I turned on the car radio, desperately needing something to drown out the silence. “That’s What Faith Can Do” by Kutlass began streaming through the airways. Through tears I said to myself, “Yes, faith. That’s what I need. Faith to survive this nightmare.”
Thursday, December 10, 2009, began as an ordinary day. I picked up two of our girls from school and pulled into the driveway, only to find two SUVs waiting for me. One was black, the other white. A detective asked me to take the girls, then 10 and 7, inside the house. Then he asked me to climb into his vehicle.
He proceeded to explain that my husband had been arrested on child pornography charges. “What? Not my husband. You’re wrong. You have the wrong man!”
He showed me my husband’s picture, and the world caved in. How—what—would I tell the girls? What would those in our church and community think? We lived in a very small town, so I knew the news would spread quickly. I suddenly found myself despising the man I had loved just hours before.
I collected gymnastics leotards from the house, then drove to retrieve my 13-year-old daughter from school. The crying in the car as we felt the weight of the world on our shoulders that day is something I will never forget. It was hard and ugly.
As the week went on and the story unfolded, I was literally driven to my knees. I desperately needed God to show me what to do. Should I stay with my husband? Stand by his side? Or should I take our girls and leave?
James 1:5 reminded me that if I lacked wisdom, I should ask God, who gives it generously. So I asked Him, and I sensed Him leading me to stay, to go to court beside my husband, and to stand before the church body with him as our lives were laid open like a book.
Some questioned my decision, but I clung to God’s promise of wisdom. I had to believe that as long as I sought Him, my Jesus would divinely lead me in every decision I made (Proverbs 3:6). And He has. If I had doubted His faithfulness to guide me, my emotions would have overtaken me. I know this, because James 1:8 says that anyone who doubts God’s provision of wisdom is unstable in every way. Holding fast to God’s promise is the only thing that kept me on solid ground as my world crumbled around me.
I trusted the Lord’s leading as I stepped into my new normal of monthly court dates, probation, a short jail sentence, and caring for our daughters alone as best I could. I grabbed God by the hand and faced what I had to face. Today, I continue to trust His leading with every new challenge. My husband’s choices uprooted our family and set us down in a hard place that has not gotten easier.
My journey forced me to wrap my heart and mind around the concept of forgiveness. I knew God expected me to forgive my husband. I read the Bible and discovered that forgiveness wasn’t an option. Matthew 6:14–15 says that if we forgive others, God will forgive us. But if we don’t forgive, then He will not forgive us either. And we have done things that we need forgiveness for.
Luke 17:3–4 says, “Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them” (NIV). I had always believed that forgiveness was a one-time deal. Maybe it is for some people, but that hasn’t been the case for me. I’ve had to forgive my husband multiple times as each new discovery shattered my heart anew. Even in forgiveness, there remains real, painful consequences; not just for the one who committed the sin, but for those around them, too. And every time those consequences arise, I have to choose to forgive again.
We have been navigating the aftermath of my husband’s choices for nearly a decade now. We’ve all suffered in our own ways. For the girls, it has been a humiliating experience. Being a teen is difficult enough without having to make sense of their situation or having to constantly explain to their friends why their dad is never around.
I basically became a single mother overnight. We’re still married, and he still lives at home, but because of his crime, he is not permitted to participate in family activities. Any place where children may be is off limits for my husband, so that means I attend every event alone—birthday parties, school functions, sleepovers, carpooling, church, vacation destinations.
My husband, of course, has been impacted too. He lives daily with the regret of his past, yet because of those choices, he is prevented from moving forward in many ways.
Still, I will trust God. James 1:2–3 encourages me to face my circumstances with joy, so that’s what I choose. Why? Because these trials have led me to a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ that I would not have had otherwise. You see, I thought I knew Him before. I went to church, believed in Him as my Savior, and even served others. But now, because of my need to be totally dependent on Him, I have come to know Him by experience.
It’s like Job 42:5 says—I had only heard about God before, but now I’ve seen Him with my own eyes. I’ve experienced His strength in my weakness. His provision in lack. And His protection and vindication against Satan, the enemy who sought to destroy our family. God has been my constant and only source of strength since this thing began. Had it not been for this trial, I never would have known God the way I do now. Therefore, I am thankful.
Maybe you’re in a painful place, and you have little hope of it ever changing. I want to encourage you to hang on to your faith. Cling to God’s promises. Grab Him by the hand and ask Him to lead you. He will. And when you can’t seem to take one more step, He will carry you.
You are not alone in this journey. You are not without hope. God is with you. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. The Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you” (NIV). This has been my theme verse, and it has kept me going minute by minute. Let it be yours. Knowing the Lord goes before you will keep you moving forward.
Remember too the promise in Lamentations 3:22–23, “Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is his faithfulness” (NIV).
I encourage you to discover these truths for yourself. Hold fast to God. Ask Him to show you the way. Forgive those who have made your path difficult. And move forward in the strength and wisdom He gives, looking daily for His compassion. He will not fail you, for He who promised IS FAITHFUL (Hebrews 10:23).