Telling the Truth Wrecked My Life

“I’ll be discussing sexual addiction in a few weeks and I want you and Sam to share your story with my class.”  Diane, the psychology professor who adopted me when I moved to San Diego, stood at my office door. This five-foot-two, blond and blue-eyed, inoffensive looking creature was about to wreck my life.

What? Is this a joke?  I first thought.

She was dead serious.

Sharing this chapter of our marriage with Diane was a vulnerable moment in a new found friendship; sharing it with the world was not part of my life plan or the Christian culture I knew.

Only ten years prior, I was an uptight, new Christian who  saw church as a place for listening to sermons, attending church functions, and feeling guilty for not knowing the Bible enough, not sharing the gospel more, or not attending midweek services regularly.

Sex was never a topic for public discussion in the church we left behind.  Scars and wounds from old battles remained covered by churchly toil and double servings of good works.  It was the Christian version of “Don’t ask. Don’t tell.”  I liked it that way.

Now, living in San Diego, working with one of the most respected churches and Christian colleges in the country, Diane wanted my unsuspecting husband to share how the grip of pornography and sexual addiction had consumed his life for over 15 years… She wanted me to tell what happened when the “Ms. Sunshine” façade I maintained so well came crashing down when I discovered his secret a year into our marriage.

What was she thinking?

People respected me here… they looked up to me and listened to me!  Sam was finally realizing his dream to attend seminary.  Our daughter—who was never supposed to know—was a freshman in the Christian high school on our campus!

Why would I want to come clean when I finally had a near perfect life?

“Some of these students are hurting, Maria” Diane whispered, placing her hand on mine. “They need to hear your story.” I was not moved, but she won.

It would be only one class, ten students. Sam would share his journey from addiction to freedom. I would share why I wanted to run away but couldn’t.  Students would walk away with an example to illustrate their academic content.

Ah, if telling the truth were that simple.

We arrived to the class early, just in time to catch the last few minutes of James Dobson’s interview with Ted Bundy, the serial rapist and killer who was executed on the electric chair shortly after his final conversation with Dobson.

Sam and I had watched it the week before at Diane’s suggestion, so we could be on the same page with the class.

Now I was standing at the back of the classroom, waiting for Sam to walk up to the front.  I was still reeling from our conversation… remembering words that gave me chills.

“I’ve lived in prison for a long time, and I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence just like me… everyone of them was deeply involved in pornography—without question… without exception…”

I had no words. God had rescued my husband from a dark, dark world, and standing there I realized our story was no longer just about us. How many more men — and women — needed to be rescued?

When Diane introduced us to the class, I was Mount Saint Helen ready to erupt and there was no stopping it.

Looking tanned and handsome in his yellow shirt, Sam faced the class. His hands gripped the podium as if it were a lifeline.  The man I have loved for almost 25 year — the restless warrior who fought harder than any man I know for his soul and freedom — was about to be wrecked that day.

Jeff Goins calls that the “moment when all our priorities and concerns shift. Our identity begins to change. We sense a disparity between what is and what should be.

I prayed silently for the flood of tears to cease as I waited for my turn to speak.

I wasn’t the only mess in the room. Several men fidgeted nervously and looked down at the floor. One woman had to excuse herself from the room.

Then, just as Goins describes it, it happened:

“It’s the unfamiliar that calls us to be more than we can be on our own. It starts as a whisper, then grows to a scream. “

For me, that whisper—God’s whisper—was not audible, but undeniable.

“Look what I have done for you… would you keep it to yourself or will you trust me and share it with those who need hope?

When my time came to share, a supernatural calm came over me.  I told the truth… and my heart broke when I saw other women in the room weep — they understood.

I was wrecked. Sam was wrecked.  We didn’t know what would come next, but we knew it would not feel good; yet it would be the right thing to do, as Jeff Goins reminds us.

A few weeks later, it happened. Word got out and the director of student life invited us to speak at the college chapel service. It wasn’t only a bigger stage. We would have to tell our daughter the truth.

For days, a mental battle raged. Fear screamed, “Don’t do it! Think of what she will think of her Dad?

My Savior whispered, “Trust me.”

The time had come to surrender completely.  When we told our daughter the truth, we wept together.  And her words, “I’m so proud of you,” confirmed God’s sweet faithfulness.

For over five years we have been speaking on this subject whenever we are invited to do so.  It is my least favorite talk to give. Like Jeff says, “Doing good sometimes feels bad.”  But as a result, dozens of men and women have come forward from the darkness of shame… with hope.

We don’t know what God’s plans are for the rest of this story.  But we are wrecked and there’s no turning back.

I desire to do your will, my God … I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. ~ Ps. 40:7,11

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About the AuthorMaria Keckler is wrecked in San Diego, California. She blogs about writing, publishing, leadership, and living a great story of purpose. With her husband,  Sam, she  speaks about this subject to give hope to those who are still living in bondage. 

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