My old boyfriend says he’s changed. Should I give him a second chance?
I met a guy last year, and I got the feeling (that I’ve never had before) that he was going to be my husband. Things went well until he started to treat me wrong and talk to me crazy. I am a very kindhearted person, and I forgave him so many times … but then after several incidents I let go of him and didn’t talk to him (but prayed for him all the time). I continued praying for him to be saved because I knew he was lost.
A few months ago he texted me and then called, and I talked to him and he told me God had changed his life. We still talk, but I want to know what else I should do. My uncle, a pastor, told me not to settle or fall for him. I haven’t, and I am still praying and asking God for help and direction. But things are moving so slow. I know the enemy wants to see me fail, and God wants the best for me. But sometimes I get discouraged and wonder, “When am I going to get married?” and “I want a family; will I ever have one?”
I understand your feelings of impatience. I felt that way when I was still single at 25, and I receive letters from women who feel it at 21 as well as those who are 30, 40 and beyond. I think our impatience has less to do with our age than it does our frustration with the post-marriage culture we live in and the real concern that marriage may elude us. Thankfully we serve a God who is bigger than our circumstances and able to move water, calm storms, multiply fish and yes, bring husbands!
We are most able to be at peace (read: not impatient) in His timing when we trust Him fully and His ability to provide, all the while being good stewards of our circumstances and opportunities and being intentional in our relationships. You ended your question with two questions: When will you get married, and will you get what you want (a family)?
Until those things happen though, the only answer I can give is, “I don’t know.”
Still, I’d like to suggest that instead of focusing on the when, you shift your attention to the whom. If you don’t, I’m concerned that in your rush to satisfy your desires you may marry poorly, to your harm and the harm of those around you. The man you’re currently interested in was not a believer when you first dated, behaved badly during your time together, is just recently claiming to be changed by God, and is still questionable enough that your uncle, a pastor, is advising you against being in relationship with him again. I’d say the evidence as well as common sense is pointing away from this man.
You’re asking God for direction. I think He’s already giving it.
When we want something badly and soon (like a husband, marriage, a family), we are often tempted to go about getting it the wrong way. Christian women dating nonbelievers, hoping they’ll come around eventually, is just one of the more obvious examples of this. God’s Word is clear: We’re not to marry unbelievers. There are many painful consequences for those who disobey this simple guideline.
This is not to say God can’t redeem a marriage already formed between two people who are “unequally yoked,” but if you’re not yet married, you should do everything in your power to marry a man who is not only “saved,” but characterized by the fruit of the Holy Spirit – evidence of God’s sanctifying work in His life.
It’s simply not enough that he prayed the “sinner’s prayer.” Simply saying God has changed him is insufficient. You’re hoping for a husband, not a Sunday school classmate. This is the man who will father your children and then be responsible to bring them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, all the while providing a living for your family, protecting you from harm, and leading you in your own spiritual growth. That’s a tall order. Again, it’s essential that you choose wisely, bearing all of this in mind. And the choosing begins with your choices of friends, activities, and eventually dates.
Whom you decide to marry is second in importance to deciding to submit to Christ’s Lordship and follow Him. Marriage is a decision with huge consequences! Your choice of husband can set you on a path of fruitfulness, joy and fulfillment. But if you choose poorly, it can just as easily leave you miserable.
I’ve observed in marriages around me (that of my parents, my friends and my own) that true to Scripture, marriage brings joy and trouble. That’s true for everyone. But marriage can be mostly great with a few rough spots or mostly rough with a few great spots. It has everything to do with your selection.
I urge you to follow your uncle’s counsel. Clear your head and heart, as well as your calendar, of this man. Stop talking with him, texting, emailing – however you’re connecting. If he’s truly transformed, he’ll understand when you tell him that it’s too soon since his conversion and you need time to observe God’s sanctifying work in His life. If he’s not, you’ll see that in his response as well.
If he’s serious about his faith, and about marriage to you, I would expect him to start attending church where you attend (without an invitation from you to do so) in order to provide you with the opportunity to witness that he’s truly changed. I would also expect him to willingly submit to the authority and input of the pastor or another Christian mentor in his life. All of these would be indications that he is serious about growing as a believer.
Anything shy of this is going to end up wasting even more time, pushing marriage — to a good and godly man — even further into the future. The best thing you can do to help marriage happen is to stop doing things that are increasing the delay.
Keep praying. Keep studying God’s Word. Keep seeking Him daily and asking for wisdom. He is faithful and will answer your prayers.
Copyright 2009 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Candice Watters is a wife, mom, and Bible teacher. She is the author of Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen, co-founder with her husband, Steve, of Boundless.org and co-author of Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies. They have four children and blog at FamilyMaking.com.