I Love to Tell the Story, It's Your Turn

My Chains Are Gone

I’m taking a little break this week…not really by choice. My “thorn in the flesh” has decided to rear it’s ugly head this week, and I can’t seem to think straight. I promise to tell you more about that later.

I decided to take the opportunity to share the story of my friend, Chris. If you have ever felt like you were in bondage to a sin, please don’t miss this story! Chris is living proof that God can free you from anything!

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Grace.  It’s a word I’ve heard my entire Christian life, but one I didn’t fully comprehend until two years ago.  Through my brokenness and the transforming work of the Lord, I now understand what His great grace and mercy mean.

I want to share with you my story.  If it can be used to glorify God and to bring hope and comfort to anyone going through the trials of life, so be it.  It will be worth the pain.

A couple of quick notes:  First, I take no credit for any of the “good” that has happened.  God deserves all credit, and to Him be the glory.  Second, I am just a “normal” person.  I am not a preacher. I do not hold any theology degrees. My prayer is that my story shows you it is possible to make it through the hardest trials, and that we have a God who loves us more than we will ever know. He is simply waiting for us to turn to Him so He can show us His great grace.

My parents divorced when I was 6 years old. After two years of living with my mom, my brother and I moved in with our dad. It was during this time I began to learn about who God is, who His son Jesus is, and what exactly Jesus did for me.  At the age of 11, I accepted Jesus as my personal savior.  I remember being completely overwhelmed with His love and grace.

As a young adult, I met a beautiful lady at church. After a whirlwind courtship, we married and began to build a family. God blessed us with two amazing children, and for almost 14 years I enjoyed what I felt was a wonderful marriage.  From the outside, it looked great.  But from the inside, a cancer was growing that would eventually destroy everything.

November 5, 2013 is a day I will never forget.  I got home from work, and my wife immediately went downstairs with her phone.  I picked up the tablet and there in front of my eyes was evidence of an online sexual affair. I saw the live exchanges taking place. I was in shock.  I was speechless.  I couldn’t move.  My wife was having an affair.

I ran out of the house and stayed away that night. I was in shock, not sure where to go or what to do. I called my dad, but he and my stepmom were four hours away. I found a quiet place, and I fell to my knees and cried out to God.  I had no idea what to say, what to do, what would happen.  But it was at that moment, as I felt the worst emotional pain possible, that I heard a voice whisper words  that would transform my life:

I am here. I have always been here. I will not leave you. I have allowed this to happen for a reason.  And son, I love you.  I want you back. You need to trust me.  I need to take you through a valley so I can bring you back to me. You need to understand you have not been faithful to your wife.”

I hadn’t been faithful?  My wife was having an affair, and God was telling me that I hadn’t been faithful?  The words shook me to my core. I had done my best to be a good husband. I did my best to provide a good life for my wife and my kids. I worked hard every day. How had I been unfaithful?

Somehow, deep within my heart, I knew my heart had never been fully hers.  It had been a slave to pornography for many, many years.  Pornography had a grip on me, a chain that kept me in bondage since I was 16 years old. And it had destroyed me.

I didn’t know how to break the chains, but I knew God was with me.

Despite my encounter with God, I was still numb.  But God was moving.  I was determined to fight for my marriage, to do everything I could to fix the mess I had made. I found a Christian counselor, and admitted I was addicted to pornography.  I acknowledged my weakness, my sin, my dark behavior.

My counselor helped me understand the deep wounds I suffered in my childhood, wounds of sexual abuse and abandonment. He helped me submit it all to God, laying it at the foot of the cross. As I surrendered to God, I literally felt the weight of my sin, the weight of the bondage, being lifted away. The shackles were broken, and God rescued me by his great grace.

I wish I could say fighting my addiction turned the tide and my wife and I reconciled.  I wish I could say she saw that other men were not the answer. I wish I could say she turned her heart back toward God.  I wish I could say she realized the pain our boys would go through if she went through with divorce. But I can’t.

It’s been said that it takes two people to divorce.  That’s not true at all.  It only takes one.  And sometimes, one person decides it’s just not worth it to fight for the marriage and he/she would rather try something else.  God gave us free will.  He allows us to make our own choices, even if it goes against His will.  My wife made her choice, and it was divorce.

Even though I didn’t want any of this, I am at peace. I have seen God’s hand, his grace and mercy over every area of my life. I’ve experienced a newness in my relationship with God, and intimacy I never knew could exist. I delight in God’s word, in spending time with my heavenly Father.

Despite the pain and devastation, God has used the bitterness of divorce to transform me into his image, to break the chains of a pornography addiction. Freedom is an amazing thing!

