when great men fall

This post was originally written and posted on http://www.thebeautifullychaoticlife.blogspot.com in May 2018.

In our family devotional, we recently came to the uncomfortable account of David and Bathsheba. No problem, I thought, we can handle this. My littles will tell you without missing a beat that God’s ideal for marriage is, “one man and one woman for life.” Teaching them that David broke this ideal would be fairly straightforward. So I thought.

It turns out that I underestimated how difficult this passage would be to explain to our children. Not because it involves teaching preschoolers about adultery, but because it opened their eyes to a terrible truth.

You see, David is Monkey2’s Bible hero. He gets his middle name from three great Davids – David Richardson (Joshua’s father), David Motl (who is like a second father to me), and King David. For several weeks now, JD has listened intently as we read through accounts of David’s faith and victories. What little boy isn’t inspired by the young shepherd who conquered a giant with just a sling and the strength of his God? My second monkey has been awestruck and deeply impressed, proudly proclaiming each night, “His name is David, just like ME!”

When we came to the passage where David takes another man’s wife, our young children listened with rapt attention. It wasn’t difficult to explain what happened. They understood that a covenant had just been broken. Well, that was easy, I thought to myself. I wasn’t prepared for the question that followed.

“Is that the same David who killed Goliath?”

JD’s face fell.

It couldn’t be. Not David. Not his hero.

I watched as it dawned on my little boy that even great men fall. I wanted to weep. In that moment, King David’s sin with Bathsheba broke my heart because I saw the effect it had on my son. It baffled and confused him. It distressed him that David – his great hero of faith – could make such a sinful choice.

Do you know what that’s like? Have you ever watched a spiritual hero fall from their pedestal? I have. I’m sure you have, too. You’ve seen great preachers fall into error, giants of faith fall away. You’ve heard reports of men and women you regarded as blameless who have fallen into sexual sin.

“No, surely not so-and-so. Please don’t let it be true.”

It hurts. It’s discouraging. It’s infuriating. When someone you’ve held up as an example of righteous living makes a sinful decision, it can make you question your own faith and commitment to Jesus. In times like these we need to remember that we’re not the only ones watching. Our kids are listening, waiting to hear our reaction.

There are two things I was reminded of during our discussion with JD. One: Sin has consequences beyond our imagination. Scandals (especially in the Church) reach further than we can possibly see. Even centuries later, David’s sin is still painful. It still affects the hearts and minds of thousands of people. In light of that, we need to understand the seriousness of our own choices. Every one of us is setting an example for someone else in our lives. We may not be in a public role like David, but people are still looking to us. Our actions are either leading them toward God or away from Him. The ripple effect can last for years.

Second: Jesus. Precious Jesus. I think for the first time it really hit JD that Jesus is the only one without sin. Isn’t that exactly what we want our children to understand? That’s the hope on which to focus. What an opportunity to remind our children that, although no one is perfect, Jesus offers cleansing for all. When David was repentant, God was able to restore a beautiful relationship with him. He offers the same to each of us.

When someone sins, do you obsess about it for days? “I can’t BELIEVE he did that!” “What’s wrong with them, anyway?” “I’m never going to trust her again!” Or do you display grace and pray for repentance? Christ is able to redeem! Drive that point home, every time.

With sorrow I watched JD realize David’s imperfection. But, oh, the joy of pointing him to God’s forgiveness! That is truly the best part of parenting, getting to share the love, grace, and mercy of God with my children. Watching JD slowly transfer his greatest admiration from men to Christ is unspeakably sweet.

Just as Joshua spent the rest of devotional teaching our children, we know that everyone sins and falls short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). There is no one who is righteous on their own (Romans 3:10). And sometimes, great men fall.

I want my kids to admire the characters of the Bible as well as modern day leaders of faith, but I want them to realize that they are just human – just like us. I want them to think of Paul and Peter, Daniel and Ruth (and Jody and Evelyn Apple) as people to imitate, but I want them to know that they were (are) real people in real need of a Savior, and that our greatest hero is Jesus.

When great men fall, Jesus stands. He is ready to forgive and receive even the lowest among us. He is willing to be the strength that you lack, if only you’ll let Him.

