by Amy Meyer Allen
I had every intention of never speaking to him again. After discovering my husband, Tim, had been going to prostitutes for over a year without me realizing it, I filed for divorce.
Unbeknownst to me, God had a much different plan in store. During a six month separation, God held back the divorce papers and brought both my husband and me into a true relationship with Himself through Jesus. Then He called me to reconcile with my husband.
In each of these situations, God directed my steps and showed me very clearly what to do. (Proverbs 20:24) The key was listening to Him. Every marriage situation is different. There are different circumstances, different people coming from different backgrounds, different journeys and relationships with the Lord. Perhaps one spouse is a believer in Jesus and the other isn't. Maybe they both think they are following the Lord but neither one of them has a close relationship with Him.
Many women in my situation ask me for advice. I can only share what God has done in my own marriage and encourage them to seek the Lord with all their heart. God is able to show each one of us what we should do. He desires that each of us trust Him and ask Him for advice and direction. I believe God uses these devastating situations to bring us closer to Him. Because He created each one of us uniquely, He can show us what to do in every unique situation.
Sometimes God will call us to stay. Sometimes He will call us to separate. Never will He ask us to condone or enable sin.
When God called me to move back home with my husband, I did so only out of love and obedience for Him. I was very afraid of being hurt again. During our time apart, God gave my husband a glimpse of hell, where he was headed if he continued with his life of sin. Thankfully he got the message, and, in tears of release and repentance, he gave his life to Christ. (2 Corinthians 7:10) One of the ways I knew it was God's will to reconcile was because of the true repentance I saw in my husband. It was amazing to see how excited he was about the Bible. He was convinced it was 100% true and he should live his life by it. I saw my husband as a new creation in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
God wants each one of us to be with Him forever. This means truly turning from our sin, repenting, and giving our lives to Him. I believe a big part of our roles as wives is to love our husbands enough to leave them when they are sinning and not take personal responsibility for their sin. (1 Corinthians 7:2-6) If our husband is not a believer, separating for a time may be the only way God can get their attention. That old saying, “You don't know what you've got until it's gone” often comes true in this kind of situation.
I learned that if I truly love my husband, truly want what is best for him, then I cannot condone or enable his sin. I have to be the wife he needs, not necessarily the wife he wants. The wife he needs prays for him, encourages him to spend time with the Lord, cheers him on, forgives him when he stumbles, hates the sin but loves the sinner.
Sometimes love is tough. It does the very thing we may not “feel” like doing. It doesn't always line up with our emotions or feelings because love isn't a feeling but an action. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) It looks out for the best for the other person, even if that person may “feel” unloved at the time. Isn't God that way with us? He doesn't always give us what we want, but He always gives us what we need. Because He loves us so much, He wants us to grow, persevere, and become more like Jesus in character. (Philippians 2:1-18)
“My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” ~ James 5:19-20 NIV
Father, I pray for people that are struggling with sexual sin. I pray You give their spouse the strength they need to separate when necessary and the obedience to reconcile when You call them to that. You are a God of redemption. Help each one of us to follow You and trust Your guidance in every situation. You alone have all the answers. I pray these things in Jesus' name, Amen.
by Amy Meyer Allen
“Don't you know how much more valuable you are than money?” I heard God's voice in my head as I drove alone in my car. “No,” I whispered, and then started to cry.
Worthiness was hard for me to comprehend. I only felt “worthy” if I earned it by getting good grades in school, being attractive to gain attention from guys, doing everything perfectly, or making lots of money in my career. I found a false sense of self-worth in my own achievements.
It wasn't until my marriage fell apart, that God took me on a journey to discover my true worth. He did it by stripping away two of the most important things I derived my identity from my husband and my marriage. When I found out my husband would rather pay to have sex with other women than me, my whole world plummeted. Who was I if I wasn't Tim's wife? Why didn't he want me? Wasn't I attractive enough, or good enough for him?
During a six month separation from my husband, God began to change my perspective. It didn't happen all at once. Through studying His Word, I learned how much God loves me and wants me for Himself. As I spent more time alone with the Lord, I began to desire His attention more than other men's. He also worked on my desire to earn my worth. It took a long time to realize it's not how much money I make or what I do that makes me a worthy person. Instead I learned I am infinitely valuable to the Lord just because I am His precious child.
This new understanding of my worth helped change so many areas of my life. In the past my mantra had been “I can do all things.” Now I've added, “through Christ who gives me strength.” He has made all the difference.
