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.
I found this really good article about the physiological and psychological effects of pornography on the brain. It is an interview with Laurie Hall. She is the author of the book, "An Affair of the Mind." I read that book when I first found out about my husband's affair. My Mom suggested I read it and I'm so glad I did!
Here is the link to the article: http://www.pornaddicthubby.com/An-Affair-Of-The-Mind.html
I really like her Biblical research on forgiveness as well. Plus, the difference in what happened with her marriage (which ended in divorce) and ours (which ended in reconciliation) is that her husband was never truly repentant. I am thankful that God restored our marriage, but I know we would have divorced if Tim had not truly repented and given his heart to the Lord. The same transformation took place in me as well!
by Amy Meyer Allen
When your life is shattered by your husband's infidelity or sexual addiction, it feels as if all strength has been knocked out of you like a death blow. But there are things you can do to restore your own strength, which can help your husband as well. Here are some I discovered.
1. Run to the Lord first when anything goes wrong. Cry out to Him and let Him comfort you and strengthen you. Your husband may be struggling with temptation and overcoming addiction and won't have anything left over to give to you. You must find your strength in the Lord or you, too, will spiral downward. - 1 Chronicles 16:11
2. Find a Bible study where you can learn and apply God's Word to your life. One that helped me realize God allows trials in our lives for a reason was, “Keepingyourfocuswhenyourdreams are shattered.” It is the story of Joseph's life and how his brothers sold him into slavery, but God had a purpose through it all – the saving of many lives! - Genesis 50:20
3. Create a gratefulness journal. If we dwell on our sorrows, our lives will get swallowed up with grief. Try keeping a journal where you write 5 – 10 things you are thankful for that day. It can be as simple as, “I got out of bed!” A friend suggested this to me when I first found out about my husband's affair and it really helped me focus on the many blessings in my life. - Psalm 50:23 NLT
4. Eat properly. Nothing saps your energy faster than a horrible diet! It may be hard to make yourself eat if you feel a lump in your stomach all the time, or you may comfort yourself with all the wrong foods. Either way, you need to eat well to feel strong. Making a smoothie for myself every morning is one easy way to get my fruits and vegetables for the day. Try adding fresh spinach to a fruit smoothie – you can't even taste it and it's so good for you! - Joel 2:25-27
5. Exercise regularly. When you are grieving and hurting it's the last thing you want to do, I know. You'd rather stay in bed and cry all day. But if you can get outside, take a walk or even start an exercise class; you'll strengthen your body, mind and spirit. I started kickboxing – it helped get me in great shape plus I could punch and kick out all the rage I had inside! - Isaiah 40:31
6. They say that laughter is good medicine and it is! Even the Bible tells us so. Find something to make you laugh – a silly movie, your kids or other's kids, Christian comedians. At least for awhile, your mourning will turn to joy. - Proverbs 17:22, Nehemiah 8:10
7. Spend time with friends. It's so helpful to be with other women who love the Lord. Let them pray for you, encourage you, and build you back up. We all go through struggles in life and it's so helpful when we can share one another's burdens. - Galatians 6:2
8. Memorize Scripture. One way is to find 3 x 5 inch notecards that are spiral bound and write a different verse on each card. It's small enough to carry in your purse, or you can prop it up next to your bathroom sink or keep it on your office desk and look at it throughout the day. Over time, you'll memorize verses without much effort! - Psalm 119:11
9. Encourage someone else. Another wonderful way to get our minds off of our own problems is to help or encourage someone else. Write a nice note, smile at the checker at the grocery store, give a hug. When we lift someone else's spirits ours are lifted a little, too. - 1 Thessalonians 5:11
10. Ask God for strength. Don't be afraid to ask God for exactly what you need. He tells us in His Word that many times we don't have because we don't ask. He is pleased to give you what only He can provide. - 1 John 3:21-22
Remember: God is our refuge and strength. An ever-present help in trouble. ~ Psalm 46:1
Father, I pray that you will strengthen the person reading this. Help them to see past the hurt and pain and look to you for their comfort and hope. Only You can provide everything our hearts desire. You are the One who has a plan even when situations seem hopeless. You promise that you will work everything together for good for those who love You and are called according to Your purpose. Even this, Lord. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
by Amy Meyer Allen
These are just some of the things I wish I had known or done when I first found out my husband was being unfaithful.
