Christina: “For most of my life, tragedy wasn’t hard for me because I had examples of my parents’ beautiful faith in difficult circumstances. And while I accepted Christ at 13 and was rooted in Christ for most of my life, I got to know God in a more intimate way than ever before through the hardships of our marriage.”
Jared: “Most of my childhood, I knew of God and Jesus because I was surrounded by the information in our culturally Christian home. My life drastically took a different path when I was sexually abused at eight years old. I was introduced to drugs, alcohol, and pornography by my abuser. I never told anyone about my experience, but my response to the trauma played out in many ways. Many years of substance abuse turned into addictions and choices that could have derailed the course of my life forever.
“After I met Christina, we dated on and off for three years. My struggles with party drugs, binge drinking, and drunk driving were some of the many culprits of our breakups. Our different family dynamics and unequal personal relationships with the Lord were the other ‘elephants in the room’ of our relationship.”
C: “Although every rational thought in me agreed each time Jared and I broke up, I kept having a strong tug at my heart each time he would apologize and commit to ‘be better.’ Shockingly through all of our ups and downs, Jared proposed in 2013 and we were married shortly after.
“Being married meant we couldn’t just break up anymore, but problems from his substance abuse continued to arise.
“Then, our lives changed forever when we found out we were pregnant. A beautiful fluttering heartbeat appeared on the screen, and all felt right in the world. Then, just two weeks later, we experienced a miscarriage and lost our baby girl. While we were battling pain and grief through this loss, our lives were about to take an even darker turn.”
J: “After a really explosive fight one evening, the Holy Spirit empowered me to finally tell Christina about my sexual abuse as a child.”
C: “His actions and struggles began to connect and make sense. But, with this overwhelming news on an already broken spirit, I began to crumble. I immersed myself in prayer and cried out to God for help.”
J: “When I found out we were pregnant again and having a boy, I once again tried to bury my pain and past in substances – and this time completely in secret. It wasn’t until several months after our son was born that I finally confessed to Christina about my ongoing drinking and drug use.
“She was shattered, shocked, and broken in a new way because she thought we’d moved on. Christina was pulling further away as I refused to see the severity of my issues. It was around this time that we made the decision to find a new church home, attend re|engage, and try to find a fresh start.
C: “Several months into re|engage, I was driving home one night, and God revealed to me that it was God who Jared was hiding from, not me. Jared had been pushing God away his whole life. It was as if God was telling me, ‘He’s my child, not yours.’
“The peace of God (Philippians 4:7) came over me at the idea of forgiveness instead of the rage and heartache that had been continuing to build up inside me. Selfishly, I had been waiting for a big apology or gesture, but I realized that I needed to simply recommit to love, forgive, and respect my husband again and always. It wasn’t up to Jared to change; it was up to me to forgive.”
J: “With what I learned through God’s Word with the help of re|engage and re:generation, I can honestly say I am a changed man, not because I confessed to Christina but because I confessed to God and finally asked for forgiveness (1 John 1:9). My heart and actions began to change when I sought healing and forgiveness in Christ. Looking back, I realize how ignorant I was to think I could conquer my struggles alone. Now I know the moment I step away and am not dedicated to what the Lord wants for me, sin will creep in. For a long time, I thought I needed to get rid of substances on my own before I could truly follow Jesus, but His strength is what I needed to heal. I will be celebrating four years of sobriety in December.”
C: “Once we became Members at Watermark, the Lord used faithful volunteers and other Members to nurture and love our son – even helping him memorize Scripture for the first time. We know more life and more struggles will come but staying rooted in the Lord in this local body that points us to Jesus is so important. We believe wholeheartedly that not just attending church but diving in and surrendering to the Lord is where healing is found.”