You Are More

After telling my redemption story, I wanted to share this poem a friend of mine wrote, so you can see there is hope, freedom, and life on the other side of a failed marriage. If your marriage has ended in divorce know that you too can have a redemption story, because nothing is impossible with our God.

You Are More…

My Story of Abuse and Recovery

by Leanna Green

She listens to the things he says to her everyday.

A beautiful woman now turned to gray.

Lost in his image of her, but it started long before him. 

Her mother’s words engraved in her head,  

She’s been branded from birth with no self worth.

Her mother always acting like she’s the one who’s wrong,

Like she’s crazy and has nothing good in her, all she is is wrong.

So is this man right, or is her mother delusional and lost within her own fight?

 

 

She believes in a Savior.

Knows that Jesus is the only one that can save her.

Goes to church every Sunday.

But she feels so trapped, doesn’t know where to turn.

Can’t run away because he holds her mind captive.

Will this ever end?

 

 

Alone in this mess, because she is too afraid to let anyone in.

She hides it well; behind her smile she has a horrifying story to tell.

He spits in her face telling her she’s worthless.

His actions make her have to pay such a high cost.

She’s so scared and lost.

Just wants to do what’s right, but she’s walking through fog with no lights on

And has no directional in sight.

So confused. Help her Lord she can’t do this on her own.

 

 

He strikes her with his words; he strikes her with his fist.

Hits her, always sorry after it’s been done.

But he never means it, because it’s the same ending everyday.

So much damage has been done.

The next day it’s right back to the same old thing…

She just falls to the floor, because she’s so tired of being missed.

Missed by the people she prayed would see.

See the pain underneath her painted on smile within her misery.

She doesn’t know what to do anymore,

Just lost and broken, shattered on the floor.

 

 

He can’t stand his own reflection, so he deflects it on her,

Making her feel as if she is the one who’s wrong.

This has been going on for so long.

She prays to God every night for direction and some insight.

She married him, so isn’t she supposed to stay?

This isn’t that black and white.

Is it?

Isn’t there some other way?

She has a little girl who looks up to her now.

She doesn’t want her to grow up thinking that this is okay.

 

 

She finally gets the courage to walk away.

Sitting in her room holding her baby girl, sobbing,

Praying to God that He will be with her

And help her to continue to do what she needs to to be free

From this prison that she’s been in for so long.

Praying that God would remove his voice from her head and replace it with His.

Make him loosen his grip so her soul could be cleansed.

And find herself again.

Find her worth.

Become more than she’s ever been told.

 

 

Forgiveness she has now found.

Because in order to be free, she had to send all the hate away and just let it be.

Forgiving the man that hurt her and the mother who she could never please.

This was the only way.

She’s worth so much more than the lies she’s been told.

Her mind starts to become clear.

She finally doesn’t have to live in anymore fear.

 

 

A new voice in her head

Telling her not to listen to the awful things they have said.

Taking her hand and telling her how beautiful she is inside and out.

Her mind starts to become clear with so much less doubt.

God took her pain and used it for her good.

She put down what she thought was good and picked up what was best,

Knowing now that’s what she deserves.

Nothing but the best.

 

 

This man is unlike any other.

He saw her beauty inside and out.

Helped her erase all of the built up doubt.

With God and this man she started to understand.

They were wrong, and she was not to blame.

She is a beautiful woman that was unrightfully put to shame.

 

 

Understanding now her worth,

Nothing can stop her.

She is going to change this earth.

Her voice will resonate through the minds of

People who are still stuck where she was.

She will change their minds

And help them to no longer live in their own personal hells.

Showing them the God who saved her from hers.

Helping them see there is more than

Just living and accepting the lies they’ve been told.

With Jesus she is going to save so many souls.

 

 

I know this story all to well, because that woman I speak of is me.

And now I will help others to see.

There is a life beyond the pain.

There is a life beyond the lies you’ve been told.

