When my wife, Celin, and I were asked to rank our marriage on a scale of one to ten, we both said eight” said Chris Baird. “We got along, and my wife enjoyed spending time with the man she THOUGHT she was married to. But I was hiding much of my life from her and others, afraid to let people know the real me.
“I brought a lot of baggage into my marriage with Celin. I grew up in very rough circumstances, with no spiritual influence in our home. I never knew my earthly father or had any male leadership. My mother was always in and out of relationships and a healthy marriage was not modeled for me.
“When I was in elementary school, my mom was violently attacked. My sister and I were removed from her care and spent a couple years living with family members. Eventually, my mother got into addiction recovery, and we had a small spiritual influence, even if it was simply a ‘higher power.’ Our neighbors would take me to church, but it was a Spanish-speaking congregation, so I didn’t understand much. But being around that kind and gentle family was a vacation from our dark, toxic home life.
“After graduation, I went into the Army, and was stationed in Texas. Later, I moved to Dallas and worked in the telecom business. I dated a lot back then, living out a lot of what I’d seen at home growing up. I met my first wife online, and we moved in together not long after we met. I had no self-worth and was carrying a ton of pain from the abuse and hurt I experienced as a child. So, it’s not surprising that the marriage was unfulfilling for both of us and ended with divorce in 2010.
“For a couple years after the divorce, I visited a lot of churches until a friend invited me to come to Watermark in September 2012. I liked it and jumped into Summit Men’s Bible Study and a single men’s community group. I also got involved with MenD, a Watermark ministry for men who have been sexually abused.
“Some mutual friends introduced me to Celin, and I immediately noticed how different she was from other people. She knew her value in Christ, and she demonstrated genuine, sacrificial love for others. We married in 2013.
“Both of us have been involved in Watermark’s re:generation recovery ministry. When the 2016 leaders retreat came up, Celin encouraged me to go. I knew the Lord wanted me to attend, but I worried about being open and vulnerable with others. But at that retreat, God broke me. We studied Matthew 11:28 together, and I wanted the peace and rest that Jesus offered. But I was hiding sin and addiction in my life. At the retreat, I began the process of shedding light on my sin, and committed to others that I would confess to my wife when I got home.
“It was scary to confess to my wife about my addiction to pornography, lust of women and material possessions, and lies. I could see how hurtful my betrayal was to her. But instead of throwing me out of the house or leaving me, I was met with grace and unconditional love. There were still consequences for the destruction I caused, but as my wife continued to process my sin and deceit, I was continually met with forgiveness.
“I’d always known the Lord was real, but I didn’t have a saving faith until I confessed my hidden sin and acknowledged my need for a Savior. It was at this moment that I finally trusted in Christ and moved toward Him in belief and action.
“During those years of hiding, the Lord did not give up on me. I always prayed to have other believing men in my life – guys who would sharpen and encourage me. God answered that prayer, and now I have close friends who know all about me and encourage me with God’s Word. I’m so thankful that the Lord would give me such a great blessing.
“I often think about how God loves all of us. I don’t know if we’ll ever know, this side of eternity, how great His love is for His children. But after I confessed and let go of the burden I was carrying, I can truly say that I know more about the love God has for us and the peace that only He can give – the peace that surpasses all understanding.” (Philippians 4:6-7)