I can’t do this anymore. It’s done. There’s nothing left to fight for.
I sat in my living room just about 7 weeks ago with my husband, pastor, and his wife and uttered those words. The feelings of love, friendship, and trust were gone and walls were built 30 miles high around my heart. How many more times could I allow myself to be vulnerable and filled with expectations, only to be sorely disappointed later?
Joey and I met at 15 and 16 years old. We both just understood each other. It was like a magnetic force that pulled us together. Having rough home lives, we clung to each other and it led to us getting married at 18 and 19 years old. We were babies that were thrown into adulthood, and now, we were co-dependent husband and wife with not many healthy examples of what that looked like. My mom died 2 and a half months after we wed, then my dad 3 weeks after that, both from prescription drug abuse, and Joey was a foster child with a very strained relationship with his biological parents. So to say we had to fight with everything we had to make something out of nothing was an understatement.
Our marriage was rocky from the start. My husband fell into drugs and adultery. I thought I was going to be done with that life when I left my home, but that unfortunately was not the case. I didn’t properly grieve my parents death, which led to emotional damage for me. We both looked to each other to fill impossible voids. However, through many years of restoration, prayer, and the pure grace of God, we were able to rebuild, and God turned our marriage into something beautiful.
But with that being said, why would I be in my living room just 7 weeks ago ready to throw in the towel? The answer is simple and complex at the same time.
The enemy works in very strategic ways. My husband may have hurt me, but the enemy never was him. It was Satan. He uses strongholds, familiar spirits, temptation, soul ties, etc. That’s exactly what he did with us, and at the time, we weren’t prepared for battle.
In Joey’s case, he tried to control and fight the battle himself. He needed deliverance from his bondage, but instead he would just suppress them and do it on his own because that’s what he learned as a child. You can only suppress for so long before you get weak, and old habits die hard. In his case, this meant drugs and lust.
The more he turned to this, the more I knew something was off in my spirit. My gut is usually on target. But when a person lies and trust is broken, it’s easy to get weak yourself. I saw my joy slowly slip away. I began to feel worthless. Old strongholds of depression and low self-esteem came creeping back. I allowed others to fill voids in their thoughts and approval of me instead of God solely. I even let another man’s flattery of me allow me to feel desired, and although it didn’t go an adulterous place, it went too far. I had never dealt with this in our entire marriage. I finally broke and needed freedom, with or without my husband.
God showed me many years ago that he would turn Joey into the spiritual leader of our home and he would be a mighty man of God. Although I knew this, I lost hope. As we sat with our pastors, I was brutally honest about my feelings. I could see they stung Joey, but he listened. He usually would cut me off and talk over me, but he didn’t. We prayed and you could feel the atmosphere change. I still felt the same. I was on guard like a soldier. I would NOT let myself be vulnerable again. But Joey started to change.
I would see my husband wake up early in the morning and go into our walk-in closet and shut the door. Sounds of praise and worship music and praying would fill the room. I was hesitant to think this was real and that it was nothing more than a sly plan to win me back. But he kept doing it. He didn’t care about my doubt.
The way he interacted with me and the kids became softer. He broke ties with anyone who could steer him wrong. He “shut the door” to allow addiction or lust to come through. He called on men of God that he used to feel intimidated by to be mentors and accountability partners. He finally was being the spiritual leader he was called to be.
One day as I laid in my bed (it was the place I frequented many times through this and getting out of it some days was a victory), thoughts of suicide filled my head. I hadn’t dealt with this since I was a teenager. I prayed but I felt like I was physically drowning. Joey walked in and I told him what was happening. I finally yelled, “I need deliverance NOW!” I expected him to grab the phone and call my pastor. Instead, he took to battle. He began to pray, and I mean spiritual warfare-type stuff. Within seconds I felt the tormenting spirit go and I haven’t felt it since. I was in awe.
I realized that day that God had changed not just Joey, but me. I finally was able to fall and have my husband catch me. I was free. And although the healing process still wasn’t complete, it was that day I declared that I would not give up on my marriage. My fight was weak, but it was there. God was weaning all the junk out of us both.
Today I write this feeling complete joy and pride in my marriage. It was on its death-bed, but God resurrected it. We even have both birthed ministry opportunities (one being this blog!) through this time, and we full-heartedly believe we needed to go through this to be ready for what’s to come. I watched my husband give a testimony yesterday to our entire church about praying for a little girl who was blind in one eye, and she was healed by God through Joey. Tears came down my eyes. It wasn’t just because of the miracle of sight being restored to a precious child, but it was also the thought of us sitting in our living room just 7 short weeks ago and the change in a man who is everything I always envisioned he could be. It was the complete work of God full circle.
God is the only one who can fill voids, break strongholds, tear down walls, and mend hearts. We are saved, church-going, Christian people, and we still didn’t fully allow this until now. GOD DOESN’T NEED YOUR HELP DOING WHAT ONLY HE CAN DO SO STOP TRYING. How simple is that statement, yet how many times do we manipulate, perform, and strive, only to be left disappointed in our own results? Let God be God.
I know this was a bit long but I felt like I had to be transparent in what we’ve been going through. This is not easy to share, but I hope that others can learn from our battles and be encouraged not to give up. No person is too far gone for God. Even at my weakest moments, even the times I didn’t “feel” God at all, He was so lovingly present. Please keep us in your prayers!
Marriage ain’t easy. But it’s worth it.