My Chains Are Gone
Dena Johnson MartinDena Johnson is a former single mom to three amazing kids: Blake, Cole, and Cassie and wife to her high school friend, Roy. She strives to follow Christ each day and to lead her children to do the same. She delights in taking the every day experiences of life and turning them into biblical lessons for her children. Dena's daily prayer is simple: Lord, my life is yours. Live through me. Love through me. Parent through me. Let me decrease that you might increase. Dena is the founder of Dena Johnson Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people find beauty through the brokenness of this life. Her heart's desire is to use her own pain to point others to the power of God who redeems every hurt, every pain. You can contact Dena at Dena@denajohnson.com. You can also find her blog at Dena Johnson Ministries.
- 2016 Jan 27
I'm taking a little break this week...not really by choice. My "thorn in the flesh" has decided to rear it's ugly head this week, and I can't seem to think straight. I promise to tell you more about that later.
I decided to take the opportunity to share the story of my friend, Chris. If you have ever felt like you were in bondage to a sin, please don't miss this story! Chris is living proof that God can free you from anything!
Grace. It’s a word I’ve heard my entire Christian life, but one I didn’t fully comprehend until two years ago. Through my brokenness and the transforming work of the Lord, I now understand what His great grace and mercy mean.
I want to share with you my story. If it can be used to glorify God and to bring hope and comfort to anyone going through the trials of life, so be it. It will be worth the pain.
A couple of quick notes: First, I take no credit for any of the “good” that has happened. God deserves all credit, and to Him be the glory. Second, I am just a “normal” person. I am not a preacher. I do not hold any theology degrees. My prayer is that my story shows you it is possible to make it through the hardest trials, and that we have a God who loves us more than we will ever know. He is simply waiting for us to turn to Him so He can show us His great grace.
My parents divorced when I was 6 years old. After two years of living with my mom, my brother and I moved in with our dad. It was during this time I began to learn about who God is, who His son Jesus is, and what exactly Jesus did for me. At the age of 11, I accepted Jesus as my personal savior. I remember being completely overwhelmed with His love and grace.
As a young adult, I met a beautiful lady at church. After a whirlwind courtship, we married and began to build a family. God blessed us with two amazing children, and for almost 14 years I enjoyed what I felt was a wonderful marriage. From the outside, it looked great. But from the inside, a cancer was growing that would eventually destroy everything.
November 5, 2013 is a day I will never forget. I got home from work, and my wife immediately went downstairs with her phone. I picked up the tablet and there in front of my eyes was evidence of an online sexual affair. I saw the live exchanges taking place. I was in shock. I was speechless. I couldn’t move. My wife was having an affair.
I ran out of the house and stayed away that night. I was in shock, not sure where to go or what to do. I called my dad, but he and my stepmom were four hours away. I found a quiet place, and I fell to my knees and cried out to God. I had no idea what to say, what to do, what would happen. But it was at that moment, as I felt the worst emotional pain possible, that I heard a voice whisper words that would transform my life:
I am here. I have always been here. I will not leave you. I have allowed this to happen for a reason. And son, I love you. I want you back. You need to trust me. I need to take you through a valley so I can bring you back to me. You need to understand you have not been faithful to your wife.”
I hadn’t been faithful? My wife was having an affair, and God was telling me that I hadn’t been faithful? The words shook me to my core. I had done my best to be a good husband. I did my best to provide a good life for my wife and my kids. I worked hard every day. How had I been unfaithful?
Somehow, deep within my heart, I knew my heart had never been fully hers. It had been a slave to pornography for many, many years. Pornography had a grip on me, a chain that kept me in bondage since I was 16 years old. And it had destroyed me.
I didn’t know how to break the chains, but I knew God was with me.
Despite my encounter with God, I was still numb. But God was moving. I was determined to fight for my marriage, to do everything I could to fix the mess I had made. I found a Christian counselor, and admitted I was addicted to pornography. I acknowledged my weakness, my sin, my dark behavior.
My counselor helped me understand the deep wounds I suffered in my childhood, wounds of sexual abuse and abandonment. He helped me submit it all to God, laying it at the foot of the cross. As I surrendered to God, I literally felt the weight of my sin, the weight of the bondage, being lifted away. The shackles were broken, and God rescued me by his great grace.
I wish I could say fighting my addiction turned the tide and my wife and I reconciled. I wish I could say she saw that other men were not the answer. I wish I could say she turned her heart back toward God. I wish I could say she realized the pain our boys would go through if she went through with divorce. But I can’t.
It’s been said that it takes two people to divorce. That’s not true at all. It only takes one. And sometimes, one person decides it’s just not worth it to fight for the marriage and he/she would rather try something else. God gave us free will. He allows us to make our own choices, even if it goes against His will. My wife made her choice, and it was divorce.
Even though I didn’t want any of this, I am at peace. I have seen God’s hand, his grace and mercy over every area of my life. I’ve experienced a newness in my relationship with God, and intimacy I never knew could exist. I delight in God’s word, in spending time with my heavenly Father.
Despite the pain and devastation, God has used the bitterness of divorce to transform me into his image, to break the chains of a pornography addiction. Freedom is an amazing thing!