Recently, I asked my husband if he knew why I stayed with him. We had been talking about “what he put me through” (he was saying he knew it had been a lot) and it struck me, I tell people all the time why I stayed- but had I ever told him?
He thought for a moment and then for a good two minutes he went on about all of the reasons that he believed I stayed but it all boiled down to two sentiments:
I loved him
I saw him as more than “an addict”
I wish I could tell you that this is exactly why I stayed and that I did it because I had a heart of gold, walked peacefully through his addiction in faith and was able to strongly stand by my man but that isn't quite how it happened!
I did love him and I did think he was more than “an addict” but didn’t believe I had the strength to walk through his addiction or that I had faith enough he would change. I wrestled with God and my emotions trying to figure it out, and then not figure it out, and then figure it out again.
What I did have was two very clear encounters with God and an entire year of God preparing my heart for what was to come.
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
-Psalm 94:19 (NIV)
To tell you the whole story today would take me on a tangent away from the point so I’ll skip to the end and leave the testimony for another day (sorry!).
The first thing God said was to have faith in the future.
He didn’t promise my husband would be healed but He did show me that I was going to go on an incredible journey if I trusted Him and followed His lead.
The second thing God told me was I wasn’t alone and whichever road I chose to take, He would be with me.
I’d like to point out that I did nothing for that whole year but agonize over the direction my life was headed. Of course, the agony and indecision took me nowhere. No choices were made, nothing much accomplished, I was simply still- and that was okay.
Deep down in my heart, I wanted my husband and I to work out.
I didn’t want to lose him to someone else, I loved him- his lips, his hands, his embrace, the way he looked at me, all of it! But he had hurt me so much that I was terrified to keep loving him and at that point, there was no significant progress saying, “Yes! You should move back in with your husband!!!” (we were living separately at the time). In fact, things had been so bad only a few months earlier that I went to a lawyer and had separation papers drafted.
Had God not intervened, I would have left. I would have left because I was scared and didn't know what else to do. I couldn’t imagine living the rest of my life the way we had been living and out of respect for myself and to protect my children, I wasn’t willing to.
But day after day, I could not, could not, could not, shake the feeling that I shouldn't leave. My head knew what I “needed” to do but my soul screamed wait.
Do you know that feeling?
Some people call it “codependency” but I disagree. I wasn’t codependent. All I wanted was my independence! The happiest time of my life up until that point had been when I was a single mother, working on my career, living in my own little townhouse and had no husband in my life. Being “attached” to someone was not in any way my desire. He was rude? No problem. I wouldn't talk to him. I had a fabulous life to live and great hair and it wasn’t going to be wasted on someone who wasn’t kind to me.
I understand it isn’t like that for everyone but the reason I bring it up is because through all of this, God taught me how to be more dependent. Dependent on Him, on other people, on my husband, finally able to include “works well with others" on my "Christian resume".
My heart was softened toward my husband in incredible ways and I felt that leaving him was not only a selfish decision (for me) but would cause incredible pain on someone who was already hurting.
God called me to do more.
One of the truths of being a Christian is that it isn’t going to be easy.
I don’t think they talk about this enough in Christian circles. Even if it doesn’t feel good, if it doesn’t make sense, if it seems impossible, if it hurts us, if our mother, sister, brother tells us otherwise- what gives us the authority to give up on God?
“Because you have kept my command to endure, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is going to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one takes your crown.
‘The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never go out again. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God—the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God—and my new name…
To the one who conquers I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.’”
-Revelation 3:10-12, 21 (CSB)
Addiction is more than a bad situation; it’s a test. A fire-burning, character-refining test. The kind that results in heavenly crowns and earthly authority.
It’s also a learning experience. Through our loved one’s addiction, we can learn how to rely on God, not people and see results within our spirit.
Remember in the beginning, I told you my head knew what to do but my soul was in agony? I think it's important you know I didn’t know it was God at the time. I did eventually learn what my spirit was trying to tell me but it was a painful and difficult process to get there. When emotions are running high it can be difficult to hear God.
“When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power.”
-1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (CSB)
I might be able to use my testimony to help others but it didn't come from being superwoman. I had to allow God to show me how He wanted me to view my husband. I let God write the book on who my husband was, even though I was angry, hurting and didn’t want to think anything kind.
And you know what I found?
A sweet man who had been carrying a lifetime of pain, who was really all alone in the world, now knew that not only did his wife love him but she saw him as so much more than “an addict”. That he was willing to be fought for. That he mattered. That there wasn’t enough he could do that would stop me from loving him because, despite his actions, I thought that he as a person, well, he was pretty great! And although it was hard for him to believe and even harder for him to trust (still) he was encouraged by the hope that it could be true.
How many people need to feel that, you think? Isn’t that exactly what we all want?
“Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, since the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except his spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.”
-1 Corinthians 2:10-13 (CSB)
The next time your head tells your heart to give up, I want you to refuse to give up on God.
If your situation needs it, you can leave but do not leave because you have given up on God. Leave with Him.
Click to Tweet: The next time your head tells your heart to give up, refuse to give up on God. If your situation needs it, you can leave but do not leave because you have given up on God. Leave with Him.
And whether you stay or go, refuse to see your loved one as just another “addict”.
They are God’s children and He loves them. God is contending for them and pursuing them. He will judge their actions but He also sees the person behind the sin. Being children of God and learning to model ourselves after our Father’s behaviour means learning to respond in love and grace, however difficult it may be.
"But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, and yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
-1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (CSB)
This one, small, simple act of faith can change everything. All you have to do is say, “No, I will not see you like that!”.
God will honour your decision to love with a pillar in His temple, your name written in His holy city, a crown of righteousness on your head and a seat with Him and Jesus in the Kingdom- a reward worth every second of the trial.
Ask yourself this question, or even answer it below if you feel led to!
“Would you do it all again if you knew your loved one would find healing, happiness, sobriety, abstinence and feel totally and fully loved?”