August 2013: How God Brought New Life to My Marriage
For this newsletter we have a guest writer. Sandy England is a wife whose marriage went to the brink of divorce due to adultery and porn addiction…
My Story; How God Brought New Life to My Marriage
By Sandy England
My husband had numerous affairs, was a porn addict and just an overall butthead. He will even tell you he was not a good person at all. He was angry, and filled with justification for everything he did and wanted to do. He “deserved it”, and would go to great lengths to get what he wanted. As for me, our marriage and our family sometimes stood in the way of what he was going to do Our marriage was marked by years of pure anger, hatred, fighting, screaming and even separation. I was a weakling – I didn’t have the courage to “just get rid” of him. He was my husband, the father of my child; in spite of all the bad, he was a good provider and his son adored him. With me being a very successful business person, working for some really large companies and having recognized success in all my positions. Heck I could fix anything…. Right? Well I have to say I tried. I tried to change him, I tried to change me. In my mind and with my huge pride, I had to make this work. If my marriage failed – this would be marriage number two, and failing again was not an option.
Well we failed. We separated, while supporting two households, lawyers, (yes we went all the way to file with lawyers) and we lost my small ranch. It was a huge ego blow to me and it compounded the anger and resentment toward my husband. I had to move to the city so I could be closer to work, which was another killer for me; you might as well have put me in a strait jacket. I’m not a city girl, and living in the city, made me angrier, I blamed him for everything that was wrong in my life. If he wasn’t a cheater, a porn addict and a jerk, my life would be great.
Well that is how it ended. I say it ended because all that happened after that is truly a new beginning and the only way anything moved the way it did was through God. As you can see from our history we just continued to mess things up. We continued to think we could handle everything ourselves. Pride, Pride, Pride. Only God had other plans for us and He had to take us down a hard, lonely path to break our pride and get us to a point we would include Him in our lives.
My husband joined a church, where he found the most incredible group. They were a support group of men who were non-judging; they listened to him as he confessed everything. He had to be brought down to his knees. He went to retreats where he chose to clear all his anger with these “brothers of steal;” they did not judge him. They prayed for him, they loved him and they helped him deal with all his past hurts. He admitted through all this that he was not angry at me, the family or what seemed to set him off. He realized we were just in the way of what he wanted and we got the brunt of his anger. Part of his healing was to recognize and deal with his real issues. What was he so angry about? That was a long hard journey for him. My husband is big man, 6’4” and 240, big and strong. Seeing this man being humbled by God is not an easy thing to watch. He wrote letters to all the folks that hurt him, he wrote letters to the folks he hurt. He was torn down, and when he came to me, I was in no way ready for all he had to share; he felt he had to confess everything he had done to me. I thought I knew almost everything, but boy when it all came out. I was blown away at how much I didn’t know. He came to me to cleanse himself, to leave all his sin, anger, and pride at the cross. He felt he had to confess by mouth so that he could be new and try to become a better man.
Well I was like, “You are a crazy person, geeezz thanks for sharing, adding all that to our already painful past, thanks and good luck to you.” I was in no way ready to accept that he had changed and was a new man, just because he found a group who helped him. I said to myself, “You are all crazy and wackos.” To make it even worse, I had the support of my friends, who were telling me, “Yeah right, he is playing you again. No one can change, once a cheater always a cheater.” So I was on that band wagon and pushed him away. I would not let myself get burned again. I wished him luck and said I hope he finds his happy place.
Besides, we were getting a divorce and I was dealing with my own issues. I was a mess. I was in the city, had failed at another marriage, and wasn’t dealing well with all his confessions; I needed help, and badly. My friends only made it worse by fueling my bitterness and anger. I needed something positive; I needed comfort.
I started seeing a counselor, she was not a Christian counselor, but she still helped. She took me down some ugly, hard times about my own childhood. I had to face old memories that were so horrible that I had blocked. I had to write letters to people who hurt me and who I had hurt. (Sound familiar?) I was just as angry, mean, and ugly as my husband. As I was going through all this, I kept remembering my husband’s letter and confessions. How he now seemed to be at peace, how he smiled and had friends that were positive. He was even nice to me, when I was anything but nice to him. One day I had a hard assignment from my counselor to visit old houses, and places to bring the memories to the front so I could deal with the pain. Guess who went with me? My husband. Things I had buried so deep came to me like a flood. I was devastated and couldn’t believe all that was happening. I was even more of a mess, now I had wounds from my past on top of all my other problems. In my mind, this counselor was not helping me.
But my husband was. He would pray for me, he would listen, not judge, He showed me verses and things he was learning in the Bible. He would talk with his group and give me Bible passages to read so I could find comfort. He was not really trying to get me back; he was honestly trying to help me deal with all that was happening. He was trying to help me see that like him, God was bringing me to a place I needed to be,
God was bringing me to my knees as well, so that I could accept His love and grace.