Come walk with Jesus and free your soul.

 

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Our Redemption Story: Epilogue – Final Thoughts

Prologue, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

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!”

Our Redemption Story: Part 7

Prologue, Part 1, Part 2 Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

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.

When I went back home for our baby’s doctor’s appointment, Will and I were ready to get back together. Because of the scare of possibly losing his family, he was ready to do everything he could to not give into temptation. Miraculously, we were only separated for about 3 weeks.

We went to counseling and stayed accountable to the few people who knew our situation. One time, about a month after we got back together, he didn’t come home.  I confronted him and told him I wouldn’t put up with this again; if it happened again, I’d leave again. That was the last time it ever happened.

About 3 months after we were reconciled, Will got a revelation from God. God wanted to deal with the root of the issue, and Will was ready to respond. He realized that because of his broken relationship with his earthly father, he didn’t view God as a loving father. He pictured God as almighty, all powerful, and way out there somewhere, but not a God who could have an intimate relationship with him, who would care about the little things, and love him no matter what. Once he understood God in this new way, the bondage of sexual sin was broken off of him! He was on fire for the Lord and acted like a different person.

A month later, God wanted to reward us for being committed to the covenant of our marriage. We found out I was pregnant again! When we learned it was a boy, we quickly settled on a name that meant, “Gift from God.” Since then, we’ve been blessed with 3 more children, and we just celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. The Lord Thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save… Zephaniah 3:17.

If someone you love is struggling with addiction (a sinful habit they can’t break), something I learned from our story is this. Usually a Christian’s addiction stems from one of two wrong belief systems. Either they have a tainted view of who God says they are, or a misperception of who God says he is.  Pray for God to give them a revelation of who he made them to be and who God really is. The reality of those two things has the power to break addiction. What keeps us in bondage? Satan’s lies about us or his lies about God. Remember what he said to Eve? “Did God REALLY say…” Then he convinced her that what God said wouldn’t happen (Genesis 3:1-19). Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Satan deceives, kills, steals, and destroys, but Jesus came to give us abundant life, life to the fullest. He’s so ready and able to open up people’s spiritual eyes so the truth can bring their freedom.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:17-19a

 

Our Redemption Story: He’s Always Been Faithful – Part 6

Prologue, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

There’s a song called “He’s Always Been Faithful,” by Sara Groves. It has been a favorite of ours. During the year we weren’t dating, I was asked to participate in a talent show at my co-worker’s church. I really loved this song and could play it on the piano, but I wanted guitar too. I invited Will to come along to play and sing with me. We have been able to sing it together many times since, and it has become an anthem for our relationship.

I will share the lyrics with you so you know can see how this song has been a testament to God’s faithfulness even when we didn’t know how his faithfulness would work out difficult situations for us.

Morning by morning I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God’s hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me.

I can’t remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can’t remember one single regret
In serving God only, and trusting His hand
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me.

This is my anthem, this is my song
The theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful, He’s always been faithful
He’s always been faithful to me.

 Though the pastor forgot during our ceremony, we were supposed to have the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” in our wedding. Sara Groves’s song is based on that hymn. We have sung “He’s Always Been Faithful” together in various churches quite a bit. Each time was either during a time of uncertainty when we were counting on God to be faithful, or right after a time like that when we could sing about his faithfulness with absolute conviction.

When I was staying with my parents, I was asked to sing in church one Sunday. Of course, I chose this song, and sang it as a prayer: “I can’t remember a trial or a pain he did not recycle to bring me gain… God has been faithful, he will be again…” I didn’t know if God would heal my marriage, but I desperately prayed he would, and I knew that he would show his faithfulness in my life once again. I sang it expecting that he would do a miracle, and I sang my heart out.

 

Our Redemption Story: Part 5

Prologue, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

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.

