This is an excerpt from an email I recently sent to a hurting wife, who contacted us after she discovered her husband’s addiction to pornography.  This represents the hope I’ve found in my own life and marriage.  I hope it will bring you hope, too.

There are several things I would encourage you to do. First I would try to find a counselor who specializes in sex addiction or is at least very familiar with it. (this would be for both of you but even if your husband won’t go, it is worth you going. It can help you understand what your husband is dealing with as well as find out where you need to change and grow) Greg and I started counseling a few days after his sin was exposed and it was SO helpful and has been extremely instrumental in healing our marriage. Another thing is that it is so important to listen to what your husband has to share. It will be so hard at times and you will get very angry. That’s ok. You can even express your anger. Try not to “freak out” or say things that will lead to more shame. Shame and secrecy run the addictive cycle so if you can be a safe place for him, it helps so much. Ask God to love and forgive through you. It’s too big to do on your own! He is able to do above and beyond all we can imagine!

I would also encourage you to find a support system if you don’t already have one. It’s especially helpful if you can find others who have walked this same path. It’s very hard to be around friends who are very angry with your husband and “freak out” at the whole sex addiction topic. They can really hinder your ability to heal. I am in a wonderful support group that deals with codependency and it has been so helpful for me to deal with areas in my own life that are unhealthy. I have realized ways that I contributed to the unhealthy state that our marriage was in. It’s not my fault (and it’s not yours for your husband!) that Greg turned to porn and eventually committed adultery; but I had contributed to where we found ourselves in January 2009, through my own habits, words, and attempts to control. Even if your husband “drags his feet” into recovery and doesn’t seem ready to dig in, you can begin to get healthy and learn how to set boundaries.

There are several books I would recommend to you:

Every Heart Restored by Fred & Brenda Stoker
Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
The Codependent’s Guide to the Twelve Steps by Melody Beattie
Boundaries by Townsend and Cloud

I know this barely scratches the surface but I pray it encourages you that there is hope! It is a long road and hard but SO worth the work. Your marriage is worth fighting for! A good friend and pastor told us that recovery and sanctification are the same thing! Both are, at their heart, the process of making us more like Christ.  God loves you so much and although He constantly gives us more than we can handle, He’ll never give us more than HE can handle. Fall on Him and let Him know how much You need Him. He’ll carry you and grow you so much through this!

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If you haven’t already seen it, you should read Ashley Weis’ blog, “More Than Desire.” It’s a wonderful, encouraging site for all couples, but especially couples who have been through hurt & betrayal. Ashley recently posted Greg’s story of addiction, exposure, and recovery; and she’s asked both of us to write posts showing other couples going through the same thing that there can be hope and encouragement even in the hardest times. I haven’t posted in forever, so I’m striking while the iron is hot and posting it here as well. Hope it’s a blessing.


How is it possible for me to heal after hearing that my husband has been keeping his sexual sin from me for the 17 years we’ve been married? How can I possibly find hope in the midst of the healing? How will I ever trust my husband again? Will I ever be enough for him? Does God really forgive and remove sin as far as the east is from the west? Will I ever go a day without crying? These are a few of the many questions that raced through my mind and tormented me as I learned of my husband’s battle with sex addiction. They are also questions people have asked me.

Before you read any further, you must know that many things have helped me along this journey but ONLY by the precious, mighty, loving, gracious love of God for His children, and His work in us, can anyone heal from this or any other devastation that comes into our lives! No matter where you find yourself on your journey, God is enough! He loves you enough to rescue you because He delights in you! (Ps. 18:19)
I sit here writing this almost 17 months into my journey after my husband’s sin was exposed. I will never forget the day Greg called me to come meet him and we drove to a nearby parking lot. I was so angry as he began to share the devastating details with me. Almost instantly I thought, “I’ll never leave him but I don’t know that I can ever get over this.”

We pretty quickly headed over to our church where Greg had served as worship pastor for 11 years to meet with two of the staff. Before we went into the meeting, Greg said, “One day I hope you can forgive me.” I responded, “I don’t know how but I think God is already starting the work.” God was already working miracles!

Before I was brought into the meeting, I sat in a room by myself for a few minutes while they talked with Greg. I sat on the couch and put my head in my hands and cried out to God. “This is too big, God. I can’t do this.” Instantly I felt as if God wrapped a blanket around me and said, “I am here, I’m enough and you are going to be ok.” Other than that, I didn’t know much but God gave me the grace to accept that I didn’t have to know the end; I just had to take His hand and start taking one step at a time.

