4 years ago Jared and I had just had our third child. Jared had recently landed what felt like the dream job making great money in the oil and gas industry straight out of grad school. And to top it off, we had an amazing schedule which allowed us to spend every Friday afternoon together as a family. We had just left the library, loaded our three kids in the car and were driving home when Jared got quiet.
As we slowed to a stop in afternoon traffic he turned and said, “Beth, I need to tell you something. I messed up again. I told myself I was just browsing titles but then I didn’t stop.”
To make matters worse we were, remember, sitting on the interstate in our car which meant I couldn’t walk away.
My jaw clenched.
The tears came.
And I had a choice to make.
I want to break into this story to share one truth that will change every day of your life.
Every day it is a CHOICE to remain in the situation you are in.
To stay angry…
To stay stuck…
To feel like the victim…
To blame someone else for your emotions…
To pretend you are not in control.
That truth, that choice… the one you’ve been making every day…
It is quite literally what has led to the life you currently are living.
As I sat on the interstate feeling all of the feelings, thinking all the thoughts and deciding all of the decisions, I realized that one thing…
It had always been a choice.
I was never trapped.
And I was willing to make that choice to stay married again and again because I knew exactly what I wanted and what the cost would be for me to choose differently.
My eternal family, my eternal marriage, was not something I was willing to lose.
Sitting there on that hot, humid day, I made a choice.
I was done settling.
I wanted something different.
I wanted to BE someone different.
And that something was up to me.
The truth was my husband’s pornography habit had very little to do with me.
Nothing in fact.
His habit wasn’t because I wasn’t pretty enough.
It wasn’t because we didn’t have sex enough.
It wasn’t because he wasn’t happy enough.
Any excuse or idea I could concoct was a lie.
Because the truth is, pornography is powerful.
Our mind is POWERFUL.
Pornography isn’t like a bad food our stomach can reject if it doesn’t sit right.
That’s not how the brain works.
The brain is designed to retain and recall what it is given.
And when a young boy of 14 sees something, reads something, hears something…
Developmentally his brain is not in a place to consider the long term risks and rewards of making that decision and understanding the magnitude of the consequences of continuing the behavior.
It doesn’t matter your race, religion or upbringing.
Everyone will experience temptation.
When I realized that, I realized something very powerful about myself.
I was responsible for one thing and one alone…
For years I had been telling myself some version of “when he gets over this…”…
“If he would just read his scriptures more…”
“If I was just prettier…”
“If he would just stop…”
… They were all lies.
I realized sitting in that car we didn’t have the tools to accomplish what it was we were praying for to happen.
We had made shifts…
Stopped certain things…
But we didn’t have the tools.
And that was going to change.
But, it wasn’t up to Jared.
No matter how much I wanted HIM to be the one to change, the truth was I was the one who needed to change.
I know… That sounds wrong.
But when I changed, everything changed.
Up until this point I believed that Jared and I were on the same journey.
We were married and were biblically “one” so it made sense in my mind.
I believed his worthiness somehow affected not only my worthiness but my access to the Lord.
I felt like a hypocrite at church when someone would say something about pornography and those who used it.
I would be crying out inside when someone passed judgement on a situation they new little about.
I felt like a fake when people would talk about how good or faithful or righteous I was.
And it wasn’t because of Jared’s pornography habit.
It was because I WAS LIVING A LIE.
I was pretending. And I was dying a little more inside every day because of it.
I truly believed that if I only prayed harder, served more, loved better, looked prettier and whatever other ‘xyz’ reason I could come up with, my husband wouldn’t “need” anything else other than me.
And that just simply wasn’t true.
Until I realized that, I couldn’t realize the next truth that God has used this journey to teach me.
While Jared and I, yes, are on the same ride, we are NOT on the same journey.
We each have a very individual journey to be on.
And the only true partner on that journey with us, is God.
When I realized how little power I had to shift Jared’s journey, I stopped.
I began to focus on my own.
I started praying for Jared, but also for myself.
I prayed I would feel my worth…
See my beauty…
Be led to people who were loving and nonjudgemental…
Be open to changes I needed in my life…
Hear and feel the spirit…
Develop eyes like my Savior…
Have a forgiving heart…
Build faith and gather understanding…
Be strengthened to overcome my own struggles…
And most importantly…
Understand the role the Atonement, my Savior, my Heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost would play in MY pornography story…
Because even though pornography use wasn’t my trial to navigate, the effects and consequences of that use were.
In choosing to stay married, I was choosing myself.
I was choosing my goals, my dreams and my beliefs about what was possible even though, yes, it often felt like the furthest thing from possible.
I realized that day that my journey was just as important as Jared’s.
My responsibility was just as important as his.
My timetable though, was very different than His— than my Heavenly Father’s who had the perfect timetable in mind for my husband.
And if I truly believed that, then it was time for me to have the faith I claimed to have.
And faith, in its most basic form, is trust.
I had to choose to trust God.
To trust Him in a time when I wasn’t ready to trust my husband.
Trust Him to take control of my journey.
Trust Him to lead me to the right people, at the right time and in the right ways.
And He HAS.
He has led me right to where I am today.
To a place where I can proudly proclaim that the journey has been HARD. It was excruciating at times.
But, IT. IS. WORTH. IT.
He has led me to a time and place where I can be a light in that dark place for others.
Where I have the tools and resources to help those whose journeys are full of sorrow and lacking hope.
Where I can provide the faith you may need to borrow in order for you to take your first step and reach out.
My journey, my faith, my resources… I am glad to share because I know the rewards if you’re brave enough, willing enough or hurting enough to just take the first step.
Because you getting to that first step, is the beginning of a marvelous and eternal change.
Your development will have more power than you know.
Looking back, I never could have realized the impact my journey would have on Jared.
I never realized that my bravery could be the catalyst to his bravery.
My change would be the catalyst to his change.
My peace would be the catalyst to his peace.
But it wasn’t me who got him there.
It was Him.
Jared was able to trust God to get him to His place.
To a place where he has power.
Where he is learning.
Where he is growing.
And he is succeeding.
God has led US to a place where Jared and I can both stand and bear testimony of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
He has lead us to a place where we are not ashamed of our history or ashamed that someone may find that history out.
Because that dirty laundry was trusted to God. It was trusted to the Savior.
That laundry was taken.
It was mended.
It was washed.
And it was made clean.
The art of those marks, while perfectly clean, remain.
They remain as a reminder of the journey, the growth and the fear that through Christ and with Christ, we were able to overcome.
That design is unique and perfectly our own.
And today, that laundry is something we can proudly place on the line for all to see.
The shame has been swallowed up by Christ.
The power and joy is based in our Heavenly Father.
And our strength is full because of the journey we have been blessed to live.
We want you to know… Yes, it’s still hard.
The battle is always raging.
But keep going.
A full life, an amazing marriage and a strong family are possible…
Change, healing and a deeper joy than you can dream are possible.
Even when the hope is gone, the battle seems lost and the future is dim — never quit.
Because the fight can be won.
And it is eternally worth it.