In the bank’s parking lot, I asked him if he wanted to follow me to the car to say goodbye to the baby. After he did, I awkwardly hugged his limp arms, said I loved him, and told him I wasn’t looking for a divorce. He walked away without saying a word. He was so mad.

With my dad, I began the 5 hour trip to my parents’ house. It took a few hours longer since the baby was colicky. When we got there, we moved things around in the spare room so the baby and I could both fit with our stuff. Then I hung up a few pictures of Will over the changing pad so our baby wouldn’t forget him. I was so broken, worried of what would happen with my marriage, and exhausted from taking care of a baby who wouldn’t nap or sleep well out of my arms. I was also a bit relieved, because now I had a lot more help with the baby and support from people who knew what was going on – something that was missing from my day to day life back home.

It felt so good to have the physical comfort of my parents. I remember tearful conversations with my mom while navigating each step from separation to reconciliation. She would pray and give practical advice when necessary, then remind me to trust God when there wasn’t more to say. Her godly wisdom and presence helped me get through.

I hadn’t heard from or called my husband since I had gotten there, but one day while my parents were out, I was trying to figure out how to hook up their video camera to the TV so I could watch my wedding video. I needed help and saw that as an excuse to call Will. It was less than a week after I had gotten there. He didn’t know how to help me over the phone, but somehow, just the fact that we were talking started to soften his heart. He told me he got a credit card and bought a computer. He wanted to set up a time to chat online with me. When he told me his screen name, I didn’t comment, but I had a little flicker of hope. He used parts of both of our names in his screen name!

After the initial anger about me leaving him and being kicked out of our apartment, he started to realize that the addiction and all of his actions that went along with that weren’t worth losing his family over. We started talking more, especially online, because neither one of us had many minutes on our prepaid phones. Almost immediately after our first conversation, he said he wanted to do whatever it would take to get me back. He was sorry for everything and ready to do whatever would be needed to overcome the addiction and work toward healing our marriage.

He was done with Canada. He was ready to stop working at the restaurant. He set out to prove that he was ready to make changes so he could take care of our family. He interviewed for a more professional job and got it. Working full time during the day would help him be more accountable to come home straight after work. Because a man’s sense of worth is often wrapped up in his vocation, working a “real job” would help with his depression and give him a purpose.

There were a bunch of financial hurdles that we had to work through. Though he was making good money at times at the restaurant, much of it had been blown to feed the addiction as he got further into it, so it had been hard to pay our bills. He used the new credit card to get some other things for the room he had to rent. He got into more debt to buy a suit for the interview and a few more after he was offered the position. The job required him to get licensed in the field, which of course cost money. It was a commission only job, so after he took it, there were times when we couldn’t pay our bills. It looked to be a rough ride in more ways than one if we were going to work toward reconciliation. God was doing a miraculously quick work in us, and we were ready to take those steps.

 

 

Our Redemption Story: The Vase -Part 4

vase

Prologue, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

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.

The day before I left my husband, my friend and her husband came over to help me pack. She had a gift for me. Before I opened it, she started crying and said something like, “I’m not crying because of the cost or value of this gift, I’m crying because of what it means.” I opened it, looked at it, and started crying too. Up until then, I thought I was the only one who believed that God could heal my marriage. God used my friend and this gift to give me so much hope!

The gift was a beautiful vase that has 5 sides. Each side has a quote from 1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter, on it. It says, “Love always perseveres. Love always hopes. Love always trusts. Love always protects. Love never fails.”

Since the day I received the vase, I’ve always had the “Love never fails,” side facing out. When circumstances, emotions, and actions said something very different, I held on to this promise, and believed in a miracle with all my heart.

Years after we our reconciliation, we got home from vacation to find that our cat had knocked over and broken the vase. I told Will it was my most prized possession, and I was so upset. He comforted me and said it looked fixable. It broke into 3 different pieces with the biggest missing chunk going right through the words, “Love never fails.”

