What in the World is God up to?

Month: January, 2013

What Was I Thinking?

Several months ago, I came home from work and fell to my knees in front of the couch to pray. Well, pray is not exactly the word I would use. It was more a sobbing, agonizing groaning from the core of my body being ripped out of me. The pain was so intense, I was afraid it might kill me…and afraid it might not.
Ever since then, I have been on my knees in front of the couch or my bed nearly every day, sometimes multiple times a day. It is rare when tears do not accompany this action.
My husband and I prayed together this way every time he had to leave for jail and every time he came home from jail. Even now that he has served his sentence, it is not unusual at all for us to pray together in this fashion.
For many days, I begged God to heal me from the pain that drove me to my knees. Yesterday, I realized I will probably need to pray before God on my knees at least a couple of times a day for the rest of my life. And there was peace with the realization that this is not something of which I need to be healed.
God doesn’t mind me crying out to Him with the same prayer many days in a row. It is a privilege to have been driven to my knees and for Him to meet me in these moments when tears are flowing. He loves me and He understands my pain, confusion, and my struggle to believe.
He is helping me to understand that my floundering around to accept that He loves me unconditionally and that He has forgiven my sins are issues that He and Jesus settled at Calvary and I can’t make them any more settled with my pitiful efforts to “be good.”
I was raised in a Christian home. We were in church every time the doors opened. So how have I spent 40-odd years as a Christian without having these things settled in my heart? Because many churches and Christians are doing a lousy job of teaching God’s incredible grace. I guess we’re afraid Christians will take advantage and run amok if there’s too much grace.
I am living proof that the more a person understands grace, the more they will hunger for God’s work in their lives. One year ago, I could never have imagined that I would look forward to spending time on my knees in prayer, but now I count it as a blessed event that God has given me.
I don’t believe that there is one posture or way to pray. God gives to us as we need, not as part of a formula. He loves uniqueness and doesn’t create one-size-fits-all worship.
He is amazing. May I never be “healed” of meeting him in front of my couch, praying on my knees.


Letter to my Daughters

The fallout from my husband’s porn addiction had many ripples. For those closest to him, it was a tidal wave. Our two daughters were both married, thankfully, and have wonderful husbands who held onto them when the horror of all this hit. This is the letter I wrote to each of them a few days ago:

Hey Baby,

I wanted to write you and let you know about how your Dad and I are doing. Dad is doing really well and has stayed “sober.” He is still in counseling and a new 12-step recovery program that meets at xxxxxx Church here in xxxxxxxx. He has two great sponsors that he talks to, one on a daily basis and one a few times a week. I’m really amazed at him.
We are completely committed to our new spiritual lives. We’re never going back to Egypt. Our marriage is stronger than it has been in a long time. God’s work there has been incredible.
I am going to counseling for me twice a week now. I know you’re aware of some of the hurts from my childhood, but there were others and it is taking me a while to work through them. Your Dad and our therapist say I am making good progress, but it feels incredibly slow to me.
I know you suffered from having me as your mother while you were growing up. I’m so sorry for that. I was so steeped in pain that I thought about myself way too much. I hope you can forgive me. There was no excuse for my extreme behavior. Anytime you would like to go to a counseling session with me, I’d be glad for you to do that.
God is still working in me. I don’t know why your Dad has never had any problem believing God loves him unconditionally and that is a struggle for me. I don’t struggle like I used to, but I have to spend a lot of time in prayer about it.
I love you so very much and hope you always know that. You are so precious ; I know God has used you to bless so many people. I’m grateful to God for your faith and maturity in Him.
Praying that God blesses each of us and our family as we all seek His will for our lives.

How I Got to This Point

I am dreadfully insecure; have been for over 45 years. My therapist has said that if I had been “healthy” or my husband had been “healthy” we wouldn’t have stayed with each other before we married. That was kind of a kick in the teeth.
But it is sort of pathetic that we have gotten to this point in our lives (mid-50’s) and we’re still so messed up.
I had a painful childhood. My siblings were unusually cruel to me, which resulted in me believing I was not lovable. That was reinforced in my early adulthood by my future in-laws, and to a certain extent, by my now-husband because he couldn’t break free from the pressure of his parents. All that to say, that I am incredibly insecure and often anticipate that people will, at some point, dislike me.
My husband’s problems began with an overbearing father, who had no problem slapping him whenever he had a hankering to, and a mother who gave love when she was pleased by certain behaviors and withheld it when she was displeased. I personally have never met anyone who can express displeasure and disapproval like my mother-in-law. And she disapproved of me, even before she met me. She didn’t think her son should be engaged before he graduated from college.
I’ve been a Christian for a long time, but I didn’t do any deep digging into who I am to God, how much He loves me and how incredibly forgiven I am. I don’t think enough of churches in this country preach extreme grace—the wild grace that God has for us. I reckon it’s because pastors and some Christians are afraid of grace being cheapened. So there are still implied rules from almost every pastor and/or church.
I can’t live up to those rules, and I still feel guilty over that. But I am begging God to help me accept His wildly incredible grace. That grace has not led me to take it for granted and make it cheap. It has brought me to my knees in prayer more often in the last six months than in the 55 years that preceded them.
I long for God to use me for His glory. I have been nearly “useless” for so many years, it makes my heart ache.

