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I never knew Jesus as a girl – I remember asking my mom to take us to a church service one Mother’s Day, and attending a summer camp, but that was the extent of my faith experiences. I was raised with an alcoholic father, and I used my anger toward him to justify a lifestyle of partying and unhealthy behavior as an adolescent and young adult.
I met Luke, my husband, at a skydiving dropzone when I was 19, and instantly fell madly in love with him. I moved to Washington from California to be with him, beginning our now 20 year journey. Our relationship was passionate and intense from the beginning, and I remember saying to him “You’re kind of a jerk to people, but not to me!” Slowly this unkindness became directed at me, and I was caught between my genuine love for him and my fear of the mistreatment that I was already experiencing.
After about 6 months of dating, I found out I was pregnant. I realized that I did not want to raise a child with someone who had such a tendency toward anger and cruelty, so I called my dad to move me back down to California. I went to a clinic there and had an abortion, a decision that has resulted in much sorrow and grief over the last two decades. Though I had made the choice to abort our unborn child with the lie that I was protecting him/her from Luke, I still found myself wanting to be with him. I felt drawn to him and knew somewhere in my heart that we were meant to be together, despite all logic. I told my best friend one day that if I did decide to go back to Luke, it would be “all in” and I would marry him. About a week later I told Luke about the abortion I had hidden and we ultimately decided to get back together and I moved back to WA.
Very shortly after, I discovered I was pregnant with my daughter, Perris. I experienced spotting early on in my pregnancy, and I remember weeping in the bathroom thinking that I was going to lose this child as punishment for aborting the last. God was so gracious and gave me a beautiful baby girl a few months after Luke and I were married.
The first four years of our marriage were incredibly difficult, as Luke struggled with alcoholism and was constantly angry. There was a lot of yelling and verbal abuse, and a few instances of physical abuse. After one particularly horrific instance of abuse, I called the police after my mother-in-law encouraged me to get help and ensure my safety. Luke was so angry at me for calling the police, saying that involving the cops was a betrayal to him and our marriage. I became more and more isolated, trying to protect my husband from the judgment of others and walking on eggshells around his temper.
One day we were headed back from Mexico where Luke was drinking on the flight, and in the airport he aggressively pinned me up against a wall. I cried out for help from the airport security, and stayed in California with my family while Luke flew home to Spokane. While there he attended Promise Keepers, forgiving his violent and abusive father for the first time.
When I got home from California, I told Luke that he needed to stop drinking and I wouldn’t drink either in support of that. This was in 2006, but Luke did not officially become sober until 2007. We moved into a new house and I believed it would be a fresh start for our marriage and family. For a while it was fairly peaceful, we had fully stopped drinking and the abuse had subsided, though the anger and meanness was ever present. There were many times he lost his temper and became aggressive, and he was very controlling. I hardly had any friends for most of my marriage because I felt I couldn’t talk about my husband without incurring friends’ judgment or Luke’s temper.
This period of relative peace lasted for about 7 years, and then things slowly started to decline. I had always desperately wanted Luke’s approval, but I always felt that no matter what I did he wasn’t satisfied. I often wondered what was wrong with me that made Luke treat me with such unkindness – I knew that he loved me, but I truly believed he disliked me.
In an effort to get his attention and please him, I started dressing very provocatively. Luke positively reinforced this behavior by giving me the attention I was seeking, and I began dressing more and more promiscuously and did inappropriate modeling in the pursuit of feeling worthy of my husband.
We started drinking and partying again, and filling our lives with everything in Satan’s arsenal. We were fully immersed in a world of drugs, alcohol, and sex – every day we sank deeper into a dark and deviant way of life. It was an escape from our failing marriage, and rather than falling at the feet of Jesus we tried to medicate our own pain with every wicked distraction imaginable. I became a terrible version of myself; lying to myself, lying to people around me, hiding actions and behaviors.
In 2018, I remember having a conversation with my sister-in-law, Carrie, who told me that despite what my husband is doing, I was accountable to the Lord for my own behavior. I can still hear her clearly say “One day you will stand before the throne of the Father, stripped of everything and completely alone. Luke will not be next to you. What will you do then?” From that point forward I began feeling a strong desire to get out of the lifestyle I had been leading, but I felt that if I stopped drinking and doing drugs I would lose my husband.
However, in January of 2019 I officially decided to rid myself of the poison that had been consuming my life. Luke continued to drink and use drugs, going on benders that would last for days. I started to realize that I needed to leave him, but I was afraid of losing the family that I gained through my marriage. I was laying in bed wondering what to do and how I could maintain the relationships that were so important to me, and protect my kids from the pain of divorce, when I heard the audible voice of the Lord: “Fear is not why you should stay, Jen.”
I knew in that moment that my path was clear, and I was going to ask Luke for a divorce. I went to church the next morning and instantly when I walked in, I saw “Fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in Your love” written on the screen. I broke down in tears, and committed to standing in the love of the Father. I told my pastor’s wife that Luke and I were getting a divorce, and called my grandmother on the way home to tell her the same.
I got home from church and told Luke that it was over. I did not feel angry or chaotic, I remember being very at peace even though I was sad that my marriage was ending.
After Luke and I had agreed to separate, we had to take a business trip together. I didn’t want to talk about our relationship at all, and Luke actually respected that. When I woke up the next morning, Luke was sitting near me weeping. The Lord had shown him vision after vision throughout the night of the ways he had mistreated me and abused me for years, and though I could tell that he was genuinely remorseful I still knew that we had reached the end of our road.
About a week after the separation there was a day of complete transformation in me after the full repentance for my actions and thoughts. It wasn’t me simply being sad or remorseful for my previous actions but it was a deep repulsion at the idea of some of the things I had done and ways I had acted. I know what it is like to walk in deception and fully and completely align with wicked ways.
Over the next few weeks, the Lord started working miracle after miracle in Luke. His behavior was like night and day, he was a completely renewed and changed man, but I was still reluctant to trust that the change was genuine and not a manipulation to get me back. I still refused to get back together and continued trying to navigate what life would be like without him.
The Lord would show Luke visions of the ways he wronged me, and Luke would text me and apologize, asking for forgiveness. Some of the memories that he brought up were moments that I had completely forgotten or suppressed, but the Lord knew that I needed healing for those specific wounds. Day after day Luke continued to prove that he was a changed man, that a miracle had occurred. I knew the Lord was speaking life back into our marriage and resurrecting our relationship as he resurrected us as individuals. Forty days after I told Luke I wanted a divorce, the Holy Spirit prompted me to begin a new chapter of our marriage as reborn children of God.
Luke and I are completely changed people after our repentance and the renewal of our minds and spirits. Luke is kind and loving, and I am filled with worth and surety. Our marriage is thriving and our family has truly begun to heal because we surrendered everything to the Lord.
Our finances were in disarray after years of overspending and poor stewardship – we were about to lose our business and had to place our house on the market to get out of debt. Our children were angry and distant after years of pain, our daughter Perris had even run away from home and was living with friends. Through all this turmoil, we had a supernatural peace and an unwavering faith that the Lord held us in His hand. I now knew what it meant to walk in a valley but still have true joy in my heart. He continued to work miracles in our finances, in answering prayers, and in leading our children back to Him.
Forum12 is the icing on the cake of my story of redemption – not only do I get to walk with the Lord as a daughter, I get to partner with Him in this intricate vision that he poured out on our family. Thank you, Jesus!