I love the vase even more now with cracks showing and all, because it is a clearer, truer picture of our story. It’s like a parable telling its viewers of an almost hopeless, broken time where God bound up our wounds and turned our ashes into beauty. He truly made all things new. Without our messed up, ugly past, we wouldn’t have developed the character needed to become who we are today. What situations, people, and experiences have molded you into the beautifully broken and put-back-together-again person you are now?

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:7-9

Our Redemption Story: Feelings, Prayers, and Declarations – Part 3

Prologue, Part 1, Part 2

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.

I had a lot of various feelings and thoughts as I watched Will get deeper in his addiction. When sex was good, I wondered if it was because of something he had seen. Was he fantasizing about other people during sex? Would he ever have an affair or leave me for someone who will participate in this sin with him? I’m a worrier by my human nature. My biggest emotion was worry, worry to the point of not sleeping well, feeling sick every time I found out again, and then worry that our unborn son’s development would be hurt because of my worry. Each night he worked late, I’d make myself ill wondering if he was coming home after work.

Sometimes I wanted to quit my job. I’d come home to find that he had finished work early that day and decided to shut himself in the bedroom. If I didn’t have to work, could he still find a way to feed this addiction? Other times, because he was depressed, if we were invited somewhere, he wouldn’t want to go. I knew that if I went without him, he’d have the opportunity to act on temptation. At times, I chose to stay home. Other times, I’d go but have this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach the whole time.

The hardest part was that because there was so much secrecy and shame wrapped up in a sin like this, I didn’t have many people that I felt I could go to for counsel or prayer. Will’s hope was to be one of the worship leaders at church. We felt that even if we walked through this, if other pastors and leaders knew, he may be looked down upon and never be given that opportunity. Our home group pastors, counselors, my family, and a few close friends knew. It was lonely, especially for Will because none of his friends or family knew what was going on until I left. Even if we had shared with a lot of people, not many people in the church talk about going through something like this, and the world doesn’t usually have a problem with it, so we both felt like we were navigating in uncharted waters.

When we were engaged, God gave me a verse for Will. “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ.” Philippians 1:6. Because I had been hurt by him before and during engagement, I wasn’t sure I trusted him completely. I knew this verse was a promise to me for his life. I said, “God, I’m not sure I can trust that he will always be committed to you and to me.” God responded, “OK, if you can’t trust him, can you trust me? Can you trust me IN him to complete the work that I started?” I held on to that for dear life. According to that verse, the responsibility was God’s.

Like I mentioned before, Will often fell deep into despair. He would mess up, cry to God for deliverance, mess up again, and hate himself, thinking he could never get free. Often he would withdraw from me, and that’s how I knew he had fallen again. He often threw himself pity parties, speaking aloud his false beliefs about himself. When he did this, I would remind myself of that verse, then I’d tell him all of the things that I knew were true about him. He was a man after God’s heart. He was an anointed worshipper, he had an amazing destiny, one that Satan tried to rob in an abortion room. God had a marvelous plan for him. Sometimes, I’d tell him why I loved him, which, besides what I already mentioned, were reasons like his love for children and family, his singing voice, his guitar playing, his looks – especially his eyes, the way he would run after God without compromise (when he wasn’t entertaining his addiction). He usually wouldn’t respond, or end up falling asleep. He is an all or nothing kind of guy. If he’s on fire for God, everything about him – his actions, his countenance – changes. When he’s depressed, he is quick to give up on everything and quickly falls into despair; he acts like the exact opposite of who he truly is.

On many of my lunch breaks at work, I spent a lot of time praying, sometimes using The Power of a Praying® Wife. I would pray such powerful prayers and leave that time so encouraged. Wouldn’t you know, on the most powerful prayer days, I’d come home to a husband who felt hopeless, because it happened again. That was always a huge blow to my hope.