Will you let Christ be your Hero?

preparing our daughters for a culture of porn

This post was originally written and posted on http://www.thebeautifullychaoticlife.blogspot.com in October 2018.

When I was a teenager (not so very long ago), the epidemic of Internet pornography was just beginning to be recognized. By the time I got married, most of my peers knew that the majority of guys our age had a problem with porn. We might not have understood the impact it would have on our future marriages, but we were somewhat prepared for the likelihood of marrying a man with a history of porn use.

Our parents were not as aware of the problem. They didn’t understand how easily erotic material could be accessed, or how quickly curiosity leads to addiction. Studies were not yet out on the addictive nature of porn or the compounding issue of screen addiction. We didn’t have the science on how early exposure traumatizes the brain and damages emotional development. Often times, the first conversation parents had with their boys about pornography took place only after they discovered inappropriate material on their computers.

It wasn’t that parents were neglectful. They just didn’t know. With all the education out there today, I see Christian parents being proactive; taking precautions like installing filtering software, becoming more tech savvy so they are aware of danger zones, and beginning the conversation with their boys from a very young age. I hear more talk about how to end porn addiction, and more discussions on preparing our daughters to address the issue of pornography in relationships before committing themselves to a man for life. That is wonderful!

But while we are busy protecting our boys, Satan is busy at work. In our zeal to protect the hearts and minds of our young men, let’s not overlook a rapidly growing issue among our youth: Female porn addiction.

Pornography is not just a “man’s problem.” Our girls are at risk, too. In Covenant Eye’s 2018 edition of “Porn Stats,” you can read how:

  • A 2007 study revealed that 70% of girls had accessed pornographic material
  • In a 2008 survey of college students, 62% of girls had been exposed to porn before the age of 18, and 9% had been exposed before the age of 13
  • 57 % of girls have seen group sex online
  • 55% of girls have seen same-sex intercourse online
  • 23% of girls have seen sexual bondage online
  • 18% of girls have seen bestiality online
  • 10% of girls have seen rape or sexual violence online
  • 9% of girls have seen child pornography

But that’s just the data on exposure. What about intentional viewing?

  • 23% of girls have spent at least 30 consecutive minutes viewing porn on at least one occasion
  • 76% of women ages 18-30 and 16% of women ages 31-49 view pornography at least once a month
  • 21% of women ages 18-30 do so at least several times a week
  • 25% of married women say they watch porn at least once a month
  • 48.7% of young women believe viewing pornography is an acceptable way to express one’s sexuality
  • 20% of religious women are addicted to porn

Note that most of these statistics were put together ten years ago. These are growing trends. More young women are viewing pornography at younger ages than ever before. We have got to start talking to our girls about their vulnerability to porn addiction and how to protect themselves. Here are a few things to consider when preparing your daughters to live in our culture of porn:

1.      Realize that girls are visual too. While it’s true that guys are in general more visually stimulated than women, there are thousands of girls who are just as “visual.” I have friends who are made to feel as if something is wrong with them because they are easily aroused by visual stimulation. Women can be aroused by images just like men, and they can become just as addicted to that rush of dopamine. Visual stimulation can also be a learned behavior. Our culture of porn is teaching our girls how to be visually aroused even when they would not naturally be so. Don’t spread the myth that only guys are visual. Talk to your girls about guarding their eyes.

2.      Be aware of pornography in all forms. Pornography is, “Art with obscene or unchaste treatment or subjects,” (Webster’s). Or, “The presentation of sexual behavior in books, pictures, films, or other media solely to cause sexual excitement” (Britannica’s Encyclopedia). Material that is marketed as “porn” is not the only danger. It is packaged with a variety of labels, and is abundant in mainstream media. Think of the latest PG-13 blockbusters. Just because your daughter is over the age of 13 does not mean she (or you) should be viewing the pornographic scenes found in most PG-13 movies. But pornography is more than just pictures or films. Women tend to prefer erotic stories over graphic images, and these are just as wrong as any other form of porn. Recognize the danger of “romance novels” and don’t accept the excuse that she “just skips over that part” (yeah, I used that line as a teen). Be aware of the books your girls are reading, and talk to them about the inappropriate physical reactions words on a page can arouse.

