About a year ago, I learned the term “alienation of affection.” I first heard about it when R&B singer Fantasia was sued by her lover’s wife because supposedly, her stealing the affections of the husband away from the wife caused the demise of their marriage. Affairs happen all the time but I never knew it was against the law in some states. Go figure.
According to FreeDictionary.com, alienation of affections is defined as:
The wrongful or injurious act of interfering with an affectionate relationship so that one person loses affection for the other.
I know plenty of people who have ended relationships and marriages because of infidelity and there are never any winners when something like that happens. Hearts are broken, trust is shattered, blame is thrown around and lives are rarely the same afterwards. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, yet, we allow our heart to lead us into situations that end up costing us so much.
It’s easy to look from the outside in and think about how tragic it is for people who have to go through issues of alienation of affection in their relationship. Yet, how often do we stop and think about our own issues of alienation of affection with our own bridegroom Jesus Christ? How often do third parties creep up into our own lives and steal our affections away from Christ?
Yep, I went there.
When I was in the IHOP prayer room a week ago, aside from getting such a detailed vision about righteousness, I took out my pen and journal and just started writing the words that came to me. After a few minutes, I looked down and had about 5 pages of words that clearly were written as if Jesus Himself were speaking to me. And this is what He said to me as I wrote it on the page:
“Turn your affections back to Me. Don’t let the temptations of this world steal your affections from Me. Turn your heart back towards Me and allow Me to show myself faithful to you.”
I was in awe. No matter how much I hear from Him, it still blows me away that my Savior, the lover of my soul speaks to me. He loves me with a love that is indescribable and even when I stray, like any devoted lover should, He desires to pull my heart and affections back towards Him.
The words on those pages made me really stop and think about what He was saying. My whole heart was not turned towards Him. I was allowing other things and people to steals bits of my heart which should be fully devoted to Him. It was a reality check because I seriously thought I was doing good with my relationship with Christ.
I prayed. Check.
I read my Bible. Check.
I told other people about Him. Check.
Heck, I even spent the last year leading a small group and mentoring women close to me. Check.
But then it hit me. Jesus is not impressed with my list of checked boxes. He is concerned about my heart, my own guilty case of alienation of affection. Matthew 7:21-23 is my sobering reality. It says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
I had to stop and think about where my heart has been because Matthew 6:21 reminds me that where my treasure is, there my heart will be also. What has stolen my affections and attention from my Savior?
Facebook? Friends? My own personal agenda? Fear of the unknown? Desires of the heart? Worry? Money? Job seeking? The list could go on and on I’m sure. In my head, my relationship with Christ was where I thought it should be but clearly I was wrong. This revelation is very timely and a much needed reality check. It has shown me that my focus has shifted and I didn’t even realize it. More than anything, it answered the question I had been posing to God about whether or not He heard some of my prayers because somethings still weren’t coming to pass. His comforting and convicting response to me the day after my IHOP visit:
“I can’t give you what you desire the most because you will love it more than Me. Turn your heart towards Me.”
I had to write that on a Post It Note as a reminder of how much He values my heart. I had been robbing my Savior of affections and adoration that He so rightly deserves. I had been following my own deceitful heart and stepped off the path that leads me to the heart of Christ. I had gotten into a routine of checking boxes of works when I should have been checking my heart to make sure the flame was still burning strongly for Him. It’s times like this I am thankful for conviction that leads to repentance and for the grace that allows me to correct my heart.
With the new year approaching, now is the perfect time to take a hard look at where we have allowed our affections to be stolen by other things. Time to stop putting time, energy and focus into things that aren’t pleasing or bringing glory to God. He is a jealous God who wants all of our heart and affections, not just what is left over after we give bits and pieces to things that don’t matter.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)