God loves each one of us so much. I truly believe if anyone can start to comprehend God's agape love for them, the rest of their lives will be so much easier to deal with. Now, with my new source of worth, I try to take everything that happens in my life to the Lord. Whether it's good or bad, I first run it by Him instead of allowing it to define me.
For example, one day, about eleven years after my husband and I had reconciled, a lot of what God taught me just clicked. My husband blew up at me for not disciplining our children. In the past, when he got angry, I harbored and nursed my hurt for days, weeks, and sometimes years! This time, instead of licking my wounds and wallowing in self-pity, I chose immediately to talk to the Lord about it. I asked God to show me which part of my husband's reprimand was true, and which part was said only in anger.
The difference in how God helped me handle this situation was amazing! A few hours later I was able to calmly talk to my husband about how I listened to what he said. Yes, there were areas I needed to work on disciplining our kids. I promised I would seek the Lord and ask for His strength to help me change. But I also told him, in a loving way, how the way he blew up at me was wrong. I asked him to please strive to calmly discuss his concerns with me before he reaches the point of anger. I also told him that certain parts of what he said were untrue.
He apologized, I forgave him, and we moved on. Ultimately he had more respect for me when I stood up for myself in that way. I would never have handled this situation so lovingly and calmly without understanding my worth in God's eyes.
I often like to say, “It's not who I am, but Whose I am.” It helps me remember where my worthiness comes from.
Here is my prayer for you which Paul prayed in Ephesians 3:16-19 NLT:
“I pray that from [The Father’s] glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
by Amy Meyer Allen
Have you ever heard someone say, “You'd better slow down, take a break, stop doing so much or you're going to get sick?” What happened when you ignored their advice? Just as our bodies have built in mechanisms which force us to slow down and take it easy, I believe God gives us warning signs when He wants us to slow down and spend more time with Him. I also believe He can use our circumstances, especially the most difficult ones, to get our attention.
I like this quote by C.S. Lewis, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”. I don't know about you, but God had to shout to get my attention. It happened when my marriage fell apart and I filed for divorce. Up until then, life was pretty good. I had a good relationship with God, or so I thought. We spent time together in the morning as I read my devotion for the day my “quick fix” before the busyness of life began. I had no idea that God was not satisfied with our superficial relationship.
Through the demise of my marriage, God woke me up to what I didn't even notice I was missing. Shortly after I left my husband, Tim, God gave me an amazing opportunity to join a women's Bible study aptly entitled, “Keeping Your Focus When Your Dreams Have Been Shattered.” Tears blurred the letters as I stared at the bulletin that Sunday in church. It may have well said, “Dear Amy, This study is for you! Love, God.” You can bet I was there that Wednesday when it started. I remember asking the leader, “What am I supposed to do now?” Very wisely she said God would show me.
That very day I promised God that I would faithfully do that study, fully trusting He would have an answer for me by the end. I eagerly examined the life of Joseph: his brothers had sold him into slavery and he lived as a captive for 13 years. He could have been filled with bitterness and rage by the time he saw his brothers again, but instead he was full of compassion and forgiveness; able to see everything from God's perspective. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20
During the study God corrected my bad theology and for the first time, at age 29, I understood that God allows trials in our lives in order to bring us closer to Him and to accomplish His purposes. He showed me so many other important truths as well. By the end He made it clear that my husband and I were to reconcile.
Having learned so much from that one study, I wanted more! When I moved back with Tim, I looked for more Precept Bible studies. I devoured the book of John that next year, then Romans, then James, then on to Daniel when we lived in Thailand. Since no one was leading a Precept study there, I started my own with women from all over the world. My hunger for God's Word was changing my life. Continually God revealed truth, then prompted me to apply it to my life. Wanting to be obedient, I would ask Him to give me the strength to do what at times seemed impossible.
I learned that there are no short cuts to fixing a marriage. It takes time, effort and plenty of STUDY (Structured Time, Undivided Discipline and Yearning) of God's Word. Not just a “quick fix” in the morning, but true, devoted study as well as time spent just talking with God. Anything worth having is worth investing in. I can assure you from personal experience that investing in your relationship with God is never wasted time! The most important thing is that you dig deep into the Word of God; not other people's interpretations of it, but the truths that are revealed by God's Holy Spirit through Scripture. It takes time, effort and discipline but is so worth it.
