Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Keeping Secrets in Marriage

Leslie Basham: As a single woman just out of high school Mal Loveing received some frightening news.

Maryann Loveing:
So what fear does is it paralyzes you. I became just paralyzed and believed that the only answer to my situation was to have an abortion.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Happy 4th of July.

If you have young kids, you may want to get them busy somewhere away from the radio, then come back for an important conversation. A lot of women are afraid that past sin disqualifies them from teaching purity to their children. Well, over the next few days you will be encouraged to invest in the next generation no matter what your past looks like. Here is Nancy to help us get going.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, I am so glad to welcome a longtime friend into the studio with me today here at Revive Our Hearts. Mal Loveingthat’s L-O-V-E-I-N-G. We have served in the same ministry, Life Action Ministries, for, well I have been here for over 30 years. Mal, how long have you and Ryan been here?

Maryann: It will be 15 years in November.

Nancy: Wow, and I was involved in the whole process when you all first came to the ministry.

Maryann: That’s right.

Nancy: You were wanting to serve the Lord together as a couple. The Lord brought you here, and for most of those years you all have been traveling on the road. For people who don’t know what a Life Action team does, tell them just in a nutshell what you all do with the ministry.

Maryann: We head up the Thirst Team, the Thirst Conference Team. We will go into a church for a four day conference. My husband Ryan will preach on Sunday morning, Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night, and then Thursday we pack up. We pack up our trailer and move to the next city that we are to be in and the next church, and we start all over again.

It has been an amazing journey to see God transform lives and work in the hearts of His people. I have a real heart for moms and women in the churches. I do host a ladies luncheon at each church and that has been just a joy to see God work in their hearts and draw them into a deeper intimacy with Him as we teach and share. So it has been very exciting.

Nancy: And it is not just you and Ryan traveling. You travel in a fifth wheel trailer. Some people think those are recreational vehicles. But not for you, that is your home.

Maryann: That’s right, for nine months out of the year.

Nancy: Nine months out of the year. And then you have your children traveling with you. Tell us a little about how many children you have and what are their age ranges.

Maryann: We have six children. They have traveled with us for the past eight years. We have four girls, two boys, that travel with us, and they love what we do.

Nancy: Your kids have a real heart for ministry because they have seen you and Ryan love ministry.

Maryann: It is a family ministry.

Nancy: And then you travel with a team also. They don’t live in the trailer with you, but a team of of college age young people who are a part of that team. They do music and children’s clubs and some behind-the-scenes responsibilities, all for the heart, which is what our whole ministry is about, of helping God’s people experience genuine revival. And as you go into these churches each week virtually during those nine months, you are in a different church.

Maryann: Yes.

Nancy: Do you find as you are sharing with the women that they are . . . are they hungry? Are they open? Are they responsive to that kind of message?

Maryann: They are. It comes out. Each night we have them fill out prayer cards, and it comes out in the prayer cards where they are wanting to be discipled, desiring a deeper walk with the Lord, recognizing areas of sin in their lives that they know is not pleasing to the Lord and not honoring to the Lord. It takes us being real which then helps them to be real and actually say, “Yes, this is an area of sin in my life. I need to deal with this.”

Nancy: I think one of the things that makes you and Ryan so effective, and one of the real key marks in this ministry, is that you do share out of your own lives. You don’t come to the church to tell people about just a program or a list of things they need to do, but you are illustrating out of your own lives as you minister to these people.

As you share with the women, I know that you often share your personal testimony because where you are today in your relationship with the Lord. As a mom of six children and ministering to women, that is way far from where you were at one point. The Lord has done a deep transforming work in your life. Some of that I have seen in the 15 years I have known you. But really your story goes back to long before we even met.

You were in town, and I was in town, and I asked if you could come into the studio and just share your testimony. Share your journey with us. Then we want to talk with a couple of your daughters, your two oldest children, about how what God has done in your life has impacted theirs.

But before I introduce Margo and Shawna in this series, let’s just walk back to your teenage years. Tell us a little bit about the home you grew up in and your relationship with the Lord back as a high school student, as a teenager.

Maryann: Well, I did grow up in a Christian home. I had a woman tell me in a conference just several months ago, she said “I had a drug problem growing up.” She said, “I was drug to church every Sunday, every Wednesday, every time the doors were open.” And I had to agree with her that . . .

Nancy: You had a drug problem?

Maryann: I did, too. My parents were godly parents, and yet as I got into my teen years, I was very affected in a negative way by my friends and my environment. I didn’t have a lot of godly friends. I was in a public school setting, and Scripture is true, Nancy, “Bad company corrupts good behavior” (1 Cor. 15:33).

Nancy: Were these girl friends? Guy friends?

Maryann: Both.

Nancy: And what were their values? How were you influenced by them?