 

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33 thoughts on “My Chains Are Gone”

  1. Thank you for sharing your painful journey of divorce… My husband of 32 years was addicted to pornography. The first time i caught him viewing it was 6 months after we were married. It shook me to the chore and i began a hate relationship with my body that i have wrestled with.
    I know that pornography kills a marriage one view at a time. Sadly my husband was in ministry and his addiction lead him to extra marital affairs and he walked away from everyone and the ministry. He has not seen 2 of his children in over 3 years.
    God has taken care of every need and walked us through all the dark times and the happy times.
    never once have we ever walked alone.

    1. Karen, I could have written every word you just said personally. I’m so sorry for your pain. I understand what you’ve walked through…and what your kids walk through. Never once have we ever walked alone. He has carried, through the deepest valleys and across the tallest mountains. Blessed to stand firm with our Savior! God bless you!

  2. Powerful story! Great grace!
    It made me think back on my marriage ( my ex deceased) and in fact was involved with pornography. At that time, I thought that it was just a “weakness” (I was naive) and that most men had this bent. Though it made me uneasy, I denied, ignored, and covered it up. Until it affected me, is when the reality hit me. This addiction had turned to abuse. I am glad to read the flip side of this story and the courage to face up to correction from our loving Lord. He sets us free and returns us to wholeness. So happy for this man.

    1. Right there with you. Porn was a root of everything I suffered. I didn’t know it or understand it at the time, but I see it so clearly now. I, too, bought the lie (fed to me by my husband) that “it’s just the way men are.”

  3. Thank you for sharing Chris’ story. Praise God that he has been delivered from this addiction.

    Susan Kunsman TCK Educational Consultant

    >

  4. It always amazes me “Gods Grace” “Bitterness that people hold on to and unforgiveness is just as toxic as Pornography not justifiying any sin:) The War Room is a great movie to put things in a little perspective 🙏🏻

  5. Thanks for sharing this very moving story. Unfortunately, I see examples of this very day in my practice. But I also have seen that when individuals and couples allow God to work in their lives amazing things can happen. Blessings.

    1. My marriage was also victim to pornography. I bought the lie “it’s just the way men are” until he began seeking out other women. After some study on the effects of pornography, I see its impact on every aspect of my marriage. Complete purity is essential in this evil world. Thanks for doing what you do!

      1. You are absolutely correct. Partial purity will not work. A sexual addiction is different than other addictions because the addict is not seeking “more” he is seeking “different”. He has to increase the intensity in order to increase the chemical high he is receiving due to the stimulation. While some men may never move beyond viewing pornography, the pornography they need to view in order to be stimulated must constantly increase in intensity.

      2. It’s so sad. It wasn’t until I began to understand the impact of porn on the mind that my marriage made sense. Looking back, I see how every aspect of our marriage was negatively impacted. I realize he was a lot deeper in than he ever allowed me to know. I will preach complete purity, fleeing every HINT of impurity, until my dying breath. With God’s help, it is possible.

  6. Thanks for sharing this moving story. Unfortunately, I see examples of this everyday in my practice. However, I also have seen when couples and individuals allow God to work in their lives that amazing things can happen. Blessings.

  7. This makes so much sense, my husband was first into pornography and he told me it was the normal thing that guys do. I chose to believe him, and yet knew that he was wrong deep in my heart. Then he began having multiple affairs while he was on business trips. I knew nothing until he told me he was leaving for another woman. How could I have been so naive? We were married for 20 years and I thought I could trust him and that he was the same man who I had married so many years ago when he was a stronger christian. I wish I had known how pornography starts to kill the marriage.

    1. Oh, Karen! I understand completely! It was a pastor who first suggested the pornography connection to me. I read Every Young Man’s Battle, and my eyes were opened! My entire marriage suddenly made sense. Pornography had warped my husband’s mind to the point women were nothing but objects to him, objects to gratify his desires. But, in my naïveté, I bought the “it’s just the way men are” line for 20 years. I say all this to say, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There’s an army of us walking the same path. And the good news? God can redeem every hurt, every pain, heal every broken heart.

  8. Hi Dena,
    I just wanted to thank you for sharing this story. Are you familiar w/Josh McDowell? In April (2016) in Greensboro , NC Josh & 30 other speakers are tackling Pornography in the Church/World. Its a 3 day conference for Pastor’s, Counselors, etc. Their website is setfreesummit.org. I encourage anyone in ministry/counseling fields that want more information & tools to help with this rapidly growing plague to go!! Its limited to 1,000 people. There is no deadline to register, however, if one is interested its best to register now to guarantee a place.

    Thanks,
    Sue

    1. Awesome! I’ll check into it! I doubt I can go (something about a job, kids, and money), but I would love to learn more. I know pornography has a major impact on so many marriages and is a root of many, many divorces. Even though I didn’t know it at the time, I now realize it was a root problem in my own marriage. Our culture is so saturated. Porn is so easily accessible. And we’ve bought the lie it doesn’t hurt anyone. Oh, how I wish this world would understand the wisdom of living God’s way!!

