Do you remember the Talking Heads song “Once in a Lifetime”? David Byrne sings, “You may ask yourself, ‘Well, how did I get here?’” That’s what I woke up asking myself so many times. “How did I GET here?” Only I wasn’t in a shotgun shack, whatever that is. I just woke up one day completely unable to feel anything. I was numb. My emotions were gone. I had been living a lie for so long that I didn’t know who I was anymore. At the time, I had been married about seven years.
Before we married, my husband was a God-fearing man who was devoted to serving the Lord and avoided pornography and alcohol. Then everything changed. He started drinking and surfing websites on our honeymoon, and within a year he had given up following the Lord and stopped praying with me. Instead, he began “playing video games” in his spare time. All that time in front of the computer was not video games, if you catch my drift. According to the Wonderful World of Disney, we were supposed to live happily ever after. But my reality was far different. We had three children together but nothing pulled him from his destructive choices.
As the years passed by, I learned that when I tried to talk about our relationship needing work, it triggered him to drink. As with most addicts, they continually find ways to blame YOU for their problem. Over time, I shut down. Until one day when I met another man. All of a sudden, I was important to someone. I made him laugh and I never had to explain my jokes. He just “got me”. We felt so connected. Oh, what a dangerous pit I was in. What’s worse: I knew what I was getting into and I did it anyway. You see, I wanted to deceive myself. I wanted to pretend things were different than they really were. Why do we fool ourselves? Our human nature just plain wants to feel good, no matter what the cost.
I set up a façade, in my appearance and to cover my secret life. I dyed my hair a completely different color and turned my back on the Lord and on my family. Why? Because I had to escape. Believing and hoping in God to deliver my husband from his alcohol and pornography addictions hadn’t worked. Our marriage was an emotionally abusive relationship. I was so far down in the darkness, and sometimes I would pray that he would hit me so I had a reason to end it. “One punch and I’m out of here,” I would tell myself.
Then the unthinkable happened. I got pregnant. And it wasn’t by my husband. The baby was conceived in my affair. The guy wanted me to end the pregnancy, but I couldn’t.
I kept telling my husband the baby was his and at first he bought it. But during my fifth month of my pregnancy, my husband confronted me about the baby. I couldn’t bear the weight of the lies anymore so I told him that it wasn’t his child. He gave me an ultimatum: Give up the child for adoption or end the marriage now. It didn’t take me long to realize adoption was the right thing to do. Everything else I had done was such an awful decision, but something in me was proud that this was the right thing to do. No child was going to pay for my sin. I was ready to face whatever came.
Once I decided on adoption, I somehow thought all of our marital problems would be resolved. Of course we would go into counseling and dig deep. We could find those things that tore us apart and face reality and have the fairytale marriage! A few days before our first joint session, my husband went on a two week drinking binge. He told me that he didn’t have a problem, it was me. Why should he see a counselor? I was the one who lied to him, deceived him, had an affair, had another man’s baby. All of our problems were my fault. I caused him to be an alcoholic.
I would love to say it became apparent early on that my husband didn’t want to get well, but it didn’t. I still believed the Lord would heal him, deliver him and restore him. It took many more years, countless sleepless nights, his continual drinking binges, and several motorcycle accidents for me to realize he wasn’t going to stop drinking.
Do you know the story of when Jesus saw a crippled man and, before healing him, Jesus asked if the man wanted to get well? (See John 5:1-8) What an odd question, “Do you want to get well?” After 13 years of marriage to my husband, he told me he didn’t want to get well. And as the situation deteriorated, the safety of our children and myself became an issue. So one night when he was passed out during a binge, I packed a few bags and we left.
I wanted so much to believe that God could heal my husband. After all, He’s God! With Him all things are possible! I wanted our family to be a great testimony of what God can do as long as you put your faith and trust in Him. But what happens when you do that and it turns out differently? What happens when you pray for someone to get well and they don’t? Or they die? What happens when people pray to have a child and they find out they can’t conceive? What happens, Lord? My heart aches to know.
I wish I had a great way to end my story here, but the reality is that my new life story is just beginning. The Lord blessed me with a family, it’s just not what I imagined. The Lord has protected me, only I never thought the person I would need protection from would be my own husband. The Lord has provided for me despite my decisions and all the pits I fell in.
The Lord is in control and I love Him more now than ever, even if I don’t understand the “Why?” How can that be? Because those who have been forgiven much, love much.
“‘Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.’” Luke 7:47
May I pray?
Heavenly Father, sometimes real life is too much to bear. We don’t understand why things are the way they are. We don’t understand why You don’t answer prayers the way we think they should be answered. But Lord, we praise You that when we come to You and lay our broken life before You, You take us in and hold us tight. Thank you that You don’t condemn us. You forgive us. For everything. Whether we need forgiveness for much or for little, may our lives give all the glory to You because of Your grace and mercy poured out for us. Amen.
Q4U: Do you have a Rising Above Real Life story? You can encourage others by sharing the ups and downs of your journey. Please contact me at Joy@RisingAboveRealLife.com. Names can remain confidential.