There were so many ‘impossible challenges’ written in scripture. When I think of what Jesus did at the wedding in Cana when the hosts ran out of wine. Jesus mother had faith that He could do something to remedy this. He did. He turned water into wine. (John 2)
How about the fisherman who had been out fishing all night long without a catch and Jesus says to them “put your nets back down for a catch” and wala their nets filled with fish until they burst! (Luke 5:4-6)
The woman who had been hemorrhaging for years. This was a woman who more than likely had done everything known to be free of this condition and yet she bled for years until she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment in faith. (Mark 5:28)
When I came to the realization that these impossible challenges became realities of freedom because of Jesus not because of what the individuals were doing to receive the miracle but purely because of Jesus. His goodness. His righteousness. His power. His desire. I entered into a place of freedom I had not yet discovered.
There have been days, even months, perhaps years when I felt like this marriage was the impossible challenge. As a Christian I am familiar with popular biblical verses such as “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13) and “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26) but when challenged with what seems impossible do I really believe these scriptures to be true for me, for this situation? Is it applicable in a marriage where one spouse is doing what causes havoc and what the other spouse can in no way control? God tells me one thing while the world and my finite mind tell me another. Days on end I found it impossible to “rejoice in my suffering” (Romans 5:3) because the true knowledge that suffering produced perseverance was foreign to my heart. I actually thought that verse meant I was suppose to rejoice over the incidents that were causing me to suffer. I now understand that it means I am to rejoice in God regardless of the suffering… at least that is what God has revealed to me. That even though the earth may shake, it is well with my soul because everything here will fall away and not last forever but what I store up and give up to God will have eternal value.
I started the wives blog at XXXChurch two years ago this week. If you have followed my blog you know that there have been many challenges and even a two year separation in our marriage due to my husband’s ongoing struggle with pornography. You would also know that a miracle reconciliation took place in September of last year.
So then why did I stop writing the blogs? If things were so miraculously great? Did I no longer want to share the journey? Truth be told for several months I was so enamored with the reconciliation and the new journey that I didn’t want to break away to write. I wanted to forget about the personal pain/journey of porn and just get on with our lives! Isn’t that what a miracle of deliverance looks like? You don’t look back- you don’t talk about “it” anymore you just move forward! It was good, really good and there were new bloggers that had joined the site so I didn’t think it really mattered. Then once our marriage hit some speed bumps in the road I was filled with sudden doubt that a miracle had happened to begin with and wondered what the heck I was doing still on this journey! Was I the only one who had gone through reconciliation and lived with a husband who was walking in freedom but still experiencing struggles and set backs? Surely this meant there wasn’t true freedom, right? Was still facing pastoral counsel a part of freedom? Was having more accountability from lessons learned freedom? Was having others walk with us in the journey knowing every detail of our spiritual journey freedom? Was having to go through counseling AGAIN freedom? Was/is facing disappointments in the process freedom? Indeed I think it is.
The journey over the last 8 years has been long and quite painful- the healing over the last 8 months has also been painful but extremely valuable. I am learning a lot about myself in this process and honestly, some of it is really hard. I’m not as great as I thought I was and the image of self righteousness in the mirror is sobering. I have learned a lot about God, human frailty, unmet expectations, unfair requirements, humility and I am certain there is more to learn and more to uncover about love in human form and God’s constant pursuit of our hearts individually.
One thing I have felt led to share that I hope will free you up: Stop comparing your story to other stories. None of our stories are going to look the same. I found myself constantly looking at another couple who had gone through all of this and more who were just beaming with love and devotion to one another after their reconciliation. I wanted their testimony only to find that a few years into their “freedom” journey that what looked to be all together on the outside wasn’t so at all. You never really know what is going on in someone else’s home, heart, life based on outside appearance or based on words never spoken. Open and ongoing communication and accountability is such a key part to this process of freedom.
The glue holding us together over the last 5 months is what Christians refer to as “the body of Christ”. For us these are other Christians who are qualified to speak into our lives and our situation. This came through our amazing church. My husband and I went to the pastoral chaplain in our church (he’s the pastor to the pastors) and we shared our story and our struggles. He met with us a few times and clearly saw that we were going to be a work in progress to say the least. He assembled what is known to us as a “reconciliation care team”. It is made up of three male elders and one woman. They meet with us every other week for 60-90 minutes. We are asked about our personal walks with God, how are we walking in repentance as individuals before God and each other. We discuss any problems or concerns that may have come up since we last met and we are challenged by the Word and our responses to it as well as given homework which can be as simple as praying together, reading the word together, serving together etc. My husband and I also meet separately with one team member (he meets with an elder and I meet with the woman) for biweekly mentorship. I can honestly say that without this type of intense accountability during our first year of reconciliation I am not sure we would have made it. You see after so many years of dealing with sin on our own we developed dysfunctional responses and approaches not to mention that after a two year separation we each got accustomed to life without the other in so many ways. It’s been difficult at times for us to be selfless and invest in the marriage as number one priority. Issues like money, time with friends, time alone, time with families, personal differences and preferences and then for me to assume the role of wife again cooking for someone else, packing lunches, praying for my husband’s day, double the laundry and finding balance with a full time job etc. While all of this might sound like no big deal to some folks, its been a big deal for us to get acclimated again to married life or should I say married life the way it was intended to be. There are so many benefits to marriage but when the cost enters the picture the flesh gets a little feisty. I also found myself resentful at times. Resentful that I had to invest so much to fix a marriage that I didn’t break. The drives to the meetings, the time involved, the pain, the reality of the devastation porn had caused, the self discovery of so many things and personal sins that I would have rather left tucked within my core. Not to mention the lack of compassion for the life long struggle my husband has had and how hard it is for him to face a world every day that is saturated with sex and imagery. So many times in my heart I felt like he should just get over it and get on with it. While that is true in a perfect world, for someone to walk away from a life long habit that brought relief from stress, anger, anxiety, boredom, isolation etc. its another story. I have had to deal with my anger again over disappointments and unmet expectations which then gave me the option to deal with my own issues or continue in the cycle of disfunction on my own. Neither choice was one I wanted. So needless to say it has not been easy. However; there is so much fruit in our lives as a result of the hard work. There is so much progress, there is so much hope and there is so much freedom. We daily acknowledge that without God neither of us will make it- life is too hard, complicated and just plain worthless without vision, purpose, goals, and sojourners.
Thankfully today, we have those. We’re also closer than we’ve ever been to one another. We laugh a lot, we serve each other continually and we seek after God to meet our needs and to carry us through when a pot hole suddenly shows up in the road. We’re making it. We are continually being refined and pruned but Oh how sweet the fragrance of growth and blossom!