In the Fall of 2007 I had been married to my wife Torrie for one year. We were living, I guess you could say, pretty ordinary lives in a little town in central Illinois. We both had decent jobs, a little dog, a few close friends and a great family just 10 minutes down the road. We went to church, for the most part, every Sunday. Didn’t really go without; like I said pretty good lives. There was only one problem…I was living a lie and I knew it.
For 12 years or better I had become mastered and completely controlled by a horrible addiction and if I didn’t act quickly would cost me my marriage and possibly much more. Because I don’t know who my audience is I will just say that it’s degrading & perverted and it’s become an epidemic around the world to the unchurched, and yes, to the churched. I am going to paint a picture of what I was going through very quickly for two reasons…the first reason is so that your aware of the danger and power that this addiction carries with it. The second and most important reason is to take away any isolation or thoughts that what your experiencing is only happening to you. That’s simply not true, it is the farthest thing from the truth and I’m here to talk about what very few are willing to talk about.
Every day for 12 years, or really as long as I can remember, my mind was controlled by something and it wasn’t me. From the minute I woke up until I laid my head on my pillow at night I was a slave to this sin. Growing up I was exposed to a lot of images & pictures, etc. (all of which were my choice) not knowing the toll it would later take on my life. Many, many years of endless exposure and before long I could no longer look at life through normal eyes. Women looked like pieces of meat, the furthest thing from how God views them and how men should. Hiding and lying on a daily basis became so routine that eventually a numbness set in and I could no longer feel guilt or shame….this was because my heart was now hard. I would daydream about the things that had brought torment into my life. I started paying for things with cash because I knew if my wife would ever see the receipts or the bank statements it would be all over…no longer a secret.
But far worse than all of the examples I just listed is when your in church every week while living this lie. Shame and guilt are very familiar feelings now; almost unbearable. Worshiping God becomes a weekly cry for help instead of a time where we forget ourselves and focus wholeheartedly on him. I lived this life (felt more like a jail sentence) for two and a half years. Sound like something you might be going through?? I hope not, but if so…don’t worry, hope is only a couple pages away.
Ok, we’re still in the Fall of 2007 remember? I want to now tell you in detail about the day I finally broke. I know I don’t have to do this, I want to. I want to be transparent with you so that you see I’m a real person with real feelings, with a real heart.
I drove home after a long day at work feeling more like a victim, than a man or a husband. Everything inside of me was screaming “I SURRENDER”, “I GIVE UP”, “I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!” and I immediately called Torrie. She was on her way home and she could tell that I was not acting like myself. I told her “I have something I need to tell you.” She asked me “what?”, “what is it?” I kept repeating “I have something to tell you but I can’t do it over the phone; just come home so that we can talk.” When she finally got home we sat across from each other on separate sides of our living room and I began to shake and weep and couldn’t talk at first. I eventually spilled my guts to her, telling her I had had this addiction for most of my life and foolishly thought that once we were married it would just go away. She began to fall apart and ask many questions…more than anything she was confused and of course very hurt. To my surprise it wasn’t the sin or the act of the sin that hurt her the most, it was the fact that I had been lying to her and she felt as though she couldn’t trust the man that she loved. She felt as though she had been tricked and didn’t really know me at all.
We as men have NO IDEA how precious and innocent our wives really are. It took this happening for my eyes to be opened to the fact that my selfish desires & what I thought I deserved was the furthest thing from reality; it was simply a world that I had created in my mind. The enemy had fooled me.
After what seemed like an eternity of crying and talking and listening she finally had enough and bolted out the door. I had no idea where she was going or even if she would come back at all and I didn’t blame her. I sat on the couch in a blank stair at the wall in front of me with tears streaming down my face…shaking like a leaf.
About 20 minutes later she walked back into our apartment after having spent that time on the phone with my stepmom Sherry and she did something I will never forget…she walked over to me & wrapped her arms around me and said “it’s ok, we’re going to make it through this” and she didn’t let go. That moment was the closest I had ever been to God; it was the closest I had ever been to his love.
