This post is the third in my blog series, Broken, about my personal experience with depression.
While I slumbered one fall night, God revealed another obtrusive tree. (Metaphor explained in chapters 1 and 2.) Its gnarled roots burrowed so deeply underground that it crowded and choked healthy trees around it. It became diseased and simply needed to be cut down. Removing this tree would be a painful process, but I found immense comfort in the fact that it was God who exposed it.1
At this point in our marriage, my husband, Dave, and I had more than our fair share of passionate marital disputes. In counseling we painfully dissected the worst of these arguments line-by-line. One of us would typically go home sulking, while the other tried to hide a smug grin, pleased that our spouse had been chastised. To prepare for each of these emotionally heavy encounters, Dave and I would pray together that God would reveal whatever it was that we should be focusing on in counseling. God answered this prayer each time, but on the evening of Sunday, September 27, 2015, God delivered by reaching into not only my dreams but also those of my husband and our friend, Sara Lytle, who is our son’s godmother and one of my spiritual parents.
“For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all. So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.” – Luke 8:17-18
Email October 5, 2015:
“While there were messages for more families than just my own in my dream last week, the one affecting my family has really shaken me up.
“The first part of my dream was that my husband had two sexual partners, the timing of which put into question whether my kids were really mine. That last part is, obviously, not possible, as I clearly remember carrying and giving birth to both kids. Then, in my dream, I woke Dave up saying, ‘It’s now morning. We need to talk about this.’ He didn’t seem keen on waking, but I sternly said that we needed to talk about it now.
“I then went searching for Sara Lytle to process this information, but the flurry of children kept distracting us from actually having a conversation. Somewhere at this gathering was a friend of mine, Elizabeth Oliver, although the details of her are fuzzy. Sara and I later connected outside on someone’s deck (not sure whose home, as the area was heavily wooded and looks nothing like Houston). Then her husband, Aaron, who is our pastor, came up wearing a football jersey and holding football tickets, saying they had to leave. Sara apologized for not being able to talk.
“As they were leaving, I saw another friend and her husband getting into their car. At her feet was a box of medical syringes, which turned out to be a fertility treatment. I thought it was odd because that particular couple appears to be quite fertile—my friend gave birth to two children in 13 months. That same friend had previously told me her OB said she was at risk for having a stroke and could die if she were to get pregnant again, so in my dream I chastised her and asked why. She answered, ‘It’s already been done.’ Then I woke up.
The Next Morning
“I woke my husband at 4 a.m. and asked him what I thought was a random question I already knew the answer to, but I felt led to ask—and ask in precise language: ‘Have you had sex with anyone besides me?’ He responded with something to the effect of, ‘Only you,’ and went back to sleep.
“What I didn’t know at the time was that his answer was a lie, and he had maintained that lie for nearly a decade. At the exact same time I was dreaming, Dave lay next to me dreaming that we ran into this other woman with her family at a BBQ joint and that he was outed. On the same night that Dave and I had divinely inspired dreams, Sara had a dream that Dave was being impulsive and backed our truck into her family’s newly renovated home.
“The morning after these three dreams Dave called Pastor Aaron to ask if there is ever a time when it’s best to keep certain information from your spouse if it will cause more hurt than will be helpful. Dave proceeded to confess to Aaron—the first person he’d ever told about this—and ultimately decided to tell me at our counseling appointment later that morning. So at our counseling appointment, my husband confessed to sleeping with another woman nine years ago—when he was in law school and we were dating—as well as to a handful of other drunken acts of promiscuity during that time period.
The Ensuing Week
“Just as our counselor warned us, over the next few days Dave started remembering more of these drunken indiscretions where he chased after other women during college and law school. He told me about each one as he remembered. His infidelity occurred during seven of the nine years we dated before getting married. He stopped this behavior at the time he decided he was going to propose, and has been physically faithful throughout our marriage, although he admits to treating me poorly the better part of our marriage. We’re currently in round two of counseling, the first being about a year before our son was born. The second came about after the Vanderwaters were counseling us for several months; they felt we reached a point where a licensed therapist would be more helpful in digging up deeper issues.
“I’m not sure I can fully put into words how I feel about my husband’s infidelity and his keeping it a secret for nearly a decade, but as you can imagine, I am angry, hurt and confused. I’m left wondering if our marriage is based on a lie. Why didn’t he confess before we got married? If he had, I would have had a choice to forgive him and go into our marriage with a more pure relationship. We now have two kids and have been married for seven years, so I feel a little trapped because that choice was taken from me. I even asked Sara yesterday if infidelity before marriage counted as an acceptable reason for divorce in God’s eyes. I don’t want to divorce my husband, but part of me wants to know if I have that choice. Was I just his leftovers, and that’s why he wanted to marry me—because I stuck around so long? (We started dating in high school when I was a sophomore at age 15, and he was a senior at age 17. We dated for nine years prior to marrying.) Did he ever really love me? Does he really love me now? How can I trust him if he goes on a business trip in the future? Many other thoughts are floating around in my head, but I think this gives you an idea of the more negative thoughts.