Maryann: In the area of relationships. Everyone was dating. In the area of clothing and what to wear. Immodesty was rampant, of course. And I didn’t have any friends that had a deep heart for God or a relationship with the Lord. I am not sure I understood at that point in my life, my teenage years, what that really meant or looked like.

So as I got into my high school years and began expanding my friendships and different things, I became involved in the dating process. And I know for myself, I wasn’t ready for relationships at the age. I began having relationships with the opposite sex, with young boys.

Nancy: Were you boy crazy?

Maryann: Of course. Of course. All my friends were boy crazy.

Nancy: And did you feel this need for a guy, to have a guy, and to be fulfilled by a guy?

Maryann: Yes. Absolutely. You were odd if you weren’t in a relationship, or if you weren’t dating, or if you weren’t out there on Saturday night.

Nancy: Did you feel like there were certain things you needed to do in order to get a guy?

Maryann: Absolutely.

Nancy: And what did that include?

Maryann: That is where I got my value. That is where I felt valued was when I felt desired.

Nancy:
And what did you have to do to feel desired?

Maryann:
Flirt. Dress inappropriately. I think of things that I did, or places that I went, or things that I said that I would absolutely not want my girls doing as teenage girls. And yet I look back and I think, there were things that I did and places that I went that I shouldn’t have been.

Nancy:
Did you have anybody speaking into your life challenging that or modeling differently?

Maryann: I didn’t. You know, I didn’t. I have had to work through resentment in my own heart toward my parents because we didn’t talk about any of that. We didn’t talk about:

  • What does it mean to dress modestly?
  • How do you guard your heart?
  • How do you walk in purity?
  • How does God see you as a godly woman?

I didn’t have anyone speaking those truths into my life, and I think there was a great void there for me.

Nancy:
Did your parents know where you were and what you were doing?

Maryann: They didn’t. If they did, they didn’t let me know that they knew. It was all hidden. I was at church on Sunday morning and Sunday night and Wednesday night, but during the week at school or on the weekends I was living a different life. It was very hypocritical, and I knew the truth. I knew the Scriptures in my head, Nancy, but they were not in my heart. I didn’t have that personal walk with the Lord that I so needed at that season of my life.

Nancy:
So during your teenage years you ended up in a relationship that as you look
back caused a lot of regret.

Maryann: Yes.

Nancy: Tell us how and when that relationship started.

Maryann: Well, I was right out of high school, and I began dating a pastor’s son. That relationship turned into a physical relationship.

Nancy: As you think back on that, was there guilt involved in that? Did it bother you? Or was it just the way things were going?

Maryann: It was the way things were going. I had already been physically active for several years. Sexually active. And you know the power of sin lies in the secrecy, and no one in my family knew. We didn’t talk about these things.

I have a sister, and we didn’t talk about the relationships we were in. I was never questioned. “Where do you think this relationship is going? What do you think his intentions are?” Those kind of questions were never asked. So I suppose I never really thought about it. I just continued on in that lifestyle.

It was part of my lifestyle. The partying, the going out on the weekends, and I ended up getting pregnant. Because we didn’t talk as a family, I didn’t know who to talk to. I didn’t know who to go to. So I determined that I needed to end the pregnancy.

Surely I couldn’t go to my mom and dad because they would not understand. I don’t remember ever a time that they came and had shared a sin issue with me. “Honey,” you know, “I have done this. Would you please forgive me?” That didn’t happen in our home. So because we didn’t have that emotional connection, we were not spiritually connected; I didn’t feel as though I could go to them. And so what fear does is it paralyzes you. I became paralyzed and believed that the only answer to my situation was to have an abortion.

Nancy: So you really felt that there was not another option.

Maryann: Correct. Right.

Nancy: And that the consequences of not having the abortion would be worse than the . . .

Maryann: Would be devastating.

Nancy: . . . consequences of having it. Did you tell your boyfriend that was what you were going to do?

Maryann: Yes. He drove me to the clinic.

Nancy: So you walked in determined. Your course was set. That was what you were going to do.

Maryann: Yes.

Nancy: And what happened when you went in?

Maryann: It was very simple. They checked me in and within two hours, or three hours, I was finished and driving homeno counseling, no questioning.

Nancy:
Was it a traumatic experience for you at that point?

Maryann: At that point it was not. When I saw my first daughter on an ultrasound at 12 weeks, that is when it became traumatic for me.

Nancy:
This is years later after you were married and expecting your first child.

Maryann: This is 11 years later.

Nancy: So at the time, go back to your teenage years, you had gotten pregnant, you have had this abortion. At that point . . . You know you hear about some post-abortion syndrome and people just being really guilt ridden or emotionally devastated. You didn’t experience any of that at the time?