Don't ask God for a band-aid when He longs to give you the cure for your broken heart. Don't cheat yourself or God out of the deep, fulfilling relationship He longs to have with you.
“Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.” ~ Psalm 119:24
Father, I pray for the person reading this right now. Give them a hunger for your Word, teach them Your ways, and give them the strength to apply Your truth to their lives. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
by Amy Meyer Allen
“How can you trust him?” my new friend asked me. I had just spent two hours sharing my testimony with her: how my husband had been going to prostitutes, I found out, left him, and filed for divorce. But then God got a hold of both of our lives and put our marriage back together. It was all very fresh; I had only moved back in with him a few months prior, after a six month separation. I was at my first-ever women's retreat when I shared this with some of the women there. So when she asked me that question with such earnestness, I had to reply. “I don't.” I said emphatically. “But I trust God and I trust what He is doing in my husband's life.”
Trust is hard. Trust means putting your full belief in something. “Like trusting in a parachute,” I heard someone say recently. It doesn't come easily, especially as an adult, once we understand how the world really works and become cynical. If you've been betrayed by a spouse, trusting anyone or anything ever again seems impossible.
There is only one person who is worthy of all our trust and that is Jesus. He promises to never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, 9) and that He has plans for our good and not to harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). I thought I had fully trusted in Jesus, but until my marriage fell apart, I realized I had placed my trust in the wrong person – my husband. I had made him my rock; I had put all my hope for the future in him and our relationship. In God's eyes, I had made my husband an idol.
The scriptures say God is a jealous God. “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God,” Exodus 34:14. This can make God seem angry and unapproachable. But what is meant by “jealous” is actually a beautiful thing when we understand it. It means He wants all of us for Himself – our whole heart. Should we expect anything less from our Creator?
Everything that is within us should be fully given over and entrusted to the Lord. Why? Because He loves us and created us and knows what is best for us. But He doesn't stop there. He promises that when we “seek Him first and His righteousness then everything else will be given to us.” (Matthew 6:33 – paraphrased) Everything! That includes our spouse, our marriage, our kids, our possessions, our careers, everything. But when we get things out of order and put something or someone in His rightful place, He will use whatever it takes to bring us back to Him. Whatever it takes! Sometimes that can be very extreme like what happened in our marriage. Was it painful? Absolutely! But now, 12 years after He restored our marriage I can honestly say it was all worth it.
I now have a strong relationship with the Lord and I trust Him with all my heart. If my husband were to suddenly turn his back on the Lord and leave our family to pursue his own selfish desires, I would be ok. I really would. Because now my trust is where it should be – in God alone. Plus, He has given me everything else I long for: a loving husband (the same one I intended to divorce!), two beautiful little girls, a wonderful home and community, lots of loving friends and family, the ability to use my talents, work, etc.
Gradually my husband has earned back most of my trust. I still don't trust him 100%. But I do trust God completely and I am still entrusting my husband to the Lord. I know that as we both trust God with all our hearts, He will straighten out all the paths that we had made crooked.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
Father, I pray for the person reading this. Maybe they have misplaced trust. Maybe their trust is in their spouse, their marriage, their kids, their finances, the future, their job. If there is anything taking Your rightful place in their lives, I pray that You would show them in a way that helps them confess their idolatry to You and put their full trust in You alone. If a marriage has fallen apart, I pray that You would bring both partners to a complete and trusting relationship in You through Your Son Jesus, who died for our sins so that we may spend eternity with You. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
by Amy Meyer Allen
When I found out my husband had been going to prostitutes for over a year and half without me realizing it, I was both shocked and relieved. Shocked, because I could hardly believe I didn't know! Relieved, because I knew God had revealed it to me.
About three years prior to finding out about the prostitutes I had kicked my husband out of our house when I found out he had an affair. When he called me one day, broken and repentant, I slowly let him back into my life – letting him earn back and rebuild my trust in him. After finding out about the affair, my Mom mailed me a book called “An Affair of the Mind,” by Laurie Hall. In it, the author expressed her own struggle with her husband's pornography addiction and acting out with prostitutes. I remember reading about the prostitutes thinking, “At least my husband's not that bad.” Little did I know what was going on in his heart and soul.
In the book three main points have stuck with me over years.
