Thursday, May 3, 2012

Intimate Foes..Or...Intimate Allies?

"A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.
Proverbs 29:11

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This post has been on my mind for a few months now.  I've fought through the lies of what others may think of our marriage if I share such a dark & personal story.  But, I've been speaking with a handful of wives who have found themselves alone with no one to trust.  So, this begins the first time that I've publicly shared a time in our lives where I contemplated divorce.

Sergio and I had been ministering in Mexico for a little over a year.  We were going through a tough time in the ministry which took a toll on our relationship.  Our firstborn, Josiah, was born in Mexico and was about 7 months during this time.  He was beyond colicky.  Sergio and I were not sleeping well and I cried often.  We didn't really have much of a support system and I was really feeling alone.  Like any marriage, the first years of a new baby's life can be difficult on a marriage.  I wasn't saving any of my energy for my husband, but rather, I was giving all of my attention to our son.

The memories from this particular night are vivid in my mind.  Josiah had been crying for over an hour.  I looked over at Sergio and told him that I was going to nurse Josiah and put him in his bassinet which was setup in our room.  Sergio intended to stay up and watch some TV, so I decided to close the door a bit.  It took me a little while to get him to go to bed, but once I did, I had a desire for Sergio to come to bed with me.  I quietly slid off the bed as to not wake up Josiah.

Once I got close to the door, I could hear noises that disgusted my heart and my stomach ached.  I slowly opened the door which gave me a direct shot to the TV and I couldn't believe my eyes.  I felt betrayed and hurt.  Sergio had no idea that I was there.

I didn't know what to do.  So, I grabbed his pillow, threw it out the bedroom, and slammed the door.  I was so angry.  I wanted to scream at him.

I heard him shut off the TV.  He knew that I knew and I could hear him cry.  I just sat in our bed.  I cried, too.  I cried out to God and asked him what to do.  I wanted to read my Bible, but it was in the living room and I was not ready to face Sergio.  So, I just sat in our bed for about an hour. 

I looked over to Sergio's side of the bed and saw a book by Ravi Zacharias titled, "I, Isaac, Take Thee, Rebecca".  I prayed again. 

"Marriages that are Christ-centered are beautiful to behold and wonderful to enjoy. 
Romance as God intended it can last a lifetime." 
-Ravi Zacharias 

My thoughts weren't too deep that night.  I just remember thinking that Isaac labored hard and long to be with Rebecca.  He loved her and would do anything to be with her.  And with those simple thoughts, my heart soften.  I got up, opened our bedroom door, and asked Sergio to come to bed with me. 

He was hunched over and through his shame, he answered, "no".  However, I was going to fight for him.  In my mind, he had no right to tell me 'no' and you better believe that I told him so.  He shared that he didn't feel worthy of kindness, but came any way.  

I guess you could say that I was kind of a giant that night.  He was my husband and I was not giving up on him.

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But, that didn't last long.  The next few days that followed were tough.  We had teaching responsibilities and I felt like I had to act as if nothing was going on and it was painful.  We spent our lunch break on the phone with our minister back in the states.  Sergio told me that if I wanted to leave and stay with my mom that I had freedom to go.  I wanted to go.  

I believed the lies and gave in to my hurts.  How could he do this to me?  Why would he look at another woman when he had me to hold?  Was I not good enough for him?  I thought awful things about my husband and forgot that I was a sinner, too. 

Our minister advised me to stay and I took heed of his wisdom.  I wasn't thinking clearly and I was confident that he knew more about this than I did.  So, I stayed.  

It was difficult.  I had let my husband's struggle affect me in a negative way.  I reclused into our home and simply pulled away from everyone.  I treated Sergio as if he owed me everything in the world because he broke my trust.  Shamefully, we lived this way for a couple of years and my heart became bitter.  I allowed anger to take control and lost joy in our marriage.  I failed my husband.  I was not his partner.  I was his constant, nagging reminder of that night.

After moving back to the states, we decided to see a counselor.  Through counseling, I realized that Sergio was not my enemy and I had to stop acting like his enemy.   I could not take on Sergio's sin and allow it to defeat me and then sin against him.  I am called to fight for Sergio, not against him.  

