HEART TO HEART
I was a church womaniser, but want to change
I grew up in church, left and returned 10 years ago. Despite my reconversion, I behaved badly: I was unfaithful to girlfriends; refused to commit; borrowed money and never gave it back, and occasionally went to parties/clubs. Why did I do it? Because I could, and also because my heart was broken by a woman I really loved – poor excuse, I know, but it’s the truth. I’m sharing this info because I want to start over again, and also because I met a Christian lady who I wanted to marry. She turned me down, however, after hearing about my past behaviour, stating that she doesn’t want to become another ‘notch on my belt’. Her comments have made me reflect on the man I’ve become, and I don’t like it. My behaviour was un-Christlike, and I now feel sorrowful about my past behaviour. The Holy Spirit is convicting me to make amends to those to whom I did wrong, but how do I go about saying sorry to women I’ve hurt, and getting money to pay back my loans? I believe God wants me to change, because He has a plan and purpose for me, but how do I clear up my past, so I can move into the future? Andrew, London
Esther Fenty says
Reflection is certainly a good thing, as it helps us to evaluate where we are. In your case, it has meant that you have ‘started feeling sorrowful about your behaviour’. That is certainly a step in the right direction, but sorrow on its own is not enough. It is not clear whether the rejection of this woman has ruffled your feathers, or whether you are really convinced that your past actions violated the laws of God. When you were hurting people, you were hurting God, who felt their pain and sorrow.
In the Book of Genesis, Chapter 39, the Bible records how Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce Joseph. Joseph recognised that if he were to yield to temptation, he would be sinning against God. Similarly David, in his prayer of repentance after he had yielded to temptation with Bathsheba (Psalm 51), cried out “Against You (God), You only, have I sinned.” In both cases, they were cognisant of the fact that they were accountable not only to their fellow human beings, but also ultimately to God.
Recognising this will enable you to see your behaviour from God’s perspective, and to seek forgiveness. If you can’t find the words, Psalms 51 might also be a good place to start. Repentance is not just feeling sorry for your actions, but also about turning away from the past.
As you turn from your past, follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit to make amends. You can begin by contacting the women you have hurt. As you pray, ask the Holy Spirit to show you those to whom you can speak on the phone, and those who need a letter. You will need to prepare individual scripts for each telephone conversation, and write individual letters so that you can be specific about each situation. The process in itself will also bring healing. You will need to be prepared for rebuffs and mistrust, but your responsibility at this time is to obey the Holy Spirit.
You haven’t said whether you are working. You could write to each creditor to arrange to repay what you owe in monthly instalments or, depending on the extent of your debt, you may need to see a financial/debt adviser. However, it is important that you attempt to clear upyour debts. As you take your first step in obedience, God will create opportunities so that you can do His will. If this lady is the right lady for you, she will be waiting to say Yes!
My Christian lover left me holding the baby
I am a very hurt woman at the moment. I went out with a man at church, thought we’d end up married, so started a sexual relationship. I became pregnant and, despite the guy promising to stand by me, our relationship ended, and I have been left to bring up our six-month-old son by myself. I am very, very hurt. I’m 38, and feel intense shame at becoming a single parent whilst proclaiming to be Christian. I also feel intense anger at the guy, who I no longer see, but hear he has started seeing someone else. I know I need to be in a better place emotionally so that I can provide the right kind of environment for my son to grow up. How can I move forward? Janice, Birmingham
Esther Fenty says
It seems to me that you are feeling angry with your boyfriend for deserting you at a time like this, and intense shame because you are not forgiving of yourself.
As sex was consensual, you will need to accept responsibility for your actions, and leave your boyfriend to God. As you do this and ask God for forgiveness, believe that He has wiped the slate clean. Despite the wagging of tongues and pointing of the fingers, lift up your head, bask in God’s forgiveness, and keep on attending church. I don’t know what the process is for making amends in your particular church, but you may also have to say sorry to the church.
Jesus expects us to forgive, based on His forgiveness of us. It is not easy, however – neither can the process be hurried – but it can be done through the help of the Holy Spirit. You will therefore have to commit yourself to a process of forgiving, which means letting him ‘off the hook’ or releasing him in your mind, as if he had done nothing wrong, and praying for him to be blessed. This can include praying for him daily until your heart feels and experiences what your lips are saying.