This is not something Josh and I are excited to share. To share something so painful and shameful and personal is not at the top of our list...BUT...God has done such a great work and we want all of you to have hope. Hope for your own marriage, hope to share with a friend or family. Jesus is that hope.
I'm going to share our story with you and in case you're wondering,
I have Josh's complete support and encouragement to share our story. He wants you and anyone you know who might be turning away from God to know that redemption is possible!
Our story is ugly (and beautiful later) and it'll hit close to home for many of you.
Infidelity has undoubtedly affected many of you that will read this, whether in your own relationship or someone close to you. It's rampant. We, as people, are emotional creatures and so often go against what God says and pursue what makes us feel good. This happens in all kinds of ways, of course, not just through cheating. Every day, we choose ourselves instead of God in some way...aka...sin, but today I'm gonna share with you how unfaithfulness affected our marriage and then share what God has done. He has done great things.
The day my husband left was terrible. He left to be with someone else. I was devastated.
There are too many details to share here things that were going on in Josh that give some answers to why, but our marriage wasn't the reason. It had actually been a really beautiful marriage after he had become a Christian in our second year together.
Sad isn’t a sufficient word for the way that I felt when he told me he wasn’t coming home. I hurt. My heart was broken and my body felt the radiation of that pain coming from my soul. Part of myself had been ripped away from me. You know when you watch a war movie and someone loses a limb? All the parts of the inside are exposed and just hanging out? Sorry for the gruesomeness of that visual, but that’s how it felt.
I was on my knees and face praying, crying, mourning, and reading my Bible for days as Jesus comforted me. He was so close to my broken heart. He never left my side. There were times when I was sobbing so heavily and I could just feel my head laying in Jesus’ lap as He ran His hand over my hair like a good father would comfort his baby girl. I can’t explain how I could feel that. I think God just gave me eyes to see that He was.
In the first week, God was very clear with me that He wanted me to wait on Him, that He would do the work.
Do not say, “I will repay evil”;
Wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.
I couldn’t change Josh’s heart. I’m not a heart changer, but Jesus IS. All that He wanted for me to do was wait on Him, stay close to Him, and trust Him in every next step. He never promised that He would bring Josh home or that I would ever get my husband back, but I knew from His word that He was for me and that He was for our covenant marriage. Josh had broken the covenant, but I hadn’t.
God is serious about covenant. A marriage covenant is not just a promise as long as everyone wants to stick to it and as long as it works for both parties. It is a promise to stick with it even when it’s not working, even when people fail terribly. I had stood before God and promised to love this man and to do that in sickness and in health, in the good times and bad, for better or for worse. Did I mean that? ….YES. Yes, I did. Even if he hadn’t taken that as seriously as I had, I would keep on.
I knew God was calling me to fight for my husband. That wasn’t going to be through saying all the things I wanted or shaming or yelling him back to the Lord. My call was to PRAY...to cry out to Almighty God, the One whose greatness of power is immeasurable and who works according to the working of His great might that raised Jesus from the dead. That same power would be the only power that could change anything in my husband. So I prayed and waited and prayed and waited.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
At one point, I gathered a group of ladies at our church that I loved and trusted to pray for Josh with me. God heard us that night. I am so grateful for every woman that was there and for every person who prayed for me, the kids, and Josh during that time.
For almost 3 months, I prayed and studied God’s word, listened to sermons, worshiped God, and saw Him work in so many ways, big and small. All the while, He was working in Josh. Sometimes God used me to speak to Josh and often times, He didn’t. He softened Josh’s heart and on July 25th, Josh returned to God and us as He repented and began obeying the Lord. Everything didn’t change in a day, but it also did, because with that first act of obedience of leaving where he was, walking in repentance began. Restoration for us began that day. It was a process and it has taken time. It hasn’t been easy, but the Spirit has walked us through every bit of it. He still is. I know that He'll continue to work in us and through us as we submit to Him and to His will.