In the weeks and months that followed I cried more than I thought any person could cry. I’ve always had a temper but had never experienced such anger. The beautiful part of all the crying and screaming was that after each “episode” I felt God slowly mending my heart and I experienced a little more healing. It was so important to grieve and let it all out. Our counselor assured me over and over that it was best for me to express everything I was feeling. Greg and I talked all day while the kids were at school and then after they went to bed, we’d stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning talking. We’d fold laundry together or clean house while talking about things that we’d never shared. We both had so much in our pasts that we’d never talked about. I had before me a broken, repentant man who began loving and serving me in a way I’d never known. He was not defensive and answered all my questions. He showed me from the beginning he was willing to do whatever it took to help me through the worst tragedy of my life.

Another amazing thing God did almost immediately was to allow me to see my own sin. For years God had been convicting me that I was putting Greg in the place where he didn’t belong. I sensed what God was trying to show me, and feared that one day He might take Greg away from me, but I kept looking to Greg and pushing God to the side. I busied myself with ministry and people pleasing, hoping that it would please God. Wow, was I missing it! I had great Christian parents, grew up on the mission field, and went to Bible College so I knew better but I didn’t allow the truth to change me. I believe God finally said, “enough” and allowed my idol to come crashing down. I was forced to realize that only God would be faithful to me at all times. He was the only One I needed, even if everything I held dear were taken away. I believe that in acknowledging my own sin, and the ways that I’d contributed to the place where Greg and I found ourselves, I was able to begin seeing Greg the way Christ sees him and that was where the forgiveness began.

In my brokenness and desperation, God allowed me to truly seek His face. He also gave me the gift of hope that my marriage could be better than it was before. Greg and I have finally begun to experience intimacy the way God desires for a marriage. We are best friends who aren’t settling for a married life that’s more like roommates than soul mates.

There have been bumps along the way and there will continue to be. We’re human. We won’t reach perfection this side of heaven. We’ve both experienced God’s abundant grace in our lives and what we want now is to share it with others. And in sharing our story with them, it’s opened up so many opportunities to be encouraged by others, too. I have a friend who I met in the early days of my healing. She’s been such a wonderful encourager, and is constantly sharing affirming words and Scriptures with me. One of the verses she shared with me has become one that I cling to often in light of what I’ve been through. In Isaiah 61, it says, “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…to provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” I so want to remember that truth, that about a year into our healing, I got that reference tattooed onto my ankle so that anyone who sees it (myself included) can know and remember what God has done!

I dropped Katie off at the Freshman campus this morning and it has become a habit of mine to turn on the radio to 88.5 and listen to whatever sermon is playing. I have heard so many “snippets” from sermons but God uses them every time to encourage and often convict me. Today was no different. When I turned it on, the pastor was reading James 5:19,20 which says, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” I’ve heard that so many times over the years and usually I think of my brother who is a prodigal. Even these past 15 months as I’ve heard those verses and now also think of Greg, I usually say, “thank you Lord for bringing him home!”

Well, today God gave me a picture of the first people He used to bring Greg’s secret sin out into the light. Of course it wasn’t a literal picture because I have no idea what they look like. I was overcome with gratitude that they didn’t keep the information secret in order to protect their own loved one also involved. I pray God used them to also bring their own family member back to God. The fact that I could pray that is in itself a miracle because in the beginning I really wanted to go and seriously hurt, curse and at times I felt like I wanted to kill those involved in the “other life” I knew nothing about. I hated them and all they had done to add to my pain. I had to give all the anger I had toward the other people to God and leave it with Him. I believe when we truly do that, He gives us compassion for those who have hurt us.

In our case, God used strangers to bring the information to people we know. Then those loved ones confronted Greg. I hope that makes sense. Those of us who knew Greg so well just had no idea about his secret struggle with sin. I still praise God Greg was ready to turn from his sin and walk the path God wants for him. I’m blown away daily by this new man walking with integrity. I praise God for His work!

Maybe one day I’ll be able to thank in person those God used to expose Greg. That one act was the beginning and was instrumental in saving our marriage! God knows how grateful I am and I’ll just leave that with Him!

So, if you know of anyone who has wandered away, take the risk and go after them! They may not be ready and may continue in their sin but what have you really lost if you are obedient to God’s leading? When you do go after them, and they want to “come home” don’t leave them to figure it out on their own! God is enough, yes, but He wants to use His body! Praise God for the body of Christ!

