Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Today on Revive Our Hearts our topic is important, timely, and serious, but it is not for young children. If you have young ones around you can make appropriate arrangements. Dean Petersen’s wife had committed adultery. How did he cope?
 

Dean Petersen: When she started saying she still loved this other guy, I was devastated, but I knew that I had to get my life right with God. That was the most important thing. I couldn’t worry about what she was doing in her life.
 

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, November 15, 2011.
 

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Yesterday we began hearing the story of Dean and Julie Petersen. If you missed that first installment, you can pick it up by going to ReviveOurHearts.com.

As we focus on Dean and Julie's story this week, you’re going to find a lot of hope and comfort in God’s power to help you love even in a difficult marriage. When we left off yesterday, Dean had just caught his wife and his pastor together, and he had a choice to make.

Dean: The moment that I was going to take this guy’s life was the moment that I could not do that. There was a force that kept me from doing that. Now as I look back I know there is a God, and I know that He has angels there doing a lot of His work because I could not do this. It was like somebody was holding me back, so I left. I was gone for at least 20 minutes and I was driving down the road . . .

Nancy: . . . on your way to the lawyer, on your way to show the pictures to the elders of the church.

Dean: Yes, and as I was driving down the road, I know this certain spot, I pulled to the side of the road and I started to cry like a baby. I said, “You know what Lord? If there is a Lord, if you are real, I screwed up my life. My life is messed up. I have no wife that I thought that I loved, that loved me. She is now with another guy, a pastor of all people. I don’t know what to do.” So I just cried out, if there really is a God, if You really are real, show me what you want to do!

At that point I was just kind of laying over the steering wheel, and I had my eyes closed in prayer. I felt like I was falling down a shaft and this shaft was getting colder, damper, and darker. I was down to the bottom. I realized that when you get to the bottom of your life, you can’t go anymore but to look up, that is when I realized, “God if you really are real, show me, help me, I need you! I am a broken man now. I have nothing.”

All of a sudden I could see this “light.” I remember coming back out of this hole in the ground, so to speak, and it was getting brighter and warmer,  and then I was out. I turned my car around.

Julie Petersen: And he came back to the house all calm.

Nancy: Not the way he had left.

Dean: I had that warm feeling in me. Some people don’t have this experience and some people get these experiences. I know the day I was born, October 1989.

Nancy: It really is the Lord that you had encountered, or who had encountered you.

Dean: Absolutely. I can’t explain it. I would not have done it on my own in that way, but I came back to the house totally forgiving. Totally forgiving. Just knowing that I knew that God must be real,  because I came back.

Julie: You just said, “What are you two going to do now? What are your plans?” And I said, “We’re going to get married.”

Dean: That is when she was all excited. Now this was going to be all over, and he’s going to go with me.

Julie: But for the first time since I’d known this other man, he was speechless. There was not a word coming out of his mouth, and that was very unlike him. Something that is totally incredible is after all these years, Dean had looked at Christian people as being hypocrites, as pastors not doing anything except for that hour during Sunday morning when they had to preach and the rest of the time they are just living a hypocritical life. And here he finds his wife with a pastor, and that is what God used to save him. I just think God can do anything with any circumstance.

But Dean came home, and he did not tell me what had happened. He didn’t say that he’d had an encounter with the Lord and that his life was changed. After this pastor had left, Dean said, “If you will come back to me, I won’t tell anyone. I’ll burn these pictures, and I won’t tell anyone.” 

So I thought, there is no question. I love this other man; he said he wants to marry me and make a life with me. He knows how miserable I’ve been in this marriage. Of course we’re going to be together, but I thought I owed it to him to tell him just what Dean said, so I did.

So I went to him and said, “Dean said if I will come back to him, he won’t tell anyone.” And this man says, “Well, I think you ought to do that.” I was just devastated. In my mind this was the person who cared about me. That was the man who loved me unconditionally. He knew everything about me and wanted to have a life with me. And here he was sending me back to this marriage that he knew I was miserable in just to save his own neck.

Well, over the next few months this man came back to me four different times; four different times saying he loved me and couldn’t live without me. And I went back to him every single time. I wanted my life with him. Finally, Dean had had enough and decided to call this man’s wife and let her listen to those tapes of he and I on the telephone. It was at that point I never heard from him again, once his wife finally found out.

But now I’m in this “Okay, what do I do?” I do not have Plan A to go marry this pastor. I sure don’t want to stay in this marriage; I don’t like this marriage. But you know what? I had begun seeing a difference in Dean. I didn’t know why, but he was acting very differently. And he was becoming a good husband, not with the things like the alcoholism—it was still there, the smoking was still there, but boy was he treating me a lot differently.

He was being helpful and he told me, finally, about his encounter with the Lord. I began to see him reading scripture, and it was like maybe this is really real. He has come to know the Lord.

