After my affair, something happened in Brian and me. Something shifted in both of our hearts. This time, things didn’t just level out and then drop again. Things changed dramatically after this event. I believe it started with true forgiveness, for both of us.
That day on my knees when I came to Jesus and felt deep in my heart His unconditional love and total forgiveness toward me, I was able to extend the same to Brian. I no longer wanted to hold myself in the position of Brian’s judge.
Also that day, Brian was able to fully forgive me for what I had done. Not just the affair, but also for my anger toward him.
I think this event showed both of us just how very broken we were. From here, as I said earlier, we felt a renewed sense to fight for our marriage. I believe the forgiveness we both experienced from God and for each other, cleared away much hardness and darkness in our hearts. I remember very clearly saying to Brian that I just believe that this was not God’s will for our lives and Brian agreed….and God started showing us how to move from His great love, grace and power.
Brian and I started to feel new again. There was a light back in both our eyes, we could see it in each other. We could feel a softening in each other. There was kindness and gentleness between us again that had not been there in such a long time. Laughter was occurring more often. There were dinners to linger over – turning off the television to enjoy conversation and each others company. We were starting to not just experience a period of less fighting and temporary happiness – but this abiding joy. We started dreaming about the future together – something that we had not done in our married lives yet.
We talked with each other about how God was moving in our lives. We both were starting to experience God in a new way. In our hearts, God started revealing to us that by His grace we are already infused with everything we need to live the lives that He has planned for us. By God’s grace, being His kids, means that we are not defined by our past, present or future mistakes or weaknesses but by His son, Jesus. Because Jesus lives in us, we are new creations, we have a new identity – we just have to wake up to it, become aware of it.
Addicted and enslaved to pornography was Brian’s “old self”. Brian’s new self is so much bigger. The more Brian became aware of this, the more freedom came.
Brian’s “old self” would taunt him and try to appeal to his old ways. Often Brian would win, in fact, it started to feel much easier to not give in to temptation. His old behavior was fading away more and more as the months went on. However, this addiction doesn’t often go without quite a fight. Several months after we had been living free from the old ways, I found that Brian had, in a moment of weakness, seized an opportunity to download porn. When I found it, I let my emotions take hold and I panicked. “This is it, right?… Months ago I told him if I ever found something again that we were done!… Things were going so well, better than ever before!… How could this be?”
I approached Brian with what I had found. He did admit that there was a day that I had left the computer on and he downloaded some pornography. I reminded him of our conversation about ending our relationship if I found anything. He of course remembered.
I called our counselor and told her what I had found and that I was terrified because I told Brian months ago that if I had ever found anything again, that we were through. She calmed me down and told me she would call Brian.
After our counselor spoke to Brian she called me and said, “Tami, this isn’t it.” She believed that this was a bump in the road to recovery we were clearly on and that this was not who Brian was anymore. She encouraged me to keep going in the healing we were experiencing and not let the enemy take hold with this slip up. I called another friend who had been a huge support to us through this as well and she said the same thing.
Their words were of some help but I was still a bit fearful. In my fear I approached Brian again and started suggesting that if we were going to stay together that I would need to see him get more help – counseling, perhaps a retreat. As I rambled on in my fear and attempt to control, Brian stood up out of the shamed posture he usually assumed during these conversations and spoke up. With a confidence I hadn’t seen before, what he said went something like this: “Tami, I have done counseling, books, groups….I don’t need to do more things…Only God can fix me now.”
In John 8:12, Jesus says “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
Brian was becoming aware of this truth and in this moment he realized that the fullness of conquering the addiction would come from within him, from Christ in Brian. He had done the groups, counseling and read many books on sexual/porn addiction, and those were great and gave him tools to stop much of the behavior. And he knew he was getting better as a result of working through many issues that those resources helped him with. He knew that it had been a while, longer than he had ever abstained from the destructive behavior before. He was no longer into any of the “hard stuff”. He hadn’t even looked at pornography for a while before this recent slip. But, as good as all the resources had been, he knew that beating this darkness wasn’t a matter of trying harder and doing more things externally. It was time for Brian to internally, in his heart, apply all of the truth that God was trying to show him. Brian knew that the One who spoke everything into existence was illuminating life to him. God had been showing Brian that His desire for him was to choose to believe something different about himself. Brian knew that as he trusted that God had other plans for him and that “addicted” was not his true identity, that he could keep moving into freedom.
