Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Hurting Couple Learns to Thrive: Amanda’s Story

Leslie Basham: Over the last few weeks, we've explored this question with some of our guests. What does it mean to thrive in Christ? Here's Amanda Smith.

Amanda Smith: To really thrive in Christ you really have to walk through suffering with Him. It's not easy and nobody wants to do it. But I have learned in this past year that going through this suffering and going through this trial is where I've really thrived in Christ.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, December 8, 2014.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I'm so glad you could be with us today. If you have young children around you may want to get them busy elsewhere. Some of what you're going to hear today is candid and frank but it's so important as we talk about moral purity and about forgiveness. And remember that you can always listen at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, here at Revive Our Hearts we talk a lot about our desire to help women find freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. In fact, that was the theme of our most recent True Woman Conference in Indianapolis.

While we were there, our team recorded a powerful testimony of God's grace in the life of a woman named Amanda Smith. That's what we're going to hear today. When we look at God's Word we find so many promises that God will be with us in the midst of trials; that He'll give us endurance; that He'll give us the strength to bear up under the pressures He allows to come into our lives.

Sometimes He actually removes us from our difficult circumstances, but not usually. Psalm 55 says: "Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you." It doesn't say He'll remove it. He helps us carry our burdens.

As we'll hear today, that was the case for Amanda Smith. Amanda is married to her husband, Jimmy, and they live in Columbia, South Carolina.

Amanda: I came from a very sinful place when I met my husband. He was sort of like my knight in shining armor when we met—a really incredible, godly man. So when we met, I had never met anyone like him.

Nancy: Amanda left behind a life of partying and began walking with the Lord. She and Jimmy dated for three years, and in 2004, they were married.

Amanda: I got married with some questions. So from about 2004 until 2012 when I attended True Woman, I really was in question a lot of times with my marriage. Like, "Was I really in love with him?" But it was one of those secrets that I sort of lived with inside of myself for a long time.

We were best friends, and we had a great marriage as far as communication, and we did ministry together. He's always been a worship leader, and I've always been a women's leader. So we were just doing life, ministry, work.

Nancy: Amanda looked up to Jimmy. But her secret questions and doubts gradually began to work out into her relationship with him.

Amanda: I felt bad often at times because I wasn't the wife that he deserved. It had been about two years since I had been intimate with Jimmy. I had really been very disobedient in my marriage because it was a selfish thing that the desire wasn't there. So I just continually disobeyed and continually disobeyed.

And so in January of last year, God really began pushing my heart about the whole obedience thing. My marriage was a thorn in my side because I wanted to be the woman that God had called me to be. It was this one little place in my life that I felt like was not connecting.

I feel like that people don't talk about it enough. I feel like people are afraid to talk about sex even though it's a gift from God and it's within marriage. But we need to walk in obedience no matter how hard it is in that area of our marriage because I don't want people to make the mistake I did and withhold and withhold and withhold and then put your marriage in a position to where Satan can get to it.

Nancy: Amanda's first contact with Revive Our Hearts came in 2012 when she attended her first True Woman Conference. That's when she began to recognize the bondage that she was under due to her own sin.

Amanda: When I came to True Woman in 2012 God really just spoke to me. That's when He started working in my heart about freedom.

Nancy: Freedom from sin. Freedom from her own wrong expectations of herself and her husband. And freedom from having to keep her feelings or lack of feelings a secret.

In 2013, Amanda attended a True Woman leadership conference where once again, God was at work.

Amanda: I had shared with a couple of my friends who I knew had walked through difficult seasons—women whose husbands were in ministry, and they were in ministry as well. I just sort of opened up to them about my honest feelings like, "I'm not sure I'm really in love with this man."

I felt God really push me in that area of my life just to talk to a specific friend. "This is how I'm feeling, and I just need to talk to somebody about it." And God really started moving in my heart.

My passion is for women to know that when we walk in the light and we are vulnerable and we don't hide what's really going on in our heart and in our lives, God can free us.

Then I ran into Barb Wilson who wrote the Bible study A Wife of Noble Character. She was at the conference, and I just shared a little bit of my story. She shared with me just a little bit of her suffering and what she had gone through and how God just redeemed her marriage.

So I left that conference thinking and even told Jimmy, my husband, "I really believe that I was at that conference for God to say, 'You're not in a place where you hate your husband. You're not in that place. So I can redeem this marriage. I can change your heart.'"

Nancy: Amanda could tell God was at work preparing her for something though she didn't know what. She told us she began to pour out her heart to God for her marriage. Well, fast forward to Sunday, January 19, 2014. Amanda and Jimmy were at church.

Amanda: On January 19 I was at our church. He was leading worship, and I was sitting with Leslie in the church talking about a friend. He came over to us and said, "I really need to talk to you."

So we went in the prayer room, and he then confessed to me that he had been having an affair. My entire body went cold. I don't know if you've ever experienced that but just your entire body, all the blood just leaves your body.