3.      Protect your girls as much as your boys. Install accountability software on all devices. Limit screen time. Put restrictions on where your daughters are allowed to use electronics (be especially wary of sleepovers and unsupervised library visits, and don’t allow electronics to be used after you’ve gone to bed). Insist on access to all passwords and online accounts. Check these regularly. Talk to your girls about the dangers of pornography. Teach them to come to you any time they stumble across inappropriate material.

4.      Have an open communication policy. One of the main reasons people get hooked on porn is curiosity. Boy, girl, adult, or child, we are curious creatures by nature. If girls have unanswered questions about sexuality, they will do their own research. What starts out as mere curiosity can turn into addiction very quickly. Talk to your girls from an early age about physical development (including boys vs. girls), sexual desires, and purity of mind as well as body. Gain your daughters’ trust by communicating with them about all areas of life. Teach them that you are a safe place to learn about sensitive topics, and encourage them to come to you with any and all questions. If you have already given them a foundation of appropriate information, your daughters are less likely to search for answers from the world.

5.      Talk to your daughters about how to handle their sexual urges. Girls have sexual desires, just like boys. It’s hard to be a single young woman with no legitimate outlet for those desires. Pornography offers an alluring way to “express sexuality.” Teach your daughters the righteous way of handling arousal.

6.      Teach your daughters about the beauty of the physical relationship within marriage. In our efforts to protect our girls against sex before marriage and other forms of immorality, sometimes we send the message that sex is bad or that girls aren’t supposed to enjoy the physical side of marriage. Make sure your girls know that sex is a beautiful gift from God for both the husband and the wife. Both were intended to enjoy sex equally. Teach your daughters that they don’t need pornography or other “enhancements” the world offers. Talk to your daughters about how they have the power to train their minds to only be aroused by sinful material, and if they indulge in doing so they will lose a glorious part of pure sex within marriage.

These are just a few ways to prepare your daughters to face our culture of porn. Teach your children – both sons and daughters – to flee youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22). We live in a world that seeks to devour our girls, turning them into slaves of sexual immorality as both the giver and receiver of illicit behavior. Don’t be naïve. Educate yourself and educate your girls on how to avoid a lifetime of bondage to sexual sin. 

If you are a woman struggling with porn addiction, you are not alone! Reach out for help. You are always welcome to email me at servingfromhome@gmail.com.

why we’re open about porn

This post was originally written and posted on http://www.thebeautifullychaoticlife.blogspot.com in September 2018.

I recently posted the following to my personal Facebook page:

“Husbands, one of the most healing things you can do for your wife following a confession of porn use is to encourage her to be open with others about your struggle. She needs your support to seek the help she deserves; to know that you are okay with her talking with whomever she trusts to share her burden. Don’t let your shame imprison your wife.”

I received a few messages from concerned friends asking me if sharing my husband’s struggle with pornography on such a public platform as social media is, in fact, shaming him. Their questions took me a bit by surprise. Joshua and I are both very open about our experience with porn, and I tend to assume that since we talk about it so much most of our friends know our story and know that neither of us mind talking about it. But, of course, not everyone does know. I hate the thought of people thinking that I would ever intentionally shame my husband, so I want to clarify that anything I ever have or ever will post about pornography or our personal experience is 100% supported by my husband. He reads everything I write and approves of everything I post.

I’ve been asked before why I am so open and blunt about our story. I think it makes people uncomfortable and nervous that I’m going to destroy my husband’s reputation. Joshua doesn’t use Facebook, so I realize that a lot of our long-distance friends only see me posting and might worry that I’ve lost all sense of discretion by sharing details of our marriage struggles.

Here’s the thing. Joshua is not concerned about his reputation. He’s concerned about the reputation of Christ. Shame no longer enslaves him because Christ has broken those chains. He glories in the fact that he is now free in Christ, and he wants to share how he found that freedom with as many people as possible. If shouting our story from the rooftop would bring hope to just one person struggling in a marriage damaged by porn, Joshua would gladly do so. I adore that about him. 

