What If?

Each week we receive calls and e-mails from people in pain across the nation and abroad. No matter what the intimate details involve, every person who contacts us feels as though they’ve been cut to the core by their spouse.


Based on their experiences as well as our own, we’ve come to realize that there’s one thing all their stories have in common. Whether it’s debt, addiction, infidelity, anger, or rebellion, the manifestation of marital breakdown is a secondary issue of something far greater:

-An unmet need for true intimacy and unconditional love that’s been lodged in our DNA since the Fall.

Pieces in Ruin

Let’s be honest. At one level or another, every one of us is guilty of trying to fill legitimate needs with counterfeit means. It’s the Enemy’s most underhanded weapon and it’s tearing at the fabric of our very existence.


Our intent in writing this post is not to split theological or psychological hairs over why we do the things we do. There are counselors, professors, pastors, and scholars whose years of study and research can speak to these things far better than we ever could.

Instead, the intent in posting our convictions here is to set the stage for a sobering question whose answer can determine our destiny as a nation.


What if we rise up against the real Enemy instead of each other? What if we—broken and humbled before God—confess our individual part in the breakdown of our marriages and families, receive His forgiveness, and extended forgiveness to one another?

Listen. We’re not saying that sinful behavior should be shrugged off or glossed over. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sin is sin and it must be dealt with. Those of us who’ve inappropriately indulged in self-gratification at any level must deal with the consequences of our actions.

What we are saying is that we believe all the outward manifestations of marital division have, as their source, a wound that runs much deeper. And, historically, it is an ache that has been gravely masked and grossly misunderstood. Until the true source of that ache is unveiled and addressed, the heights of intimacy and restoration in our nation will fall far short of what God intends.

What is this great ache gnawing at our hearts? Proverbs 19:22 says it best: “What a man desires is unfailing love.”


The Bible contains undeniable proof that human beings are capable of doing just about anything to be loved. We were, too. Relationships, material possessions, sex, academic pursuits, career achievements, food—you name it. Between the two of us, we tried many remedies in search of that one thing that would soothe our souls’ ache. And, we’re pleased to report that all of our attempts to find love failed…except for one.

Years of pining after lesser lovers resulted in the discovery that nothing on earth was created to fill the chasm in our hearts. 


We were created with a God-sized gap and, try as we might, nothing can ever take His rightful place.


The bottom line? Division has inhabited far too great a territory. Battles between spouses are littering the landscape on every continent, leaving children in their wake. We look upon the devastation and the way it impacts this generation—as well as the threat it poses for the next—and our hearts break.


God’s heart is breaking, too.

So, in light of all this, we must ask: What if?

What if we answer the highest call imagineable…

to forgive instead of fight?


And, what if we allow God to do the very thing for which His heart longs?


To heal us.

We resolutely believe that the once-threatening tide of divorce will dramatically turn when we rise from the ruins…

Ruins of Philippi

And forgive.

(Taken from our book, Marriage on the Mend–Tangible Tools to Restore Your Relationship)

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2 Responses to What If?

  1. Amber Crawley says:

    Clint and Penny–we are heartbroken this week as a young man we have known for years, has been a part of our SS class with his wife, chose to end his own life on Wednesday. He leaves his wife and a baby girl due in July. Your post rings so true as the details of the tragedy unfold…several knew they/he were struggling and had reached out in recent days; Shawn sat with him on Monday and Taylor promised him that he wouldn’t do anything “stupid”. Our hearts are definitely asking ‘what if’ on so many levels. We love you so and are so grateful for your ministry.
    Amber, for both of us

    • Shawn and Amber, our hearts are breaking with you. As you know, we know the pain in the aftermath of suicide. It is indescribable. There are some resources on our grief blog at http://www.ForThoseWhoWeep.com. There is a group (www.afsp.org) that helps with the trauma of the days after this kind of tragedy. They came to my dad’s home right after we lost Jay and met with us as a family. Please, if you need us to speak into this at all, don’t hesitate to ask. We will definitely be praying into it. We know all the questions, what ifs, whys, etc. that accompany this kind of loss all too well. Sending you a huge embrace across the miles.

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