“My husband and I were more like roommates than a married couple. We had separate bank accounts and pursued our own interests,” said Amber Hapka.
“Mark did what he wanted to do – sporting events, career, whatever – and if I wanted to follow along, great. If not, I visited my family – something I did a whole lot during the first years of our marriage. I had a hard time creating an appropriate degree of separation from my family when we married, and we didn’t know how to pursue oneness as a couple.
“I grew up knowing the Lord, and was very involved in church as a child. But in college, I was the poster child for what life was like when you live outside biblical community. I didn’t go totally wild, but I did have inappropriate relationships. When I met my husband, Mark, I asked if he was a believer, but I wasn’t plugged into God’s Word enough to see clearly that he didn’t understand the gospel. I thought Mark was cute and loved the attention. Eventually we moved in together.
“About two and a half years after we married, Mark and I were on a vacation in rural Louisiana, and he was involved in a terrible ATV accident. My step-brother had to leave him on the side of the road to return to the house to call for help. As I raced to find Mark, I wasn’t sure if we’d find him dead or alive. When I got to him, he was bloody, and his leg was twisted like a pretzel, but he was alive. After the ambulance arrived, he was flown to a hospital in Shreveport.
“As I drove to meet Mark, thinking about the unknown was excruciating. I prayed, and the verses I’d known all my life came back to mind. As I talked to the Lord that night, He impressed on my heart that Mark might not be a believer. Along with miraculous healing, I also prayed for Mark’s salvation. “When Mark was moved from the ER into a regular hospital room, I gave glory to God that Mark’s life was spared. Later, Mark was transferred to Dallas where he could have surgery and start working on recovering. It would be a long road for both of us. “While Mark recuperated, I started reading God’s Word consistently again. I started sharing what I was learning with Mark, and together we wrote down things we were thankful for every day. As Mark continued to heal, the Lord worked in my heart, as well.
“Mark and I were not plugged into a church at the time, and we decided to visit Watermark. The rapid physical healing that took place for Mark was nothing compared to the redeeming work God did as He drew Mark into a saving relationship with Christ. God changed Mark’s heart and restored our marriage. He also showed me that I needed healing and restoration, too.
“I’d always struggled with people-pleasing, which was particularly evident in my relationship with my family and siblings. I felt responsible for my younger siblings. If they faced financial hardships or other difficulties, I thought I needed to play a role in the solution. I never wanted to disappoint people, and so when family members faced addiction and other issues, I didn’t set appropriate boundaries. I spent a lot of money trying to ‘help,’ with no accountability. Because Mark and I had separate bank accounts, it was easy to keep my spending a secret. Eventually, we had thousands of dollars of credit card debt and nothing to show for it.
“I knew it was not okay to hide my spending, but my feelings of responsibility outweighed my fear of sharing the truth. As Mark and I both became more consistent in God’s Word, I felt convicted that I needed to confess. I also heard a message on biblical recovery, and the idea of seeking recovery for my people-pleasing and pride made sense. After praying about it, I finally confessed my credit card debt to Mark. Before we were both pursuing Christ, I don’t know how that conversation would have gone. When Mark offered me forgiveness as an outflow of his relationship with Jesus, that overwhelmed my heart.
“There were still consequences for my choices, but only through the Holy Spirit’s work would I have been able to confess and seek forgiveness. I shared my secret with our community group as well, and started pursuing recovery through Watermark’s re:generation ministry. Mark and I participated in Equipped Disciple at the same time I was going through re:gen. Being surrounded by women who loved one another and prayed for each other was exactly what I needed. I reconnected with the Lord and with Mark during that time, and I am so thankful.
“Throughout Mark’s recovery, I spent time studying and praying through the attributes of God. I learned that no matter what the circumstances – illness, injury, job loss, or other heartaches – God is good and has glorious things in store for us in Heaven. God has been kind to give me a community of women to walk with me on this journey, and He has used our story as a tool as I’ve discipled other women. I’m glad for any opportunity we have to encourage others through God’s Word and the work He has done in our lives.”