1. I needed to be more concerned about my husband's soul than I was about saving our marriage. - Mark 8:34-38
2. I could not control my husband, but must relinquish any control I thought I had over him to God. - Romans 8:6 NLT
3. I shouldn't drive myself crazy trying to be a detective and figure out what my husband was doing. Instead I needed to trust that God would reveal anything He wanted me to see in His timing. - Job 12:22, Deuteronomy 29:29
I could see my husband's soul withering away right in front of my eyes. I didn't understand about spiritual battles then otherwise I would have put on the full armor of God. Instead I just had these freshly revealed principles to cling to. It was hard to think of our marriage dissolving, but I did recognize the wisdom that my husband's soul was more important than our “happily ever after.”
The issue of control was pretty new to me. For the first time in our marriage I was forced to realize that I had absolutely no control over my husband's actions. I could cry, scream, bargain, manipulate, but in the end my husband's choices were his alone. At one point I did symbolically give my husband to God while praying with his parents and my Mom. I asked God to take hold of his life because I knew I was helpless to change him. - James 5:16
Before I knew about these principles, I had found out about the affair by snooping through my husband's credit card bills. Granted, we didn't have the best arrangement in the first place – we each had separate bank accounts, credit cards, etc; not the greatest way to “become one” in marriage. But in the book I learned that God could be trusted to reveal anything I needed to know about my husband in His way and His timing. That freed me from excessive worry, trying to control the situation, or being accused by my husband of snooping in his stuff. So when God did reveal to me that my husband had been going to prostitutes, it was obvious: an escort service flyer was stuck in the memory of my printer and came out when I tried to print something else.
Ten years after God reconciled our marriage I still remind myself of these very important and Biblical principles. It keeps me from snooping or trying to control or even change my husband, and reminds me to pray for him instead.
Remember: …with God all things are possible! – Matthew 19:26
Father, I pray for the person reading this right now. Help them to stay calm, keep their focus on You, and realize that they are helpless to change their spouse. Only You can do the kind of heart surgery that is needed in this situation. In the meantime, give them the strength to trust You, relinquish control, and believe that You can do anything. We pray that You will bring these precious souls into a living, loving and saving relationship with You, through Your Son, Jesus. We pray for true repentance and that You will reveal what needs to be brought into the light in Your perfect timing. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
It's Not Fair!
by Amy Meyer Allen
Life certainly isn't fair. At least not from our perspective. Why can't it be easier? Why do so many people have to suffer? Why isn't life "fair"?
My Mom and I discussed some of these things as we curled up on opposite sides of the couch. The colored bulbs on the Christmas tree were our only source of light. The rest of the household slept silently in their beds. It was late but we didn't feel tired as we shared out hearts with each other. I'm always grateful for this special mother-daughter time, when I can visit from out of town.
"All I know is that I wouldn't have a close relationship with the Lord if it weren't for what happened in our marriage," I confessed to Mom. I have to learn the hard way. Unfortunately, a lot of us do. It's not like God caused the near-demise of my husband's and my marriage - our own sin and selfishness did. But God used that trial to open our eyes to His plan for our lives. He was also there to catch us when we stumbled over our own misconceptions of who God is. Reality hurts sometimes, but I'm so glad God opened my eyes to His truth - that life isn't all about me and my own happiness, but about living for Jesus and sharing his love with others. I'm comforted when Jesus says, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) It reminds me that life isn't fair, but I don't have to be afraid because Jesus has everything under control.
I've come to understand that trials, difficulties, "unfairness", all bring us closer to our Lord. If everything were perfect, we wouldn't need Jesus - and what a dark place that would be.
After attending numerous counseling sessions with a professional Psychologist, after attending 12-step group meetings with SA, and after reading numerous books and accounts that people have written regarding lust in their lives, I have decided to sit down and record events and feelings that have occurred throughout my life which may help me and others to understand how and why this one desire, one of the “Seven Deadly Sins”, was able to slowly seep into my thoughts, take over my mind, control my life, and ultimately grab onto my soul.
Lust; in all its evil ways has tempted me in countless ways ever since I can remember, and it will continue to tempt me all the days of my life. How am I personally controlling this desire in my life today? A simple answer…I’m not. I, a human being with an extremely sinful nature, don’t have the ability to control this desire in my life; I have lost all control. I alone am addicted to sexual lust and the inner feelings of pleasure that it provides to me. According to Webster to be “addicted” is to give oneself up to some strong habit. I gave myself up to this habit a long time ago in exchange for the feelings of power and the mental and physical release and relaxation that it offered to provide me. I have learned to accept the fact that lust and the evils associated with it are more powerful than I am and that I alone do not have the ability to control or stop what it continuously begs me to do.