Our hope in sharing this is that it will encourage you to turn to God for help in your marriage for healing, for hope in the impossible situations. Our marriage was on its deathbed and is now alive and thriving!!! The Gospel has changed everything about what our marriage should have been.
Because of Jesus!!!!
If our story is encouragement for you or if it could be encouraging for someone you know, feel free to share our story with them. I’ll (and sometimes we’ll) will be talking more about prayer, infidelity and it’s painful effects, ways to love someone who is not loving, loving and blessing your enemies, persevering through the hard times, covenant marriage, and so many more tough subjects.
May God be glorified.
God has things to remind us of right in the middle of big fun and big fear...about His goodness.
The other day, we drove up the mostly rail-less Pike's Peak Highway....and obviously, I do mean HIGHway.
I remembered it being a scary drive when I was little, looking out my right side passenger window, imagining one of our tires getting caught on the edge and our car being sucked down to the ground. I thought that maybe I would be over that fear, but I was so very wrong. I was laid out across the console, unable to look out the window at times. My family did not hate giving me hard time.
What in your life causes you to freak out like this?
It was mental of course, but my fear was so physical! I could feel it in my bones. It really does paralyze me!
As I watched my kids stand in snow on the edge of a cliff (which, by the way, was way steeper than it looks in the picture), I ACTUALLY teared up as I imagined the worst, one of their feet slipping as they threw the snow up in the air and down they would go. It was terrible!
I wasn't scared the whole time, just in these few moments on the edge.
We lived though! The beauty of the mountains and valleys and sunset surrounded us making it impossible not to worship God with everything in me...even with the fear...knowing that He is so much greater than any fear. We listened to some Shane & Shane who sing so much Scripture that singing those "lyrics" as I looked out at God's creativity and majesty that my heart about wanted to burst.
I even got to see goats on the side of the mountain, a picture of one of my favorite verses...
God, the Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet life the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.
That confidence that He gives them to jump around so freely on the sides of cliffs...on the high places! This is the confidence I can have in trusting God. He couldn't give me a more perfect reminder right in the middle of my fear. He does that though, doesn't He? He shows up to show us that we need not fear, but trust in HIM.
Lexi was scared and dad came to the rescue! --- This was at the beginning and had I remembered it at the top, I would've remembered how God cares for me the way that Josh was caring for Lexi!
At the top!
Our brave kids.
Right before we left, we met Bruce. He started teaching us all kinds of things! He even schooled us on prime numbers. The kids were clearly fascinated.
THIS is what blew my mind and couldn't keep me from worshiping the One who made it all.
This Summer, we decided to spend a month on the road, living out of our popup camper and stopping here and there to experience God's creation in places other than Texas. We love where we live, but want to see more! This vacation is about being together, spending time with Jesus and seeing what He's made, and living life with no real plans.
Quite a few friends have said this kind of vacation sounds exciting, but brings them anxiety at the very same time. I HEAR that, but there is a kind of beauty in the unknown. Trusting the Lord with all the unknowns is what we do as Christians anyway, so this month is almost like an exercise in listening to the Spirit, seeing where He leads us.
Starting this trip in the past week and looking forward to the rest has me thinking on how uncertain we have to be willing to live as followers of Christ. That can feel scary or at the least unnerving. If we are looking to feel certain about everything we have in place in our lives, including our plans for the future, then when the unexpected happens, we're thrown for a massive loop. We will be completely shaken, causing us to make all kinds of emotional decisions that are most assuredly not our best ones.
In the uncertain times, in the earth-shaking times, Jesus is Certain.
1. known for sure; established beyond doubt.
According to dictionary.com
I love that definition. That's Jesus, right? He lets us know Him and He has established who He is. We have no reason to doubt Him! He loves His people and is for them. He is FOR US!
He is Certain in all the times. It's good to know, isn't it?
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
If you want to follow along with our trip, follow me on Instagram @ashleystockel. I'll keep posting here, but will post more there. Tell me how God is challenging you in your uncertain time and how He is showing you that you can be certain about Him.