Repost Friday: 8 Things That Restored Our Marriage-Pt 8

Last week was our kids’ Spring Break. We got a chance to go to Nashville, Tennessee and spend some time with two of our best friends Pete and Brandi Wilson. When Trisha and I were still separated in 2005, we spent fall break with Pete and Brandi. We showed up broken and battered and somewhat hopeless. God used them in so many ways to help in our healing and restoration. They are the type of friends that everyone knows they need, but are so difficult to find…they and their kids hold a special place in our heart. During our visit last week, we attended the church Pete and Brandi started, Crosspoint Church. Along with their regular service, we also attended the Kidstuff service where each week a virtue is given and explained, and last week’s virtue was HOPE: Believing something good can come out of something bad.

There are a number of things that Trisha and I could write about in our last post on the principles that restored our marriage, but this concept of hope is probably the most important. So we are going to each take a few minutes to talk about how Restoration principle #8 played out for each of us as God lead us through the restoring process.

Restoration Principle #8: Whom or what you put your hope in will determine the depth and health of your restoration.

Trisha and I were separated for two weeks before we started going to counseling together. About a month after we started counseling, our counselor advised us that we were approaching a critical point in our journey. Trust was beginning to be rebuilt. Intimacy was starting to return. There was a hope that each of us had for our marriage at this point. He told us that if there was anything left un-confessed, that I needed to come back the next day and confess it. So Trisha and I went to our separate homes, and the next day came back to the counselor and I confessed more details that I had omitted for the previous month. Trisha was devastated (as she should have been). She got up and left me at the counselor’s office. Later that night, I got a call from a lady in our church stating that Trisha was going to file for divorce on Monday…she was done.

Here is the truth…up until this point, the hope that I had in restoring my marriage and healing my relationship with Trisha was in MY ability to make things right. I was hopeful that we would be able to stay married if I went to counseling, if I was remorseful, if I did all the right things. The next day Trisha called me and told me that she didn’t want to be married to a liar and a person that withheld truth. I hit bottom. I was hopeless. I realized there was nothing I could do to convince her to stay married to me. It was at that moment that the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart. He revealed to me that it was time to come clean…once and for all. The sexual abuse I had never talked about…the pornography I had denied struggling with…the lying and stretching of truth that had become a way of life…it was time to confess it all. So I went to a friend’s house that night and told him everything. I was pretty sure that my marriage was over, but for the first time in my life, I had a hope that I could be who God envisioned me to be through Christ. Not because I was good enough, not because I had it all together, not even because I could convince Trisha to take me back…simply because of His unfailing love.

Psalm 147:11 says this: “The Lord delights in those who fear Him, those who put their hope in His unfailing love.” That was the beginning of true restoration for me and for my marriage…realizing that the only hope I had was found in Jesus…and His unfailing love.

Trisha and I renewing our vows December 2005

Trisha and I renewing our vows December 2005

In all honesty I (Trish) am grateful to be writing on a day where my hope meter is tipping towards low. Weird I know, but its times like today when life isn’t unfolding as quickly as I would like or on my time table that hope seems to drift from my heart. I tend to make decisions and fight emotions of hopelessness when life doesn’t always make sense. It is on days like today or weeks or sometimes even months, when my disposition is camped in this place of despair, that HOPE has the power to invade me and renew every part of me.

Hebrews 10:23 (NLT) “Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.”

Hebrews 13:5b (NLT) “I will never fail you. I will never forsake you.”

In our previous postings we have shared the journey of our marriage going from destruction to restoration. As Justin shared, there were many dark days we had to wade through in which the future of our marriage was uncertain. Through it all and even up to this very moment that I write I have to remember this about hope: you have to choose it! Look again at Hebrews 10:23… we can’t waver on holding tightly to hope. When you encounter tough times you will not drift towards feelings of hope. When your spouse comes home and tells you they are leaving you… your heart will not drift towards hope. You have to choose it and hold tightly to it!