The post I shared was part of a project Joshua and I have been working on together. Without context, I can see how some might think it was a [not so passive] aggressive way of shaming Joshua. That was not at all my intent. My point was, rather, that Joshua has always encouraged me to be open about our story, and it is one of the greatest things he ever did to help me heal.

We’re open about porn because: 

  • At least 50% of men who claim to be Christians are addicted to porn.
  • Over 56% of divorce cases involve an obsessive use of pornography.
  • 1 in 3 adults who visit porn sites are women.
  • 17% of women describe themselves as being addicted to porn.
  • 24% of Smartphone users admit to having pornographic material on their phones.
  • 93% of boys and 62% of girls are exposed to pornography before the age of 18, with the average age of exposure being around 9 years old.
  • 43% of Americans now say that pornography is morally acceptable.
  • But, most of all, we’re open about porn because there is hope for healing.

Porn is a serious problem, and it doesn’t stop at the doors of the Church. There are thousands of people struggling in shame and secrecy. Keeping quiet about our journey helps no one. Isn’t that what we’re here for? To share how God brought us out of bondage to sin and redeemed us as His own? “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). That is why we share our story. Because it’s really a story about Christ.

If you are one of those struggling as a result of an addiction to pornography, please know that we are here to listen and help in any way we can. We’ve been there, and we get it. For more of our story, watch for our upcoming book “Beaten: Recovering from Your Husband’s Porn addiction.”

5 Things I wish i had known about pornography before i got married

This post was originally written and posted on http://www.thebeautifullychaoticlife.blogspot.com in August 2015

Before Joshua and I officially started courting, he told me that he had been involved in pornography. He wanted to make that clear before I committed to a relationship with him so that I knew exactly who he was and who he had previously been. He told me how sorry he was for his actions and the way his past would affect our future, and he asked me to forgive him. His complete honesty and humility impressed me.

Joshua’s confession came as no surprise. Perhaps I was a little jaded, but at least I wasn’t naïve. Few men escape childhood and adolescence unscarred by pornography’s claws, and I knew that no matter who I married the likelihood of my future husband having a history of porn use was extremely high. Even so, I was not as aware of the effects of pornography as I would like to have been. I knew it would affect our marriage, but I didn’t know how much. Here are five things about pornography that I wish I could go back and tell my unmarried self:

1.      I wish I had known how a premarital history of pornography use affects marriage.

Even before Joshua started using porn again after we were married, the knowledge that he had struggled with it in the past affected our relationship. I was insecure, always wondering if/when he would start using porn again. I struggled to trust him in other areas. We had a hard time communicating well about pornography, which affected our ability to communicate about other topics.

A history of premarital porn use does not mean that it will continue into marriage, but it does mean that you will have to deal with the consequences it brings into your relationship. Getting premarital counseling specifically on this topic helps tremendously in dealing with the aftermath. You can have a beautiful marriage despite a history of pornography. God is merciful and forgiving. But there ARE consequences of sin, and it will affect your marriage no matter how long ago the addiction was. The past is not simply “the past.” It shapes who you are now.

2.      I wish I had known that I am not enough.

Marriage is not a cure for sin. You cannot “fix” someone by marrying them. I knew I couldn’t change Joshua, but pornography was something in his past. I wasn’t trying to FIX him, but I did have this vague notion that I could KEEP him fixed if I was a good enough wife. I thought that by being available to meet my husband’s needs at all times I could keep him from being tempted to look at other women.

Having a legitimate way to fulfill sexual desires does not eliminate the temptation to look at porn. Why? Because it’s not about sex. People do not view pornography just because they have no outlet for their sexual desires. I thought that if I was enough, my husband wouldn’t struggle. And, therefore, because Joshua DID end up struggling, it meant that I wasn’t enough. Enough of a wife. Enough of a woman. Enough of anything.

The truth is, I WASN’T enough. You can never be “enough” to keep someone else from sin. Keeping my husband from looking at other women is not my job; it’s something only Joshua can do. Sex is not the answer to a porn addiction. A healthy sex life can make it easier to resist, but it will not eliminate temptation.