During this time when I was with this other man, I had finally had the courage to tell Dean I did not love him. He’d asked me one night, “Do you love me?” and I said, “No, I don’t. I don’t at all. I don’t even like you.” I’d never had the courage to do that before.

Nancy: Did this come as a shock to you at this point?

Dean: It did. It was a devastating shock. I realized that until I got my life right with God, that was the most important thing, I couldn’t worry about what she was doing in her life at that time. When she started saying she still loved this other guy, I was devastated. But I knew that I had to get my life right with God. That was the most important thing. Her life was in a lot of ways secondary to me because my life was right with God.

I had to work on my own relationship with Jesus Christ, and that is what I did. That is how I made it for that first year. I got my life right with Christ. All of a sudden all those words in the Bible just jumped out at me. They were alive, and they were active, and they had meaning. I knew that when you’re not full of the Holy Spirit, those words are not (meaningful). They are just goofy words to you. You know, “Jonah was in the whale.” Big deal. Those are just stories.

But when you read God’s Word in a different light when the Holy Spirit dwells within you, all of a sudden those words are alive and active; they have meaning. So that is when I got my life right with Christ. I started going to this church, and I started growing like you couldn’t believe. My life was never the same after that. That is when you were noticing that there was something different. I was okay. If she didn’t love me that was sad, but I knew that I wanted to live my life with God, with Jesus Christ. My marriage did matter, but I can’t control her. I have to take care of me, and that is when I got my life right with Christ and that was the important thing.

Nancy: So you committed yourself to staying in this marriage. You saw the changes.

Julie: Well, I was trying to figure out what I was going to do. I did not want to stay there, but yes, I was seeing the changes. At that point there was one day I was going off to the grocery store. Just out of habit of seventeen years I supposed, I drove off and said, “Bye, I love you.” And I just thought, “What did I say?” And Dean said, “What? You love me?”

I quickly did this little check in my head thinking, “Okay, he’s become a Christian, his life is looking much different, he’s treating much differently. Yes, things are going to be okay." So I said, “Yes, I love you.” Not meaning it, not feeling it inside, but taking by faith that God is going to make it true. This is what He wants. He wants us to be together. He wants us to live for Him. It looks like this is going to happen now, so, “Yes, I love you.”

As I came out of the relationship with the pastor, that was one of the hardest times in my life because I thought there is no relationship that I have with God; I must not even be saved. Every time I opened this Bible to read, and I had a hunger to read it, I wanted a relationship back with God. But every time I opened this, all I would see is judgment.

It took months. Finally I read Psalm 103 and oh, those words were so precious. The part where He says He forgives all my sins . . . I can still see that in bold letters, standing out in bold letters. I just clung to that promise as this is God telling me He really has forgiven me for this, for the way I lived. 

I told Him so many times how sorry I was. I did want to be right with God, but most of it was I’m sorry it’s over, I really was.

Nancy: So you’re doing the right things, you’re both involved in ministry, you’re being faithful morally, but still realizing there is a barrier in your marriage.

Julie: Yes, and I did not know how to get over that. I had asked a few people, one a godly counselor in our area. I told him about my past and asked, “Is this just the consequence I’m going to have to live with now for the rest of my life because of the immoral lifestyle I’d had earlier? That I’m not going to be attracted to my husband and that I’m never going to really want to be with him? Is that my punishment?”

And he said, “Oh no, God wouldn’t do that.” But I never got any help to know how to really fall in love with this man. I could be a good wife. I could do the laundry and make great meals and say the things I’m supposed to say and do the things I’m supposed to do, but there was no heart behind it. It was, “I’m supposed to do this.”

Nancy: So you’re doing this as an act of your will, an act of faith but no heart.

Julie: Yes, even with hearing “act loving and the loving feelings will follow” . . . I’d heard all that stuff.

Nancy: You kept hoping for the feelings to come, but they didn’t come.

Julie: I kept thinking, “God, you’re going to do it,” and He did not.

Nancy: For a dozen or so years?

Julie: It was about 13 years that we lived together looking fine. People thought we had a wonderful, happy marriage. He thought we had a wonderful, happy marriage, and it was except in my head and in my heart where it was just a lie.

Nancy: By this time you’re working in a Christian ministry setting and you’d been for 13 years out of immoral relationships and then something happened that lit a match.

Julie: Right. I received a hug from a man, a two-second hug, very innocent. He didn’t mean anything by it at all on his part. It was just a “I’m sorry this is happening” little hug. But that exploded in me. It was like a dragon leapt out of a box, and I could not get that dragon back in that box.

Nancy: You’d not had any interest in that man to that point?

