About Dena, Surviving Adultery and Divorce

My story…

To truly understand much of what I have to say, you must have some background. I do not tell any of these details to disparage anyone or to air my dirty laundry, but future posts are dependent upon knowing my story. So, I will give you the Cliff’s Notes version.

In July of 2008, my husband and I were serving as pastor of a great church in Oklahoma. However, I could tell that my husband was not content. He wanted to leave the ministry. Since we had both committed our lives to full-time ministry at a young age, I couldn’t completely comprehend why he was so discontent. Through much prayer, I came to the conclusion that God was telling me that it was time to resign from the church. This decision was very difficult for me because I know that God had called me to be a pastor’s wife. I was giving up all of my hopes and dreams and much of my identity.

On the morning my husband planned to announce his resignation at church, I went walking. As I pounded the pavement listening to my music, the song Voice of Truth came on. The words completely captured my heart.

“Oh, what I would do to have the kind of faith it takes to climb out of this boat I’m in, onto the crashing waves. To step out of my comfort zone, into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is, and He’s holding out his hands.” (written by Mark Hall of Casting Crowns)

I knew that God was calling me to step out of my comfort zone into a realm where He was waiting to grab me and sweep me away to a newer, deeper, more intimate relationship with Him. With great fear and trepidation–and yet a deep inner peace–we announced our resignation to a shocked congregation. As I chose to walk by faith and not by sight, I had no idea of the true journey upon which I was about to embark.

The next two weeks were a blur of activity. Members of the church begged us not to leave. The words of that song continually rang through my mind, and it was the one thing that made me certain that we had made the right decision, that we were walking in obedience. There was a good-bye fellowship for us on September 7, and through many tears, we said our good-byes. I thought the worst was over…

Two days later around midnight, my husband came to the bedroom and woke me up. “Am I an awful person?” he asked. As I tried to grasp what was going on and why he was waking me up, the words gripped my heart. “He knows.”

He knows what? The horrible reality seized me as I began to wake from my slumber and grasp the truth. My husband had wanted to resign not because of burn-out, but because he was having an affair with a woman in the church. Her husband had found out. As my thoughts began to swirl and the anger and fear began to rise within me, I was lost, confused, scared. I was a full-time mom with three young children and no real job. The only way I could provide for my children was through his income–which had been reduced to 1/3 of what we had made at the church. What was I supposed to do? Did I really have an option?

I remember telling him that I really didn’t have a choice but to stay with him and try to forgive, try to fix the mess that had replaced our marriage. I know that I wasn’t excited about this option, but I would have to see what happened. We spent the rest of the night grappling with the reality of what was happening. I scoured private emails between the two of them, complete with details of the intimate moments they had shared. I realized that the two of us had not truly had a private moment in the last year; every moment had an unwelcome third party. She was everywhere, involved in every detail of our private lives.

Initially, he seemed very repentant and intent to fix the mess he had created. However, it didn’t last long. After about six months, I felt as if I was the only one working toward the goal of saving our marriage. I was finding him lying to me again, and what little trust we had regained was dissipating quickly. I took off my wedding ring and determined that I would not wear it again until I sensed a true desire from him to make this marriage work.

About four months after I took off my ring, our marriage had disintegrated into a complete shambles. We communicated about our schedules, but only by the huge calendar I hung in his office. I was now being accused of having affairs with multiple men. Our children were experiencing anxiety, and it was obvious to them that something was wrong.

Despite having multiple godly advisers speak to me about filing for divorce, I clung to the hope that God would restore our marriage. When I said, “I do” 16 years earlier, I truly intended it for a lifetime. I had never even considered divorce; divorce was simply not an option for me. I had made a covenant between God, my husband, and me, and I do not take my commitments likely. However, I knew that biblically I did have the right to seek divorce. I prayed earnestly, begging God to reveal to me what I should do. I finally made the decision to file for divorce.

Two days after telling him that I was filing, I found an email address. The email address led me to an online dating site. By trying a few of his common passwords, I managed to get into his dating profile where he claimed to be a divorced civil servant instead of a married pastor. I read (and replied) to all of the women with whom he had been communicating. Then, this email led me to another email address where I discovered secret correspondence between him and his original girlfriend. He had stayed away from her for only about 8 weeks! With a newfound confidence and peace, I proceeded with the divorce filings.

Throughout the last four years, I have never been able to escape the words of the song that captured my heart that August morning in 2008. I really liked my comfort zone, but I had complete confidence that God was going to carry me through whatever waves came against me. I have certainly not traveled this path with perfection, but He has been my constant companion. He has been there to lovingly guide me back to Him when I chose to walk away. He has healed many of the deep injuries that penetrated my heart and soul. He is choosing to lead me to a new path, a new ministry. I praise His name that His call is irrevocable (Romans 11:29)!

“Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! For the Lord Most High is awesome. He is the great King of all the earth.
He subdues the nations before us, putting our enemies beneath our feet. He chose the Promised Land as our inheritance, the proud possession of Jacob’s descendants, whom he loves.” Psalm 47:1-4 (NLT)

Are you weary of the hurt and pain that you carry every day? Do you long to reach a place of peace and contentment? God has promised to lead His people into the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey, a land where all your needs are met. There is no need too great or too small to bring to Him. He wants to meet you right where you are. But, I must warn you: the Promised Land is on the other side of the wilderness. There is no way around the wilderness; you must travel through it. He promises to guide you as you make your journey, and I promise that the trip is worth every day you spend in the wilderness!

(BTW, YOU are Jacob’s descendant, and HE LOVES YOU!!)

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8 thoughts on “My story…”

    1. Hi SJ! I am thankful that God could use my words to encourage you. That has been my prayer from the beginning of this journey–that He could use my pain to encourage others. Whatever you are going through, there is hope! God is in the rebuilding process. We must simply surrender and allow Him to have His way. God bless!

  1. Hi Dena!
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is exactly what I need to hear having recently discovered infidelity (no proof) in my 43-year marriage. Please pray for me, like you I just can’t figure out what to do, the stress is overwhelming. Husband is currently addicted to pornography… My kids want me to leave,but I have hope the mess can be healed by God Almighty. Christine
    Chquist@msn.com

    1. I’m so sorry, Christine! I know the pain, the confusion, the fear. Pornography is such a thief, masquerading as harmless and taking so many down the wrong path. Focus on God. Seek his face. Even if it’s just keeping the radio on something uplifting. Find ways to turn your heart to him. God will meet your every need, heal your every hurt! Praying for you!

  2. Hi Dena,

    I stumbled onto your posts. I’m on the journey of separation after husband’s infidelity… and despite forgiveness on my part and christian counselling with a therapist, he went back to the other woman (from church) and didn’t contact me and the 3 kids. I found much encouragement from your sharing and praise God for His grace to lead you out of your despair. May your work continue to glorify Him and help others along the way.

    1. Thank you, J.Y. I’m sorry for your pain, your anguish. I know the rejection, the hurt, the pain. I also know the joy of walking forward, of growing in grace, of experiencing the joy of God’s healing. And I know He will be faithful to do the same for you. Hold tight! You are in for the ride of your life!

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