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HOPE WEEK 1
Day 1: Truth Unveiled
Greg has always been a little unfocused. I've noticed that he's often inordinately distracted at the checkout counter, and he lingers on racy scenes longer than necessary when surfing TV channels. I've chalked it up as normal guy behavior our whole marriage.
When I caught him lying to me about petty things, I concluded that I was married to Peter Pan. Why else would he tell a ridiculous story about working late and not being hungry after missing dinner, when, according to the receipt left in his jeans pocket, he was at a gas station buying a donut and Dew at dinnertime? There was no point in confronting him; it wasn't worth it. He was just a boy who didn't want to grow up.
Then one afternoon as I puttered around on the computer, I discovered a new tool our Internet provider offered. In the Favorites menu, it automatically created and displayed all of the sites most frequently visited so the user could easily return to them. The more frequently a site was visited, the higher it appeared on the list. To my shock and horror, there was a lengthy list of pornography websites topping the list.
No doubt the beaming faces of your friends and family members reflected the joy on your own face as you walked down the aisle on your wedding day. Your heart overflowed with love for the handsome man waiting to exchange vows with you at the front of the church. You never felt more beautiful, loved, and desirable. Your mind was a warehouse of dreams and expectations for the rest of your days as Mrs. Right.
Then the unthinkable happened. Whether you have been married a few months or celebrated numerous milestone anniversaries, your "happily ever after" has been tarnished by the discovery of your husband's sexual addiction. Perhaps you stumbled upon something on the computer, or you unwittingly uncovered a secret stash of pornographic magazines and movies. Maybe you walked in on your husband in the middle of an act of self-gratification.
Each of our experiences is different. Our reactions, needs, and solutions will be different as well. How I wish I could peer into your life and offer you an individualized solution to your unique situation! I'd love to be able to say, "Friend, if you do X, then Y will happen." If you think that is what this book will provide, you are going to be sorely disappointed. I can't possibly offer that kind of hope and healing myself. However, I have walked in your shoes, and I know how desperately you long for a solution and some guarantees. I don't have the answers, but I know Who does.
I believe that the most pressing need we all share is to embrace the hope that God is able and willing to pluck us out of the slimy pit, remove the filth that's clinging to our hearts and minds, and usher us to the next step of healing. Amen?
For a while you didn't even know you were in a pit. Like undetected termites that eat away at a foundation until one day the house collapses, an ongoing sexual struggle has been undermining your home. God had to expose what was going on with your husband for you to rebuild on a firm foundation. As 1 Corinthians 4:5 says, God "will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart."
While the discovery of your husband's sexual addiction pulled the rug out from under you, it came as no surprise to the Almighty. He sees the sins committed in a darkened office or bedroom just as clearly as those done in broad daylight.
It's not uncommon for a revelation to come as a complete surprise, however. Consider the apostle John. As an elderly man he was banished to the island of Patmos by the Roman authorities for faithfully preaching the gospel. In his wildest dreams, he probably never thought he'd meet Jesus on Patmos. The title of the book chronicling this experience is found in the first five words of Revelation: "The revelation of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 1:1). The Greek word for "Revelation" is apokalupsis (ä-po-kä'-lü-pses), meaning "unveiled." God knows what has been unveiled in your current situation.
Read Daniel 2:22: "He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him."
What does God reveal?
What does he know?
How does it make you feel to realize that he knows and reveals things that were once hidden in secret?
Secrecy shrouds sexual addiction. Until a man confesses or is caught, his struggle with lust is his own burden to bear. For 70 percent of sex addicts, the Internet is the primary source of their pornography. Online porn is extremely accessible, anonymous, and affordable, making it especially easy to hide. When your husband's addiction is made known to you, the secret becomes the albatross around your neck.
I've been married for forty-five years and learned about my husband's struggle with masturbation two years after we were married. He's a good man, but he once said, "If this came to light, there would be nothing for a man to do but commit suicide." I felt so alone. For all these years, I couldn't tell a soul.
Read Psalm 44:21: "Would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart."
What does God know?
