ex or fantasizing about what you’d do or say to him or to the other woman robs you of the Joy you and your children deserve. It is time spent better elsewhere.
Commit today to live each moment with purpose. Put together a plan for what you will do when that evil gnaws at your insides. Go for a run. Bake cookies for your kids (Can anyone really be angry while baking cookies for children???) Organize a closet. Anything!
But while you do it – PRAY.
Pray that that same evil does not take hold of your heart or your mind. Pray that the Lord fills your heart with Goodness, with Love, with Hope, with Faith, with chastity, generosity, life, loyalty, Love, honesty, morality, concern for others, humility, wisdom, with all those things your husband and the other woman lack without their even realizing it.
And pray for your ex and the other woman too, for you know better than most what evil can do to the heart, especially when we fail to recognize it as such.
You will be okay. You were made for more. Do not fall for negativity, but seek the Lord’s comfort and shelter, and He will provide you with a Peace and Joy that also comes from within and which cannot be shaken.
What do you think? Have you been overtaken by feelings of revenge at some point? Did it help or hurt you in the long run? What could you do differently? Have you tried prayer? How did prayer bring peace within the storm?
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