So how am I able to live a life where lust does not control my actions? I have and continue to turn my life over to a “higher power”. I am giving up trying to be in control of my life and turning control over to Jesus Christ and following Him. He is the only way that I can live a life free of the control of this evil “disease” of the mind. I am learning daily how to put my life completely into His hands. Is lust still tempting? YES…YES, IT IS. For me it is sometimes more tempting and more desirable than anything else I can think of. I have wanted and at times still want what it promises to provide more than life itself. For yourself, imagine somebody or something in this world that you feel you absolutely cannot live without. Maybe you feel that you cannot live without alcohol, gambling, money, drugs, sports, friends, parties, chocolate, the thrill provided by a certain adventure, a very close relationship (including your spouse), cigarettes, absolute security, good health, and even a career. If it is anything other than Jesus Christ and the love He offers and promises, you are fooling yourself, because ultimately that is truly the only thing that you CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT.
If you feel that you cannot or would prefer not to live life without that thing…you have given yourself up to it…you are addicted. You may laugh. I say try and quit - give it up completely forever and see what happens to you; especially your mind. Giving yourself up to some strong habit other than Jesus Christ will ultimately separate you from the love and salvation that Jesus promises…it will control how you think and act and ultimately it will kill your soul forever.
(written by Tim in 2000)
Do Not Trust Your Feelings
by Amy Meyer Allen
Have you ever read the devotional “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young? It was given to me by a friend and I just love it. I read it now every morning as part of my quiet time with the Lord. It is written from God’s perspective as if He is speaking directly to you. Let me share an example that hit home with me:
BRING ME ALL YOUR FEELINGS, even the ones you wish you didn’t have. Fear and anxiety still plague you. Feelings per se are not sinful, but they can be temptations to sin. Blazing missiles of fear fly at you day and night; these attacks from the evil one come at you relentlessly. Use your shield of faith to extinguish those flaming arrows. Affirm your trust in Me, regardless of how you feel. If you persist, your feelings will eventually fall in line with your faith.
Do not hide from your fear or pretend it isn’t there. Anxiety that you hide in the recesses of your heart will give birth to fear of fear; a monstrous stepchild. Bring your anxieties out into the Light of My Presence, where we can deal with them together. Concentrate on trusting Me, and fearfulness will gradually lose its foothold within you."
Ephesians 6:16; 1 John 1:5-7, Isaiah 12:2
Recently I was asked to speak at a women’s luncheon for Christian business women. I don’t consider myself a good speaker and get very nervous beforehand. Well, not only was I nervous, but I was being attacked in my thoughts. Satan knows my weak points. I heard someone say that Satan isn’t particularly creative. If he was able to attack you in one area of your life where you are weak, chances are he’ll attack you in the same place again and again because it works. My weak area has to do with my husband. Obviously because of what happened in the past, I get very afraid that Tim will act out again and I’ll be hurt, devastated, etc. Satan knows this and attacks me in this area. So the day before I was to give the speech, not only was I struggling with anxiety about speaking, but I started to have thoughts that Tim was acting out again and that I should snoop around his stuff and prove that I was right. Thankfully I had just finished a Bible study called “Lord, help me grow spiritually strong in 28 days.” I knew that I was being attacked but my feelings were so strong they were hard to ignore and they were becoming obsessive. I didn’t sleep much the night before so the morning of the speech I called a friend and she prayed for me. The feelings didn’t immediately subside but her prayers helped me put my focus back on God and trust Him. When I gave the speech God took over and I wasn’t nervous and delivered well what He had given me to say. Looking back I could more clearly see the warfare surrounding that talk, both on me and my husband. Tim was being attacked in his weak areas as well, but it wasn’t in the way I had imagined. Instead Satan used an old trick from years ago when we lived in Thailand: Tim felt beaten down, depressed and that life wasn’t worth living. That night after the speech, Tim and I were able to talk about what had happened. We both agreed that in the future when we know Satan is attacking us, we should tell one another and pray for one another, rather than let Satan win and start seeing each other as the adversary. I’m grateful that God’s promises are stronger than my emotions. I’m thankful that He wants me to bring all my feelings to Him and that I can trust Him with everything that is happening in my life.
I was born in 1970 in Omaha, Nebraska. Although I went to church all my life, I didn't make Jesus Lord of my life until I was 29 years old. My real relationship with Him began when my marriage fell apart.