My wife and I have been separated for two years. We have a two and a half-year-old daughter. It hurts when I visit my daughter and have to leave her again to return to my own home.

I have wanted God to change my heart and help me not to feel resentment and unforgiveness. But I realize that even though I read the Bible, meditate on it, and pray, there is no change in me…. Many times I ask myself where this new birth is that I want so much…. What more do I have to do to have that peace, that change in my life, that change in my heart and my thoughts, so everyone will be able to see a man changed like God wants him to be?

Dear Friend,

We are very sorry to hear about the break-up of your marriage and family. Your desire to stop feeling resentment and unforgiveness indicates that you believe that your wife did something that you haven’t been able to forgive her for, and that you resent her for whatever she did.

We can assume that your wife is partially or mostly responsible for your break-up, but we don’t have any way of knowing what part you are responsible for. Unfortunately, any one of us can read the Bible and pray, and doing so does not necessarily indicate that we are actually communicating with God.

Let’s imagine that thirteen years have passed and that your daughter, now fifteen years old, wakes up every morning and comes to you and tells you about the problems that she is facing. You respond by giving her advice, but then she goes out and does the exact opposite. The next morning your daughter comes back again and tells you that all her problems are worse. She appears to be listening when you give her more advice, but once again she goes out and completely ignores everything that you have said. The same thing happens day after day, and she tells her friends that her father is really no help at all.

The Apostle John taught that if we confess our sins to God, He will forgive us.(1) But confession is more than saying the right words; it is accompanied by a deep regret that causes a desire to change. The new birth that you ask about comes when the regret is so profound that it helps you see your sin as disgusting and repugnant.

All of us have sinned; you are certainly not the only one.(2) But do you really regret your sin, or do you mainly regret that things didn’t turn out the way that you wanted? Are you so consumed with what others have done to you that you haven’t truly repented and confessed what you yourself have done?

There’s no question that it’s right to want to get your family back, but your primary goal should be to listen to what God is saying to you today. Don’t just listen and then ignore, as your hypothetical fifteen-year-old daughter could do someday. Instead, listen and then put what you have learned into practice.

We wish you well,


1 1Jn 1:9
2 Ro 3:23