31 Days of Hell. That's what Andy says the next part of the story should be called. So suit up, peeps. Here we go.
For this past month, I've shared entries from my 2002 journal. But there was something I didn't write about that year.
Because I didn't known how to do it.
I could barely admit it to myself, much less write it down for anyone else to see.
My husband was addicted to internet pornography.
My husband. Mine. Andy. The missionary. The Bible translator. The one who seemed to never feel the stress, who never seemed bothered by anything. He was looking at pornography and he couldn’t quit.
Andy's always been an early-to-bed kind of guy, but all of a sudden, he was staying up late, supposedly playing a flight simulator game. I noticed it first in January, and I was suspicious, but terrified of saying anything. I just hoped I was wrong. We went back and forth to the village a few times, where there was no internet access, and I thought I had been dreaming it up. But one night in May, I woke up at 3 in the morning and found him again at the computer, and I finally asked, “Are you looking at pornography?” And he said, “Yes, I am.”
I tried to be calm and understanding and forgiving. I didn't want to make things worse. He seemed to be really sorry and he said he would quit, now that I knew.
He was relieved that I had found out.
But I felt like I had been vomited on.
And in our mission organization, looking at pornography was grounds for severe discipline, up to and including dismissal from the organization. I had a friend whose husband had had a pornography problem, and they had been dismissed. So we were afraid to talk to anyone, and just tried to handle it ourselves as best we could.
Mount Everest is a big mountain, and when you're on its slopes, that's all you can see. But it's only one of the mountains in the Himalayas. K2 is out there. And a bunch of other ones.
By the time 2003 rolled around, I had been living this life for 10 years. I felt like I had been, done, and t-shirted to the end of my ability. And then Mount Everest happened.
And it happened, and happened, and happened.
The pornography problem was huge. Really, truly enormous.
But, if you've been reading the blog before today, you'll already know that there was a bunch of other stuff going on as well.
- The ongoing stress of constant transitions and logistics. I had tossed my cookies in the South Pacific a few hundred times too many.
- Significant trauma like Libby's seizures in 1998 and being evacuated from the Solomons in 2000.
- Since human beings are involved in this story, we all had personal issues. I've talked a bunch before about my tendencies toward perfectionism and performance. Iceberg. Tip of.
- Our marriage patterns were an enormous source of trouble, which we were just beginning to realize.
- We had four kids we were trying not to screw up too badly in the midst of everything else.
- We had ministry demands, as the Arosi New Testament project came into its final stages.
- And we had The Others. Other people who made choices and decisions that impacted us greatly.
I have to talk about the bad things that happened. But my purpose in doing so is to say that God is never, ever overwhelmed or confounded by the bad things.
He is always about the business of redemption.
It was a mess. It was a nightmare.
Out of the mess and out of the nightmare, God redeemed.
Lately I have been realizing that I wouldn't change a thing. Even the things I would still say were wrong or even sinful. God redeemed in those things, too. And I am so grateful.
Ten years later, I can tell you without a doubt that what God did in the midst of those circumstances--was the best thing that ever happened to me, to Andy, to our marriage.
Andy says that the worst thing that could happen through this series is that everybody thinks we're perfect now.
So let me say it in bold print and italics. We are not perfect now.
We love our life together, but we still have Conversations and Words. Not all of which are polite or pleasant. Because we're people. We screw up. We get mad. We get scared. We do stupid things. Still. To this day.
In the spirit of total honesty, our last Conversation with Words was October 21. Last week.
And when those things happen, we have to take responsibility, work through it, and keep growing.
So we're not perfect. And frankly, we're not worried about it. We know how to deal.
Because, having worked through a whole bunch of crapola, we're in a different, better, stronger, healthier place. We know that the crapola can be worked through. And we know that it's worth it.
So, I was tempted to take Andy's suggestion and entitle this next series 31 Days of Hell. I toyed with Anatomy of a Nightmare.
But what I really want to share is An Anatomy of Redemption.
(Click here if you want to read 31 days of 2002 starting with day 1)