I have my husband’s full support and permission in sharing the details of our story. He and I are completely different people now and are eager to share our story of redemption, because our desire is that God would use it to give others hope.
Sometimes people ask me how I could ever forgive my husband for what he did, or they say if they were in that situation, they’d file for divorce. I say, first of all, you don’t know what you would do until you are in that situation. Maybe it’s because of my personality; I’m an extremely loyal person. However, I’d like to contribute it to two things. Grace. Lots of grace. Because of God’s grace, unforgiveness was never in my heart. Because of his grace, I was always able to see the man my husband really is. Over the years, I’ve had to joy of watching him become who I always knew he was. The second reason is that Will was repentant. He hated that he was in this bondage and wanted desperately to get free. When you see someone you love struggle but want to be free, it’s pretty easy to come along side of them and be supportive in their journey to freedom.
Don’t get me wrong, I was hurt. Sometimes there are still layers that are pealed back, and I find myself reliving some of the emotion. I need to make a choice to work through that and not be bitter with him about it. At times, when I have prayed with other women who are going through something similar, I have taken their burden upon my shoulders in an unhealthy way. I have not just prayed fervently for them, but my heart hurts for them in such a way that it feels like it’s happening to me all over again. I need to be really careful and not let my emotions rule. I need to keep my mind on Jesus so I can keep my peace.
The biggest struggle I had was not unforgiveness, but trust. For years and years, if Will was late coming home from work, my mind would wander, and I would convince myself he wouldn’t be home until the middle of the night. I would text, and if he didn’t answer, I’d have such bad anxiety. If one of us were going through a hard time and depression had set in, I’d think he’d resort to his old ways as a way of escape. One day when he was late coming home, I thought, “oh no, did he get into an accident?” Later, I joyfully shared with a friend who had gone through a similar thing that that had been the first time I didn’t think his lateness had to do with his addiction. It took me eight years to reach that point.
I realize that ours is a miracle story. Not many people who separate get back together. If you are in a relationship where your spouse is deep in sin in a way that affects you and your family, I beg you to set up some healthy boundaries. You cannot control the other person’s actions, but please stop condoning them. You are a woman of strength. With God’s help, you can stand up for what is right and say, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Boundaries may include being in charge of finances for a while, taking your family to church even when your husband won’t go, getting counseling, setting up an intervention, seeking wisdom from a pastor, separation, getting a restraining order. Whatever boundaries you feel God is leading you to set up, don’t give up. Don’t give in to lowering your standards. Don’t give up on fervently praying. You can find some helpful prayer points in these two previous posts and in the book The Power of a Praying® Wife. And don’t let shame prevent you from seeking godly counsel. Sharing the truth can help to set you and your spouse free.
As I look back over all the years and growth we’ve had together, I’m so thankful for the character we developed during that time. We both strongly believe there isn’t any storm we can’t handle together through prayer and with God’s help. I’m thankful that I know how to fight and believe for things that my eyes cannot yet see. I’ve seen time after time how prayer has caused mountains to move for us or our hearts to become soft until we’ve moved toward where God is leading. And the man I married? I’ve seen him believe the things about himself that I always saw in him. I’ve seen him live those things. He has transformed before my very eyes and is no longer deep in despair. He has learned to love me deeply, cherish me, make me feel so loved and needed, and so much more. I think this experience taught him how to truly love. Men are called to lay down their lives for their wives like Christ did for the church. Though he isn’t perfect at it, I’ve seen him practice this many times in our marriage over the past few years. I have grown to really respect him. Where there once was shame, I am now so proud of him. He’s human, but he knows how to follow hard after God and how to keep his heart soft and moldable. Our prayer is that our story of God’s redemptive power would break chains and bring hope to many people. We don’t take pride in our reconciliation, but say, “to God be the glory, great things he has done!”