He screamed, “I want a divorce!” as he slammed the front door. And I was relieved. Good. It’s over. I can start over.
We had been struggling for a while, and I was just ready to give up. I had just given birth to our second child, and we had moved into a new home because we had been living with my parents. We hoped moving out would fix us. It didn’t, and I had postpartum depression. It was bad. I wanted nothing to do with Doug or our two kids. I was on medication for it, but I would still have bad days, and on those days Doug would ask if I remembered to take my pill. I wanted to punch him in the face.
He was an atheist, disliking any outgoing Christian who came into his path. I thought there was a God, but I didn’t believe he was for me because I had done too many bad things in my life for God to love me.
I had a co-worker who knew things were bad at home, and every day she would ask me to go to her church, Crossroads. Every day. She was so freaking persistent, sometimes annoying, but it worked. My first service at Crossroads was a baptism service, and not little babies getting baptized (because that’s the only baptism service I had ever experienced). I’m talking adults walking into a giant pool on a stage, completely submerging themselves. What the hell is this? The strangest thing started happening; I started crying. I realized I wanted to be those people. They were coming up from the water with tears of joy, and I was wallowing in my misery. How do I get from here to there? Where is my joy?
The kids and I went to church for six months without Doug. I was searching for answers, trying to figure out this whole God thing and whether it could really help me or my marriage. Still uncertain, I kept going back every weekend, and then one day the impossible happened: Doug said he was coming to church with us. The atheist is coming to church. This should be interesting. I knew I should be happy, but let’s be honest, I was very concerned he was going to ruin it for me. In fact, on the way there, I told him to keep his mouth shut and his opinions to himself. But it only took one service, and he got it. Four months later, he got baptized.
I was pissed.
How can Doug, a proclaimed atheist, do a 180 and start following Christ after one service? I had been coming to church for six months before him. What about me, God? Why can’t you show me what I need to do?
I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand.
Instead of divorce, we started going to church. We went every week for six years, and I was still struggling. We got in a small group with other couples, we got into a marriage class (and even taught it), and we started volunteering. In my mind, I was doing everything I could to earn my way into God’s heart. And then, if I earned my way in, I would get it; God would tell me the secret.
The more Doug and I got involved, the worse I started to feel. I was a fraud, a fake, a hypocrite.
Over ten years ago when my marriage was at its all-time low, I had had an affair. I didn’t tell Doug. I didn’t tell anyone. And for many years I was able to suppress it, ignore what I had done, and hoped it would go away.
It didn’t go away. It started to consume my life. It was the first thing on my mind when I woke up in the morning and the last thing I thought about before I fell asleep. The shame and guilt were tearing me apart from the inside out. I would look in the mirror and all I could see was a whore. And then, one day, Doug came home and said he heard God say I needed to quit my job. The next day, I went to work and put in my two-week notice. It was the first time I heard and obeyed God, because I knew what he was saying: “Kacie, it’s time to deal with this.”
For a year and a half, every single night, I would get down on my knees and scream and beg for God’s forgiveness, and every night I would hear the same thing: “Kacie, I do forgive you, but you need to tell Doug.” And when I say I hear from God, I don’t hear an audible voice like Morgan Freeman, though that might be cool. What happens is a thought will come to my mind, a thought I don’t believe came from me, especially if it’s telling me to do something difficult—like confess to Doug.
Back to the story. I would plead with God, saying, “I can’t tell him, he’ll leave me, I don’t want that anymore, I want to fight for my marriage.”
For a year and a half, I was paralyzed with fear.
I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t function.
Then, one night in April, I started hearing “now is the time” over and over again. “Now is the time.” “Now is the time.” I tried going to bed, and I would hear “now is the time.” I started shaking. I started throwing up. And still I heard “now is the time.”
God, please don’t. God, I’m so scared. God, if Doug wakes up, I will tell him. (On a side note, this is where I learned to not bargain with God because he might take you up on that offer.) As soon as the thought escaped my mind, I heard, “Kacie, what’s wrong?” coming out of Doug’s mouth.
I didn’t have a choice. I had to tell him. I looked at him through sobbing eyes and said, “I’m sorry. I had an affair.”
Doug: “OK, I forgive you.”
Me: “What do you mean you forgive me? You have every right to divorce me. It even says so in the Bible.”
Doug: “No matter what, I will always run after you.”
Then Doug did something he had never done before; he prayed for me.
“God, thank you for my wife. She is a gift to me. If I forgive her and you forgive her, no one has any right to judge her. Please take away the shame and guilt she is feeling, because that is not from you.”
I still doubted. I ripped off my clothes, kneeling before my husband physically, emotionally, and spiritually naked and said, “How can you still love this?”
“Let me show you,” he said. And he did. As crazy as it sounds, it was the best night of our marriage.
The next morning I woke up and immediately I thought, “Oh, my God. I had an affair.” And then I remembered: I told Doug, and he forgave me. Out of the darkness, I saw light for the first time, and it was glorious. I finally got it. I couldn’t earn God’s grace, and I definitely didn’t deserve it, but it was given to me lovingly and freely.
So you might be asking, “How did your husband forgive, no questions asked?” This is what he always says: “If God forgave me of all of my crap, and there is a lot of crap, then I have no right to hold anything against her.” Doug’s favorite passage is Colossians 3:12-14:
Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also forgive. Above all, put on love, the perfect bond of unity.
I was skeptical of God for so long and even fought him tooth and nail when he told me to confess, but what I can say with absolute certainty is my marriage was saved because of God. There is no other reason.
The night I confessed and repented to Doug, God gave us one more gift. It was the night we conceived our third child. Her name is Faith.