March 2016

On this date, we were married for almost 20 years. Together 23 years. My husband, Neil, abruptly and tearfully tells me that he had something to confess to me. He had an affair in 2009 (seven years prior) and had been feeling so guilty about it daily that the only way he could cope with the guilt was by drinking. He shared that it had started taking more and more alcohol to numb the feelings. 

I asked him how he felt about me. He said that he loved me and was still attracted to me. Then his expression changed, and he said we were only roommates anyway. I was surprised to hear myself say, “I feel the Lord’s hand on me, and I know I can forgive you for this.” He told me everything inside him was telling him he had to leave me.  

I was talking about Jesus at that point (right vs. wrong type things), and he said, “I think all that is a bunch of ‘bunk.'” He looked like a different person at this point. He was crying and headed out the door. I followed him and asked him to please consider this a ‘pause,’ not an end. 

He said, “Ok,” and left me. He went to his mother’s for three days and then moved into a male friend’s house and stayed there for two years and nine months. 

I was in trauma that night and for a long while afterward: No other description for it. That night I was shaking all over. My bones were clicking together, and I couldn’t ‘get a grip.’ All I could pray were words I have never used before, “Lord, I need Your medicine. Give me Your medicine.” I could feel the darkness that was covering my husband. It scared me almost to death. 

I heard these words clearly inside my head/ heart, “It’s not over. It’s not over. Keep moving forward.”  

The Lord was very present with me that night. It touches my heart to write this and remember it so clearly today. He was very, very gentle.  

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

The rest of my story is about God and me. My husband was in and out of our house while I was at work a couple of times each week. Picking up mail. Taking care of household chores. Doing our yard work, etc. I never saw him. He avoided me. He was truly running. But God had whispered to me, “He can only go THIS far. ”  

I didn’t need to learn to run to God. I didn’t need to learn about Jesus and His love for me. I had already learned in another season of testing to trust God; a painful, hard season, but necessary. I see now how it prepared me for this one. I had never learned nor heard much about waiting on God.  

I had heard the phrase “God’s timing” but never had any application in my own life. 

I also was already an intercessor. 

But I cannot recall ever praying for myself. Not for strength, not for faith, not even for health. I readily and fervently prayed for others. People that I knew and people that God sent my way. 

I was open to hearing His suggestions for who to pray for and what about. I loved it! I wanted more and more. I enjoyed being “God’s girl.”

Because I felt so close to God already, I was hurt that He allowed this to happen to me. There’s no other way to put it. And I told Him about that. He already knew it anyway. 

I had never heard the words “Standing for your marriage.” I just knew that daily, God was speaking to me and showing me that He knew what was going on, even though I didn’t.   

I was going to a counselor who was also a Christian (although not necessarily a Christian Counselor). I cried continually and couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I prayed without ceasing. I felt a heavy burden to pray for Neil almost all the time. I was afraid for him. It was like the darkness had a shape, and I sensed it in him. 

My counselor suggested I change the locks. Lock him out. Tough love. Protect myself. This is emotionally damaging, etc. 

God, very simply said, “No.” 

I tried to take my wedding rings off once in a fit of pride.

 God said, “No.”

I felt like I was trapped. Even though it was 100 percent clear to me what God was telling me, I begged every day for it to end. I tried to sell God on the ideas I had. I had some great plans … I had yet to learn about waiting on God. I remember someone telling me their spouse had been away for six weeks. I immediately cried out to God: there’s no way I can live through six weeks of this! Little did I know. 

God had told me clearly TWICE, “You don’t worry about Neil. I have him.” 

That gave me so much peace during this trial. I would remember it over and over. I was also amazed that the God of All Creation would even speak to me. Thank You, God!

The Word says: “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all of your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

My husband was physically in the far country (another term I had never known before ) for almost three years. 

We only saw each other three times before our restoration began. The distance between us was threatening to overwhelm me. When I spoke with him on the phone, he was someone I barely knew. When I cried out to Jesus about this, He told me, “I am in the gap between you.” This gave me so much peace.  

When I was distraught and tired of praying the spiritual warfare prayers every single night, the Lord told me, “Just do it.” So I did. Every single day. Sometimes forcing myself to “just do it.”  

But I see now, writing this from the perspective of a restored marriage, that God used my prayers. Not just to protect and bring my husband to Himself ( Hallelujah!) but to keep my husband in my own heart and to keep my eyes on the Only One that could do anything about it all.  

We have been restored for 10 months now. This has been the best year of my life. Watching what God is doing in my husband each day is so amazing and humbling at times. 

Is he perfect? Am I? No. But I have the confidence that no matter what trials arise in my life, My God will be with me every minute. I am very thankful for this storm that brought both of us to the foot of the cross. 

“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.” ‭‭Joel‬ ‭2:25‬

I, Lori Ann, am a testimony to this.