3.      I wish I had known that we needed to set up accountability BEFORE there was a problem.

About a year into our marriage we installed Covenant Eyes on our computers. We should have done that much sooner. We should also have set up other safeguards. I wish we had been more selective in the movies we watched. I wish I had known how dangerous a cell phone with unlimited, unfiltered data could be. I wish I had insisted on an accountability partner for Joshua before he fell back into using porn. I wish we’d had regular discussions about how he was doing and how he was handling temptations. I wish we had taken preventative steps before pornography became an issue within our marriage.

Having safeguards in place does not mean that you do not trust your husband. It doesn’t mean that you think your son is looking at porn. It doesn’t mean that you are suspicious of anyone who uses a computer. It means that you are educated enough to know that there is material out there that can destroy lives and you are realistic enough to know that nobody is above temptation.

4.      I wish I had known that pornography is a legal drug.

Before marriage, I had absolutely no idea what pornography does to the mind. I am no scientist and do not pretend to understand the complexities of the brain, but from the research I have done I have learned that pornography can be as addictive as cocaine or heroin. When one views pornography a chemical called dopamine is released which literally rewires the brain, creating new pathways and establishing a felt need for the substance. This is the same chemical process that happens when one uses cocaine. The dopamine release caused by viewing porn is addictive. It makes you want to go back for more. And it makes you want increasingly more hard core porn because your brain needs larger and larger doses to receive the same high. I knew that pornography was hard to break free from. I had no idea that it was as serious a battle as fighting a drug addiction. It needs to be handled as such.

5.      I wish I had known the right questions to ask.

When Joshua first told me that he had battled a porn addiction, I didn’t say much. I didn’t ask questions. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the answers. I thought the past was the past and there was no need to dwell on his mistakes. But asking questions would have helped me better understand his struggle and where he was at in his battle against pornography.

Before we started courting I should have asked:

a.     When was the last time you viewed pornography?

If I had asked this one question, it would have changed things. It would have changed my plans for beginning our courtship just then. It would have changed the way I dealt with the effects of Joshua’s porn use. It would have changed how we began our marriage. The answer would have been painful, but it was one I should have known. Ask the uncomfortable questions.

b.     What safeguards do you have in place to ensure that you do not fall back into viewing pornography?

A mental resolution is rarely (if ever) enough to break the cycle of pornography addiction. Covenant Eyes or something similar helps keep your family safe and helps give you peace of mind.  Ideally, safeguards will be in place before there is a problem.

c.      Who is holding you accountable and helping you stay pure?

Having someone to talk to who understands the struggle and who will ask the hard questions is important. I should have asked Joshua who else knew about his struggle and who was helping him stay pure. Several people knew and had helped him in the past, but I was the only one actively holding him accountable during our courtship and early days of marriage. That was a mistake.

Joshua did not intentionally keep this information from me. Neither one of us thought to bring these things up. But if we had it to do over, we would have talked about the uncomfortable topics more.

Pornography is evil. It has the potential to destroy lives. But it doesn’t have to. Like any other sin, a porn addiction can be overcome. If your boyfriend, fiancé, or husband has a history of pornography use, help him get help. The problem does not just disappear. Let’s help our men fight this battle to the end.

“Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” 2 Timothy 2:22.

Confessions of a Former Porn Addict’s Wife

This post was originally written in March 2014 and posted on http://www.thebeautifullychaoticlife.blogspot.com

I have never cried so hard, nor felt so broken. A rage boiled through my veins unlike any I had ever experienced. The intensity of my fury frightened me. The oppressive weight of hopelessness and the frantic pounding of desperation crushed me until I felt physically beaten. I wanted to vomit. I wanted to scream. I wanted to break something. Or someone.

            When Joshua arrived home early from work one overcast summer evening, I immediately knew something was wrong. Taking my hand, he pulled me toward the couch. “There’s something I want to talk to you about.” The worst possible scenarios flashed through my mind and I braced myself as I sat down beside him. My heart pounded. My hands trembled. My head spun. His voice was thick when he finally spoke. “I’ve lied to you.”

            A few days prior to this I had been up in the middle of the night with a fussy baby and picked up Joshua’s phone, intending to surf the web while I tried to rock our newborn back to sleep. The internet browser was already open. And it was set to search images.

