|True Stories: It Took a Village to Restore My Marriage
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2006 issue of Peacemaker Magazine.
by Jack B. Mills
An amazing chain of people worked to bring a broken family back together.
On December 31, 2003, I was getting ready for a date. My ex-wife had suggested that we go out on New Year’s Eve, but when I called to make sure it was set, her reply stunned me. “I never want to see you, to talk to you, or have anything to do with you again. Do you hear me? Never, never, never!” My mind began racing through our history.
We were married in August of 1991, separated in June of 1998, reconciled that August, separated in September, separated again in May 2002, and then divorced in March 2003. I now wanted something different.
I knew that repenting to God was the right thing to do, but I had come to believe that even God could not forgive me for all I had done wrong. I went back to the church and spoke with our minister after the service. He told me to pray about it daily and come see him in two weeks.
I also spoke with an elder and asked him to pray for the restoration of my marriage. He prayed for us and assured me that God could and did indeed forgive me.
My next step was to talk with our Outreach Minister. He had a heart for marriage reconciliation, and I thought he could help me find a way to reach Shari. His advice was to go slow in all aspects relating to Shari. Our next meeting was a huge shocker—the first thing he asked me about was baptism! I realized that I had never truly surrendered my life to Christ, and that I had never really put him first. I was baptized that Wednesday night, January 28, 2004.
With baptism came a sense of relief. My attention turned to seeking God’s will for my life. I participated in a marriage reconciliation group and studied Reconcilable Differences by Jim Talley. A friend also recommended that I take training from Peacemaker Ministries. This training equipped me to approach reconciliation using a completely biblical process.
When I got back, I called Shari to ask her if we could talk and she agreed. I literally read the following confession to Shari:
“I’ve sinned against God and you and haven’t lived up to the standard he gives me. I put my own desires far ahead of my responsibility to love you or God. I made my job and career ambitions into idols, and I allowed them to rule my life. In doing so, I neglected you and repeatedly broke my word. I left you with the whole burden of running a household because I was too focused on myself. Only in my brokenness have I come to understand why you are so hurt and disappointed and why you feel like you can never be happy with me. I have wronged you in so many ways, Shari, and my heart is broken anew each day for the grief and hurt I’ve inflicted. He says I’m supposed to love you as Christ loved the church, and I have never even gotten close to that level. I failed miserably at keeping my marriage vows to you. I pray that God will restore our friendship, relationship, and marriage. I pledge that I will spend the rest of my life honoring, respecting, loving, and caring about you and for you and hold secure in the faith that Jesus reconciles all things. I love you, Shari.”
I had no idea what would happen next, but I felt an incredible peace in that moment and the days and weeks ahead. I watched Shari’s heart soften as God continued to reveal to me areas of my life where I needed to repent and reconcile with others. I completely saturated my life with deeper studies of peacemaking and took more training through Peacemaker Ministries, applying what it means to be a peacemaker to my own life and recognizing how I had broken and damaged so many relationships along the way.
Eventually, Shari and I realized that God had changed us both. By God’s grace alone, Shari and I were remarried on September 17, 2004, over a year and a half since we had been finally divorced.
I can take absolutely no credit for any of the amazing things that led to the restoration of our marriage. It was God first, God throughout the crisis, and God alone that affected the outcome. I am still in awe of the fact that He used so many people to minister to me—always at just the right time and in the right way:
Pulpit Minister: took 45 seconds one night to give me a task I could actually complete, charging me to pray for two weeks and come back to see him.
Church Elder: took the time to hear my confession, assure me that God had forgiven me, and to pray for my situation.
Outreach Minister: asked me about baptism and demonstrated that prayer works.
Reconcilable Differences book: gave me practical insights and activities in reconciling with Shari.
Peacemaker Ministries: provided the training on how to be a peacemaker, helping me find peace in my own life first. There is simply no way I can every adequately thank them for the key role they played in the restoration of my marriage and family.
My Mother: faithfully prayed (and still does) for me, Shari, and every member of her family.
One Daughter: with her husband, actively prayed for God to restore our marriage. They prayed for over a year before Shari and I were remarried.
My Granddaughter: God used her to soften my heart and minister to me. No matter how hopeless things were, a little time with her was like a glimpse into heaven.
Our Other Children: were initially skeptical about the remarriage, but by the time of the wedding, they were completely on board.
My Wife: God enabled her to forgive me even though I did not deserve her forgiveness.
Many others participated in this marriage reconciliation. Literally dozens of people were praying for our marriage and family-these people are the heroes in this story. I thank God for his amazing grace through each of these people, and his willingness to love us no matter how much we mess up, no matter how bad things get. Words can never convey the gratitude and love I hold for each person who became part of the village that restored my marriage and entire family. God bless them all.