Something that I learned through this process, and I share with every wife that God gives me the chance to encourage, is that because God made a husband and wife one flesh, as wives, our prayers have the greatest influence over our husbands. Did you get that? Out of all of the people God could move on to pray for your husband, you have the most authority and the most influence in the spiritual realm when you pray for him, because you are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone. So when your prayers are full of faith and the opposite happens, take heart! They really are effective! (James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”) Another verse I want to leave you with is 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 “For though we walk according to the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God…”

In my next post, I’ll pick up where I left off in part 2.

Our Redemption Story: Addiction -Part 2

 

Prologue, Part 1

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.

     Whether or not he was coming home that night, I was leaving. On the nights when our 7 week old, colicky baby who rarely napped would finally sleep, I slept fitfully, worrying when or if my husband would come home. I was exhausted. My pastor’s wife invited the baby and me to sleep over so she could help with him while I rested. They were having home group that night, and we hadn’t been there in a few weeks. I knew if I showed up our friends would wonder where my husband Will was, but though I was ashamed of the answer to that question, I was too weary not to say yes to the invitation.

     I took a nap during the Bible study, but when it was over, once again I hardly slept. I wished with all of my heart that Will would come home after work and worry about the baby and me since I didn’t leave a note. I wanted him to get a taste of what it was like to wonder where your spouse is when they should be home. He never called. I called the house multiple times in the middle of the night just to get the answering machine. When I returned the next morning, he came home after me, never to have had the chance to worry.

     Let me back up a bit. At some point during our yearlong engagement, Will told me he needed to talk to me. I knew it was serious, and I was a little afraid that he might call off our engagement. After all, he had broken up with me once already. He told me that his roommate urged him to come clean after he had found pornography on the computer. Will cried. He said he had had this addiction before he was saved, and it recently reared its ugly head once again. He told me that he would do whatever it would take to get free, and I agreed to help however I could. I got rid of the internet in my apartment, so if he came over to work on school work while I was at work he wouldn’t be tempted. We went to our pastors for counseling. They gave us a few books, some counsel, and referred us to another couple who had walked through addiction. Things were looking good, and the few times Will would get caught up in porno again, he’d always tell me and repent.

     Though we didn’t have sex, we did not stay sexually pure before marriage. I was helping him feed that sin, and I didn’t even know it. I didn’t understand how those two things were related, because in my mind, one was fantasy, and one was real life. I thought they were separate sins. James 1:14-15 says, “But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” We were trying to heed to our counseling and “starve the beast” by getting help for Will to stop his addiction, and at the same time, we were participating in things that fed it, giving birth to death rather than freedom.

     I was naïve. I wouldn’t realize until later the power addiction can have over a person, even over someone who desperately wants to be free. I thought he could repent, get counsel, and it would be behind us. A few months after we got married, it started happening more often. First, he’d secretly keep one of those AOL CDs that would come in the mail, and he’d download the internet without my knowledge. Then he’d buy a TV and hide it in the attic for a few days before telling me. One night, I found a tape he had bought and watched. It made me sick to my stomach. While he was at work, I walked down the street and threw it in someone else’s garbage so he couldn’t find it.

     This is how the cycle went. He’d mess up for a few days, tell me, ask for forgiveness, and then desperately beg God to be free. He read every book we could find on how to be free from sexual addiction. He saw multiple counselors. He thought he must be more messed up than most guys since he couldn’t kick this. He’d fall into a deep depression, then eventually have a good week. We’d move on with life hoping this was behind us, until, boom, the cycle would repeat itself. In another post I’ll talk about what I did during these cycles.

     We got pregnant with our first baby 7 months after we got married. Sometime during the second half of my pregnancy, there were times Will wouldn’t come home after work. He would leave his late night serving shift and drive up to Canada to go to a strip club because, “They are allowed to do more than they can do here,” he told me with remorse one day.