            Not wanting to jump to any conclusions, I investigated a little further but couldn’t find any inappropriate material in the search history. Deciding there was probably nothing suspicious about whatever Joshua had been searching online, I eventually tucked the sleeping baby back in his crib and crawled into bed beside my husband. Joshua rolled over and wrapped his arm around me. I was reasonably certain that there was nothing to my fleeting suspicions, but I felt compelled to make sure. “When was the last time you looked at porn?”


            Somewhat impatiently I asked again, “When was the last time you looked at pornography?”

“I don’t know.” There was a long silence. “Sometime back before we were married.”

            I knew Joshua, like many men, had struggled with pornography before we were married. He had told me this before we ever began courting and had apologized and asked my forgiveness for letting lust rule his actions. There, lying beside my husband in the darkness, I had to make a choice: Choose to trust that he was telling me the truth and had remained faithful since our wedding, or go crazy questioning every move he made in the weeks to come. Doubt and suspicion are vile companions. I had lived with them before and the past had proved that they were needless weights in our marriage. So, I chose to trust.

However, several days later, Joshua sat me down and with many tears confessed that he had lied to me and that he had been using pornography off and on for the last year. I listened quietly as he answered my questions and watched as my strong husband fell to pieces before me. I had never seen Joshua cry before. Now he sobbed, begged my forgiveness, and swore that he would never do it again. With silent tears I kissed his cheek, told him I still loved him as much as ever and that I forgave him, but that I really needed to be alone. I slipped out to our balcony and there collapsed in a crumpled heap, crying out to the only One who could heal my broken heart.

If you have ever experienced a similar betrayal from the man you love most in this world, then you know what the following weeks and months held. You know the biting confliction of wanting to run to the man who has always been the one to comfort you, sooth your hurts, and wipe your tears, and yet holding back because he is the very person who has wounded you so deeply. You know the numbness which envelopes you as you go about your daily routines while trying to bury your emotions for fear of losing control once that floodgate is open. You know the inward battle between loving this man more than you ever knew one human being could love another, and yet contemplating methods of cruel revenge against him. You know the temptations that come out of nowhere, inviting you to betray your husband the way he so heartlessly betrayed you. You’ve asked the questions, “Why? Was it my fault? Am I not enough? What else might he be capable of? How could he do this to me? To us? To his God?” so many times that they’ve become recurring thoughts even in your dreams. You’ve felt the fury, the agony, the despair, the emptiness.

I know that feeling of isolation, like there is no one who will understand, no one who will listen to your hurts without passing judgment on your dearest love. I know the struggle you have gone through to balance your desire to protect your husband’s reputation with your need to find somebody in whom to confide. I know that suffocating fear that comes from wondering if it’s only a matter of time before he betrays you again. I know. I’ve been there. I’m still there at times. I know. What I want you to know is this.

You are not alone. Statistics state that 50% of men who claim to be Christians are addicted to porn. What does that tell us about the number of women who are experiencing the heartache of finding out that their husbands have been virtually cheating on them? Pornography is an ugly, rampant sin that is invading countless marriages. You are one of many wives struggling to recover from this devastating blow. There are other women just like you who have gone through the anguish of broken trust but who are committed to fighting for their marriages. You are not alone. There are women who will hold your hand, cry with you, pray with you, and assure you that it is possible to heal. There are already people praying for you who may not even know your name. I’m one of them. With the strength of the Lord, you can make it through this.

Christian counselors are available to help you. Pornography thrives on secrecy. Because of this, it is hard for men to admit when they have a problem. This sense of shame also affects us as wives. We don’t want anyone to know that our marriages have difficulties, and we certainly don’t want anyone to think badly of our husbands. So we hide our hurt. But there is no shame in seeking help with the hurt. Allowing yourself to open up to a trusted Christian advisor will help you process this devastation and help you deal with the aftermath.

Because so many other women have gone through the pain that pornography inevitably brings, there are many wise counselors within the Body of Christ who can help you through this struggle. Getting professional counseling as a couple is a good idea, but just calling up an older woman you trust, or maybe even getting in touch with someone you don’t know personally but who you know will give wise advice, is incredibly comforting. Seek counsel from those who are within the Church, as those outside the Body of Christ will not be able to give you the spiritual support you need.

