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!
I’m not married yet but me & my boyfriend also had a rough year about two years ago. I also talked to my friends about my problem & I was shocked to realize how many of them had the same problem. I was especially shocked since all their relationships seemed to be perfect just like ours. I think I was really lucky. You know the saying that goes you don’t know the value of sg until you lose it. Well, I had the chance to realize the value of our relationship without losing my boyfriend. Ever since I feel extremely grateful.
What an amazingly honest and vulnerable post. I wasn’t allowed to date as a teen, and I think this is one reason why. Once you give your heart, it’s hard to get it back. I’m so glad that year is over for you. This is a powerful story for all of us.
I am so glad you wrote on this. I have been married to a wonderful man for the past 17 years and we have three children. A few months ago the same thing happened to me. An old boyfriend and I began e-mailing and texting each other, and I even saw him 3 times. I haven’t told anyone, but I am struggling to deal with the emotions that came up. The contact has stopped, but it’s a struggle every day NOT to contact him. Even though I know he was the wrong one back then, and he still can’t even come close to the amazing husband I have been blessed with, the strength of those feelings took me by surprise. Ladies: be very careful with Facebook. It makes it very easy for your past to catch up with you. There’s an epidemic of old boyfriends/girlfriends popping up out of the woodwork and many marriages are being destroyed. Don’t let Satan win.
Wow! Great post! I love how honest and forthcoming you were. Glad to have found your blog!
Thank you all for your comments. I get at least an email a week from someone struggling with this. It’s a common thing, but we can let God/truth win!
Robin Bayne says
I now know that I’m not alone. Thanks for being honest.
I’ve never been contacted by my ex, but I’ve been on the other side somewhat. I have to say that your husband is an amazing person!
My husband refused to talk about his past to me when we were dating and was very vague, like he gave me a number but no names. I told him everything about me so he wouldn’t have to hear it from other people. After almost 20 years of marriage he still won’t talk about it! I discovered a few names only through hurtful gossip. Oddly enough, it was from women at our church!
One of his ex-girlfriend’s, who likes to talk about her conquests, approached him at an event that I couldn’t attend and flirted pretty heavily. A friend who saw them said he didn’t seem to be flirting back but he talked to her and that was enough! This ex told people that she was pregnant with his baby after high school and aborted it!
I never said anything to him, but it made me wonder how many of his ex’s have tried to contact him. I do trust him totally and he says that he is just ashamed of his past. He also tells me that his past is none of my business. I know he is covered under the blood of Jesus, just as I am. But, I want to know who these women are and if they try to contact him!
I have prayed about this but haven’t talked to anyone about it. I appreciate that you dare to bring this subject up in the Christian community.