by Lila Pisor
In the course of counseling at NCM, our hope is that our clients can experience God’s transformation. This can come in a variety of ways, from a seemingly simple answered prayer request to encounters with His presence that transform and heal from the inside out. Truthfully, the latter is often the result of the former. This story is about both.
Chris and Susan came to NCM, as many do; reeling from the impact of Chris’s recently disclosed decades of porn use and infidelity. It was clear from the start that Susan was very hurt and angry. She questioned the possibility of ever recovering from the betrayal. She was very focused on his encounters with prostitutes, and the message it sent to her of how inadequate she must be as a woman. Rationally, she understood that his behaviors weren’t about her but they felt like they were. How could she ever measure up?
She was a beautiful woman, but she could not see that. She had always felt uncomfortable with other women like she didn’t fit in. She doubted her femininity because she didn’t relish the chatty ladies’ teas or Bible studies at church which said she needed to be like the Proverbs 31 woman. She liked writing and found talking to men easier than other women. All this now seemed too hard to bear.
On the outside, Chris was a hard-working, successful Christian businessman. But inside was a little boy, terrified by the abandonment he had experienced in his family. He didn’t know what it was to truly let the Lord into all his heart, especially the messy, painful parts. Years of keeping secrets had exacted a toll on their marriage as often, when he was home, he wasn’t really there.
After several sessions seeking to help her work out her anger, Susan said she was seeing a change in her husband – she knew God was at work. She was encouraged but still guarded. Then, one night as Chris was working late, she began again focusing on the idea of the prostitutes. The anger and the hurt rose in her heart and mind till a dark cloud settled in and she felt hopeless, believing their marriage could never recover. When Chris arrived home, Susan told him they must separate. He slept on the couch that night entering into his own despair.
The next day he went to work, but unknown to Susan, he was praying and asking God to help him and them to be able to heal and recover. Chris asked the Lord, “What do you want me to do?” Since his counseling had started, God had been speaking deeply and intimately to Chris about his value and worth. The Lord was speaking Chris’s identity to him. When he returned home that night, Susan was still in anguish. Tearfully she spoke of herself and began explaining all her inadequacies as a woman. Susan said she could never measure up to his chosen partners real and virtual. Chris’s heart broke as he realized how much his choices were piercing his wife’s heart like daggers. He took his sobbing wife into his arms and held her close. With the love and identity that God had been pouring into his heart, he began to pray over her. He prayed over her mind, over her body, and over her femininity. He was praying God’s love, value, and identity into her. This went on for some time and in the end, both knew that this had been a God encounter. Susan knew that her husband really “got it” and her hopelessness and pain began to melt away.
Both Chris and Susan understood this was a beginning and that there was more work to take place. But, now, the darkness that had tried to consume them had lifted. Neither one of them was the same.