The second thing he said is, "And she has already told her husband." And when he said her name, I realized this wasn't just a one-night stand or someone I didn't know. It was actually someone who was a very intricate part of my life—my friend—someone in the church. I felt very betrayed. I was in shock. I was in shock because when that's the least thing you expect from someone, I can't even really describe . . . There was literally no emotion.

And then, of course, that shock turned into anger. I was very angry at him. But at the same time I felt just the Holy Spirit wash over me and just awake my heart to remember everything I had just walked through in the last eight or nine months how He had prepared me. Even though there were no words or I wasn't formulating it into words at that time, I knew that God was right there in that room.

Nancy: Needless to say, Jimmy and Amanda had a lot to work through. Jimmy stepped down from his leadership role in their church. There was a public confession in the church newsletter. There was lots of counseling. Amanda describes the time following her husband's confession with terms that could sound contradictory.

Amanda: Suffering. Joy. Miracles. Just the most amazing time of my life. It's the most awful story, but it's the most beautiful story because God completely changed my heart for my husband—I mean completely.

I had Jimmy on a pedestal where he was somewhere where there was no way he could have lived up to where I had him. God saw that he needed to be knocked down from that pedestal and allowed this awful thing in our life to break both of us. God immediately, almost the very next day, started speaking to my heart and ministering to my heart as to why it happened.

Although I don't take the blame for that decision being made, I do take the responsibility of leading him down a path where he was very vulnerable to Satan. And it was something that crept in very, very slowly.

Nancy: Someone has famously said, "Sin would have fewer takers if its consequences were immediate." Well, conversely, as sin often involves a gradual descent before bearing its ugly fruit, so repentance, too, often involves a process.

It can take time to turn from sin to Jesus. That's what progressive sanctification is all about. And that process happens as the Holy Spirit begins to work the Word of God into the lives of His children.

Amanda: About a month after I got the news, Jimmy and I went through Seeking Him together. I have to tell you that that truly is the most incredible Bible study ever. I've done so many Bible studies. And that Seeking Him study really just changed our life. It changed Jimmy's life, too, because men just really a lot of times don't do a lot of Bible studies and so it was just such an eye-opening experience.

Nancy: Then, for Amanda there was the whole issue of forgiving the other woman with whom her husband had been unfaithful.

Amanda: About three weeks after I found out, I went over to her house. I saw her and just embraced her and said, "I want you to know that I love you as my Christian sister, and I forgive you."

I had two more encounters with her. I felt like that that was just a layer that the Lord was peeling away because I knew that I could not allow a root of bitterness or unforgiveness to take place in my heart.

About two months later I ran into her, and I was able to talk with her again. She was very much in bondage and has been very depressed. I felt like the Lord put her in my life to really help her and be that light for her.

When I saw her that day, I just had a chance to say to her, "Listen, Satan, used you and him as pawns to try to destroy two marriages. But this is not our story." I just really wanted to speak life to her in that moment, and I felt a few more chains fall off at that second meeting.

The last encounter that I had with her was in August. I spent two hours over at her house simply to share that, "This is not our story. Your story doesn't end as the 'adulterous woman.' God wants to use this story."

Nancy: Anyone who has experienced betrayal or the pain of infidelity in marriage knows that it really takes something supernatural to go to those kinds of lengths in forgiving. There's nothing "normal" about Amanda's story, but that's because there's nothing normal about God.

This past September, Amanda and Jimmy took another beautiful step in their marriage.

Amanda: On September 13 we renewed our wedding vows on our ten year anniversary. God has just completely redeemed our marriage. I know to some people it seems very quick. But we have walked through with an amazing counselor and with our Savior, and He has just done a miraculous work. There is no other way to say it. I mean, He redeemed everything.

God just, He allowed me to have that freedom through this entire suffering which sounds weird, suffering and freedom. But I wouldn't trade this season of suffering for a thousand comfortable seasons just because of that freedom and that joy and that peace and that personal experience with Christ that I've had.

I think to really thrive in Christ you really have to walk through suffering with Him. It's not easy and nobody wants to do it. But I have learned in this past year that going through this suffering and going through this trial is where I've really thrived in Christ.

He has shown me more who He is. When you're going through something like that you are so drawn to Him, to His Word. And when you are drawn so much to His Word and to who Christ is in the midst of suffering, you just blossom. You just flourish. You just thrive so much more because you are so needy.

So I think that having just walked through that season, I feel like I have just thrived in Christ so much more than I ever have in my whole walk with Him in the past twelve years.

Nancy: Well, I don't know where the Lord may find you as you've been listening to Amanda's story. You may feel that she's just told your story. Maybe you relate to a lot of the specifics of what she went through. Or maybe your story is quite different, but you know that you're not thriving in your marriage or thriving in your relationship with Christ.

I hope that as you've listened to Amanda you've been encouraged to know that there really is hope—not just that you can survive in your circumstances, but that through Christ you really can thrive.

I think that Amanda's story highlights some really important principles for all of us in whatever circumstances God finds us. For example, as you think about the deepest concerns in your life, whether it's in your marriage or some other situation, are you trying to fix those things yourself, relying on your own strength, your own wisdom, your own resources?

