Son, Come to your Senses

Yesterday my wife and I were talking about the radical lengths required for real reconciliation to transpire.     We both agreed that as a couple we both had to abandon our right to have rights and humbly confess that we were both in need.   She for different reasons than I, obviously, and perhaps she will speak to that from her perspective in a later post.

As the outright offender in our marriage, it might seem obvious that the very least I or anyone in my position can do is take a posture of complete and utter servitude and humility, willing to surrender any and all rights for the one betrayed.    Yet you would be surprised to know how many people refuse to come to this place (and how long it took for me to get there myself!).   They are sorry (at least they think they are) for what they have done, and they desire to reconcile with their family but they want to do so on their own terms, or at best, expect some compromise in the negotiations.    The following sentiments are expressed far too often by people who want reconciliation:

She expects me to leave my job!  Is she crazy?  I want to get back together but she’s totally unreasonable! 

She’ll take me back but only if I drop all my friends.   It’s she or them, she says.    I want our marriage to work but her ultimatums are ruining our chances!

She says that for us to work out I need to give up the internet.    I don’t mind cutting back some, but I have to have it for my job.  She doesn’t get it. 

Such negotiations are the exact opposite of the truly penitent.   As Amy and I thought about the sacrifices necessary to reconcile we were reminded of the story Jesus tells of the prodigal son in Luke 15.    When this son “comes to his senses” after living unfaithfully as a son to his father, he determines to return home and say,

“Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.   I am no longer worthy to be called your son.   Treat me as one of your hired servants” (Luke 15:18-19).


Absent from this confession and plea are any grasping for rights.     The son returns with head bowed and heart torn, willing to be treated as a slave rather than a son.   Can anyone imagine this prodigal returning home to say that he is sorry for squandering everything and betraying the love and trust of his father, but dad, I want my old room back?    Dad, don’t ask me to clean the pigsty cause I’ve been living in it long enough.   Dad, you need to show me some consideration, as I’ve been through a lot.  

Let me be blunt.  If you have been unfaithful to your spouse and are bargaining in these ways or others you are not truly repentant.  You haven’t yet come to your senses like the prodigal son and are deluding yourself into thinking you still have rights.    The tension and angst your feel and the reason reconciliation seems so impossible is because you won’t die to yourself completely but still hold out hope that you can keep some of the old man around, though perhaps dressed up in new clothes.

If there is any hope for restoration you are going to have to be the first to die.     A necessary part of that death is a dying to self – to your rights, your dreams, your ideas of what the marriage ought to look like, your former life altogether.    This is the path so few are willing to walk.   But I can assure you that you do not walk it alone.    You can know that as a forgiven sinner, as you walk a path of humility before your spouse and others whom you’ve hurt, that you are walking the path of Jesus, who took your sin upon his sinless shoulders like a lamb being led to the slaughter (Isa. 53).    “Consider him,” the author of Hebrews writes, “who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Heb. 12:3).

If the Son of God, who did not deserve it, could endure with patient humility such hostility from us, surely you, who does deserve it, can endure the evacuation of your rights for the sake of true repentance and reconciliation.

If not, then son, may you soon come to your senses.



4 thoughts on “Son, Come to your Senses”

  1. Repentance for me was/is a process. I wasn’t immediate in my betrayal, it was gradual. So also, my husband graciously allows me to be gradual in my repentance: He is allowing the Holy Spirit to convict me of those things that need to change…piece by piece. And I am so thankful for the opportunity to work out my salvation with fear and trembling instead of being controlled by an angry and bitter spouse. Yes, change was and still is necessary; however, my husband has made God responsible for the condition of my heart instead of taking it on himself. Our recovery has been beautiful, and my rebellion has been falling off of me piece by piece…like layers of an onion.

    May God bless your marriage and strengthen you for the journey ahead. It will be worth it.

  2. Praise God for the work done in your marriage! I agree with you that repentance is an ongoing process – even daily. You are blessed to have a husband who is gracious with you in that journey. My wife has been much the same.
    I think we might be the exception, sadly. Many I know who go through what we have gone through have spouses that are not so ready to forgive and reconcile. I think in such cases if there is to be any hope at all the offending spouse needs to model the humility of Jesus and abandon all sense of rights. It such acts of obedience to God I believe God will honor that, and the heart of the spouse can be softened and opened to the possibility of reconciliation. Do you think that is true?

  3. I ran across your blog through a post on facebook. I needed to read this and I appreciate your insight. It was difficult for me to read because it is filled with such deep truth. With much regret, I was the offending party. The process that led me to the offense has also led me to a thought process that includes “but she undermined me for years…she questioned so much of what I did…she did not have confidence in my decisions….etc., etc.”….When it all came to light, I begged for forgiveness and cried and negotiated with her…I have been outside the home since 2/1, I go back and forth between anger and hurt to humility to relief and basically every emotion in between….It very well might be too late for my wife and me and our two beautiful teenagers….I find myself doing nice things to try to soften her heart and I believe it has had an impact…but then I think of the financial devastation this is creating and I know that financial security is part of my motive for reconciling…Truth is though…I love my wife more than ever now…and if there is any hope for reconciliation I am going to have to be truly repentant and truly humble in my approach…and forget the idea that I have any rights in all this….But it reminds me of Matthew 23:12 which is probably my favorite verse in the Bible….Matthew 23:12: For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

    Thank you again for your insights…much appreciated.

  4. Chris,
    Praying with and for you, brother. I have seen God do the impossible time and time again. I hope you have someone near by who can be of help to you during this time. You, and your wife, need that. Feel free to email me privately if you desire to talk.

    peace to you

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