Letter I wrote to a friend seeking to abandon her marriage. Names have been changed.

Dear Sally

I have really wrestled with how to best communicate my thoughts to you regarding your recent actions. By all the evidence I’ve seen, you are no longer the person I thought you were. I have no idea how you will receive my message, but as my sister in Christ, I want you to know my beliefs. I would be remiss if I did not bring my concerns to your attention.

I’m afraid you are trapped in some cycle of disillusionment and cannot get out of it. Maybe this abandonment of your marriage and the covenant you made to Jim and to God is some type of cry for help? Do you have unmet scars, or are there secrets you have not resolved? Is your recent filing for divorce from Jim a cry for help?

Sally, you can get help. Your friends love you and so does your church. Seek help. Find answers and address the painful areas of your life. Running away from your marriage, hanging out in bars, and seeking to meet up with married men does not solve anything. Honestly, these actions are desperate pleas for attention and will only lead to self destruction.

Check yourself into the Foundry where I work. I’ve inquired, and there is a space for you. Focus on your pain and unresolved issues in a safe and supportive environment. Overcome your insecurities and addictions. Learn effective coping skills and find peace….real peace. Learn some career skills and become better equipped for employment. The Foundry has an excellent reputation and has helped restore countless lives and marriages. I would not be associated with your program or plan of care due to my position in development and marketing. You can live on campus and get away from distractions. You can heal and find hope in a supportive environment among other women. http://www.foundryministries.com/recovery-program/. Amy and I will walk alongside you through the journey.

Sally, your marriage to Jim is such a blessing to so many people. Please don’t destroy it. You have a special gift of hospitality. You and Jim compliment one another well with your different personality types as well as your spiritual gifts, strengths, and weaknesses. You have so many amazing gifts and talents that God has used in you and through you. Don’t snuff them out.

You mentioned to Amy the other night at dinner that you have “not been happy” in your marriage to Jim “for about three years”. What have you done about this? What did you do about these “unhappy” feelings? Feelings are warning signals telling us that something is wrong and we need to do something. Don’t you think you owed it to your husband to let him know that you were not happy and that things were not ok between the two of you? Considering you were leading Bible studies, life groups, and serving with the youth at First United Methodist, don’t you think you should have spoken up to your pastors and church leaders and asked for some help in restoring your broken marriage? Better yet, don’t you think you should have removed yourself from these leadership roles to avoid sending mixed messages and false information to the youth you were leading, as well as the other members and congregants of the church? You were wrong for staying in those leadership positions, not speaking up, and continuing about your business like everything was ok. Your recent filing for divorce has come as a huge shock to lots of people. What kind of example do your recent actions set for your middle school girls, life groups, Adam, Alexis, Tyler, Kaylie, your non-Christian friends, co-workers, etc.?

Other than going to Richard Forde at Lighthouse Counseling for marital counseling a couple of years ago, what have you done to try to save your marriage in crisis? Jim is by no means perfect. I am sure you have very valid complaints about him, but they are not reasons to get divorced. Jim loves you and cares about you. I have had the privilege of speaking to him quite a bit lately, and I know he is willing to reconcile and work toward restoring your marriage. Go to a marriage intensive retreat in Rome, GA at the Winshape Retreat Center. https://hoperestored.focusonthefamily.com/marriage-intensive-program-locations/.

Sally, you’ve invested too much in your 10 year marrriage to throw it all away……..your history, your hobbies, your friends, your step-children, your house that you and Jim restored together, the family gatherings, the bonfires, the Super Bowl parties, etc. It deeply saddens me that you are willing to so carelessly throw all of this away. PLEASE rethink your actions!!!

Here are the details for some intensive marriage retreats : . 4-Day Hope Restored Group Intensive – Rome, Georgia.

• 7/17/17 – 7/20/2017

• 8/21/17 – 8/24/2017

• 9/4/17 – 9/7/2017

Sally, you must know that abandoning your wedding vows and the covenant you made with Jim and God will not end well. Once you turn from these vows and covenant, you will not be able to choose the consequences or how far those consequences will take you.

You say God has been opening so many doors for you since you filed for divorce. Sally, that is not true. Don’t believe those lies. I am assuming these “doors” you speak of are the 5K races you’ve been running, losing weight and getting healthy, returning to work and getting a job in mortgage lending, gaining the appropriate certifications to return to work, etc. Sally, these opportunities have always been available to you. You just have not been seeking them out until now. You can still work full time, gain new skills and certifications, earn your own money, run races, hang out with friends, and attend weight watchers all while being married. I think it is great that you are interested in going back to work and are pursuing a full time job in marketing, but speaking as one with an MBA who directs marketing daily, I must be honest and tell you that your marketing skills are a decade out of date. What you knew regarding marketing 10 years ago, even 5 years ago, is obsolete and useless. I am going to be brutally honest….the fact that you still use an aol.com account shows you are a bit “clueless” about marketing, brand management, SEO, Google ad words, co-branding, ROI, etc. A career in marketing is ever changing and not always the most secure. I have two masters degrees and years of experience in fundraising and marketing. I personally have had professional positions eliminated numerous times through no fault of my own. It is very hard and painful making a living with no safety net. Bill collectors have no mercy. Your life of hosting parties, traveling to vacations in NC, eating out with friends, running races, shopping whenever you’d like, etc are all over once the burden falls completely on you to pay your own way.

Amy and I witnessed you go through an episode of major depression about 5 years ago. If I remember correctly, you withdrew from everyone and isolated yourself during that difficult time. What happens if you experience another major depression in the future? Who will pay your bills? Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says it well, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”

Sally, you can still return before it’s too late. Make a turn back to Jim. You can stay separated and live in separate bedrooms or move out and live by yourself in an apartment for six months but meet up with Jim to go to counseling once a week, go out on dates, attend a marriage retreat together, etc.

I called Pastor Tom the other day and left him a message regarding my concerns over you filing for divorce. He texted me back, saying, “Hey John, got your VM yesterday. We are at Beach Camp this week. I spoke with Cameron about Sally. She is no longer in any leadership with students. We are counseling her to reconcile her marriage with Jim. Please know we are aware of the situation and are working to point her back to Jesus and His word.” Sally, why are you throwing away your influence and impact you’ve made at First United Methodist? For what?

God will NEVER lead you contrary to His Word. God is NOT opening doors for you while you are in active rebellion against Him (1 John 1:6) in abandoning your marriage (Hebrews 13:4). Your marriage covenant was made before God and your family. You have no biblical reason to divorce Jim, and God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). Life is hard and all relationships require work.

In a wealth of counselors you find wisdom (Proverbs 15:22). What are your Christian friends, pastors, and counselors saying? Are you affirmed by Rachel? Kelly? Melissa ? Will? Amy ? Pam? Nancy? Charlie? Tammy? Cameron? Smith? Your parents? Your sisters? God is not mocked (Galatians 6:7). You are opening your life to a path of complete destruction.

Sally, I really hope you will come to your senses like the prodigal son before it is too late. Again, God will NEVER lead you contrary to His Word. God is NOT leading you to divorce and “releasing” you from your marriage. God loves you unconditionally, but He clearly hates divorce and is against what you are doing. You will face consequences for your behavior. Please get some help. Go to the Foundry. Get some solid marital counseling. Attend an intensive marriage retreat. It is not too late. Divorce is a life altering, game changing decision that cannot be undone. Amy and I love you dearly, care for you deeply, and are extremely concerned about your recent behavior and decisions.

In Christ,