It sounds ridiculous to suggest that you should be grateful that God has unveiled the truth about your husband's addiction to you, but that's exactly what I'm going to do. Christ longs to set us free from the things that have been hiding in the shadows. To do so, those issues must be brought to light.
Read Ephesians 5:8–14 (NASB):
For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." (italics mine)
Verse eight is like the Reader's Digest version of the gospel, neatly wrapped up in one verse. Read the first half of the sentence very carefully: "For you were formerly darkness." Most of us tend to read what we think something should say or what we would prefer it to say rather than what it actually says. This passage reads, "You were ... darkness," not "you were ... in darkness." Ouch. But that makes sense in light of Paul's words to us in Romans 3:23, doesn't it? "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (emphasis added).
How are we to live according to the second part of verse 8?
What do you think that might look like for you right now in your circumstances?
What doesn't it look like?
(For the record, whenever I see the word "but" in Scripture, I find that it often means "That was the bad news, but here's the good news." It's certainly true in this passage.)
By what means are you now "Light"?
That little preposition "in" carries the meaning "through." We cross from being darkness to being light through Jesus Christ when God takes the wages of our sin and puts them on his Son instead of on us (Romans 6:23). Jesus took all our darkness onto himself and threw open the gates of heaven for us at the same time.
The second sentence in verse 8 tells us that in response to this amazing news we are to "Walk as children of Light, trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord." Let's be honest: when we first learn of our husband's addiction or realize that he's relapsed into pornography after a period of sexual sobriety, we're not always sure how to "walk as children of Light." Living as children of Light doesn't feel natural when your emotions are off the charts. Feelings of rage, despair, betrayal, grief, self-loathing, and stupidity have you on emotional overload.
Listen to the promise we are given in Jeremiah 32:17: "Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you."
Did you catch that? Nothing is too hard for our Lord God.
Jesus is "the light of the world" (John 9:5) and "the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it" (John 1:5). In other words, he can handle this, even when—or especially when—we can't. By his outstretched arm, he has pulled back the curtain and revealed what you needed to see in your marriage so that he can shine his light into those dark places.
Psalm 139:11–12 assures us that the darkness doesn't have a chance in heaven of overcoming the light: "If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall cover me and the light about me be night,' even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you."
Pay special attention to the last line of that passage. First John 1:5 says, "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." When we become Light, we are filled with the light. The sinister quality of the darkness no longer has any effect on us.
It's sad but true that sin causes a chain reaction. Your husband's sin may very well have triggered a sin reaction in you. Now that light shines into darkness, shadows of sin are bound to be cast.
What do you suppose might be lurking in the shadows of your heart?
Ephesians 5:13 tells us that "when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible." When the light of Christ shines into the shadows, the shadow disappears. God has chosen to reveal to you the truth of your husband's sexual addiction to free you from what was growing in the shadows. One day "night will be no more. [We] will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be [our] light" (Revelation 22:5). Hallelujah!
As we wrap up our first day together, I want to encourage you to persevere. You are beginning the journey of healing a broken heart. The two parts of the word "persevere," "per" and "severe," actually mean through and causing great discomfort, damage, or distress. Press onward despite the discomfort, because at the end of the journey is hope.
What has God revealed to you about your husband's sexual addiction?
Take a moment to thank Christ for shining into the shadows.CHAPTER 2
Day 2: Needing Hope
I believe God is able to meet my greatest needs as I deal with my husband's addiction to pornography, and that he is in the process of doing that even now, but I'm not sure exactly what that looks like ... sounds like ... feels like. Most of the time I feel hopeless and overwhelmed. There are occasions when I feel a glimmer of hope that "better" is possible, but it's rare.
"So now faith, hope, and love abide" (1 Corinthians 13:13). If hope is a confident expectation that God will bless you in the future, then you need hope now more than ever. Yet in the early days of discovering your husband's addiction to pornography or masturbation, a sense of hopelessness and abandonment by God may prevail. It feels like the fabric of your life is unraveling and the threads are too knotted up for anyone, including God, to untangle.
Your present circumstances may seem overwhelming. Perhaps your husband has lost his job because of his addiction, your credit cards have been maxed, and your marriage bed has been defiled (Hebrews 13:4). While all may seem hopeless, there is always hope in Jesus. His Word has the power necessary to give you hope.