  9. Also for the sister’s in Christ that posted their story may I recommend Laurie Hall’s “An Affair of the Mind”. It’s the best book I have researched that really helps. Second would be Marsha Means “Your Sexually Addicted Spouse”. Although Laurie’s is out of print you still can find copies @ Amazon.

    For the husband who is struggling the best I have researched is “Worthy of Her Trust” by Jason Martinkus & “I Don’t Love You Anymore/ I Don’t Want a Divorce” by Dr. David Clarke. Jason & David’s book’s are brutally honest to the men if they really want help.

    I buy books for myself/family….but I do a lot of purchasing to donate to my local Churches & Christian ministries that need these resources but lately budgets are tight. More Churches are building “libraries” so that the congregation can utilize these resources. Also if your church doesn’t have these books, your local library probably does or they can get them from another library by intra-library loans. Blessings!

  10. Dena,

    May I ask you a favor? Since your ex was a pastor can you share a book that’s specific for pastor’s wives that are dealing with their husband’s sexual sin? I know they can get some help from the books I mentioned, but as you know being the wife of a pastor often presents other problems for her. If you have a suggestion you could share I would appreciate. Thank you.

  11. Every week that I read your devotionals, I cry. You are an amazing blessing. Thank you to Chris for sharing his testimony. God blessings and favor upon you both..

  12. When a woman looks for help either with a therapist or books, etc. be careful about labels like “co-addict” being applied to the wife. While in some addictions like alcohol yes family members can “enable” the alcoholic in their behavior. But sexual sin is different. No wife I know stands @ the altar & thinks “wow, hope we can bring in other women to spice things up” or “more sexual experience for ole Bob will get him better in bed”, etc, etc. Yet SADLY many therapist still try to put that guilt trip on the wife, she is the “co-addict”. Maybe, but in most cases, Nonsense! Marsha Means & Barb Steffens have done great work helping the counseling community understand its TRAUMA, not co-addict that brings such pain to a wife when she finds out & if she stays in the marriage. “Your Sexually Addicted Spouse” is a good book to explain the trauma model. If your counselor/therapist/pastor starts down the co-addict path with you….Run!

  13. Trauma can lead to PTSD symptoms. Often when I talk with a wife of a sex addict even she doesn’t recognize the symptoms she keeps experiencing are a lot like PTSD. And the counselor/therapist/pastor may not be familiar with this either, thus the wife can be traumatized all over again.

    Recently I heard a man on the radio discussing his sexual sin 30 yrs. ago. He then explained that he had went through all the steps for recovery & now had 30 yrs of sexual sobriety. But what he said next caused me to weep. He stated that even though it had been 30 yrs ago & he & his wife were still married….he still had Godly sorrow over the pain he had caused her, yes even now. That’s what true brokenness that leads to repentance “acts” like everyday in marriage.

  14. As counselors it is our obligation to educate the wife as well as treat the husband. She needs to understand that she is in no way to blame for his behavior. Most women when I discover their husband is using pornography insist they stop.
    In some cases, they are not sure what to do. I have heard wives tell me “I just thought it was normal and all men do it”.
    That does not mean she is in anyway at fault and it certainly doesn’t mean she is co-addict. What I found it does mean is she didn’t understand how destructive pornography would be to their relationship. And she didn’t know how to handle the situation. There are feelings of shame and worst that she is “not enough”. I believe many women in that positive simply become paralyzed and hope it will go away.
    It is important to understand that men bring their sexual addiction into the marriages. It is something that existed long before he ever meets his wife. She is absolutely free of all guilt. And that is a very important point counselors and pastors need to convene to women. They are suffering enough, they do not need us to be laying more guilt and shame on them. .

    1. Just weighing in briefly. I hear from women all the time who have gone to the church after discovering their husband’s sex addictions. Repeatedly, I hear how they’ve been told they must not have been meeting their spouse’s needs and therefore bear guilt for the porn/adultery. So often, the innocent spouse is naïve, even mentally, emotionally, and spiritually abused without even realizing it. I was the naïve, trusting spouse who accepted the excuses that pornography was something all men do. I trusted completely. I never dreamed it was anything other than just an occasional glance. I had no idea the damage that pornography was doing to my husband. It wasn’t until I read Every Young Man’s Battle that my eyes were opened to the truth of my relationship. My marriage had always been about lust, never love. It had always been about what he could get not what he could give. Our marriage had always been a one-way relationship. It took me a long time to regain my self-confidence, to realize our divorce was not about me. It was about an illness, an addiction. And, that is a message I will carry to my dying breath. Was I perfect? No. Can I take responsibility for my part in the failure of my marriage? Yes. But my marriage failed as a direct result of a heart hardened to things of God, a man addicted to pornography, a decision to walk according to the lusts of the flesh rather than in the fruit of the Spirit.

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