If your marriage is broken, and you feel distant, and you’re reeling from heartache, can God restore it?
I think it’s one of God’s favourite things to do! But I also think this question has a lot of nuance to it, and I was thinking about it this week as I’ve been on vacation knitting.
So let me tell you about a new knitting project I’ve started–and I’ll circle back to our bigger question about restoration!
I knit a LOT of socks. And whenever you knit a pair of socks, you have a little bit of yarn leftover.
And what do you do with that little bit of yarn? i’ve been making it into this sock blanket:
Many knitter friends know that I’m working on this, and so I get “donations” of their ends that they want to get rid of. Lots and lots and lots.
Sometimes the colours are perfect. But sometimes they just don’t really work.
As I was getting ready to go on vacation, I grabbed a sock pattern book that I love, and that I decided I was going to work through, knitting every pattern in there as a challenge.
The pattern I arrived at was called “Drip Candles”. What it does is combine little bits of ends into something quite lovely (for knitters, it’s a simple fair isle repeat).
So I got together some absolutely ugly bits that just won’t work in my blanket, and I tried it. And wow! They turned out beautifully. I even knit two pairs! (One for a guy and one for a woman).
I was talking to my mother about why it is that I love patterns like this so much, and we both decided that it’s because I get real satisfaction from using up bits that other people would have discarded. I don’t like waste. But beyond that, I love creating something beautiful out of what no one else would have seen as lovely. I’ve made about 8 of these blankets (and give some as gifts) too, and most of them are made of yarns that look quite ugly by themselves, but work beautifully when you put them together.
When Katie (my youngest) and I were talking about this, we decided that my extra joy comes from this: I could knit a pair of lovely socks from lovely sock yarn and they will turn out lovely just like everyone expected they would. So by knitting them, let’s say I’ve increased the beauty in the world by + 5.
But when I take really ugly yarns that have no use and combine them to make something pretty, I haven’t just increased the beauty by +5, because even if I land at +5, I didn’t start at 0. I started at -5. So I’ve now increased the beauty in the world by 10!
I think God sees reconciliation in similar ways.
God loves creating something beautiful out of that which was broken. Isn’t that what salvation at its heart is? He takes those whose “sin was as scarlet, and makes them white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18).
It’s like one of my favourite verses:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Scripture even tells us that Jesus has a “ministry of reconciliation”:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
What does this mean for those of you who are having marriage problems?
God uses imagery of that which was dead coming to life so often in Scripture. One of my favourite stories is Ezekiel and the vision of the dried bones. Ezekiel didn’t see any life, but as God called the bones together and blew life into them, they joined together and lived.
That’s God’s heart. That’s God’s nature. That’s what God wants!
And through the power of the Holy Spirit, God can grow us and change us and soften hearts and convict and do all those things that need to be done.
I’ve seen transformations in marriages. I’ve seen transformations in people’s lives when they are on the brink, and they don’t see how they can ever have hope anymore.
But here’s the thing: God never forces anything.
And that’s where things get dicey.
God gives us free will, and that means that we have the ability to resist what God wants to do in our lives. Even though God longs to transform us and reconcile us, He does not do that outside of our own repentance. He does not do that unless we turn to Him first.
When we turn to Him, what He can do is limitless! But God is a god of boundaries, and He does not trespass over ours. If we say no, He doesn’t come in with a wrecking ball.
That’s where the knitting analogy falls apart. My yarn, you see, cannot refuse to be used. But people can refuse. People do refuse. And that can be very heartbreaking. I shared that in a video earlier this year, and I’ll post this again because some may need it:
You may also enjoy:
- Iron should sharpen iron: Why marriage should make us better people
- 10 reasons rushing forgiveness after an affair is a bad idea
- Why won’t my husband change?
HOWEVER, if there is repentance, God can and will grow something beautiful.
When we are both soft towards God and repentant, no matter how big the problem is, I believe that God can knit something beautiful with all the unravelled ends. Whether it’s an affair or porn use or general selfishness, when there is real repentance, God can bring about something beautiful.
Unfortunately, you can’t repent enough for both of you. You can’t do all the work in a marriage; the other person has to be willing to open their heart to God, too. I wish it were simpler, but that’s not how God works or how life works.
But when we are willing, the beauty can be intense.
What if we’re willing, but our spouse is not? Even if the marriage ends because it’s not a safe or healthy one, God can still make something beautiful out of the life of anyone who is surrendered to Him. Even if that beauty doesn’t look like what you thought it would, there is something wonderful about bringing beauty out of that which was broken.
God loves doing that.
And I pray He will do that in your life, too.
And now i must go finish another pair of socks!
Has God ever brought something beautiful out of something ugly in your life? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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