Well, it was working. I would read in the Bible that I was loved, no matter what. (For some of us it’s very hard to accept that we don’t have to earn it.) I had a hard time believing that was I precious to God. Our Lord loved me, and I would be forgiven. Forgiven? What does that really mean? The Bible tells us that all debts are cancelled and all sins are no longer held against us; that Jesus paid the debt for all our sins. Wow… that whole thing blew me and my pride away.
I was seeing the power of God’s forgiveness worked out in my cheating, lying, angry husband. What happened? He was a different person; he was actually my friend now. He was someone who didn’t want anything from me, but to help me get through all this mess. I needed a positive friend. I needed someone who had come to accept our Lord and actually was not just talking about it, but he was doing what he was told by God. He was helping other men who came to the group. He was helping me, even though our court date was on the horizon, he was not expecting anything from me. He was just doing what he felt the Lord wanted him to do.
I started to become a believer. If the Lord could do all that with my husband, what could he do with me? I started reading… and reading, I was hungry to find peace. I no longer wanted to feel angry or prideful, or have the hard heart; I wanted to just be with the Lord. I wanted to just let it all go and believe. Step by step without me even realizing it, God was tearing down my walls, fears, insecurities and most of all, my pride. I had a good friend; my husband. He was teaching me and showing me what God was doing in my life. I was now able to actually talk to and forgive so many people that had hurt me in my childhood and in my life. I was able to see them as struggling folks like myself; all wrapped up in past sins, and hurts.
Then one day as my husband and I were talking, I was actually realizing I had forgiven him too. I had to confess to him that I too wanted to leave my “stuff” at the cross, all of it. I didn’t want to be angry with him anymore. I wanted to just appreciate my new found friend. His debt was forgiven; I was no longer expecting payment. He didn’t owe me anything and it was all gone. We both cried like a babies and we were so relieved. Wow, I think I finally got what the Bible was saying about forgiveness. If we hold it and expect payment for wrongs against us, we will never see the promise of God’s love, grace, and yes peace.
One of the hardest pieces of my heart was finally chipped away. I had finally forgiven him. He was so relieved that God had done so much work on my heart that I was able to learn to forgive him.
My other friends were not as happy. Some became “less available” to hang out or talk with; some thought I was crazy and “just couldn’t stand by and watch me make the same mistake again”. They didn’t want to hear about me learning about God, Jesus, and the Bible. And they surely didn’t want to hear about my husband changing. That was just another trick. So their distancing from me just left me more time to read, learn, pray and hang out with my new friend. We decided to hold off on the lawyers, and started dating. We did a lot more family things; fishing, skiing, going to church, and just talking.
I was becoming stronger in my faith, I was learning and I was forgiving. I was accepting that I was loved and I needed to give my life to the Lord. My husband and I were talking of getting back together, but only if the Lord was first in our lives. Things were moving along, and we were growing in the Lord.
And then, the enemy threw me a curve that would have sent my world spinning in the past. I was laid off; my high paying job was gone. But this time we didn’t see it as a disaster; we saw it as God working with us… and we decided we would get back together. It was so amazing to watch all the crazy pieces fall into place. Where were we going to live? How would we pay the bills? As we were on the sidelines we saw how things just fell into our paths… Yes Praise the Lord he was busy working on us, our lives and God was blessings us beyond imagination.
While, forgiveness was no longer an issue, trust was. Learning to trust my husband was my next step, and only through God was trust able to be rebuilt again. My husband’s group has helped us with that. They told him it would be a while (a long one) before I would trust again, that he would have to be transparent, he would have to always be honest and tell me what I needed to know. He would have to give me his passwords, and be available if I called. Wow – I felt like a jailer. But they were right, I needed to know for certain that he would not lie, cheat or hurt me again. He gave me everything and still works hard to make sure I know what he is doing and where he is. I still ask him on occasion for his password and he just rattles it off, like no big deal. It comforts me that he will give it to me willingly; in the past if I asked for his passwords it would mean a fight. Slowly, trust was rebuilt.
Forgiveness is necessary in every area of our lives. If we keep past hurts close to our hearts we cannot let God’s love and grace fill us. We have to forgive, even the most horrific things that others have done to us. We have to let it go, and give all the pain to God.
Only then can we learn to love and be loved as God has planned for us.
From the New Blazing Grace Blog:
We’ve now set up a new blog at the Blazing Grace website and are posting fresh articles there at least once a week:
Here are snippets from several recent posts. Be sure to visit the blog page and sign up to receive notifications of when new posts are made.
