Blog Post by Melody Hemphill
It is with great joy that I introduce today’s guest blogger: Melody Hemphill. Melanie and her husband Randy serve together at Life Ministries.Their story is so appropriate for this week as we look with joy and anticipation to Resurrection Sunday when Christians around the world will gather to worship our risen Savior. Our God is able to restore, redeem, and give new life! Check out their book 30 Days of Hope for Hurting Marriages.
I remember being a newlywed, wearing some very rose-colored glasses in regards to my marital future. Randy and I had recently moved to Birmingham for him to study for his Masters of Divinity degree. We felt called to a lifetime of service in ministry, we were part of a vibrant church that was breathing so much life into us spiritually, and we could not imagine a day where we weren’t happily married, serving God with all of our gifts and abilities. If you would have told us all that lay before us, I never would have believed you.
But the picture I had for our future is not at all the reality that we have lived. Our confidence in our own abilities to have a wonderful marriage led to apathy in us taking care of that marriage. From the outside, we looked great, but we were letting other things creep in and distract us from caring for our relationship. At that point, we had no clue that we both brought a lot of brokenness and emptiness into our relationship that we were looking to each other to fill. And when it wasn’t filled in each other, we began to look to outside things to bring us that fulfillment. For Randy it was work (ministry). For me, it was relationships.I was damaged, labeled, and not at all the woman I had thought I would become. Click To Tweet
About six years into marriage, a friendship with a male co-worker became the main focus of my life. What started as an “innocent” friendship turned into a lengthy affair. Suddenly, the rose-colored glasses had shattered into a million pieces. I had broken my marriage vows, turned away from God, and let my empty places take me into an unhealthy and harmful relationship, rather than to Christ. I remember believing that my life was over. I was damaged, labeled, and not at all the woman I had thought I would become. Nor was I the woman that most people believed that I was.
In brokenness and desperation, I begged for the mercy and grace of God over my life. I didn’t know what the future of our marriage would be, but I knew that I needed to deal with all of the places in my soul that needed healing. I wanted to understand how I ended up leading a double-life. I needed to know why I made the choices I had made. And God began to transform my heart. He opened my eyes to His grace in a way I had never understood before. He granted mercy to me daily, as He welcomed me back into relationship with Him. I knew without His help I could not dig my way out of this pit on my own. And slowly, I began to learn, understand, grow, and heal.
As Randy and I pursued our own personal journeys of healing, God brought healing to our marriage. It was hard. It was slow. It was painful. And there were many days that it felt like the pain would never get better. It was scary to try to build a life with someone who I had betrayed and deeply wounded. Instead of trying to fix the marriage we had, we decided we had to build something new. What we’d had had not worked, nor had it been healthy. We knew that to move forward, we had to build a new marriage, but with the same person that we’d loved since we were 18 years old. And God did miracles in our hearts through the brokenness we had experienced.
We have now been married over 20 years. We view marriage through very different lenses now. We look at marriage through the lens of warfare – knowing that Satan wants to destroy us, and that he’s not real happy that he didn’t win with his first attempt, so he isn’t going to stop with his attacks. We view it through the lens of brokenness – that our broken places are actually the places God wants to use to bring healing and strength to us in order to serve each other. We view our marriage through the lens of fighting – our marriage will not last if we don’t continue to fight the right fight. We have to fight for time, for humility, for forgiveness, and for priority. Marriage is hard and we must fight for the healthy marriage that we desire.Instead of trying to fix the marriage we had, we decided we had to build something new. Click To Tweet
For several years, I wanted to hide our story. I did not want anyone to know the path we had walked. But God had a different plan. Instead of leaving our past in the past, God asked us to use our past to serve others walking through broken marriages. Ten years ago, God changed what ministry looked like for us, and we now spend our time helping other couples who are struggling in their marriages. We know what it’s like to feel hopeless and alone, and we know how God can heal the most broken of relationships. If we can bring that hope to someone else, then we really believe the path we have walked came with great purpose.
You may be in a place where your marriage is strong and vibrant, and full of life. I am so happy for you, and I encourage to keep fighting for a healthy marriage, and stay armed for the attacks that Satan will throw your way. Or you may be in a marriage that is filled with brokenness and pain, and you long for something you think you will never have. Don’t lose hope! I believe that God’s faithfulness to bring healing to two surrendered people will transform the most broken marriage. Reach out for help. Don’t walk that path alone. Ask God to give you the grace and mercy you need each day to take that next step toward greater healing, for your own heart and the heart of your spouse.
Hebrews 10:23 declares: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”
With great love and hope,