I was walking this morning and listening to a study by Beth Moore. I won’t even begin to try and paraphrase, I’m just going to tell you exactly what she said. They are all her words so don’t think I came up with any of it! It is so good that I thought it worth passing along. I have so far to go in my walk with the Lord but I am so thankful for the baby steps He is orchestrating in my life. I am one stubborn chick but by the grace of God I’m still in this race! Many may look at the year we have had and think “poor Stacey, I can’t imagine going through what she has gone through. I would not have stayed with Greg, I would kill my husband if he ever did that.” Can I be so bold as to say, PLEASE ask God to change your heart and beg for His mercy and grace to flow through you when you are faced with ANY wrong done to you! God has allowed me to forgive Greg and love him more than I ever imagined possible. BUT the battle is not over. Satan still wants to trip me up and daily I have to take thoughts captive. As all of you, I too have been hurt in many ways by other people, not just Greg. You might think, “if she can forgive that, she can get over anything.” Oh, you would be so wrong. Well, by God’s grace, yes I can, but it’s not that simple. Sometimes the “smaller” offenses as we consider them, are the hardest to let go of. My sweet Katie just asked me the other day (after being hurt by a friend), “isn’t it easier to forgive when someone says sorry and asks you to forgive them?” I said, “of course, but that’s conditional forgiveness and it’s not what God asks of us.” We all need grace. We’re the ones who “rate” sin from the little ones to the really big ones. Consequences of course are greater with some sins, but we need to stop going only so far with our forgiveness and then saying, “no, that’s too big…can’t get past that one.” I’m not even talking about sexual sin as I’ve faced. I’m saying it could be something another person said to you that you just won’t let go. Tal Prince says withholding forgiveness is the same as taking a drink of poison and expecting the other person to die. YOU will be the one to suffer. If we don’t see sin the way God does, we won’t be able to move forward. We will stay in the dark pit. ALL of our sin had to be paid for and Jesus paid the price! Accept His forgiveness (which we don’t deserve) and then lavish it on others!! The freedom is unimaginable!! Ok, that was all me, the rest is Beth Moore. I hope you find it challenging and encouraging!

“Oh my God, it occurs to me afresh today that there is only one thing worse than what I have been in my life: what I would have been without it. I cannot comprehend your ways but I am so thankful that my life demanded the unreasonable from You so that I could learn the essence of grace. I would have missed it if I could have Lord. I wanted to be good, even perfect, so righteous so badly. Instead I have come face to face with an undeniable fact: I am a ragamuffin. Oh how I hate my sins against You Lord. How I despise them but how You use them to set me free from my own self, my own gospel. Thank you for dining with sinners my Lord. Thank you for dining with me.”

The following is also from Beth Moore. I was listening and typing so it may not be word for word but it’s all hers!

Eph. 4:32 says forgive others as you have been forgiven…God is saying “grace them”; they don’t deserve it, neither did you deserve My forgiveness. To the degree that we allow the grace of God to be spread abroad in our soul’s spirit, our heart and our mind, to that degree we will be able to grace others. The reason why we have such a difficult time gracing others is because if we’ll look at it, we are probably a people of the law. If we have trouble forgiving, it’s because we have a stronghold very often (I won’t be dogmatic enough to say every time) of legalism in us somewhere.” We all wish we could forget things that have been done to us and things we have done. God has a sea of forgetfulness, we don’t so what do we do with it? We have to re frame it. We have to allow God to take that horrible experience and baptize it in the river of mercy and do what 2 Peter 3:18 says and grow in grace. There are a whole lot of people in the body of Christ growing in a whole lot of ways, but they aren’t growing in grace. As we continue as the body of Christ, in the generations until the return of Christ, surrounded by increasing depravity, surrounded by increasing deception, what I would like to suggest to you is, we’re gonna need a lot of grace.” Beth Moore

Greg encouraged me very recently, we may stumble and limp along but as long as we’re moving forward in His ways, be encouraged and keep moving!

I made a comment in my last post that could be misunderstood. I said that I don’t worry that Greg will be unfaithful again. I’m not saying that he’s not capable…trust me, I know now more than ever before (through many things in addition to what Greg did) that we are all capable of doing things we never thought possible. I am saying that I am trusting the Lord and choosing not to spend my time worrying if he’ll mess up again in that way. God will always be enough no matter what we face and because of that, I am ok! As Paul said in Phil. 3:13, “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead….” A good friend said that refusing to forgive is like taking a sip of poison and expecting the other person to die. I have forgiven Greg and we are moving on. Not without a ton of grieving for both of us, mind you. It hasn’t been easy but God is faithful! Ok, that’s it for now.

