Monday, February 22, 2010

Why I Stayed

As a pastor, I am constantly talking with couples or hearing of couples whose marriages are coming to an end. It is one of the most discouraging parts of ministry. Few things seem more devastating to me than seeing marriages crumble and people, who once chose to love each other, now choosing to quit. Today more couples choose to quit than choose to stay. How sad.

As a result, I was very intrigued when I saw Gayle Haggard interviewed on television about her new book, “Why I Stayed.” If her name does not ring a bell, she is the wife of former mega church pastor, Ted Haggard. Ted started and pastored the 12,000 person New Life Church located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was also the head of the 30 million member National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Though I personally would not agree with all of Ted Haggard’s theology, one of the most beneficial books I have ever read on the impact a local church can have on a community was his book, “Primary Purpose” which has as its subtitle these words, “Making it hard for people to go to hell from your city.”

Back in 2006 Ted Haggard’s ministry came crumbling down when it came out that he was involved in drug use and sexual immorality with a male escort. At first Haggard denied the charges, but soon after he came clean with his sin. Though not all of the accusations that circled around about him were true, enough were to end his ministry. And you would have thought that it also would have been more than enough to end his marriage to his wife, Gayle, as well. At least I have seen dozens and dozens of marriages that have ended for a lot less of a reason.

But Gayle, from day one, chose to continue to love her husband and to forgive her husband even in her darkest hour. Her book, “Why I Stayed,” is her story. I picked up the book over the weekend and as I was watching the Olympics last Sunday afternoon, I opened it to page one. By the time evening had rolled around I had read 280 of its 348 pages. I finished it the next evening.

I was riveted to her story. How could a woman stay with a man who cheated on her in a homosexual relationship? How could a woman stay with a man that deceitfully used drugs to heighten his sexual experiences behind her back? How could a woman stay with a man whose indiscretions dragged her and their five children through a media frenzy that plastered their family name all over the national media, late night talk shows and the gossip blogs and columns?

But she did! It is obvious that it was not an easy choice to make but she made it anyway and she stuck by it with the help and grace of God. My favorite line from the book is on page 187. Well into the healing process of forgiveness she writes this, “Ted and I continued to cling to each other right before falling asleep. Many times as we held each other, I’d think, ‘I have never felt closer to Ted then I do right now.’” WOW! Not only did their marriage survive – it became better than it was before the crisis. What a story! What a woman! What a God!

Are you struggling in your marriage? Are you even remotely considering the possibility of throwing in the towel? Before you make that final decision, can I urge you to get Gayle’s book and read it. You too can choose to love. You too can choose to forgive. Please…don’t quit!


Anonymous said...

This has got to be one of the best blog post you have ever shared. Thank you!

Pastor Scott said...

Thanks for reading, anonymous! Blessings to you!

4thWatch said...

When I first heard the news about Ted, I was shocked. Very much like I was after hearing the news about Jimmy Sweigart,and Jim Baker. My first thought was "of all people, how could you. What a slap in the face for the church, the body of Christ." Then, a short time later, God began to soften my heart towards Ted, for what he did, and for his family. I began to feel his pain in a small way. I realized that I was no better then he was. For I too turned my back on God, and divorced my wife because of my own sin. I was so broken through that experience that I almost took my own life. Six months later, I rededicated my life to Christ. Through it all, I became a better person. I've learned from my mistakes, and now the presence of God is more real in me than ever before. Ted is being fully restored by Gods mercy and grace! He will reemerge better then he was. And what a blessing that his wife stood by his side through it all. I have not yet read the book, but will look forward to doing so in the very near future.

Pastor Scott said...

Thanks for the comment, 4thWatch. You are right - every situation we go through can make us bitter or better. Sure glad yours made you better through God's grace!