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,
 but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, 
that it may benefit those who listen. 
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, 
with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 
Be kind and compassionate to one another,
 forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
Ephesians 4:29-30

If I would've left Sergio back in 2005, I would've missed out on God's redeeming power.  For He restored us, strengthened us, and gave us an abundance of blessings.  

http://www.photosbyfranj.blogspot.com/
I rejoice in my husband's victory and he rejoices in mine.  It's been 7 years since my husband has looked at pornography.  I am proud of him and feel like the luckiest girl in the entire world.  He made the decision that our marriage was more important, more real, & more desirable than the fake fantasies portrayed through the TV, computer, or phone.  And I have made the decision to love him, respect him, and serve him as I promised him back on our wedding day in 2001.  

It's not always easy.  

But, I am his and he is mine.  We desire to fight for each other, not against each other.  

I'd like to share a few Scripture references that I turn to when our marriage is sifted (Luke 22:31):

• Be devoted and give preference to one another.  Romans 12:10
• Accept one another.  Romans 15:7
• Care for one another.  1 Corinthians 12:25
• Carry each other’s burdens. Galatians 6:2
• Forgive one another. Ephesians 4:32
• Encourage, build up one another. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
• Spur one another on to love and good deeds.  Hebrews 10:24
• Confess your sins to one another.  James 5:16
• Pray for one another. James 5:16

"Watch what God does, and then you do it, 
like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. 
Mostly what God does is love you. 
Keep company with him and learn a life of love. 
Observe how Christ loved us. 
His love was not cautious but extravagant. 
He didn’t love in order to get something from us 
but to give everything of himself to us. 
Love like that." 
Ephesians 5:1-2 The Message

Thank you for reading through our story.  This is a hard time in our life to share, but the joys we've received outweigh the shame that we once felt.  In the book, "Sifted", Wayne Cordeiro states (p.11), "You may be in a season of sifting, and if you respond correctly, this season can be every bit as important as the time of harvest.  Sifting builds the muscle of our faith, giving us the caliber of strength we will need for what lies just around the corner.  Scripture tells us that the challenges we face in life happen for a reason, and the process of sifting refines us, revealing our weaknesses, exposing our self-dependence and inviting us to greater faith in God and greater dependence on his promises.  Our prayer during this time is not that we will avoid being sifted, but that we will navigate the process well, and after we've survived, our faith will be ratified."  

"A sifted person is someone who is able, by God's grace, to reflect on his experience and emerge from a time of trial with a better grasp of what matters most.   He's (or she's) a person who has been tested, proven capable and mature." (p.12)

The sifting process never stops.  In this life, we will have trials.  The response to our trials falls on us.  How will we chose to respond through our hurts?  Who will we turn to when we feel alone?  Will we love extravagantly like Jesus loved us?   

The choice is yours.  I pray you chose to fight for your marriage.  

Choose forgiveness. 


**Be sure to check back to read Sergio's follow-up post!**



7 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story and being so transparent. What a testimony of God's faithufulness, mercy and grace.
    Blessings to you.

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  2. Keep on, Jackie! You are an inspiration and encouragement! God continue to use your marriage in more powerful ways than each of you individually. Bendiciones!

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  3. Jackie, I appreciate and love your honesty and humility in this post. Be encouraged by someone married for almost 30 years; almost all couples have struggled in some way with this issue! God spoke about the issue off faithfulness to Him and our mates from the first days of life, and Satan will always try to pull us away, but our resolve to commit our hearts to Christ and our husbands has such wonderful rewards! Thank you and I will pray for you as God brings you to mind.

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  4. Hi, I am new to your blog, and I am going through this very thing now...thank you for sharing this post, it means so much to know that I am not alone in this battle...blessings, K

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    1. Hi Kris, I'm very sorry for this tough time! My heart hurts for you as I remember the feelings of how am I going to get through this! Am I even strong enough?! Honestly, I am not, but HE IS! I've been praying for you this afternoon. Please keep in touch! My email is jacqueline.rizo6@gmail.com. I'm always an email away if you need a safe place to vent. Love, Jacqueline

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  5. Jackie,
    I came through the link up at To Love Honor & vacuum.
    Bless you for sharing from such a deep part of you! Yes! "We desire to fight for each other, not against each other."
    Jesus came to redeem. You guys are a picture of that amazing, beautiful truth!

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  6. I love the encouragement and reminder! God is the Perfect restoration expert. Making a better relationship than ever! Amen! Good for you for allowing him to work through you and your husband's humble hearts.

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