There’s nothing more embarrassing as a pastor than to admit that there’s issues in your marriage. And I’m not talking about admitting it to the public or to the church. I’m talking about admitting it to your spouse.
I have not been happy in my marriage in a really long time. Crystal & I have been together 14 years. Out of those 14 years we’ve been married 11 years. Out of the last 11 years, probably the last 2 I have wrestled off & on with unhappiness in my marriage.
After a while you learn how to go through the motions. You know the right things to say & when to say them. You know all the things that you need to do to keep them at a distance so that they’re not able to get close enough to see how you are truly feeling inside.
This is the same thing that many of us do when we go to church. Ultimately we find ourselves doing it in our relationship with Christ. We go through the motions, and we do so for very much of the same reason: As unhappy as we are we really don’t want to deal with it.
For me it came to a head in January. I had made the decision to step down from my church as pastor. Ministry had burned me out & I was hurt. I was broken & I realized that as far as this season goes I just couldn’t do it anymore.
Just prior to my decision I was talking to Crystal about the possibility of stepping down. My wife, who always has my best interest at heart, shared some very candid opinions. While she wasn’t meaning to hurt me, she did. She hurt me very bad. So much so that my heart instantly hardened towards her.
At least it felt instant. The truth was it had been hardening for years a little here & a little there. Every now & then I would try to talk to her about some of the issues that I had against her, but it never seemed to go anywhere. Instead of making a big stink about it, I would bury it. And then I would bury it some more. The more I buried it, the more I allowed her to hurt me. The more she hurt me, the more my heart hardened. Until it came to this day when my heart finally had totally hardened against her.
She could tell.
A couple of weeks after this conversation she asked me if I was still in love with her. I told her that I honestly couldn’t answer that. Since then I’ve told her several times that I’m not.
I finished my last two Sundays as pastor. Sadly, not only was my last Sunday was my last Sunday as the pastor, but it also became the last Sunday for the church. The council had decided to close the doors.
Words can’t express the amount of pain I was in. My heart has hardened against my wife. I was burned out & exhausted mentally, emotionally, physically, & spiritually. I was feeling angry, bitter, abandoned, lonely, & sad. I was giving up a ministry & a position that I was intensely passionate about. But not only that, there was this institution that I loved and had been a major part of my life for the past 9 years that wasn’t going to exist anymore.
I was already out of ministry. Why not get out of my marriage? Why not just go somewhere & start all over? Why not go somewhere else & be happy? I was honestly looking to get out. It was easier than fighting.
Little did she know I was already making plans on getting out. Actually, I was making plans to leave in April.
The whole time I’m making plans to leave, my wife is fighting for me. In my weakness I had given up. Even if I was strong enough to fight, I had lost the will to.
She started rallying people to pray for me. My hardened heart was taking over my life. She wasn’t fighting as much to save our marriage as much as she was fighting to save me. I simply wasn’t strong enough.
The last couple of weeks things were getting increasingly darker & darker for me. Everything she was doing was making me angrier & angrier, and my hardened heart was getting colder toward her.
Just the other night we were invited to our new Pastor’s house for dinner with him & his wife. He has been counseling me for the last several weeks, trying to help me through the transition, as well as trying to help us with our marriage. This was actually the first time that all four of us could get together and talk about these issues.
Honestly, my heart had stayed hard the whole time until they told me that they had a video that they wanted me to watch, which was a message that Pastor Ron Carpenter gave to his church on 2/16/2014.
Just a little back story to this: His wife is a former prostitute. They married, had three kids, & started a small church which eventually grew into a mega church. His wife had an affair on him. They reconciled. Everything was going well until she went & had another affair on him.
In October he brings her affair before the church. She was leaving the church. He had asked for the church to pray for her healing, but to not pray for their reconciliation. He was done. He was moving on. He was going to divorce her.
From there he tells the story & share scriptures of how God corrected him & brought him out of place of where his hardened heart was once again softened towards his wife.
This melted me. This melted my hardened heart. But not only that it woke me up & made me realize that I need to fight for my life! I needed to fight for wife! I need to fight for my marriage, and that I need to fight for my ministry!
But I am fighting. I’m not giving up. I’m not going to abandon my wife, nor am I going to abandon my marriage!
The reason why I’m writing this is because I know that I’m not the only one out there who’s been unhappy in their marriage. I know that there’s others. I’m not ashamed to say it because it is the truth, and it’s something that both my wife & I are working on.
I hope by me confessing that this helps someone else out there be honest about where they are at in their marriage & seek help before their heart hardens. I hope that by reading this blog or by watching that video they find the strength, courage, & conviction to fight for their marriage.
If you’re reading this & you are unhappy in your marriage please know you are not alone! I’m right there with you! And I want to encourage you today to not give up! Do not abandon it. Fight!