“I’m sorry” and I forgive you”, two of the most powerful yet humbling statements I have spoken. It is no longer a secret that my husband struggled with a porn addiction that started in childhood and progressed through the first eight years of our marriage. He is rather up front about it all.
In the beginning of his recovery this tended to be a constant topic of conversation, at church, at a birthday party and with friends around our kitchen table. I used to be shocked he could bring up the “P” Word so effortlessly, so openly, so unabashedly. He was fearless, shameless, humbled and free and he wanted to shout it from the rooftops that God saved him from his addiction. His candor eventually became less of a shock to my system and more refreshing. I quickly began to see him as brave from speaking up about his once secret addiction. He had refused to be bound by shame-filled handcuffs any longer and I got to be there holding his hand the whole way through.
How did Nathaniel come to this level of bravery and honesty? He first came through his denial to accept he did have a problem, without this acknowledgement all other growth would have been paused. His awareness and acceptance came from within, a nudge, a pull on his heart and a knot in his stomach as he listened to another man stand in confession for lust and pornography.
Don’t deny your nudges from God; they will open doors of healing.
Next, Nathaniel had to get right with God.
If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?
Not an easy pill to swallow for a married man in his predicament. Getting right with God started with his confession to God and asking for God’s forgiveness but it didn’t end there. Nathaniel still had to tell me about his problem and ask for my forgiveness, and then do a 180 degree turn around of his past behaviors.
Forgiveness as stated by the Holy Spirit in Hebrews 10:17,
Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.
…I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with head held high.
You might be thinking, “What is all this FOR, this GIVING God is doing? And what does it look like in a marriage?”
God came to earth as Jesus and died FOR our sins. In doing so He GAVE us life, a life to lead FOR Him. It all circles around, God is FOR us and He wants to GIVE every good thing to us when we choose to live FOR Him.
FOR * GIVE
When Nathaniel stood in our kitchen one Sunday, three years ago, convicted to confess his secret to me, I faced him, ears, eyes and heart open, ready to accept whatever he was about to say. When he said,
“And I‘ve been hiding it from you for the past eight years,” I said, “Okay, what are we going to do about it?”
As Nathaniel tells this story he always emphasizes the word, “WE”. Quite frankly, I had not even realized I said it back then. But I did and that word held so much symbolism for him in that conversation. In that word he heard, I am with you, I love you, We are in this together and I forgive you.
My open heart, my ready stance and my primed acceptance for whatever he was about to say and with my “We”, I was stating that I was with him, supporting him and that I was FOR him. Because Nathaniel felt I was FOR him he also felt I had GIVEN him a new beginning, a place of redemption and a new chapter in our marriage—one of complete honesty. My FOR, GAVE him the strength he needed to continue on in our marriage in a much more healthy way because he knew I was with him no matter what his road through recovery was going to look like.
Nathaniel knew he was forgiven by God and now he knew he was forgiven by me. Without the two he would be walking a lonely road.
What is stopping you from forgiving your spouse?
In what ways can you be FOR your spouse so you can GIVE a new chapter of complete honesty to your marriage?