In this moment, I saw something different in Brian. Brian had never been that firm and confident when talking about the addiction before. He looked different. The shame was gone from his countenance.
Even though I could see that there was a difference in Brian, this event had still triggered fear in me. I wanted to run from the hard feelings like I used to – to go numb out by turning on the radio or television or eating. But the Holy Spirit, knowing I had some lingering stuff in my heart to deal with, called me into sitting in prayer and silence before the Source of my life. So I sat in the presence of God, got in touch with what was in my heart and poured it out to God. I told God I was scared. I told him that I had felt hope again and was in love with Brian again but that I was scared that I would loose him if he fell back into the addiction and didn’t recover. Unloading those feelings opened up my heart now to feel God speak to it. I realized in that moment that my trust in God was on my terms. I trusted God with only the outcome I wanted. I had become attached to my idea of life and anything that shook my idea of life shook my faith in God. God asked me to believe that He loved me, that He loved Brian, that He was good and to trust Him fully with everything. I felt God was telling me that no matter what happened, even if I lost Brian, I would be okay. At once I felt peace. I felt that I could totally give Brian over to God. I could surrender my ideal outcome and trust God. If I let go of my attachment to the outcome, and hold myself in the love of God, I could be free of fear. I could hope and believe for the continuing restoration of our marriage without fear lingering over me and therefore making me want to control everything to keep my ideal world. God loved Brian and wanted him free more than I did. In letting go of trying to control Brian I could be free to love him, to keep believing in the true Brian, and to fully trust God with him and with us.
I went to Brian and told him that I did not believe we were over. I told Brian that I saw a strength in him that I had never seen before, and that I knew the recent stumble was not who I could clearly see he was becoming. He, we had been transforming into different people – The true Brian and Tami. We chose to keep going and trust the God who was restoring us and our marriage. God was building us up and this would not take us down.
So, we continue today to walk in this new freedom. Are we free from challenges and problems? Absolutely not. We continue to go through the recovery process and meet any challenges that may come. Brian was addicted for more than half of his life and his brain still has old wiring that can play old episodes of things from his past. The enemy still wants to steal, kill and destroy and temptations still come and sometimes they come hard at Brian. But Brian stays vigilant and has practical tools and spirituals weapons of truth to fight with. As he brings the dark thoughts that may come into the light by telling me and strong fellow brothers, that confession and our love diminishes their power and God’s power in Brian becomes stronger. We remind Brian what is true about him – that he is created new in Christ and that addiction is no longer him.
God continues to draw us to Him, to His word, and teaches us who He is and who we are. God asks us every day to choose life and not death as there are opportunities for both of us to step back into darkness. God is showing us that choosing life is not a formula to get, but a reality to wake up to. The Author of Life and Love is within Brian and me – and as we move from this amazing truth, we become who we were meant to be. This frees us to live in God’s calling for us. We are discovering God’s desires for us, his dreams for us. We were set free not just to live happily ever after but to pursue the call God has for both of us. His call on our lives bring us unparalleled, deep abiding joy.
One of the callings on our life is to see other people set free from addictions and attachments and to see marriages brought back to life. Our prayer is that our story will bring hope that there can be a new word spoken about you -that addictive and destructive behavior is not the true you because you are in Christ and Christ is you. We pray that friends, family and community would rally behind, speak life into and love those who need to know who they really are in Christ to be set free.
You are deeply loved by God. May you breathe in a fresh breath of life from your Creator and may His life and love change you from the inside out.
It has been an honor to share our story here with you all thus far. I will continue to dig deeper into past lessons we have learned as well as journal our continuing journey here. I will share honestly and openly our challenges and trials, our joy and triumphs – and we invite you to do the same.
Love, grace and peace~