Since Standers have adopted the phrase “False Starts” from the world of racing, I think it’s best to address some of the misconceptions. If we are going to embrace this term into our community of Standers, then we all need to be on the same page.

A false start is about what we believe. Not what we are seeing.

The official ruling of a false start is a person that either 1) goes before the official sounds the signal, or 2) anticipates the signal is coming and goes a split second before the signal goes off, and therefore, has still started before the official makes the decision.

Now, this is something I found very relatable when it came to false starts found in football, and we will talk about this more.  False starts are one of the most commonly called penalties in football. The purpose of the rule is to try to prevent offensive linemen(Standers) from unfairly drawing defensive linemen offside.

It has to do with BELIEF. For the person who actually believed it was time and began from the belief. 

Did you know you could have a spouse come home, try reconciliation, leave because they could not make it work, and it will not be a false start to the Stander? Yes, THAT is what wisdom does!

But that same experience may or may not have been a false start to the lost spouse. It depends on what they truly believed when they came home. Some knew right from the start that it was not time. They were trying to force a start when they were not ready. While others did have so much hope, they just ignored what they were not hearing and wanted to make it work to ease their guilt by doing the right thing.

The Stander, walking in wisdom, knew this was a possibility because it knew what to look for in the spouse and Who to keep their eyes on for the official call.

The only time there is a false start for a Stander is when they really believe that this was the official call. That they were finally running for the finish line, and it was their time for restoration. That is why the pain and disappointments are SO great for the Stander because they genuinely became aware they had been deceived.

When an actual false start happens for the Stander when they come to realize they thought it was an official call from God to begin, once they process their pain and disappointment, they should be learning from this experience so they can grow.

For some, the pain and disappointment turn to anger, blame, bitterness, and they walk away. False starts are one of the leading causes for a stander to quit. And that doesn’t have to be the case if we are prepared and know how to handle it properly.

I had many false starts in the beginning because I was focused on my pain and getting my peace security back. In fact, I was the leading cause of my first few false starts by manipulating my spouse back home and then calling the race myself. Yes, I literally took charge, said, “GO, we are doing this.” and then forced myself to ignore the daily warning signs that my husband was resisting. He may have come home, but he was clearly showing me that he was willfully rebelling and would not be changing his lifestyle.

Toward the end, I was so much wiser. I knew what I was looking for and who my official was. It was not my husband and what he believed, and it was not what I adopted out of the desperation of my heart. It was when I heard God call it. The last time, as I sat there at 4 am, seeing my husband in tears, telling me he needed God, he was broken and needed help. I knew I was seeing something different. But I still didn’t jump the gun and call it. God had not said anything to me yet. Over the next few weeks, I was hopeful, very hopeful, and encouraged by what I was seeing from him. I kept working hard to keep my eyes on the Official-God and not my husband and what he was doing, finally doing……..seeking God and getting help from a Christian men’s group. There was fruit to see, real fruit. Something that I had not seen before.

Many times there had been real fruit of a heart wanting to love and be loved again. I know that was real. I know that he loved me and was sorry for the pain and disappointments he had caused. I had to learn that this sorry, while real and a good sign that he was trying, was not the repentance that was going to lead to a heart that saw their desire for sin was separating them from God, and they came to despise it. A heart that said, I see it now, and it’s WRONG and not pleasing to God. I don’t like this about myself, and I HONESTLY want to change. God, please help me.”

So, let’s talk about some of the tough things.

A spouse can come home and STAY home, never to move out again, but still remain lost and in rebellion to God. This is what we have adopted as an “In-home” lost spouse. This is where God has determined that the very best place with the most benefit for both is that they remain home. This is not reconciliation, it may be peaceful cohabitation, but it’s not a restored marriage, especially if the heart of the spouse is still denying God.

For a Stander to have their spouse come home and see that this is the place they are and know that they could leave again opens a door for the spouse to live in fear. And that fear will open the door to the Stander wanting to react out of that fear in many ways, using manipulation, control, self-pity, or rejecting the spouse and trying to make them leave before the spouse rejects them. Standers can cling to the Lord even more tightly to drive that fear out, shut the door on fear and manipulation, and remain in peace! The wisdom from the Lord will guard, protect and watch over your heart!


Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you. Proverbs 4:6

If the lost spouse leaves, will there be sadness and disappointments? Yes, of course. But not at the same level there would be had the Stander felt duped, lied to, manipulated, and made a fool of. Many would even be very hurt and angry at God over false starts feeling like He was the one that did something wrong.

Navigating this with Kids makes it so much harder, and that is something that I feel should be discussed between God, the spouse, and the Stander because you can’t expect young children to not walk in their feelings and emotions.

I hope that I have shed some light on this term that has been adopted and embraced in the Standing community.

A spouse coming home is an opportunity, a time of learning and growth for both, and nothing to fear if you stick close to the Lord and let Him shelter you in peace. Fear can be kept at bay if God is your Security.

Look at this scripture and glean from what it says wisdom can do.

But the wisdom from above is first pure [morally and spiritually undefiled], then peace-loving [courteous, considerate], gentle, reasonable [and willing to listen], full of compassion and good fruits. It is unwavering, without [self-righteous] hypocrisy [and self-serving guile]. James 3:17 AMP

When you make the home a place where you and your spouse can reconnect and be truthful, not a place where you let them know “If you are leaving again, you are going to destroy me, and I will never forgive you.” But one that says “I know you are trying, and I know if you have to leave, I am not going to hate you, punish you with condemnation or shame you. I will continue to stand, pray, love, and forgive as I work through my pain and disappointments that while I had hoped and really wanted this to be it, I understand that it wasn’t time yet.”

That is a home where peace and love can open the door to healing and honesty.

Standing with you,
Sheila Hollinger 


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