When I was on Focus on the Family radio talking about Gen Xers and marriage there was one story that struck a chord with many listeners. It was an experience that I had when an old boyfriend contacted me. Like I mentioned in my FOF interview (and in my book Generation NeXt Marriage) :
1. The email was totally unexpected.
2. Even more … the emotions were totally unexpected, too.
I won’t go into details, but it was my first boyfriend. Someone I thought I loved when I was a teen. Someone I thought I’d forgotten … until he started emailing.
Looking back there are MANY things I could have done differently, such as not responding! (Just deleting the email would have been wise!) But I did email him back. Also, within days I realized that I had gotten myself into a sticky situation. Right away I got my praying friends involved, “Help! My old boyfriend popped up … pray I do the right thing!”
Through months of prayer and struggle these are the things that helped me.
1. I shared my struggle with my friends and asked them to pray. I was surprised that many of them had the same struggles in the past.
2. I told my husband, and I promised to break off ALL contact. He prayed with me. He became my accountability partner. Every day he prayed with me and asked me how I was doing. He also asked if there had been any contact … and on some days I confessed that there had been … so we prayed some more.
3. I dug into God’s word. I read the Bible seeking TRUTH to replace the lies. I realized there was an enemy who wanted to steal, kill, and destroy. It was during this time the song “Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns came out … I remember weeping in the car as I heard it. God wanted me to listen to HIS voice of Truth above the lies.
4. I thought about all that the enemy wanted to destroy in my life: my marriage, my kids, my witness, and my ministry. I got really mad at what Satan was trying to do. The madder I got, the easier it became NOT to be tempted by this other person.
5. I took my thoughts captive. Every time my mind tried to take me back to those “romantic moments” I’d stop those thoughts. I’d think instead of my wonderful, amazing husband. I’d sing praises to God. I’d refocus.
6. I prayed for an undivided heart. I prayed Psalm 139:23-24. I prayed that God would clean my heart of anything that shouldn’t be there.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
7. I also had another group of friends (made up of writers) pray over me. Being there, in their presence made a big difference! To hear their words, feel their love went a long way.
8. That night after my friends gathered around and prayed for me I remember laying in bed and going back over that relationship in my mind … this time I wasn’t thinking of it as the romantic teen romance that I once had. Instead, I realized it was two teens that needed Jesus and tried to find happiness in each other. So that night I went through the moments that I remembered and prayed over them. I asked God to forgive me. I prayed for this old boyfriend–that he would find Christ. I prayed that God would cleanse me and give me a pure heart for my husband.
Five years later I can say without a doubt that year was one of the hardest of my life. Yet, I am thankful for that time too. God wanted me to have a pure heart. He knew all the junk inside that needed to be cleaned out. He trusted that I would seek Him and the help of my friends. (This gave me confidence … God allowed this to bring me to Him NOT to bring me down!) And … God wanted me to discover a marriage that was better than it had ever been before.
Also, it’s not over. The funny/sad thing is that the VERY DAY I was in Colorado Springs taping the Focus on the Family interview another email from my old boyfriend arrived. It was Satan’s last attempt, I knew. And as I prepared to go to the radio station I emailed him one last note: Please DO NOT contact me again. I copied by husband on the note, too. My old emotions didn’t win. God did. I’m glad!
Maybe you’re having the same struggles … or know someone who is. DON’T let the enemy win. The “love” for that other person that was … and that you think still could be … is only a lie. Seek God. Seek to strengthen your marriage. I guarantee you’ll NEVER regret it!