The next few days were a roller coaster of ups and downs. She would cry herself to sleep and I felt inadequate to help her. I remember lying on the kitchen floor, on my face, in the dark, crying out to God…asking him to help her. I would plead with him to take the pain away from her and let me bare it all; after all I felt I deserved it. At about day four I decided to call my dad, who by this time, had been living in Kansas City for the last 4 months having quit his job and leaving all of us kids because of a church.
Prior to this call I would listen to him every week blabber on and on about how this church and the pastors were like nothing he had ever seen or heard before. He would tell me, “Dustin, I have looked for this all my life,” and because of who my dad was in my eyes….a man of integrity and character and also because I obviously didn’t have my life together, I told him everything that had happened and asked him “Dad, what should I do?” He asked me “are you desperate?” I said “yes.” “Then come here quickly,” he said. I knew in my heart of hearts that was what we needed to do, I just needed Torrie to agree and come with me and after some thought she said yes and we were on our way to Kansas City that Friday afternoon.
The only thing we were certain of, as we made the six hour drive, was we needed God.
We had fought, cried and reached a point of desperation for our marriage and quitting was not an option. Though we didn’t speak but maybe 10 words to each other the whole way, there seemed, at least for me, a sense of hope…like it’s all or nothing. I believed that if it could change my dad’s life then God could surely change ours as well.
After getting turned around and lost a couple of different times and adding an hour to the trip, we finally reached Lee’s Summit, Missouri. My dad was waiting for us at his house; we did a quick change of clothes, jumped in his car with him and headed for the church.
We arrived just as worship was wrapping up and Pastor Steve Gray was walking up to the pulpit to begin his message. Within the first few minutes I had come to the realization of two things…this was no ordinary message and this was no ordinary pastor. He, I’m sure, had no idea that night that every word that he spoke was precisely what I was longing to hear and what I had longed to hear my whole life. Every word went deeper than the last and after about 45 minutes I felt like I had been punched in the gut repeatedly and found it hard to stay in my chair.
The best way I can describe what I was feeling is it was though things started making sense to me. I know, deep huh?! It wasn’t that I hadn’t heard the words that were coming out of his mouth before…the difference was I knew he believed what he was saying and that gave me hope. I knew Pastor Steve was God’s mouth piece that night and he was not up there to tickle our ears, he was up there to save our lives.
At the end of his message that night he offered prayer for anyone that wanted it and as you probably figured out, I responded and I got my prayer. I spent close to an hour on my face weeping, out of repentance for the man I had let myself become..but there were many tears of happiness also because for the first time in my life I knew I could be free and I also knew my marriage could be saved. As Torrie and I lied in bed that night, at around three in the morning, we were still both awake…both of us having our lives turned upside down by that nights service.
In that quiet bedroom, both of us looking up at the ceiling, she asked me the question that I didn’t know how to ask her…she said “do you want to move here?” I started to cry and said, “yes,” I just didn’t know how to ask you. That night was October 5th, 2007…it is now August 5th, 2010, two weeks before my four year Wedding Anniversary. For those of you who might be a little slow, that means..yes, we are still married!
That Monday morning following our weekend in Kansas City we both put in our two weeks notice at our jobs and told bosses, family members and friends that we had made the decision to re-locate to Kansas City and we have been here ever since. We moved without jobs and very little money because of an encounter with God, that up until that point, we had only read about. Since moving to Kansas City our lives are better than we could have ever dreamed. Our marriage is strong, our love for one another grows everyday.
Our finances are and have been on the upswing ever since we start plugging our money into what is happening here. We both have been able to make and maintain wonderful friendships with people we don’t deserve to be in the same room with. I have been delivered from my addictions and continue to maintain freedom and consistency in my life for the first time since I was a kid.
This new found freedom has transformed and continues to transform who I am and it can do the same for you. If you would like to come and visit our church I will leave the website at the bottom of this page and you will be able to find directions, times, services, etc. along with great video testimonies of people just like Torrie and I that are being changed and transformed EVERY week. Oh, and one more thing…if you are unable to make the trip because of finances, we understand and want to help you. Let us know and we will find a way to get you here. My personal email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope our story brought hope to whatever circumstances you might be going through…I just didn’t want you to think God wasn’t doing awesome and amazing things today, HE IS!