The prayers, the vision and the letter
Turbulent winds and changing weather
A week ago, Brandon and I spent a weekend on our sailboat while Logan attended a church retreat. On Friday, the high temperature was 85 degrees, with winds around 20 to 25 miles per hour. Brandon got sunburned. That’s Texas in November for you. On Saturday, the winds gusted up to 40 miles per hour and the temperature dropped into the 30s that night. That’s also Texas in November for you. The winds were so strong on Saturday that we didn’t go sailing. We hung out with some new friends from the marina, toured their boats, ate lunch with them at a lakeside dive and enjoyed the day differently than we’d originally planned. But it was great.
Logan’s Bible teacher recently wrote in an email: “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not get bent out of shape.” Yes, indeed. He cracks me up.
Shortly before we went to bed Saturday night, Brandon asked, “Did the winds stop?” I hesitated to believe my eyes and ears, so I cheated and checked the weather app on my phone, which said Winds: 1 mile per hour.
It took me a while to fall asleep that night. I kept looking up through the windows above our bed at the silent stillness above—the lines (ropes) and stays (stabilizing wires) that were utterly still, the strength of the mast above me. The stillness was powerful and peaceful at the same time. It was remarkable. The winds that day were powerful. But the stillness was even more powerful. What a turnaround.
Have you ever experienced a remarkable turnaround? Close your eyes and think about that.
Have you ever seen a Trauma Interrupted? What a powerful experience.
The trauma—Jessica and Kevin
Five years ago, I experienced the wonder and the privilege of being involved in a Trauma Interrupted. The interruption or turnaround of the trauma started with intense prayer.
My good friend Jessica called me, crying. She recently gave birth to her fourth precious son. Her husband Kevin started a relationship on Facebook with a woman that he knew in high school and he left his family. He left his wife and their four delightful boys. He left their brand-new baby. He left. It was all so out of character.
I was absolutely shocked. I went to bed that night feeling very troubled about it all. I prayed intently for a long time. I kept asking God to send Kevin a life-altering spiritual encounter that would bring him back home. I kept on praying. I fell asleep praying.
Something happened that night. Something amazing. Something miraculous….
You’ll read about it in the letter below.
A dilemma and boundaries
I found myself needing to deal with a minor dilemma. I don’t write letters to other women’s husbands. That’s a major no-no in Boundaries 101. But I obviously needed to break that rule in this case. How would I do it? How could I be respectful and appropriate to everyone?
I wrote the letter that God had clearly called me to write. I called Jessica and told her that I’d written a letter to Kevin. It addressed all of his misguided comments to her (e.g., “We can still be good friends”). It was crucial for Kevin to understand that this letter came from me and me alone—not from me and Jessica. I sealed Kevin’s letter in an envelope. I printed a copy of the letter for Jessica and mailed everything in a large envelope to her. I asked Jessica to read her copy of the letter. If she felt comfortable with it, I asked her to give Kevin’s letter to him the next time she saw him.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
I woke up really early today, around 3 a.m., and was thinking about you and Jessica and your boys. I had prayed for you yesterday—that God would send you a vivid dream, vision or spiritual encounter to help you know clearly what he wants you to do.
Well, he sent me the vision instead. He sent it to me so I could share it with you.
I was trying to go back to sleep, my eyes were closed, and I saw a vision in my mind, like I was watching a movie, but I was in it. This is not an everyday thing for me, to be sure. It was clear and strange and wonderful. I never did fall back to sleep.
The vision: I was moving forward, peacefully, through a series of doors straight in front of me when I reached a door that I knew I shouldn’t go through. I stayed outside the door. I never touched it or got very close to it. Then this white vapor appeared in between me and the door like a cloud. It was puffy and pretty. Then it morphed into a coiled white snake, with its white forked tongue coming out. That was the end.
Its meaning: I knew immediately what the vision meant and that it was for you. The doors represent choices. Each door is either an opportunity or a temptation, and each door we see gives us many choices:
♦ We can open the door and walk through to the other side. If we choose to walk through, we can either leave the door open behind us, or shut it and never look back.
♦ We can open the door and peek to see what lies ahead, and then choose to either walk through, leave the door open and watch what’s going on from the outside, or close the door.
♦ When we reach a door and know we shouldn’t open it, there’s still a choice. Do we stand nearby, look at it, wonder about our choice, and basically hang around, or do we turn and clearly walk away.
I stood facing the door, never intending to open it or walk through it, but something or someone who appeared pure and lovely kept me looking in that direction. I was intrigued. But what appeared lovely was actually evil.
I don’t know what you’re doing, thinking or feeling right now, but hopefully this vision will explain some things to you.
Here’s what I do know. I’ve spent some really wonderful times with you and your family, and you all seemed so happy. I took photos at Caleb and Noah’s birthday party this spring, and while I know it was an exhausting day, you looked so proud and full of joy. You were helping the children on the zip line, enjoying your guests, and just loving your family, your home and the special day. I especially remember a photo of you holding Noah in your lap while you two were sitting at the edge of the lake. You loved your sweet boy and had this wonderful smile on your face.
Kevin, more than any husband of any of my friends, you clearly loved your wife and family, and really cherished what having a good family means. You didn’t seem to take any of it for granted. You grew up without a loving, Christian dad in your daily life, so you know firsthand the powerful impact that a good dad can have on his children (you and your boys), and the powerful impact that not having a dad has on little hearts and lives (your childhood).
