When God Offers the Gift of Peace with a Hard Decision
By Debra Wallace
Hear Him Louder Essay Series: Debra's Story
When summer approaches, it’s become routine to return to my New Mexico mountain cabin. Exchanging scorching heat and humidity of Texas for crisp and invigorating breezes of the Sangre de Christo range is a welcomed respite. The summer of 2018 was no exception, but this time my return wasn’t just for climate change. My goal was to know and hear God’s voice.
Several events took place before my cabin retreat in 2018, so I’ll fill you in. My first marriage ended in divorce (due to infidelity) so re-marriage was nowhere on my radar. I vowed to remain single for the rest of my life. The crushing blow had been devastating, resulting in a crisis of faith that left me questioning, “If my own husband no longer loves me, maybe God doesn’t either?”
Therapy was intense for healing to happen. Eventually, I returned control to God (which was His anyway) and said, “God, I’m open to marriage if it’s in your plans, but it has to be all YOUR doing. I’m not pursuing anything.”
God surprised me with Prince Charming. We were wed while our nieces sang, “Standing On Holy Ground.” It could not have been a more perfect union and our families were elated. I stood amazed at God’s goodness and provision. The first ten years of marriage, and the births of our two children, were bliss—until they weren’t.
In preparation for a “perfect-fall-day" zoo outing, I put my four-year-old daughter’s hair in a ponytail. In the bathroom, a cell phone buzzed. We simultaneously glanced down at the countertop. What happened next changed my life forever.
In a matter of seconds after reading the text, I knew my husband was having a same-sex affair. In shock, time stood still. Dazed and confused was definitely an understatement.
To condense what occurred over the following twelve years, I’ll summarize:
We both wanted our marriage to work.
We both wanted our family intact.
We both pursued healing and recovery.
Shame and secrecy became our new normal.
Bottom line? Every time I thought we were making progress, rebuilding from ground zero, I would become aware of more infidelity, deception, and darkness. Boundaries were not kept and trust shattered as I continued to ride an emotional rollercoaster of hope and despair.
Gaining enough courage to give an ultimatum, I said, “Get help for your sex addiction and abusive behaviors or you can no longer live with your family.” We separated.
Logistics were pre-arranged for 9 months of rehabilitation, all to place my husband on the desired path towards healing.
With each passing month, excuses resumed, and I realized there was no plan to attend rehab. With Plan B in mind, I didn’t want to do anything out of God’s will, so I retreated to the cabin.
My Heart’s Longings
I tried to verbalize my thoughts. “Lord, would you be kind enough to provide confirmation? I need to know what I’m supposed to do. I need to hear your voice to know I’m on the right path.”
God graciously showed up, bringing this verse to my heart, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing,” (Zephaniah 3:17, ESV).
As I listened to Christine Caine give a video message on repentance, God whispered, There’s no repentance.
It wasn’t audible, but it was real. Then He brought this verse to mind, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9, ESV).
I believe God had given me a key word to remember: REPENTANCE.
Later, on a hike, a familiar car approached. I recognized the cabin owner, a retired pastor. Rolling down his car window, he handed me a sealed envelope with my name. I call it a God-incidence. Inside that envelope waited the words, “It’s a 180° turn, away from sin and to God. If your husband does not recognize this, I pray you would see God’s clear direction.”
There was that word again: REPENTANCE.
Upon returning from my hike, I relaxed on my front porch, thinking about repentance. A stranger walked past my cabin, and then returned. Pointing to my parked car, she asked, “Do you mind telling me what your sticker means?” She was referring to a church bumper sticker—one pertaining to a sermon series about Joseph. It read, “You’ll get through this.”
My explanation struck up a conversation and for the next hour we sat on the willow bench, amazed by our life similarities while sharing our testimonies. She had been divorced after 26 years of marriage, also due to a husband’s infidelity. She said, “Some people do not know what repentance is. Others know, but do not want any part of it. They want their own way, not God’s way.”
There was that word one again! REPENTANCE.
Clarity and Peace
When evening came, I reflected over the day’s events. My soul had peace passing human understanding. God had been faithful and kind. After years of uncertainty, He heard my cries for clarity, and without question, I knew God had revealed my answer. He whispered with assurance, You’ve done everything you can. It’s ok to move on.
Loving, well-meaning people quote Malachi 2:16, which says, “God hates divorce.” I hate it, too. My message is not to condone divorce, but rather to seek God in the midst of tough decisions. Those who seek and follow the Lord will hear and know His voice. As our good shepherd, His approach to every situation is unique. When we go to Him, we can trust His direction.
Photo credit: Sage Friedman, Unsplash.
The Hear Him Louder Essay Series is a guest writer series where God's daughters share their stories of hearing God’s whispers in their every day. It’s meant to serve as an encouragement for the times when God feels far and seems quiet. When we read each other’s stories of how He meets us, it reminds and reassures us that He is near. May this series be an invitation for us to listen for His voice together.
Don't miss any posts in this series! Subscribe to receive notifications for each new essay, posted every other Thursday. When you subscribe, you'll receive a link to a FREE five-day devotional (45 beautiful pages!) called, “Closer: Five Days to Hearing God Louder.” Each day features teaching on one posture and a guided journaling section to help us practice taking steps toward hearing God louder in our every day.
Learn more about each of these five postures:
1 | Seek: If I Seek God, Will I Really Find Him?
2 | Know: Will God Speak, Even to Me?
3 | Expect: Can I Expect to Hear God?
4 | Listen: How Do I Listen for God?
5 | Connect: Is God Really Right Here?
New to this series? Check out the rest of the series!
Interested in contributing to the Hear Him Louder Essay Series? The call for submissions opens in January and June. To submit an essay outside of those windows, contact me.
Debra Wallace, APSATS trained, C-SASI, ADOH certified, validates and comes alongside women who’ve experienced betrayals of their own. As a battle buddy, she facilitates wives care groups as someone who has been in a betrayed woman’s shoes and “gets her.” She offers encouragement and points them to Jesus, the ultimate healer, by helping them seek truth through scripture memorization. Understanding what God says about us, being clothed in strength and dignity, she believes we can overcome shame and secrecy, so we can pursue hope, healing, and abundant life only Jesus offers.
You can find Debra on Instagram and Facebook, and read more about her work at www.debrawallace.org. Debra has written a guide for those dealing with betrayal, called "Four C's to Help You Move Forward After Betrayal," available as a free resource when you subscribe at her website.