Or are you crying out to the Lord saying, "Lord, help! I can't manage this. I can't do this without You." The Lord says that He hears the cry of those who fear Him. He rescues them. He comes to their aid. He pours out grace on those who acknowledge their need for Him.

And then, perhaps the Lord has spoken to you about the need for community—to open up to another trusted believer, a mature believer who can help you process what it is that you're walking through. Even as Amanda needed to share her struggle with others who could help her get God's perspective on her situation.

And then, if you're married and you're experiencing what Amanda did with a lack of oneness with her husband, you may want to ask the Lord if there are any ways that you may be contributing to the breakdown in that relationship.

Now, Amanda's husband was responsible—100% responsible for his own sin. And that sin was destructive. It was horrible. But you may want to ask as a wife if there's any way that you've been contributing to your husband experiencing greater temptation. And if so, run to Christ. Run to the cross and confess your sin and find God's mercy and grace to help you.

And finally, there's this theme of forgiveness that runs through Amanda's story. Is there someone you need to forgive? Does someone perhaps come to mind as you hear this story? Someone who's hurt you? Someone who's wounded you deeply?

Listen, God doesn't hold you responsible for what others have done to you. But by His grace, you can choose to forgive those who have sinned against you. And to forgive means to relinquish the right to punish, to make them pay back.

As you consider the amazing grace and the forgiveness that God has shown you through Jesus Christ, then you'll have what you need to be able to forgive that person who has hurt you so deeply.

And so, Lord, right now, I lift up to You any listener who maybe has been touched by this story and You're dealing with their heart. I pray that You would extend the helping, healing hand of Jesus into that hurting life. Give grace; give mercy; give the ability to forgive as we have been forgiven. I pray that You would restore hearts, restore lives, restore marriages for Jesus' sake, amen.

You know, Amanda talked earlier about growing and thriving even in the midst of terrible suffering. At Revive Our Hearts, our mission is to help women thrive in Christ. I'm so thankful that the Lord allowed us to have a part in Amanda's story.

Amanda: Hearing Nancy talk about how to get through suffering, who God is, and why we go through the things that we go through. Even the message today at True Woman was all about why God allows us to go through these horrible things.

I think you hear about these messages, but once you go through a trial and you hear those messages again, you really understand what it's all about. I feel like Revive Our Hearts and Nancy and the staff and Leslie, just are a huge part of my life, they just get it. I feel like this ministry is just a whole another level, because they really go deep with God. I feel like it's not "surfacy."

And so when you're going through a trial like this and you hear a show of Revive Our Hearts or you read a blog of Revive Our Hearts, it really makes a difference because it's just so solid. I think one huge thing with Revive Our Hearts was when I was writing my marriage vows. When we renewed our vows, I wanted to write them this time. Because when we got married, I almost was going through the motions even though I loved Jimmy. But I was really just going through the motions.

But now I really understood what a covenant was. And to be honest with you, when I was praying about, "Lord, what would You have me say in these vows?" I got an email. It was one of the radio shows that Revive Our Hearts did with a couple that was talking about their marriage and what marriage really looked like.

And most of my vows that I wrote came from this two-part series on marriage because it really put to words what I wanted to say and how I wanted to live out my life in my marriage this time.

I've been a True Woman leader, and I've led women through True Woman 101, and we're doing Lies Women Believe right now. I can't tell you just how all of those things, how they built my house on that rock for when that storm came. So Revive Our Hearts has been a huge part of my life before, during, and now after this whole trial.

Nancy: To which we can only say, "To God be the glory, great things He has done!" Because, you see, it's not about us at all. It's all about Him. It's about Christ and what He is doing to redeem and change lives.

Now, if you've been a part of supporting Revive Our Hearts, do you realize that you are a part of Amanda's story? Through the support of friends like you, we've been able to provide daily teaching in God's Word that helped her keep her perspective on suffering when she needed it the most.

We were able to help her understand what the Bible teaches about marriage and the marriage vows. And it's your support that's enabled our staff to encourage Amanda and other women's ministry leaders one on one and through our leader's training events. Your support helps us encourage leaders. And that investment has been multiplied as those leaders teach other women in their churches.

Thanks to support that was given to Revive Our Hearts last December, we've been able to minister to people like Amanda throughout the course of 2014. Over 40% of the donations that we need for the entire year typically arrives during the month of December.

So now, as we come to the end of 2014, your gift this month will make a huge difference in women's lives in the year ahead. And this year, that's particularly important because donations have been lower than usual during the last several months. We need to make up that shortfall and see strong giving here in December so that we don't have to scale back our current levels of ministry in the months ahead.

There's so many more "Amanda's" out there who desperately need to hear the truth of God's Word that will help them walk through practical struggles they're facing in their lives. So please consider what you can give to help Revive Our Hearts reach those women.

When you give between now and December 31, your gift will be doubled by some friends of the ministry who are committed to helping women thrive in Christ. You can make your donation by calling us at 1–800–569–5959, or just visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. Today, we've seen how the Lord walked with Amanda Smith through major storms of life. Tomorrow we'll pick that theme back up. Nancy will teach from Psalm 107 on God's faithfulness in times of trouble. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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