Maryann: Not at that time. I will say that I continued in a downward spiral. I did feel the guilt. I was very self-condemning but not to the point of depression to where it interrupted my daily routine. But I did continue in that downward spiral of not living in moral excellence, and drinking, and being with the wrong crowd, until I was about 25 years of age.

I was working in a company and was being transferred to Sarasota, FL. The Lord had begun to work in my heart already. He had begun bringing back to my mind all the verses that I had learned as a child. The power of the cross. The power of forgiveness. And I began to recognize that God was drawing my heart back to Him, and He began showing me the severity of where I was.

The road that I was on was not where He wanted me to be. I knew I was in outright disobedience to His Word, and the Lord just spoke to me through His Word as I read His Word. I pulled my Bible off the shelf and blew off the dust. He began to speak to me and the truths began moving from my head to my heart. And He began showing me the foolishness of my life.

Nancy:
You were still single at this time?

Maryann: I was. I truly desired to be married and have a family. That was a strong desire in my life. And I remember when I moved to Florida, I was driving there and I was praying, “Lord, I am surrendering this whole area of relationship to you because I have made a complete mess of it, and I know that I cannot be in control of this. And I surrender it to you Lord. If I am ever to be married, it will be in Your time with the man that You so choose.” And I was totally at that point trusting God.

Nancy: So your heart had really turned to the Lord.

Maryann: Yes.

Nancy: But you didn’t know what He had ahead for you.

Maryann: Exactly.

Nancy: As your heart had turned to the Lord, had you gone back and dealt with the immorality, with the abortion? How had you processed that spiritually?

Maryann: Well, the Lord gave me a verse that I camped on for several years. It's where David said, “Thou hast turned my morning into dancing. Thou hast removed my sack cloth and clothed me with joy that my heart may sing to You and not be silent.” He said, “Oh Lord my God I will give You thanks forever” (Ps. 30:11-12 paraphrased).

I determined in my heart that I was going to allow God to heal me. And another verse that He shared with me is the verse that says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” I didn’t like that second one as much as I liked the first verse.

Nancy: Yeah, right.

Maryann: Because.

Nancy: We want joy, but we are not sure we want to open up our hearts to others.

Maryann: To confess it.

Nancy: Did you confess it?

Maryann: After I moved to Florida, within the first month I met my husband. Not knowing at that point that he was going to be my husband. But you know it was two years into our marriage before I ever shared it with Ryan.

Nancy: Shared about the past immorality?

Maryann: Exactly.

Nancy: He didn’t know that when you got married?

Maryann: He did know that I had been sexually immoral, yes. But I did not tell him about the abortion.

Nancy: The pregnancy or the abortion.

Maryann: Correct.

Nancy: And what prompted you two years into your marriage to share that with him?

Maryann: The Lord showed me through His Word, as I was reading the verse that, “The two shall become one” (Gen. 2:24). I knew in my heart that we could not experience the oneness that God wanted in our marriage if I wasn’t going to come completely open and share the truth.

Scripture says, “Speak truthfully with all men” (Eph. 4:25 paraphrased). And I had not done that. And I think oneness is a word we have lost in our culture. We don’t understand what that means. But there was this secret that I was hiding, and so I was on guard at pro-life walks, and on Mother’s Day when there was the tears coming down my cheek, I would quickly wipe it away so Ryan wouldn’t see it.

I didn’t want to hide it any longer. I knew that wasn’t God’s will for me, so I shared it with him. We were driving across the state of Florida one evening, and I just began to cry. He asked what I needed to share, and I shared it with him. And God’s grace just filled that car, and Ryan, of course, forgave me. Then he was able, it opened the door of his heart for him to share with me some areas that he had not been truthful about.

So it really developed a deeper oneness in our marriage to where at that point we knew everything about each other. There were no secrets. It was very refreshing, and I felt so free. There was total freedom in my spirit because I didn’t have to hide it any longer.

Nancy:
As you said the bondage often is in the secrecy. The not being willing to, as someone has said, “Live with the roof off toward God and the walls down toward other people.” And I think so many people are living with secrets.

Maryann: Absolutely.

Nancy: With barriers between them and God. And, of course, God knows it all. But between themselves and others and within marriages. Do you find that this is a common thing? That there are secrets that have never come to light within the marriage?

Maryann:
Yes. I won’t say in every church that I am in I hear it from women, but in many of the churches. I will have women come to me and say “I could never tell my husband.”

Nancy: And what do you say to them?

Maryann: I encourage them to go to the Word and ask the Lord what He would want them to do. What He would desire. I share with them about the oneness that God wants them to have as husband and wife. Not only between husband and wife but I knew that I could not reach out and help other women if I wasn’t willing to share it with my husband first.