I would never ask someone to return to an abusive marriage “for the children’s sake.” But you’ve had a wonderful marriage. Not perfect. None of them are perfect. Not easy. But wonderful, still. That’s why I don’t understand any of this. Jessica has always adored you and you’ve always adored her. I’ve seen it. I’ve heard you both talk about it, and I never ever ever doubted or questioned it. Your love was so true and obvious to everyone. That’s one of many reasons why I’m sure you’re hearing a lot of freaked out people wanting to know what in the world is going on with you. Your absence is totally out of character. It isn’t you.
We all make mistakes in our marriages and our everyday lives, but we also know the power of giving and receiving love and forgiveness, even when it’s hard. Marriage isn’t about that hormonal, Hollywood fantasy of being “in love forever.” Relationships [often] begin with the “Ooh, baby,” which isn’t love at all. It’s hormones, flattery, attention, egos and all that stuff. Love begins after we really get to know our beloved deep down, the walls come down, and we experience some real-life struggles together. Then we can choose to really love our spouse or not. Hugh Hefner and lots of everyday people have been in love many, many times (i.e., “Wow; I have the hots for you”), and things never “worked out.” Why not? Because anyone can fall in love. People can fall in love with people that they don’t really like and have absolutely nothing in common with. Falling in love is effortless, like catching the flu, and it’s temporary every time.
That’s why so many people hop from relationship to relationship or marriage to marriage, thinking “This time, it’ll be different.” But it isn’t different, because the core issue isn’t compatibility or feelings or great sex. The essential, core issue is the covenant—a commitment to love. Not a commitment to feel love or get love. A commitment to be loving. To choose to love. We choose to do loving things for our spouse, including speaking the truth with love and forgiveness, even when we don’t feel like it. That doesn’t sound fun, but in the end, over time, our feelings come in line with our actions, and we discover a deeper, more wonderful love than the heart-pounding high of the “in love” stuff. True love is better, deeper and lasting.
Kevin, please don’t waste your life chasing after cheap imitations when you had the real thing. I feel confident that you can have it again with the beautiful Christian wife God gave you. I can’t speak for Jessica or what she’s feeling, but I do know that she’s the most forgiving person I’ve ever met. And I also know that she made her vows and her commitment for life.
Having gone through a divorce from an unfaithful husband, I can promise you that the “let’s just be friends” stuff won’t fly. You can’t crush your wife’s heart and abandon your family, and expect the gift of friendship in return. That’s another Hollywood lie that doesn’t happen in real life.
Kevin, please go home to your sweet family. It won’t be easy for anyone. Trust has been broken, but it can be rebuilt. And it can become something even better and deeper this time.
Think about the vision God sent me for you. It’s really important. Did you open or stand near a door that you should have walked away from? Are you still standing there, intrigued, flattered? Don’t let a cheap thrill or flattery ruin your life. It’s not worth it. Think about all the relationships and things you’ve thrown away. Whatever you’ve gained can’t come anywhere close to comparing with what you’ve lost.
I hope to see you again soon, back home with your wife and children. You six are a wonderful family. Second only to Jesus, a loving wife and children are the best things in this life. You deserve the best—what you had. Choose the best again. Love your family—not in your mind or your feelings, which helps no one—but in real life, daily life. Be the dad you wish you’d had. Your boys deserve the best. And be the most loving husband you can be. Jessica deserves the best.
Praying for you all,
Prescription for disaster
What happened here? Why did Kevin start acting like a totally different person?
Kevin was prescribed a medication for his ADHD. I’ve known three couples impacted by prescribed ADHD medicine, which resulted in extreme marital distress and conflict, separation and/or divorce. All three husbands became a different person—paranoid, angry, volatile, unpredictable.
When I did a Google search today, using the words Adderall and divorce, it yielded 368,000 hits. According to RxList, the generic name for Adderall is amphetamine, dextroamphetamine mixed salts. When I read the word amphetamine, that disturbed me greatly. I hope it disturbs you too. Having worked as a social worker with amphetamine addicts, I can tell you that the impact of amphetamine use is devastating, intense and very disturbing.
Check out the long list of Adderall’s side effects.
Beware, Peaceful Readers. Beware.
What happened after Kevin read my letter?
He went back home.
But that isn’t the end of the story.
Kevin was angry about my letter. Most of all, he was extremely embarrassed about what he’d done. He demanded that Jessica terminate contact with all of her family members and friends who knew about their separation. I guess he didn’t want to face anyone who might be disappointed in him. So Jessica did what she felt she had to do to reclaim her own family.
She called me and said good-bye.
I check in on Jessica and her family every two or three years by phone or text and she gives me an enthusiastic, positive update. And that makes me smile.
I’m still extremely thankful and honored to have been a part of a Trauma Interrupted. God did a miraculous thing. Yes, a friendship was lost. But something much more important was found—the reuniting of a family.
I look forward to hearing your story and your thoughts. Please leave your comments below. (You can use your real name or a pen name like I do. I won’t show your last name or your email address on Choosing Peace.) You can also send me a private email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming next: To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what loss or trauma to dive into next. God will show me which one. So we’ll all be surprised. Until then, may God bless you richly on The Healing Journey.
Healing through truth and music
Peaceful Readers, I’ve found great healing in my life through the beauty and truth of God’s word and through music. I hope the truths and songs that I share at the end of each post will bless you too.
Truth from The Word: Psalm 77:14
Song for Healing: What a perfect song and video for this post—“I Need a Miracle” by Third Day. I just noticed that the video was published in the fall of 2012—the same fall as the Trauma Interrupted. Now I’m smiling all over again.