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{This photo is used courtesy of Creative Commons & Radicallccs on Flickr.}

 My heart is racing as I sit down for the fifth time today to write this post. I hear lies that I have nothing valuable to share. There are whispers that say that I am no further than I was four years ago. Something in me says I should come back to this when I am more mature, when I am more complete, when I have more victories. But, I am still here, pecking on this keyboard with just an ounce of faith that those things are false. And that maybe, just maybe, this might be helpful to someone, even just one. So, I hope you are out there. I hope wherever you are, no matter how hurt you are, no matter how angry you feel, no matter how depleted you are, that you take just a few minutes to hear my story and where God has taken me.

We had been married for three months when my husband confessed to me that he had struggled with pornography. Admittedly, my very first reaction (even though I don’t really think I showed it) was “Okay, no big deal. Don’t most guys struggle with this?” As time went on and the reality of his confession sunk in, I felt like my world was ending. Even though I don’t know that I would have ever been able to articulate this, I felt like when I got married that I would never have my heart broken again. I was wrong. Not only was my heart broken, it hurt like hell. It hurt worse than any other break-up, any other stupid guy that had left me brokenhearted. It hurt worse. A lot worse. Here I was, newlywed. This was supposed to be the honeymoon stage. My husband was getting great sex, and getting it often. I was wearing an assortment of lingerie. I was initiating sex. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t enough. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me that no matter how often we had sex or how great it was (or how great I felt it was), he was still tempted to look elsewhere. I was starting to believe that this was less about him and God and more about how I wasn’t measuring up to what he thought I would be, that I wasn’t meeting his expectations. Did he think I would look different naked? Did he think I would do something sexually that I wasn’t? My world was spinning out of control.

Over the course of several very long months, the confessions continued to grow. Not only had there been pornography since we had been married, he revealed that he had had an addiction to pornography since he was 15 years old. The wind was knocked out of me. Who was this man? Who did I marry? For over 14 years, he had been addicted to pornography. Why hadn’t this come up when we were dating and I spilled my guts to him about my past sexual sin? Why hadn’t this come up in our pre-marital counseling when our pastor explicitly asked us about our past sexual sin and if we had confessed it to one another? If this is true, then what else is true? Can he be trusted? Am I safe with him? I know it all sounds a bit dramatic, but when your expectations (stated or not) are shattered, it’s easy to find yourself in a spiral questioning everything.

Another confession came later in those months. He had been struggling with lust with a girl that he worked with. He told me that she was younger and prettier than me. I don’t think there have ever been words spoken to me that have hurt so badly. Even as I type this, four years removed, I have tears in my eyes. He was the man that was supposed to cherish me, supposed to protect me, supposed to encourage me. And I felt none of those things in that moment. I felt like I was dying. I felt trapped. Why did marriage have to be so binding? I wanted out. I hated the way he was making me feel. I hated the words that were just falling from his lips. And at times, I think I hated him.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, I found out that we were pregnant. The news came in some of our darkest moments. I had days that I would cry so hard that I would vomit. I had been calling in sick to work and lying on the couch for hours. I would medicate myself with Tylenol PM so I could escape. And in the middle of such despair, I took a pregnancy test. And even though my first reaction was panic, it helped me to see beyond today. I called the doctor’s office, and they told me that my due date would be in late December. When you feel like you don’t think you’ll make it to tomorrow, and someone tells you that there will be a December, it feels like a little bit of hope. I felt like for months that I was walking through cement, one long 24 hours to the next. In no way did I feel like a baby would save us, but I just started dreaming about how much work God could do in our lives over the next 8 months. Could He heal our marriage? Could we welcome a baby into a home where we actually love each other?

The work that God did in our lives, and continues to do in our lives is really unimaginable. When I look back at our first year of marriage and how hopeless I felt, I am overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness to us and how much He has healed us and taught us.

There have been so many lessons (some of which I will tell you about tomorrow). But, I think one of the most important lessons we have learned has been to rework our definition of victory. See, the truth is God can give us victory over our sin. I really believe that. I believe that the same power that raised Jesus from the grave lives inside of my husband and me and is more than capable to be victorious over our sin. But, I also know that there are some sin tendencies in our lives that we may fight until our dying days (2 Corinthians 12.7-9). In the middle of all our pain in our first year of marriage, I really looked towards measurable outcomes to be the indicators of our growth. How many times had he watched porn vs. how many times had he resisted? How many times had I withheld grace vs. how many times had I given grace freely? How many times did I make myself vomit to achieve a (perceived) greater sense of beauty vs. believing what God says about me? God has taught us (and continues to remind us…sometimes painfully), that the mark of a believer is not victory over sin; it is the fight against sin. God is looking for people that fight against the desires of the flesh. God’s grace in our marriage may never be complete victory over sexual sin, or victory over an unforgiving heart. Instead, God’s grace for our marriage may be to give us hearts that fight for purity and forgiveness.

We still struggle, for sure. I struggle in giving grace and forgiveness and he still fights against sexual sin. But we are finally in a place where we can celebrate more than we grieve, because God has changed our hearts to be discontent with those sin tendencies and has given us hearts that want to fight for better things.

If you can relate at all, I want you to know I get it. I get how hurt you may feel. I get feeling pissed off. I get feeling like you want out. I really do. But, God has changed my heart. He has done a work in my life that was accomplished through a really hard first year of marriage. I have learned more about my own sin and my own need for a Savior through our story. And gosh, I really never thought I would say this, but I don’t think I would have it any other way now.

Today, I want to encourage you to hold fast. Remember today that marriage is meant to be a picture of how Christ loves the Church. We, the Church, are more unfaithful than we even realize and He pursues us relentlessly. He has not given up on us. Don’t give up on your husband today. Tomorrow, I will share some practical things that have helped me over the years, and I hope will help you to persevere your marriage, fight for your man and love him well.

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This post was written by a friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous.  This post was inspired by a question emailed to me from a reader after I wrote this POST.  Read part two HERE  We would love to see your comments about this post and maybe how God has moved in your life this way.

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