The Hurt That Keeps on Giving part 2

My husband and I have been in counseling both together and separately for over six months.  I thought we were getting back on an even keel, but the past week has made it clear that we are nearly as far apart as we ever were.

I don’t understand what’s going on.  We were closer when he was having to go to jail twice a week to serve his sentence.  Now that his time has been served and the court has released him, he’s aloof and distant.  I’m sure part of that is because he doesn’t have a job.  But I think it goes deeper than that.

I have been clawing my way up from the pit of feeling worthless, and making myself repeat numerous times a day that God truly does love me and rejoices over me.  It is a struggle because I’ve spent a lot of years believing that wasn’t possible (more lies from my childhood.)  I am just beginning to grasp His hand and hold on, but it’s tenuous at best.

I hate satan.  Every Christian should be fully aware of how much he will steal and destroy of your life.  If you feel inadequate, it’s him.  If you hear the voice of “you’re a failure,” that’s him.  If you feel condemnation for past mistakes, that’s him.  If you feel like you’ve sinned so much that there is no way God can forgive you, that’s satan.  He wants your abject misery.  You can learn to reject his words, but it is hard work and there are times when you will think you are never going to get there.  It is a slow process, but don’t give up.

Go to BibleGateway and look up all the references for “but God.”  There are some wonderful verses about the sinfulness of mankind and God’s reaction.  “But God” is a phrase to grab hold of.

I’m still a mess and often failing in my faith journey.  But I have nothing else but God.  I don’t know if my husband will stay with me.  But God was with me before I met him and I will cave into God if my husband leaves.  He will only be the one who can sustain me.

I hope if you are the wife of a sexually addicted man, you will leave a comment.  If you are struggling to believe God loves you unconditionally, I would love to hear from you as well. We need to support each other with words and prayer.


The Hurt That Keeps on Giving

My husband is a porn addict.  In many ways, I’m very fortunate.  He never picked up hookers, never cheated on me physically, never looked at child porn.  But he did get arrested for harassment because he was out trying to shoot up women’s dresses with a small camera.  He lost his job a few weeks later, pled guilty and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

We had both already begun therapy months before the hearing, but he was instructed to continue therapy for six more months, although we would be doing that even if that had not been in the court ruling.  He has been through one 12-step program and is in another one currently.  We are making strides (well, for me, baby steps) in healing our marriage.  It seems so unfair that there is help and support out the ears for men addicted to porn, but there’s not a great deal for wives of men addicted to porn.  Our local 12-step program has many men who are recovering sexual addicts, but the wives don’t show for the women’s program.  I’m a bit of a freak in that respect.  And that is difficult.

My life was turned on its ear when my husband was arrested.  We have gone from a very comfortable life to bare bones budget, which we will not be able to support indefinitely.  The hurt of finding out he was still addicted to porn and escalating at a time when it seemed our marriage was getting better and we were enjoying each other more was devastating.  I have felt anger, rage, self-pity, stupid, unlovable, betrayed and pathetic.  That’s not a great experience for someone who was already struggling with low self-esteem from childhood hurts.

Most of my problems are my own fault.  I’ve been a Christian for over 40 years, but had never resolved the question of whether I was included in God’s unconditional love and forgiveness for me.  I read my Bible some, went to church until my kids were grown and gone, and prayed short little bursts of pray.  I don’t ever recall asking God to remake my heart and give me wisdom, peace and strength until after my husband’s arrest.

It became obvious very quickly that I needed one-on-one counseling as much as my husband and our marriage did.  It has been a painfully slow process, and I’m not a patient person.  Although my therapist and husband say they can see changes in me, I do not see any great change and that is frustrating.

I’m not sure why I’m writing this blog.  I do want other wives to know that Christian couples everywhere are mired in this problem.  Statistics for porn addiction are pretty much the same for Christians and non-Christians.  Between 50 and 60% of men are looking at porn at least once a week, the majority more than that.

It’s excruciating when a wife finds out.  It kicks her self-esteem in the teeth.  Don’t try to figure it out from a sexual point-of-view; you’ll drive yourself crazy.  There’s almost always a bigger issue going on behind the scenes.  But you need to run to a therapist or counselor–there’s a caveat here; if you go to your pastor or other counselor that tries to make this your fault because you don’t engage in intimacy with your husband “as much as you should,” leave before they finish the sentence.  Many pastors don’t want to confront this issue.  Don’t stay with a counselor who won’t tackle the tough issues, but instead wants to pat you on the head and say, “there, there.”

Porn is a wicked problem.  The internet has made it so easily accessible.  And the reality is that even the major networks are overloaded with sexual situations and partial nudity.  Then there are the ads using scantily glad women acting in a sexual manner over a hamburger.

We are poisoning our children’s minds.  Boys are learning that a “hot” girl should be their grandest desire and our girls are learning that they must be provocative if they want any attention.

God created sex and He created it not just for procreation, but for the mutual pleasure of husband and wife.  We have twisted it into something that is rarely sacred anymore.

I am in my six month of therapy for what the misuse of sexual desire by someone else has done to my life.  The only upside to this is that I am now seeking and searching to know and do God’s will for my life, and to work through the lies I have been told of who He is and how He loves me.  My husband has wholeheartedly embraced dealing with his addiction.

I am praying that I live to see the day when God brings glory through all of the anguish and heartache.