Match the following verses with their promises of hope:
Scripture instructs us so that we will patiently persevere and hold fast to our hope in Christ.
Ephesians 1:18 Trusting the God of hope results in joy and peace.
1 Timothy 1:1 The eyes of our heart must be opened to understand the hope we have in Christ.
Christ Jesus is our hope.
Romans 15:13 Hope is not unrealistic optimism; it's the assurance of our future based on God's love.
God isn't about to beat you over the head with a wet noodle for feeling hopeless. It's perfectly normal for you to experience feelings of hopelessness right now. From the very beginning, people have struggled with feeling hopeless.
When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn't do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, "You're going to have a big family, Abraham!" (Romans 4:18, The Message)
Like Abraham, sometimes we must choose to believe even when there seems to be nothing to believe in, simply because we have hope in God and his promises.
It is amazing to me how God works in my heart and head, even when I doubt I will ever recover from a difficult trial. I have convinced myself that, while coping with my husband's addiction to lust and masturbation, the sun won't shine as brightly as it once did. Then this feeling of brightness sparks in my heart, and I can't help feeling pricks of hope in what I thought was a dead place in my heart.
The book of Hosea tells the shocking story of Hosea, a prophet who was commanded to marry a known harlot, Gomer. She bore three children. The jury is still out on this one, but the paternity test on these three would not likely point to Hosea as their father. In fact, Gomer pursued love elsewhere and deserted Hosea. Their marriage vows were broken by unfaithfulness, but Hosea didn't seek divorce. He sought reconciliation.
Before we read too far into this story, you must understand that scholars have wrestled with Hosea for generations. One thing is clear: Hosea's life illustrated how difficult it is to love someone who is unfaithful, the way God continued to love Israel. Israel had been unfaithful to God by worshiping other gods. Despite their disloyalty, God longed to take them back, just as Hosea was instructed to take Gomer back. Hosea demonstrates what it looks like to reach out to someone who has strayed even before repentance has occurred. Yet true restoration cannot occur until there is brokenness and repentance.
Consider Hosea 2:2–23, where God confronts the unfaithfulness of Israel, symbolically expressed as a failed marriage. God appeals for repentance and threatens punishment. His judgment was designed to effect restoration. "Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths" (Hosea 2:6). God's consequences continue, bringing Israel to a point of desperation. When it seems as if the trouble can't get any worse, Israel looks to God and is rewarded with a restored relationship and a promise of better things to come.
I haven't asked you to consider this passage in a secret attempt to advise you either to stay in your marriage or to leave. Rather, I want you to glean two important messages from this story.
What does Hosea 2:6 say the Lord will do instead of punishing Israel?
With all your might, pray that the opening for sin in your husband's life would be sealed. Ask God to surround you and your husband with a hedge of protection that is impenetrable by the wicked ways of the world.
Use God's own words to ask him to do that right now.
That's the first point I want you to remember. The second thing I want you to take away from Hosea requires a little background investigation.
Read Joshua 6:17–19:
The city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.
What did the Lord command Israel to keep away from (v. 18) in Jericho?
What would happen to the camp of Israel if they didn't obey (vv. 18–19)?
God was quite clear in his command. Everyone in Jericho except Rahab and those in her home was cursed to die, and everything that wouldn't burn was devoted to the Lord's house. Israel was not to lay one finger on anything that was devoted to the Lord. You probably remember how this plays out, don't you?
In Joshua 7, we learn that Achan's fingers itched, and rather than cramming his fists in his pockets, he scratched. Hidden inside his tent was a "beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels" (Joshua 7:21). As a result of his blatant disobedience, Achan, his wife, his children, his livestock, and all his possessions were taken to the Valley of Achor where they were stoned and God's anger was appeased. "Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor" (Joshua 7:26).
Excerpted from WHEN YOUR HUSBAND IS ADDICTED TO PORNOGRAPHY by Vicki Tiede. Copyright © 2012 Vicki Tiede. Excerpted by permission of New Growth Press.
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