the shape of leadership

Broken Pieces

Hope after infidelity and abuse

Julie E Davenport on September 17, 2020

I awoke that Sunday morning to a tear-soaked pillow from crying as I slept on a foam mattress beside my 5-year-old daughter’s bed. We were at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she was receiving cancer treatment.

My mind raced with thoughts, knowing a letter of resignation admitting my husband’s moral failure would be read in the morning service where he was lead pastor.

Life as I had known it ended abruptly as we left our beloved church family. My marriage was completely broken, and I had no idea what the future held for me and our two young daughters.

A “moral failure” was not the whole story. By all outward appearances, my husband was a charismatic, educated, successful pastor. Hidden inside our marriage were numerous infidelities, accompanied by multiple incidents of physical, mental and emotional abuse. Following each incident, he said he was sorry and begged me not to tell anyone.

Just a few days earlier, my husband had confessed to more affairs during the year our daughter was in the hospital. Once again, he begged for secrecy. He seemed most afraid of losing his position. As I pictured myself sitting on the second row in our church, acting as if nothing had happened, something inside me broke. I was done.

I made a choice to trust in Jesus and give everything to Him. I sensed the Lord telling me to continue doing the simple things I knew were right, and He would take care of the complicated things. A supernatural peace came over me.

I had endured years of pain because I believed a lie that God hates divorce more than He hates sexual sin and abuse. I now know God does not love the institution of marriage more than He loves the individuals in it. A high view of marriage allows for biblical divorce. Rarely, but sometimes, you need to leave!

God has rebuilt my life and has used the broken pieces I gave Him to bring freedom to others.

Healing began when I left, but the process to become whole again took counseling, supportive family and friends, commitment to a church community, and much time in prayer on my knees, where God mended my broken heart.

I tangibly felt God’s love for me in moments of loneliness and despair. Clinging to the Lord and spending time every day reading the Bible were vital to my healing.

After sharing my story at a women’s conference several years ago, doors began opening for me to speak in churches and conferences, both at home and overseas. I crossed paths with a number of women — from a pastor’s wife in Africa to a young mother I met on a walk in my neighborhood — with stories similar to mine.

I felt the need to share my journey in a greater way to reach more broken women. Since my first husband tragically died several years ago and my daughters are grown, there is more freedom to share publicly. I stepped aside from my position on staff at a church, which gave me time to write and publish a book, Secrets in the Sanctuary.

Through my writing and ministry, I encourage women to bring their difficult secrets out of darkness and into the light of truth so there can be healing.

I have been remarried for many years to a wonderful Christian man. We serve on our church’s prayer team and care team, and we lead a small group in our home. Each week in my community, I encounter women from all walks of life who are hurting. I receive messages online from women who have read the book and are needing to talk with someone.

I have learned to surrender my life, my story, and the things I have been through. When I give it all to Jesus, He takes what was meant for evil and uses it for good.

I’m transparent about my own experiences so I can raise awareness of these issues and help others heal. I talk about things seldom discussed. I want to comfort others the way I have been comforted. Instead of being a hurt person who hurts people, I am using my pain to help hurting people.

If you are dealing with these issues, you are not alone. Help is available. Talk to somebody. Tell the truth, even if it hurts. I feared telling the truth because I knew my life would crumble.

You may lose an outward position, but you will obtain inner peace by not living with secrets. If something crumbles when the truth comes out, it was built on a lie. God has rebuilt my life and has used the broken pieces I gave Him to bring freedom to others. The truth sets us free.

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2020 edition of Influence magazine.

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