You are married to a good man. Do you remember why you fell in love with your husband to begin with? Can you still list the good qualities in your man? I encourage you to sit down and list all the reasons you love your husband. Then, on those tough days when Satan tries to sow seeds of misery in your heart, think on those things.

My husband is a good, godly man. I truly believe that he is the absolute best person in the world for me. He loves me, cherishes me, sacrifices for me, protects me, encourages me, strengthens me, and treats me like the most precious gift on earth. But Joshua is just a man. He has moments of weakness, temptation, and folly. When the stresses of life are great, sometimes those temptations seem unbearable and he stumbles. His sin of pornography was horrific and it shook me to my core. But that’s how God feels every time I lie, every time I fail to glorify Him, every time I lose my temper with my children. It hurts my God’s heart. I am not in any way minimizing the significance of Joshua’s sin, but who of us has not struggled against some vice that we cannot seem to defeat, a sin which at times seems impossible to overcome?

We all stumble and we all fail. Just because your husband struggles with pornography does not mean that he is a monster or that there is nothing good in him anymore. You married this man for a reason. He is still the man you fell in love with! He is imperfect, he has hurt you beyond words, and he has set your marriage up for many years of hardship. But he is still your man. It may be hard to see right now but, if he’s like most husbands struggling with this sin, he wants to be free from its clutches. He loves you and he longs for you both to have the marriage you ought to have. He is a good man, and he needs you by his side.

Your husband needs your heart. You must turn your heart toward your husband, not away from him. This is incredibly difficult. To open your heart back up to the one who has so piercingly wounded you does not come naturally. To choose to again become vulnerable to the man who has shattered your trust goes against everything in human nature. But if you are going to rebuild that trust and work toward a God-honoring marriage, you must turn your heart to your husband.

Much like the process of grief, I went through several different stages of emotions in those first few weeks after Joshua’s confession. I truly felt as if something, part of our marriage, part of me, had died. I could see Joshua suffering, knew that he was fighting similar emotions of hopelessness and defeat, but I didn’t know how to be there for him while I felt so lost.

Slowly, with much encouragement from Joshua, I allowed myself to verbally express my feelings to him even when the words I said were painful for both of us. It’s important to communicate what you are thinking and feeling. If you try to hide those thoughts, they will only fester until what you once knew to be only a feeling becomes your mindset and outlook on life. Do not say things merely for the sake of revenge, but do honestly let him know what you are feeling and how you are handling the knowledge of his betrayal. Something like, “I just don’t understand what makes you want to look at that stuff,” is much more helpful toward rebuilding your marriage than, “You scum of the earth, I always knew you would do something like this to me!”

It’s hard. Oh, I know it’s hard. But to rebuild your relationship you must both commit to open, honest communication.

There is hope. Right now you may be wondering how you can ever trust your husband again. You may look at him and wonder what convinced you to entrust him with your heart in the first place. You may not even be able to stand the thought of being in the same room, let alone the same bedroom, with him. But know this. There is hope. There is forgiveness. There is healing. And, eventually, there can be trust. It is a long, rocky road, and issues that you thought you had dealt with may pop up years from now. But IN CHRIST there is hope for your marriage.

We all sin. We all fall short. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We have an opportunity here to reflect Christ’s love for every undeserving soul. We can choose to demonstrate His mercy and forgiveness toward our husbands in order that Satan’s attempts to bring shame upon the Body of Christ may be thwarted. We can have marriages that are stronger for the storms they have weathered, that are beacons of light in a world that dishonors marriage and treats spouses as disposable. We can demonstrate God’s grace by the way we choose to cherish and honor our husbands.

With prayer, counsel, open communication, and sheer determination, your marriage can recover from this brutal shock and become stronger than before. You can one day look at your husband and see a man who is cleansed by the power of Christ, a man who loves and adores you, and to whom you feel blessed to be married. And you can find more purpose, more closeness, more meaning in your marriage than you ever thought possible. Believe me. I know.