the Hope of Survivors

God Heals Marriages by Anonymous

My earliest childhood memories are of domestic violence. One vivid picture that runs through my mind is of my brother jumping out of the back bedroom window. He was going to call the police because he was afraid that our dad would kill our mom.

Early on, I determined that my life was going to be different. I married a wonderful Christian man. At 29, I had everything that I had dreamed of—a safe home with a husband that loved me, and the two children I had always wanted. I also was filled with an incredible sorrow that I couldn’t explain.

At about this time I started working part-time in our church office. It gave me a chance to use my skills and, instead of being “just a mom,” I became a valued worker. My relationship with the pastor started out as a friendship. How it became more than that didn’t happen quickly, instead, it was very gradual.

He would share with me how unhappy he was in his marriage. He also was very appreciative of my work. Looking back, the phrase in my mind that was the most powerful was that “he thought I was smart.”

During this time this friendship became very important to me and turned into an attraction. The pastor’s message was that this was normal. His message was that a touch or putting your arm around another person was not wrong, but just a way of expressing that you care. We worked together for two years and during this time the attraction grew to be so strong that I didn’t see how I could go on without it. I knew it was wrong, but didn’t know who to talk to about it.

The last few months that we worked together we started talking about the “what ifs.” What would it be like if we left our families? What would it be like for the church? Looking back now, I see that those talks on my part were so naïve. I had no idea what destruction those choices would bring.

We left our families and we lived together for four months. It was horrible. All the problems that I had run away from followed me and were multiplied. I was only with my children part-time and they hated being at my house.

As part of the child support agreement, I had to start seeing a counselor. That was the best thing that ever happened! Throughout this horrible time God was still there. The church family that we had left and that were devastated by our actions got together each day and prayed for us.

I truly believe that God talked to me as a result of the people praying in my church. We had been together for four months and there was a Christian concert that we were going to attend. I was so uncomfortable to be seen together with him. He told me then, “You have to get used to this.” How could I get used to something that I knew was so wrong? Anyway, I was dealing with this inner torment when we went into the auditorium for the program.

That night a man gave his testimony. He said that at each concert different people would speak and that tonight he knew there was someone there that needed to hear what he had to say. He said that even his wife didn’t know that he was going to give his testimony that night. He stood up and said “God can heal marriages. Not only can He heal them, but He can heal them so completely that you won’t be able to tell that they were broken.”

He then said that he could say that because it was his experience. He and his wife had suffered brokenness in their marriage and worked through it and their marriage was healed. I was sitting in my seat thinking, “He’s talking to me.”

During the time of our separation I had watched my husband take care of our two kids, keep up the house, and also work. He had also been going to pray each day with the group that was meeting at our church. I knew that he didn’t like doing these things but they were the right things to do. He was hanging in and doing what needed to be done.

I decided that night that I was going home. I knew that decision meant that I had to break off all contact with the man who had been my pastor. Back when we had left our spouses we had said that life together would be better. It was possible for me to make the decision to go back home because I had lived through an awful experience. It wasn’t better—it was SO much worse.

I was blessed to have a husband that still loved me and that would accept me home again. During this time of reconciliation, the man I had been with did everything in his power to break up our home again. He made contact when I asked him not to and continued to call for several years.

Fortunately, my husband and I were going to counseling and that helped us to make it through. We went together to counseling for two years and then I continued on for another five years to work through the dark childhood memories that I carried with me.

It is very hard to condense the 30 years of my life that left me so vulnerable to this experience. It is also hard to condense the 21 years since that life-changing event. It is hard for me to see myself as a victim—I made very wrong choices that hurt so many people. I have asked for forgiveness and tried to make things right as far as possible—but in a part of my mind I will always be the “woman who ran away with the pastor of her church.”

It is easier for me to see my husband as a victim of pastoral abuse. He didn’t do anything wrong—in fact he has been the one that made right choices. Yet he has been hurt incredibly. His pastor violated his trust and did his best to completely destroy his family and home. There has never been an apology or any sign of remorse. My husband still struggles with the deep anger that he feels, and it is hard for him to trust any pastor.

Even now it is very painful to tell my story and remember that dark time of my life. The most important part of my story is how God can heal marriages. It was hard work for us, but after what we had gone through we knew that being together was so much better than being apart. When we consider what our life story could have been, we are overwhelmed by God’s blessings.

[END OF STORY]

If you are a survivor of pastoral abuse, we would love to hear your story and possibly make it available on this web site for others to read and renew their hope. You can use a pseudonym if you choose and rest assured that all personal information will be kept private and strictly confidential. Please contact us.

Please note: We do not necessarily agree with or endorse all the information contained in the survivor’s stories. We do, however, feel they have some valuable information that could be useful to you in your recovery. It helps to know you’re not alone, that others have shared your pain and have healed, by the grace of God, in their own time and way.

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart...Psalms 34:18