Greg was invited to share his story at a men’s breakfast in Houston this weekend. I am certain there are men who will hear Greg’s story and sadly identify all too well. I pray they see a glimpse of the freedom they can have if they’ll just take the risk and share their struggles! It still amazes me how badly we can mess up (I’m really struggling every day with a particularly strong willed child of ours!) and yet God still loves us and is still faithful and uses even our screw ups!
Preparing for Greg to be gone this weekend brought back a flood of emotions that I didn’t really expect. We have settled into our “new normal” and things are going really well. We have our issues like all families but everything we’ve been through doesn’t consume our lives like it did in the beginning. I don’t worry that Greg will be unfaithful again…I have seen such a major transformation in every aspect of his life that I know he is committed to following God’s path and to not go down the sexual addiction road again. He has several strong accountability partners he meets with regularly, we have an amazing small group that knows our struggles and is faithful to encourage and pray for us, as well as other great friends that are total blessings to us. Praise God for the confidence I have in Him to lead Greg and give him the desire to stay true to Him as well as to me. I’ve said it so many times but I just can’t help but give God glory for the love He has given me for Greg even after all he did. It doesn’t work out this way for everyone, I understand that. I grieve for those who don’t see loved ones freed from their bondage of any kind, as well as for those suffering with pain in general and whose prayers are not answered they way they had hoped. However, I can’t keep silent about what God is doing in our lives. I would go through the first 17 yrs. of marriage again to get what we have now. He is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think!! (Eph. 3:20)
I got off on a little rabbit trail…back to the emotions I didn’t expect. Mostly just this past week I started being flooded with everything we went through the beginning of this year. I am quite certain our enemy reminded me of some very specific things that have the potential to “knock me down.” It was like he had a list of hurts that he wanted me to start going over. I am so thankful for God’s Word. One of the most powerful verses that I take in like air is 2 Cor. 10:5, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” I’ve known it for years but never have I had so many “speculations” literally haunt me. His Word is living and active (Heb. 4:12) and it gets me through! Greg can encourage me, pray with me, reassure me, love me, show his faithfulness to me but only God is my constant, faithful, loving companion and He is enough. I know it in my head but it’s still a struggle to know He is enough even if everything I hold precious were taken away! Not sure I’ll really get that one this side of heaven…hey, just me being honest. So, knowing that, I choose to enjoy this weekend and keep taking the thoughts captive. I will not allow the enemy to keep me from taking this opportunity to spend time in the Word and keep growing closer to the Lord, to enjoy my kiddos, lunch with a precious friend, small group on Sunday where we are taking turns sharing our “stories”, then the best part…picking Greg up from the airport!! It was really sweet that Katie really didn’t want Greg to leave. Their relationship is so sweet now. It wasn’t awful before but they are really getting close and it’s such a gift.
God has a work to do and He’s using all of us…are we going to be obedient? A few have encouraged me that I should tell my story as well (I guess not just by posting blogs which is a lot easier!), and while it’s not the story I would have written for myself, here I am….I’ll go where He wants me to go.
Well, as always, just some ramblings in this crazy head of mine. If God can encourage you through any of it, praise Him! Those who know me well know I am not so eloquent with words. 🙂

