One Hurting Pastor:

“I’ve read many books about restoring a marriage, forgiveness and dealing with issues. I’ve taught bible studies and preached entire series on all of those, as well.  But I’ve never heard a person share as openly, truthfully and “in your face” as you do.

Your story is heart breaking. Your testimony is powerful. Your strength is undeniable. How you’ve allowed the Lord to restore your hope and to forgive the ones that hurt you is nothing short of amazing. In the middle of horrific pain, you smile through your tears and tell all of us that we are LOVED by Jesus. You don’t sugarcoat any of it and you challenge us to deal with our ‘crud’.

I was speechless (and that’s not an easy task for a Pastor) at how spot on you are about intimacy. We decided that there is a sweetness to your words that gives the reader or the listener permission to not have it all together and that gives us courage to ‘try’ to do better.

I’ve been married for 11 years and a pastor for 8 of those. I didn’t grow up talking about any kind of intimacy and I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t know anything when I got married. I had no experience whatsoever.  I remember my father saying something like I would ‘figure it out as you go’ kind of thing and I don’t think I ever figured it out.

I made the classic mistake of thinking that if she wasn’t complaining, then things were probably fine. I see now that I’ve blown it in EVERY way. I was too proud to admit that and too caught up in making sure everyone “liked” the Pastor. And I have to admit this part, too. I liked that this other woman was into my sermons. She took an interest in what I was into. She acted like everything I said was good. My wife wasn’t hanging on my every word and hadn’t been doing that for years. She was over how “awesome” I thought I was long ago. If I’m being honest, that hurt.”

His Hurting Wife:

“So today my husband came home and told me about your ministry. He said that we needed to watch together and I was surprised he would agree to listen to you. You’re not a Pastor. No offense but we’ve never heard of you and let’s face it, normally he doesn’t listen very well. I didn’t want to listen, either. Especially to another woman who was going to judge me and tell me how rotten I was for straying from my marriage. 

Your story…how do I describe it? I don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t what I saw. You stood tall, strong! Confident. Free. There was zero judgement. Immediately I knew that you were different. 

As you began to share, my heart was hurting for you but also for me. I could relate to how you felt and the shame you felt for everything that was done to you and what you had done. I wanted to be loved and I felt anything but. You talked about blaming others. I didn’t want to own anything that I had done so I blamed everything on my husband. You talked about forgiveness and releasing them from the debt that they owed us. I wanted to shout, ‘Yes! My husband owes me a HUGE debt. He hurt me! He wouldn’t love me!’

But at the same time, I wanted to be released from the debt that I owed him, too. Talk about crud? I knew that I had to deal with mine. I also knew that it wouldn’t be easy but I had to choose to trust the Lord and do whatever it takes to make this the best marriage I could make it. Part of the reason that I was attracted to the other guy was that he paid attention and he made me feel wanted. I was missing that from my relationship with my husband. Intimacy wasn’t fun. It didn’t feel good and we never talked about it. I realized that it wasn’t all his fault. I needed to communicate what I wanted.”

One hurting Pastor:

“We watched your video together. I’ll admit it was the first time that we had been that close in proximity to one another in weeks. You said that Jesus died for the girl being tortured by a man and beaten by her mom AND for that man that tortured her and the mom who beat her child. You said that Jesus paid your debt and he released you from the debt you owed him.”

His hurting wife:

“We were hardly speaking anymore so it was weird at first. As we watched together, there was this moment that you said, “Jesus hung on the cross and took it. Why? For a little girl who was being tortured by a man and beaten by her mother…AND for the man that tortured that little girl and the woman who beat her child. You said Jesus released you from the debt that you owed him.”

One hurting Pastor:

“When you put your hand out and you said, “Jesus did this and all you have to do is this,” I turned to my wife and we simultaneously grabbed each other’s hand. I cried. She cried. It was in that moment that I chose to forgive my wife and I released her from the debt that I thought she owed me. I believe that Jesus wanted us to watch your story – to read those articles so that we could figure out our crud.”

His hurting wife:

“As you stuck out your hand you said, “All you have to do is this” and you grabbed the hand of Jesus my heart broke. Without even thinking about it, we reached out and took each other’s hand. I was crying. He was crying. I knew that I needed to forgive him and release my husband from the debt that I believed him to owe me. If Jesus could do it, then I could too.”

One hurting Pastor:

“We cried and talked and cried some more. I finally listened to my wife. She had a lot to tell me. I believe we saw each other maybe for the first time.”

His hurting wife:

“We talked. We cried and he listened. I learned things about my husband that I never knew. It was really good.”

One Hurting Pastor:

Forgiveness is not easy. It’s a choice and until you are put in a position where you are the one that is hurt and you have to decide whether or not to forgive someone, you don’t know what you’ll do for sure. I have missed my wife. I feel hopeful and believe that Jesus wants to heal our marriage.”

His hurting wife:

“We have a long way to go but I believe that there is HOPE for the first time in a long time. I also know that there is true forgiveness and I am praying that we can do whatever it takes to ‘fall in love’ again and maybe make it BETTER then it was before.”

One hurting Pastor:

“Thank you, Sonya. Because you were not afraid to share your “crud” you gave us the courage to deal with ours. Your ministry is POWERFUL and much needed. God bless you!”

His hurting wife:

“There are not enough words to express how grateful I am to you for your ministry and for sharing your story about forgiveness. I hope to one day be in a place where I can hug your neck. God used you to speak to us, Sonya.”

AAAAHHHHHH! This is SO brave. SO powerful. God is AWESOME!

So what can WE learn from THEIR story? 

A LOT!

 

#1 Communicate

A. To God. Tell Him EVERYTHING. He can handle it and He wants to.

B. To your spouse – they are the one you made the vow to. They have to be your partner, confidant and your best friend.

C. To your leadership and congregation. Yes, you read that right. Set the boundaries so that EVERYONE is in on the plan. It’s okay to tell them what you will and won’t do as their Pastor, according to what Jesus has instructed you to do in His word. 

 

#2 NEVER engage with the opposite sex alone – EVER! There’s NEVER a good reason to be alone with the opposite sex for any reason any time. Not only can things happen in the blink of an eye, but there is an appearance of something bad going on. And that is sometimes worse than anything else. Is it worth it? That moment of “We’re JUST talking…” is it really worth it? There must be boundaries, accountability and a promise to protect the covenant of marriage. Do NOT make apologies for this. 

 

#3 Accountability is key. You must have others in your life who will hold you up, pray for you and push you towards Jesus and being the best you can be in CHRIST. *I STRONGLY suggest that you go outside of your congregation for these people. That way the advice is FREE from the pressure of “being in the congregation” and you can just BE yourselves instead of worrying about what you say, how you say it and what they will tell others. 

#4 FORGIVE!  You MUST forgive. We can’t ask for forgiveness when we won’t forgive someone else. I’ve learned that forgiveness means that you look at the pain that someone did (don’t skip this part no matter how painful it is) and then you RELEASE them from the DEBT that you think they OWE you. Jesus released US from the debt that we owed Him. We must work through the hurt and then forgive. 

#5 GET HELP! If you need help, GET HELP! Marriage is NOT easy! There is NO intimacy without trust. There is NO intimacy or trust without communication. Every one of us has CRUD. How we handle it makes ALL the difference. It’s WORTH it to WORK hard at it! Anyone can walk away or quit. STAY! Work hard and deal with your crud so you can be FREE to be who Jesus wants you to be.

 

I said it before…GOD can do ANYTHING with NOTHING. Trust Him. There is NOTHING that He can’t do!