There isn’t really a good time for your world to fall apart. But this was a particularly bad day. We had an out-of-state mission team with us to assist with a major evangelism project in our local park. On top of that , Jeff’s parents were flying in that night for a visit.
As we coordinated schedules in the kitchen, I asked Jeff how his meeting with our associational leaders went earlier that day. Jeff was a church-planter and met often with our associational leaders. His response was evasive and I immediately knew something was wrong. I insisted that he tell me whatever it was. I had no clue that our world had already begun to fall apart.
I tried to ignore Jeff’s tears has he explained that he had once again fallen back into pornography. But this time was different, because he had gotten caught. Our denominational leaders had confronted him that morning, fully aware that Jeff had been viewing Internet pornography while working part-time at our associational office.
My first thought was “our ministry is over.” Jeff and I had been serving in ministry in the Northeast for over six years. Jeff was leading a small congregation that we loved dearly. We felt we were living our dream. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life. It was hard for me to get my mind around the revelation that it was over.
My second thought was “He ruined your life.” Jeff’s revelation of pornography did not come as a surprise to me, as he had shared with me before that he had struggled with porn off and on since his teenage years. The last time he confided in me that he was struggling, I was firm. I told him that he needed to go to counseling and “fix it” or we would have to step out of ministry. Knowing how much I loved serving in our community, I couldn’t imagine Jeff would risk that…if not for himself than for me. But he had and now I was suffering the consequences of his choices.
As Jeff shared the details of his meeting, I felt as if I had been kicked in the stomach. Not only were our denominational leaders telling him to step out of ministry, they wanted us to leave the area…quickly. My mind began to race as I thought of the implications.
I began to make a list of things we would have to do: put the house up for sell, find new jobs, find a new place to live, tell the boys (no we needed to tell them before the “For Sale” sign went up, what would we say to them?) Unable to deal with my feelings, I switched over to survival mode and quickly came up with a plan of action. No longer able to trust the leadership of my husband, I took over the reigns of our marriage and began making major decisions regarding our future. Overwhelmed with guilt and humiliation which quickly led to depression, Jeff just followed my lead.
That day we joined a secret group of people that you can find in every church. Gordon McDonald refers to them as “broken world” people. That described us perfectly. Broken, lost, numb and frightened. Our world had been turned upside down in an instant. How could we survive this?
Marsha Fisher is a professional communicator and a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Marsha’s world came to an abrupt hault when her husband’s pornography addiction was exposed ten years into their marriage. Marsha and her husband Jeff launched PornToPurity.com to share hope, encouragement and resources to other individuals and couples struggling with sexual sin.
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