Lately, I have been so overwhelmed with the needs of people all around me! I can’t figure out where to invest my time. I’m sure many of you have taken those spiritual gift tests. I’ve taken it several times over the years and Helps and Service are always my top two. I love to help others and not be the one in charge. I get overwhelmed with a big project before me but if someone can just get me started and show me the “vision” then I can run with it. I hate being the center of attention. I will acknowledge it’s partially because I am afraid of failing and I am not so fond of trying new things. Well, to be honest, I HATE trying new things! God has been teaching me that when I won’t try new things that He calls me to do because I’m afraid, that I’m saying He is not enough. If I’ve learned anything lately, it’s that He is enough and His grace is sufficient! Since January, He has asked me to love in a way I never have, forgive and keep forgiving as often as I am faced with hurt, extend grace, meet new people, attend a new church, join a new small group, trust Him to provide when the bank statement says “balance- $0!”…I could go on. He has so much work to do in me! I have not always been faithful to obey but He has been faithful to me! How I love Him for that! One of the coolest things God has done is lead us to our small group. I mentioned it I think in my last post. They are being used by God to breathe life into me and encourage me in my walk. Greg and I have spent a lot of time with our leaders, Jason and Jenny, and it’s as down to earth as you can get when we are together. We pull together left overs and just have the sweetest fellowship. God gave me the “crazy” idea to give our dining room table away since we already have a kitchen table. (I think the table went to help furnish an apartment for some ladies getting out of the Lovelady Center….how cool is that!!) So now when people come over, the kids are at the kitchen table and we sit in the living room…not exactly entertaining at it’s finest but talk about some good times! So, back to our leaders…Jason and Jenny have their own construction business and a side ministry they have is taking donations to give to the needy. Jenny invited me to come and help in their donation room sorting through countless bags of clothes and other items. That may sound like death to many of you, but since God has given me a love for helping others and being “behind the scenes,” this is perfect for me. I get such joy knowing they are going to people who need them and don’t care about brands and styles. I am thankful for this ministry God has asked me to be a part of and I’ll do it until He tells me to do something else. I’ve struggled thinking I need one big ministry where I use my spiritual gift. Greg was so patient and spent a good bit of time the other night trying to help me understand (I take awhile to “get it” sometimes!) that with the gift of helps, He wants me to help others in whatever way is put in front of me. Wow, how profound. How that looks will change all the time and that’s ok! A very dear friend shared a verse with me that I love and find myself thinking about a lot these days. It’s Isaiah 30:21, “Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” So, what am I supposed to be doing? Listen for His voice and do whatever He asks me to do! As I was recently challenged in church, “be a doer of the Word and not just a hearer.” I’ll close with this, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph. 3:20, 21) In light of the events that unfolded in our lives in January, it is only by God’s grace that I can say amen to that! I can echo David’s words in Psalm 23, “…my cup overflows.”

This week has been hard. I am burdened for several friends struggling with a variety of things. I want to be that friend who will listen and not judge, a friend who will bear others’ burdens as we’re told to do in Gal. 6:2. I have nothing to offer except Jesus and what He is teaching me. I feel so inadequate as I hear people share the deep waters they are going through. I guess that’s a good place to be (feeling inadequate) so that anything good that comes from me can only be attributed to Him! (But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Gal. 6:14a) What a God we serve who chooses to use us in spite of our failures! I am learning so much as I walk with Greg through this time.
Today I was faced with my ugly heart once again. I responded to Greg with a remark that I meant to be a joke but was inappropriate as it threw his betrayal up in his face again. When he shared how it made him feel, I was so angry. After all I have had to deal with and forgive, you get to tell me how I hurt you by a “remark”?? God help me!! Well, He did! It took a bit for us to talk through it but we did, unlike in the past when we would just drop it but never deal with it. I am so sad that I responded to Greg that way when he shared how my comment made him feel. While it may be understandable, it certainly is not how Christ calls us to respond when we hurt someone EVEN WHEN THEY’VE HURT US! I have so far to go in my walk with Him. Praise God that we can be confident that He who has begun a good work in us will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ! (Phil. 1:6)

I cleaned a house today and listened to lots of Chris Tomlin…the other one I posted and this one I just love! this one is called Overflow. I’ve heard them before but really listened to the words.

Here I bring my stains and crowns
Gentle river wash me now
Your love is deeper than I know
Your ways higher than I can go

Lead me in Your holiness
I will follow, I confess
Glory is the song I sing
Your life is living me

And where would I be
Without You, without You?
Where would I be
Without You?

I will bow before the cross
Cherish my Redeemer’s cost
There is nothing I can do
But only stand amazed by You

Mercy new with every day
Wrapped up in Your arms of grace
Nothing more, You’re all I need
Your life is living me

Like a waterfall
You fill my heart and overflow
Like a candle flame
You light my way
And lead me as I go

Spirit overflow
Let me overflow

running from Him? find this song and listen to it!

Oh heart of mine, why must you stray?
From one so fair you run away
And one more time you have to pay
The heaviness of needless shame

Oh heart of mine, come back home
You’ve been too long out on your own
And He’s been there all along
Watching for you down the road

So come home running
His arms are open wide
His name is Jesus
He understands
He is the answer
You are looking for
So come home running
Just as you are

Oh child of God so dearly loved
And ransomed by the Savior’s blood
And called by name, daughter and son
Wrapped in the robe of righteousness

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Stacey and Greg