“Surprisingly for me though, I have been incredibly calm this entire first week, although I’ve certainly had my moments of being overwhelmed with anger. Even in those moments, and only because of God, I’ve shown incredible patience with my husband, even consoling him as he’s processing these deeply buried truths. I know my husband has changed in the nine years since then, and he’s meeting separately with our marriage counselor to explore why he did this, so he can deal with it, repent further as necessary and be the person God wants him to be in the future. I am finding solace in the fact that God is present in this storm. He reached down into my dreams, warned me, which softened the blow, and used me to convict my husband.
“God is clearing out the thorns and thistle in the LeFevre house to prepare us for something greater. This is God’s perfect timing. I need to trust in Him and find my fulfillment and joy in God and not in my spouse. Because if I did the latter, my world would have just shattered.”
So what was God saying to me in this dream?
God Is Omniscient
God has the master plan and is all-knowing. God wanted me to know that He is with me in this season of upheaval and dramatic pruning by revealing not only sins in my husband’s past, but also insight to share with others in my faith family. To ensure that I didn’t miss this message, God delivered it to three different people at the exact same time. While the circumstances of each dream were uniquely designed for each person, the messages fit together like a key and lock, opening a new realm of enlightenment.
- Shortly after realizing my dream was prophetic, I called the friend who appeared at the end of my dream to tell her what transpired in case her role in the dream resonated with something in her life. It turned out that she was having a miscarriage and didn’t know she was pregnant. This also prompted her husband to get the vasectomy he was dreading, so that they would not be putting her life in jeopardy should she become pregnant again.
- While we were in the counseling appointment where my husband revealed his nearly decade-old sin, I received a text from another friend, Elizabeth, who was in a huddle3 I led. Elizabeth and I ended up getting together for lunch to discuss questions she had about leading others.
- I believe God placed Sara in my dream to show me that she didn’t have the capacity to hand-hold me through this season. She had started a new job that fall and was undergoing a major renovation on her century-old home. God was telling me that, in addition to Sara, I needed to reach out to other women I trusted to process all of this.
There’s a Time for War, and a Time for Peace
The peace that I experienced directly following this outpouring of truth was a miracle in and of itself because when it comes to stress responses—think fight, flight or freeze—I’m feisty. For instance, we still have a red wine stain on the wall on my husband’s side of the bathroom because I hurled the contents of my glass of red wine (not the glass, just the liquid) on Dave during an argument. Not my finest moment. Sorry, hon’.
During the aforementioned period of divinely inspired calm, God gave me wisdom I couldn’t have had without Him, as I comforted my husband by reminding him that God used countless people in spite of their brokenness. Abraham got out in front of God’s promise for a child in old age by sleeping with a mistress, yet God redeemed the situation and gave him a legitimate son through his elderly wife. Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, denied Jesus three times leading up to His crucifixion. Yet God still speaks through two books of the Bible that Peter wrote. King David, the beloved turned adulterer, won many battles—including his famous encounter with the giant, Goliath, when David was only a boy—because He followed God. God worked through each of them to carry out His perfect will even if there was pain in the plan.
The Truth Sets You Free
You’re likely familiar with the adage “ignorance is bliss.” I used to think that this was true, and so did my husband, as it was one of the reasons he kept his infidelity a secret from me for such a long time—so it didn’t ruin the fairy tale I had in my head about our relationship. But now that everything that was concealed has been brought to light, my husband and I are in a better place and are happier now than we have ever been. It’s not always hearts and flowers in the LeFevre home, but it’s exponentially better than it was prior to my diagnosis.
God wanted me to know this truth. He also wants me to love my husband in spite of his brokenness and forgive him.
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” – 1 Peter 1:6-7
Publishing this part of my story is therapeutic—not because I want the satisfaction of dragging my husband’s reputation through the mud. In fact, I’d rather the whole world not know this because he’s a really incredible, loving husband and father, and I don’t want anyone to think less of him. Publishing this is part of my healing process because, hopefully, this will be an opportunity to transform a bad memory into a good one.
My experience, however, is that transformation is not instantaneous. The more transformation that needs to take place, the longer it takes and the more you have to set aside your ideas about who does what, when, where and how. The period of serenity immediately following the outpouring of truth was short-lived—beautiful and incredible while we had it, but short-lived—because a great deal of how I defined myself was wrapped up in something that was just shattered. I am confident that if I am patient and trust God’s plan even when I don’t know what that is, and continually give thanks in the waiting, there will be transformation and abundant blessing.
Chapter 3 Footnotes:
- I did not casually arrive at the conclusion that my dream was from the Lord. I am confident it came from God because I engaged in a process of observation, reflection, prayer, reading Scripture and discussion with members of our faith family. Whenever you feel you’ve heard the Lord’s voice, I encourage you to do the same.
- Original email text edited for clarity in the context of this blog post.
- A huddle is a term coined by Mike Breen for a discipleship and accountability group for church leaders.
Illustration Copyright: Bruniewska