“We were fully committed to each other, but I was never fully committed to being a husband who led well. I didn’t know how.” – Carl Long
“For a long time, I lived like God was not important to me at all. Growing up in Anchorage, Alaska, our family life centered on the church, my grandfather was a pastor, and we went to church every Sunday. But I looked at the Bible as a book of history. God wasn’t real to me. After I left home and went to college, my life grew progressively more out of control. I was very selfish.
“My lack of regard for the Lord reflected in my relationships, the way I treated other people, and even the way I looked at my own life. That pattern extended to how I treated my wife, whom I met in college and married after we graduated. We were fully committed to each other, but I was never fully committed to being a husband who led well. I didn’t know how. I wanted my own way instead of what was best for Grace. She would pray for me and extend forgiveness, but my selfishness continued.
“I just fell into the habit of going to church with Grace, and after we had our first son, Samuel, I thought it was good that he was in church. I did get involved in a men’s Bible study, but it was more social and academic than anything else.
“Our marriage wasn’t bad. But we looked at the next thing – a new car, a new house, or another creature comfort to make us happy. Life got a lot more chaotic when Grace was pregnant with our youngest son and became very ill with tuberculosis. Our friends came around and supported us, and that was my first opportunity to see the church be the church. Our friends continued to pour into our family and pray for us as our son, Everett, was born and Grace recovered. That whole span of time is when God began changing my heart.
“After Grace’s illness we realized we wouldn’t be able to have any more children. We decided to pursue adoption as a way to fix that. I went along with the plan to adopt, knowing that it would make Grace happy, or thinking it was the way to get what I wanted.
“The reality of the adoption struck when, 18 months after we started the process, we were matched with a birth mother. At this point, the reality hit that this adoption was really going to happen. It was time for me to figure things out if we were going to see the adoption through.
“Before that day, I had never really trusted that God would put us in the right place. So as I prayed about what God would have us do, it was the first time I had put my trust in the Lord as opposed to my own ability. I can see now that I wasn’t simply praying for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ about the adoption. I was praying that God would show me how to trust Him. In that moment, I experienced more peace than I ever had before.
“God was pursuing me despite my defiant, selfish attitude. I took part in Bible study with others, and God began to change my focus. It stopped being all about my way of doing things, making Grace happy or making my own happiness. I trusted that God was the fulfillment I was looking for rather than searching for it elsewhere.
“If the adoption hadn’t forced me to confront my selfishness and lack of trust in God, I’m sure something else would have. Grace and I actually decided to move forward with the adoption, but after the baby was born, the birthmother changed her mind. It was a very sad time for our family, yet even in that loss, we were able to trust the Lord.
“Since then I continue to study the Bible with friends and see how every story points to Christ. The boys and I talk about Scripture and learn about what the Bible says about how we treat others. As we memorize God’s Word, I see a change in them and me.
“God also led me to serve as a Children’s Ministry leader at Watermark. I want to be in the trenches with my sons so they can see that it’s fun to worship the Lord. I love worshipping and leading with the kids at Watermark and watching them grow. Our boys are developing a firm spiritual foundation. My hope is that they will grow from little boys to young men who are humble, kind and love the Lord. I hope they’ll be the kind of boys that Dallas and our world really needs.
“God’s Word now directly affects how I treat Grace, our boys and the people I work with every day. Today, when I am tempted, my way of escape is to turn to God’s Word, so that my sinful thoughts can be taken captive. I still fail as a father, husband and friend, at times, and I still lose my patience. But because of what God has done, it is so much easier to ask for forgiveness. Every day, I try to live like my heart has completely changed, because in Christ, it really has.”