When I was in bondage to sexual addiction, breaking free from it was the biggest thing in my life. Whether I might slip or act out defined who I was. If I fell, I was a horrible Christian; I was okay if I made it through the day without acting out.
Because sexual sin and porn were such a big problem for me, I figured that once I broke free from it that the Christian life would be all downhill.
Having not acted out for years, I can say it’s a blessing not to have lust ruling my life any longer. I have the power to say no. I don’t miss those miserable shame hangovers, or looking at my wife and kids and feeling like I need to crawl in a corner. Most days I have more confidence. The pain from my sin in our marriage has evaporated and my relationship with Michelle has never been better. I can talk about the Christian life with others without feeling like I’m a hypocrite.
All these blessings and more are mine by the grace of God. None of this means I’m not tempted; I feel the pull to lust like everyone else from time to time, but God’s given me the inner strength and change of character that can withstand temptation and refuse to cave in.
However, I was dead wrong about the Christian life being a piece of cake after breaking free from sexual sin. Once my lust dealt with, God went to work in deeper places of my heart.
After the Lord set me free from the bondage to lust to sexual sin in 1999, in 2000 I started a Christ centered support group in my church for men who struggled with sexual addiction. Blazing Grace followed at the end of 2004.
The ministry grew like a weed, along with my ego. I wanted Blazing Grace to be the one with the answers; a big organization with me at the helm. Then early 2007, I started to burn out. A nervous breakdown followed, and by January of 2008 I surrendered Blazing Grace to Techmission, who graciously agreed to take it over in my absence.
God took me out of ministry for the next four years and performed intense heart surgery. It was deeply painful; dealing with sexual sin was nothing in comparison. He reached into places in my heart that I’d not seen or been aware of and shined His light on it with unyielding intensity…
Read the rest of Life Without Porn, Part 1
Read Life Without Porn, Part 2
Recently, a man filed suit against Apple Computer for enabling him to access porn on Apple’s products. He blamed Apple for not warning him about the dangers of pornography, his failed marriage and stated he’s stuck with a lifelong pornography addiction.
Most people will look at a story like this and say that the man who’s suing Apple is wrong. They’d say he needs to take 100% responsibility for his actions, and that he had the freedom to exchange his smartphone for one that’s doesn’t have internet access. They would say he needs to stop blaming others to justify his pornography addiction. They’d say he needs to stop playing games with lust and do whatever it takes to break free from it, whether it means going to support groups, counseling, or not even having a phone or computer.
And they’d be right. I would say this too.
What many don’t understand, both in and outside of the church, is what pornography addiction does to a man or woman. Once the snake of porn is coiled tightly around a person and they’re in bondage to it, breaking free is no easy matter. Porn becomes their friend, their lover, their idol… and the thing they hate the most. It’s their comfort and tormentor. They become attached to it and it becomes a part of them. The bondage is so intense that letting go feels like it would be like dying, so they sometimes resist external pressure to face their sin and deal with it with everything they have. This is why the lying, cheating, blaming, and justification always accompany pornography addiction. Telling a person who’s in bondage to porn to “just stop doing it because it’s a bad thing to do” rarely gets results…
Read the rest of What Many Don’t Understand About Porn Addiction.
You can read this and previous editions of the Blazing Grace Newsletter online at www.roadtograce.net:
July 2013: What Porn is Doing to Us
June 2013: Which One Will You Serve?
May 2013: What Defines You?
April 2013: 15 Principles for Freedom
March 2013: I Believe; Help My Unbelief!
February 2013: Adultery
January 2013: Speak, Lord, Your Servant is Listening
December 2012: Healing the Wounds of Rejection
November 2012: A Look at Grace
October 2012: When Someone Shares their Sin
September 2012: Willpower Doesn’t Work
August 2012: Look Who’s One of the Porn Industry’s Biggest Customers
July 2012: For Those Who are Control Freaks (and Don’t Want to Be)
June 2012: Blazing Grace on a Sunday Morning
Mike Genung’s Books
The Road to Grace; Finding True Freedom from the Bondage of Sexual Addiction is Mike Genung’s book on breaking free from sexual addiction.
Topics covered include:
* Biblical tools for overcoming sexual temptation.
* Healing from shame.
* How to stop a masturbation habit.
* Dealing with the core issues that drive sexual sin.
* Understanding and receiving the love of God in the heart.
* Healing for Wives
* How to restore a marriage that’s been broken by sexual sin and/or adultery.
The Road to Grace is used in support groups, and provides plenty of material for discussion.
100 Days on the Road to Grace; a Devotional for the Sexually Broken, is a new book that just came out last month.
For more information and to purchase, visit www.roadtograce.net