1. You didn’t cause your husband to act out in this way. There may be some things lacking on your part, there’s no such thing as the perfect wife, but at the end of the day – he chose to sin against God. (James 1:13-15)
2. Don’t take it personally. He didn’t do this just to hurt you or make you suffer or punish you for something you’re not doing – he’s just being selfish and seeking to please himself. Depending on how ensnared he is in the addiction, he may think he needs the pornography or the other woman or the prostitutes, but he doesn’t. He may tell you it’s your fault or take the blame upon himself. But either way, you have to get beyond your feelings and try not to wallow in self-pity – it only makes it harder to get to the root issue. (1 Corinthians 13:6)
3. You must hold him responsible for his own actions. Denial is huge – it seems like the easier way out, but relief is only temporary. Do not allow the behavior to continue, but seek to find out why it started in the first place. If necessary, separate from him physically for while, until he takes ownership of his actions. (Ephesians 4:15)
4. Affirm your love for him. Make sure he knows you love him and that you want to work through this together. Don’t threaten to leave or divorce him – that only makes him want to hide the whole truth from you. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
5. Don’t shame him. We all have secret sins that need to be brought into the light. Thank God that He brought this into the light so you can work on it together. Let your husband confess his sins to you, take ownership of them and repent. (1 John 1:8-9)
6. Do not become bitter with unforgiveness. If your husband has asked for forgiveness, you must forgive him. This may not come immediately, but it must be dealt with quickly before bitterness, hatred or rage overtake you. Remember everything that God through Christ has forgiven you of. (Matthew 18:21-35)
7. Don’t try to retaliate or have an affair yourself to get him back. That will only make matters worse and give him a reason in his own mind to keep doing what he is doing. (Romans 12:17-21)
8. Get plugged into a women’s Bible study where you can study the truth of God’s word in-depth and apply it to your life. This is where you will gain your strength and the wisdom to move forward one step at a time. (Hebrews 4:12-13)
9. Pray for your husband. A great book to help you pray specifically for him is, “The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie O’Martian. This is one of the greatest things you can do to promote healing in your marriage. (James 5:16)
10. Ask God if you have been disrespecting your husband in any way. Ask your husband as well. His greatest need is to feel respected by his wife and if he doesn’t, he may start to act in ways that make him feel respected or in control. A great book that explains the different needs of men and women is “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. (Ephesians 5:33)
Remember: you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength! ~ Philippians 4:13
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.
by Amy Meyer Allen
I was privileged to be able to attend the CLASSeminar Writer's Conference at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico at the beginning of this month. The theme was "Transformation" and we were each to write a story or poem that reflected that theme and this verse from Romans 12:2 - "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will."
It was a fun process working with a critique group to improve my piece. This final version includes the wonderful edits of Robin Stanley.
Oh, the Life of a Butterfly!
By Amy Meyer Allen
Slow moving, confined to the earth, easy prey. This is the life of a caterpillar.
Weightless wings, floating on the wind, mesmerizing beauty. Oh, the life of a butterfly!
I felt no desire to leave my comfortable life. But there I sat, alone in the cocoon I built around myself. How did I get here? Dark, formidable, unwelcoming, and completely unfamiliar, I mourned for the life I once knew. The dark addictions of pornography, affairs, and prostitutes had seized my husband and stolen him away from me. With shattered dreams, a looming divorce and 3,000 miles between us, it seemed I would never escape the betrayal that kept me locked within the boundaries of my cocoon.
For weeks it felt like a prison sentence. I lost my identity. The sorrow grew deep. No one could ease the pain.
In the dark confines of that unfamiliar place, I began to understand I wasn’t alone. A supernatural presence was creating something new. I allowed the truth of God’s Word to permeate my heart, bringing about change from within.
“I love you. I will never leave you or forsake you,” He whispered. “I have a perfect plan for your life.”
I grew to love the quiet hours I spent alone with God during my cocoon time, letting His truth transform me. Hope for a future quietly replaced my fears.
Emerging from the cocoon didn’t happen overnight, as much as I would have liked it to. But God’s timing is perfect and cannot be rushed.
Trials that come into my life now, I view as opportunities to be transformed. God intends the changes He creates within me to be permanent. I can’t go back to being a caterpillar. Why would I want to anyway, with so many limitations, always vulnerable to predators, and a limited view of the world?
I want to soar to new heights, see the world from a higher perspective, be released from the weight of the world. Oh, the life of a butterfly!
by Amy Meyer Allen
Here is an excerpt from chapter one of my book, "Snapshots of a Redeemed Marriage." Email me if you'd like to have a free copy emailed to you. firstname.lastname@example.org
I considered myself to be a pretty liberal woman. I accepted Tim’s interest in looking at Playboy magazines ever since his Naval Academy days; I even allowed them on our coffee table. I didn’t even think twice when he and a friend visiting from Omaha went to a strip club. But this was too much—a picture he had posted on the Internet from a camping trip we went on together for my birthday a year prior. He was tastefully posing naked in front of a waterfall. It was my picture of him. Now he had perverted it—barely attempting to blur out his face. I felt sick.
I never did have pity for women who had been cheated on by a spouse or boyfriend. I considered it a character flaw if a woman stayed with her man. “Dump the jerk as fast as you can, and move on” would have been my advice. Now, being confronted head-on with that very situation, I realized life isn’t so black and white. Mix in emotions, dreams, feelings of betrayal and love, and it is more a muddy brown. I journaled some of my feelings:
July 6, 1997
Tim is going through a tough time right now, and I don’t know how to help him. It seems like the more I try to get close to him and help him, the more he wants to run away. I think he sees me as his ball and chain. I’m tying him down. I hate that. I don’t want to be anyone’s ball and chain. I want him to be happy and fulfilled and in love with me. Maybe that’s the problem. I’m trying too hard. I can’t force anyone to love me. I’m just scared. I’m afraid that if I leave him alone he’ll find someone else. I’m confused. I don’t know what the right thing to do is. I do know that I’m feeling miserable and sick to my stomach and making myself get zits on my face. But I don’t think the right thing to do is avoidance. I feel like we need to talk, but it’s so hard. I’m afraid of what his answers will be. I don’t want him to leave me, but I don’t want him to stay just out of guilt. I have never felt so out of control. This is something he has to decide. Our future is up to him and what he decides. Maybe that’s why I’m so miserable. I can’t control how Tim feels about me. And if I try to, it just makes it worse. But this is my life, too – I need to know what’s going on. I need some answers. I haven’t felt this hurt and confused since Tim broke up with me in high school. I know I just need to leave it in God’s hands, but it’s hard. I’m afraid.
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)
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.