     I remember calling my mom close to Thanksgiving and crying. Our baby was due in about 4 weeks, so the doctor didn’t want me travelling, and my parents lived 5 hours away. I was trying to figure out if I should make the trip and stay with them, transfer my medical records, and plan on having the baby in their town. I decided to stay home for the time being. Then, a few weeks before our son was born, I heard Will come home in the middle of the night. He fell asleep on the couch, but I woke him up and asked, “Do you realize the stress and worry you’re causing me? I’m really worried that it will affect the baby somehow. What am I supposed to do if you are hours away up in Canada, and I go into labor? Do you even want to be at the hospital when the baby’s born?” He said he didn’t know.

     When our baby boy was born, he was so happy to be a father. He loved our little guy so much, and the excitement of all the newness carried him for about a month. Sometime during my maternity leave, he quit his fulltime job and picked up more hours at the restaurant. Our plan was for me to be a stay at home mom as soon as my maternity leave was over, but the pressure of taking care of and providing for our new family was too much for him. Depression hit, and he fell deep in the addiction once again.

     Sometime before Valentine’s Day, I called my parents and asked if our son and I could stay with them for a while. I decided that it was one thing to hurt me, his wife, but I wouldn’t let him hurt our son. I didn’t want to raise a baby in that kind of environment, and knew it was my responsibility to set up healthy boundaries whether or not my husband would change. My dad rented a car so he could later help me drive down to their house, drove the 5 hours, and helped me pack up what we would need for a few weeks. We would come home for my baby’s next doctor’s appointment and make more permanent decisions after that.

     Will and I had been staying in a house my parents still owned in our city. To my surprise, my dad told Will he’d have to find a new place to live while we were separated. He scrambled to find a room to rent. I left him with no apartment, no working car, and after closing our joint bank account, little money. Oh, and I was taking his 2 ½ month old son away from him. He was so angry. He was sure divorce would be our only option, because he knew he could never forgive me. I didn’t want to divorce him, but living together would be condoning his sinful behavior, and as a wife and mother, I couldn’t stand blameless before God if I did so. My desire was that a separation would help us work toward an eventual reconciliation. The problem is, as I had learned during our break up, he had free will. He could choose not to work toward reconciliation.

 

Our Redemption Story: Part 1

Prologue, Part 2

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.

    It was a few minutes before midnight on Valentine’s Day. We had been studying for an upcoming test in our college Spanish class together, and I walked him to the door. Will turned around and timidly asked me to be his girlfriend. I was so giddy! He was my first boyfriend.

     We had both decided we didn’t want to date unless we were going to pursue marriage. He had had a few relationships before becoming a Christian, and until he met me, he was not looking for a girlfriend. I was set on marrying a youth pastor, so when I first met him, I just thought he was a nice guy I could be friends with.

     We spent the next two months in mental turmoil, him more than me. Many times he would question if I really was “the one” for him which would make me second guess our relationship, then a few days later, he would decide we were on the right path. And so we went, back and forth for a couple of months.

     Finally, we decided to take a day away from each other and pray, asking God to reveal to us if we were to continue our relationship or not. I went to a park, and God confirmed to me that it was OK to marry Will. That evening, I confidently drove to his house, and we both joyfully told each other we had heard from the Lord that we could walk toward marriage in our relationship.

     A week later, out of the blue, he broke up with me. He said he felt like he wasn’t ready for a commitment, that he needed more time to grow in his relationship with the Lord. Will went through a time of trying to run away from his relationship with God. He felt like if he was wrong when he heard I would be his wife, then he didn’t know how to hear from God at all. He had a hard time having a relationship with a God he couldn’t have communication with.

     I was devastated. I knew I had heard from God, but I also knew that people have free will. If Will decided not to date me, there wasn’t anything I could do about it. We went to the same home group with people from church. I saw him there on weeks his relationship with God was on again, and I worried for him the times he didn’t show up. When he did come, we often led worship together. Everyone said we had a special dynamic, an anointing, when we led together. Can I just tell you how hard it is to have powerful spiritual experiences with someone you aren’t dating anymore?? There was a connection there that I tried hard to not let my heart feel.