And so we have women in our churches that are holding these secrets inside of them and burying it. They have so much opportunity to share with other women, but they are unwilling to because of fear. It is fear. It is pride. My husband said to me one day, “Honey, I know why you won’t share.” He said, “It is pride in your life.” And you know we don’t always like being teachable.

Nancy: Your husband is pretty direct isn’t he?

Maryann: He is. But I am determined to remain teachable.

Nancy: Good for you.

Maryann: And I have said, “God, you can use him. It is okay.”

Nancy: So as you have shared your testimony with women in churches, what kind of response have you had?

Maryann: Oh, they come up and just thank me for being so authentic. And just, “Thank you for sharing your story,” and “Thank you for being real.”

Nancy: Do a lot of them come up and tell you that they have a story that they have not shared with others.

Maryann: Yes. There are many that come up to me and say, “Thank you for sharing. I have a friend here,” or “I shared with my husband last year, and I feel so free, and God is using me now.” This just encourages me that this is a great ministry that we need in our churches today. Just women being open and honest.

Nancy: And Mal, it has been such a joy to see how God has used and is using you as you are sharing out of your journey, out of your life, authentically. Not hiding, not covering, not pretending to be something that you aren’t. But saying, “This is where God found me, and this is the journey He has had me on, and this is the fruit of repentance in my life.” And how He is making you fruitful in the lives of thousands of women across the country as you and your family are ministering together.

Now, the story doesn’t end there. But we are out of time, and we are going to pick up on the next Revive Our Hearts. But I want to just take a moment to say that I know that we have many, many women listening to us today who could say, “That’s my story.”

Maryann: Yes.

Nancy: And they are somewhere in that journey that you have been on, but perhaps still covering; still hiding; still not really bringing their past into the light. Say a word to those women.

Maryann: Well I want to encourage them that that is why Jesus came, to redeem His people. And just through the power of the cross, the redemptive nature of the cross, the forgiveness that is extended to us at the cross, we need to keep our eyes focused on Him. That is where the power to live as we should live comes from.

If we don’t feel love, if we don’t feel cared for where we are, if we have that shame of a past abortion or a divorce or anything, the power of the cross is there for us to be renewed. And recognize that Christ’s blood is enough for us to experience forgiveness and a renewed joy.

Nancy:
And that joy comes through what John calls, in the first epistle of John, “Walking in the light.” So many are walking in the darkness, trying to cover, trying to not be found out. They don’t want their husband, or their kids, or their friends, or anybody to find out. “They might think worse of me if they really knew my story.” So they live in bondage to that secrecy and that shame. But John says, 1 John, 1:7, “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.” That is how you get close to God.

Maryann:
That is right.

Nancy: By walking where He is walking. And where is He walking? It is in the light, not in the darkness.

Maryann: That is right.

Nancy: Not in the darkness. And the blood of Jesus, His son, cleanses us from all our sin.

Maryann: Right.

Nancy: I believe there are many listeners, perhaps you have been listening to Revive Our Hearts for months or years, but you have not yet come out into the light. And God will show you, first come out into the light with the Lord. Be honest with Him, confess, repent, call sin what He calls sin, and then come into the light where needed. Perhaps with your husband, or your parents, or your children.

And believe God to forgive your sin because of what Christ has done on the cross and to lead you to a place of great joy and freedom.

Leslie:
Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Mal Loveing about the freedom that comes from confessing sin and enjoying full forgiveness. Over the next couple of days we will hear how Mal is speaking to young women out of her experience. Pointing them toward purity.

No matter what your background I hope you will teach the young ladies around you to embrace purity. We would like to send you some tools that will help you in the process. The Princess and the Kiss is a picture book that teaches young ladies to embrace purity and look forward to marriage if that is God’s will for them. We would like to send you a copy along with a companion workbook called Life Lessons from the Princess and the Kiss.

We know these resources generate important discussion between moms and daughters. Our staff has seen it take place among many of the families we know. I hope you will use these resources to invest in your daughters, granddaughters, nieces, or the young ladies in your church. There are few things more important to pass along than a commitment to purity. These books will help you do it. We will send you The Princess and the Kiss book set when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts.

Your gift will help us continue broadcasting in your area. Your support is very important as we continue calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. Just ask for The Princess and The Kiss & Life Lessons set when you call with your support. The number is 1-800-569-5959 or make your contribution at ReviveOurHearts.com. [Editor's note—these books are recommended for girls ages 7-12.]

Well, what came to mind when you heard Mal Loveing’s story? You can share those thoughts on the Revive Our Hearts listener blog. Mal Loveing is participating this week so you can ask her a question or tell her how the story affected you. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, scroll to the bottom of today’s transcript, and add your comment.

Well, as Mal Loveing’s children got older she needed to know how much to reveal about her past. Would it be wise to tell her teenagers about her abortion? We will hear that part of the story tomorrow. I hope you will be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries. 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.