I have come to learn that no matter what happens in life choosing hope is first an act of obedience. Whatever life circumstances have caused you to loose hope you have to first make the choice to be hopeful. Why? In doing so you are saying to your heavenly father “yes I will hold tightly to the hope I have in You and I trust You to keep Your promise. The promise that no matter what You will not fail me!” By first choosing hope even if you don’t “feel” it, I believe with all my heart that God eventually bridges the gap of your heart feeling despair to a confident place of hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Micah and Elijah after the ceremony...realize that we are staying together.

Micah and Elijah after the ceremony...realize that we are staying together.

It is in the waiting that it is so hard… will my marriage work? Will my children ever respect their father again? Will I be able to survive if he walks away? Those were my questions. What are your questions in the waiting? What life circumstance has a hold on you stealing your sense of hope? We have seen just this week alone stories of horrific acts of violence from people who have lost hope throughout our nation. This is why this principle of fighting for hope is so important. God doesn’t need you, but he desires you with all his heart enough to send his Son to die on the cross to bare your sins so that you may have a hope of eternity with Him. Yes life may suck here in waiting until he finally calls us home, but he promises to give us a sustaining hope in the waiting and that he will be with us always every step of the way.

As we close this post and our series on restoration…the truth remains. Your bank account can’t restore your marriage. Your career success can’t restore your marriage. Your clean house, your PTA office, your keen ability to hide your sin, your leadership ability, your outstanding ministry skill set, your capacity to pretend like everything is okay (even when it isn’t) will not have the power to restore you, or your marriage. What you are desperate for is what we found when we were in our most hopeless place…HOPE in the power of Jesus Christ. Our prayer is that you will find that HOPE in Him in this moment.

2 Responses to Repost Friday: 8 Things That Restored Our Marriage-Pt 8

  1. Chris

    I am sobbing as I finish this. I had to hang on to hope and God as my husband left me 3 times in a 3 month period for a man 14 years younger. I had no hope that I could compete with that! I did have hope that God can restore and redeem. I truly do not know how I survived other than God’s grace and mercy. I readily admit it was not always healthy coping. I still struggle with believing if I am just thin enough, on time enough, the clothes are clean, ironed, the house is clean etc. That he won’t leave me again. I lost my job over a year ago and the fear has been at times overpowering. I feel less than and it has again been God reassuring me daily, hourly. Thank you for your ministry and honesty. I wish there was more of this in the Church.

  2. Shane S.

    Justin and Trisha, Thank you so much for Refineus.org. Eight months ago in a fight with my wife, she said “You know we are getting divorced right”. Honestly, I didn’t know. Did she have every right to leave? You better believe it. For better or worse doesn’t apply, when you have to save yourself. When you are sinking like a rock into the Abyss, why continue holding the rope? Save yourself! I was at my worst with alcohol and depression, and many other issues. Thank God we didn’t have a gun. I was so hopeless, I truly did not want another day of suffering. I was masking my pain and suffering. I was the creator of my own problems. I always drink the next day to avoid thinking about my past. Twenty-five years in hiding brought me to my knees. I truly believed that she understood my addiction and would never leave my side. I had to lose everything I later realized. First, I had to admit how broken and powerless I had become over my own life. The only thing I knew that worked was asking God to please help me. I began an intense recovery program. I was willing to go to any length to find myself. I found HOPE in those rooms of recovery. I found a mentor that taught me how to love myself. Service work has become a huge part of my recovery. I meet with Blake, and want to learn how to turn my life over to the care of God. It’s a change of heart, he said. I will never forget that day. I meet with Ryan B. and shared my story, and said “I lived a selfish life, and now I want to go love on others”. It has changed my whole outlook on life. Cross point has been a message of Hope everyday since. I was just in Joplin with the CP gang and several women asked where my wife was? I see you have a ring on. Yeah, we are going thru a divorce. I am Hopeful and I don’t know what God has planned for us. All I know is that God has his hands on me, and I am grateful. No matter what the outcome will be, I am saved. My wife, that I love more than anything in this world, is what gives me hope. I want to be the peace-maker, but it has to be at her comfort level. Until then, I just clean-up my side of the street and love on people, until they can love themselves. Faith, Love and Hope gives me a peace from within I never felt before in my life. Amen