     As I said, I worried a lot about Will as I watched him come in and out of church activities. I knew he was struggling, and I really wanted to see him get his life right with the Lord. I’m pretty sure if I had sought counsel that I would have been told that my next decision wasn’t a wise one, but I decided to buy the book The Power of a Praying® Wife and pray through it, inserting Will’s name in the prayers. My deep desire was still to marry him, but I wouldn’t do so if he wasn’t firm in his faith. I knew that God could bring someone else along my path before Will stopped straddling the fence. I chose to give God my desires. I told him, “Yes, I’d love to be his wife someday, but more importantly, I want him to walk with you with his whole heart. I’m going to use this book to help me pray for him to become the husband you want him to be someday for whoever his wife will be.”

     During this time, I met with a friend who mentored me. My goal was to work on me and find healthy ways to get over the heartache while finding out who I really was. We studied a book called A Woman of Strength: Reclaim Your Past, Seize Your Present, and Secure Your Future (Women of Confidence). It really helped me. I remember that I also really wanted hope. When I found the verses Romans 5:3-5, I was upset and said, “why does hope have to be last on this list?? Hope is what I really need to keep going.” The verses say, “…we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” God used that time, through Bible study and book study to develop character in me that wouldn’t have been there if I hadn’t suffered a little.

     Through various events, Will knew that I was concerned for him and praying for him. He saw that I was able to put my feelings aside and remain a loyal friend. About a year after we broke up, our pastor’s wife told me he still had feelings for me. I said, “I really don’t want to know that. Please don’t talk to me about this until I see that he has made some life changes and there is commitment behind his feelings.”

     That summer, we started hanging out more often, first with friends, and then alone. He confided in me that he wanted to marry me someday after he got his act together. We talked about the far off future and about things he needed to work on before we could be in a relationship. You know those TV shows where someone says, “I love you,” and the other person says, “Thank you?” That was us. I didn’t say, “Thank you,” but I didn’t say it back either. He knew I loved him, but he also knew I was looking for a lifetime commitment before I would open my heart completely to him again.

     Back then, every summer my parents would go to a revival camp meeting in Virginia. I told Will I was planning on going with my dad, and I invited him along. They often had signs and wonders there that I hadn’t seen anywhere else, and this was my way of seeing what he was open to spiritually now that he was trying to walk with God again. Of course, I also wanted my dad to get to know him better. When he had broken up with me, my dad’s Papa Bear’s heart hurt for me, and he didn’t want to see me get hurt again.

     While we were there, Will committed himself to pursuing me completely. He confessed a lot of things from his past and from the year that he was floundering. He even told me about a few times he had almost had sex with someone that year, but because of various circumstances (sudden sickness, declined credit cards, etc.), their plans were thwarted. He told me that each time it happened, he knew it was because his future wife was praying for him, and he was so mad, mad at her and mad at God. What a testimony to my faithfulness to pray for him and his future relationship with his wife!

     We came home from camp in an official relationship again, ready to get my parents’ blessing for our future.

     Ladies, he wasted no time! He set up a time to talk to them within a week. They told him, yes, we had their blessing, but could we please wait a little while, take things slow, and not get engaged right away? Well, he wanted the whole world to know that he was completely committed to us, so he proposed the very next day! One year and a day later, we were married. And that, my friends, was the beginning of our journey which would only get rockier.

If I Told You My Story – Prologue

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to do a series of posts called “Our Redemption Story.” I believe we all have a story to tell, and when others hear it, it can bring hope, encouragement, healing, and can even break chains. Revelation 12:11 says, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”

The story my husband Will and I have includes a break up, surprise babies, addiction, separation, restoration, and transformation. When I hear this song, I think of all of the amazing things God has written into the story of our life together, my very favorite story!


My Story