Julie: Well, little thoughts that I would reject. "God, I’m sorry. I don’t want to think like that. Give me better things to think of." God would always give me better things to think of. He would faithfully take thoughts like that away from me, so I thought I was handling it the way I was supposed to.

Given my background and the life I had experienced, the life I’d lived, I thought Satan is going to be doing this to me every once in a while, and I can faithfully ask God, or I can ask God to faithfully give me something better to think about and not to act on that. I refused to ever let myself fantasize about this man. It just wasn’t going to happen.

Nancy: And then the hug.

Julie: The dragon totally exploded, and I did everything I knew as a Christian woman to do at that point. I read the right Scripture. You (Nancy) had an awesome program about the adulterous woman that was just making me cringe. As I’d hear those words I would think, “This is me. This is what I’m wanting inside of me now, again," and I hated it.

Nancy: Was that the series on Proverbs 7, Becoming a Woman of Discretion?

Julie: Yes!

Nancy: You were listening to that on Revive Our Hearts?

Julie: Yes! And it was just breaking my heart. Actually, that was about a year after that initial hug. Yes, I saw myself in that.

Nancy: What did you do? You had the hug, you had these emotions flaring. Did you act on them?

Julie: No! I did not. I asked God to take care of them. I read the right Scripture. I told one of my friends of the struggle I was having now with this man.

Nancy: You didn’t tell Dean?

Julie: No, not at that point. I started going to counseling, and that lasted for about four months. The counselor said during the summary, “Well, I think you’re going to be okay now. I think we’ve done all we can do, and you’re going to be okay.” 

Nancy: Were you still in the same ministry?

Julie: No. I had left. None of this happened until I left that ministry.

Nancy: Were you having ongoing contact with him?

Julie: No. Not at that point. It was just going on inside of me; it was constant. I couldn’t get rid of it. The counselor dismissed me and said I was okay. Inside was I just screaming, “I am not okay!” But here he was telling me, “I can’t do anything more for you.” So it was like, here is this other hope that is gone now. My Christian friends that I kind of admitted this to—and I have to admit I was kind of biting around the edges without laying it flat out, the awfulness that was happening now in my heart. They just thought, “This is Julie. She’s okay. She is a godly, Christian woman now. Nothing is going to happen.”

Nancy: What took it from being a battle in your mind to moving towards an adulterous relationship?

Julie: Well, I thought that this man probably understood how I was feeling about him just because of some of my words, some of the way I would look at him. I thought he had to know.

Nancy: So you were or weren’t having ongoing contact him?

Julie: Every once in a while he was there in the community and places we’d run into each other.

Nancy: Were you sending signals?

Julie: Yes, I was, and I hated myself for it. I hated myself for that. I knew it was wrong. I would just cry afterwards. God! What am I doing? I hate this! I don’t want to be like this. Finally, I thought this man must know, and I need to apologize to him. That was a big mistake because he did not know.

Nancy: Can you just say that again?

Julie: It was a BIG mistake, HUGE, to admit to this man that I’d had these feelings about him because that opened it up then, it really did. It made it so much easier for us to then communicate, for me to talk to him. But I’m saying, “Hey, I’m sorry. I’m not going to act on this. I think I’m feeling that way for you because of this happening with Dean.” And I just started opening up to him of what my life was like. I still think he was very innocent in this. It was 99½% all me going after him.

Nancy: I probably beg to differ with you on that, but I’m glad you’re taking responsibility. As you look back Julie, because there are some women listening who are playing with fire in a relationship right now. They are justifying it, telling their friends little bits and pieces, but they are really not being honest with themselves, with their friends, or with their mate. Practically, what are some of the ways that you fueled the lust in your heart toward that man? How did it go from being a battle in your mind to being something that ultimately became an adulterous relationship.

Practically, you were talking with him. You were sending signals. You told him your feelings. You started sharing.

Julie: That was the main thing, the major mistake, sharing how I felt about him. Then to explain why I was feeling that way. I did put boundaries around it, Nancy, but the boundaries kept moving. At first the boundary was, I’ll just email him every once in a while.

Nancy: What were you emailing about?

Julie: Oh just, “Hey, I saw your picture here or there.” Just innocent little things, very innocent.

Nancy: In retrospect, would you say it was innocent?

Julie: No. Because I know my heart was wanting so much more, but the boundary was going to be just an email. And then the boundary was just going to be that we would stand in a grocery store or some area like that and talk for a while. And then it was we’ll just sit in the car and talk. And then the boundary was, “I’m just going to hug him. If I could just hug him that will be enough.” And it was never enough. Then it was just, “If he would just kiss me that would be it. I would be satisfied” and of course, that wasn’t it.

Nancy: Julie Petersen has been describing a descent into lust and adultery. Now, just like yesterday, we’re going to have to cut in at a dark point of the story. But please stick with us this week as Dean and Julie are going to describe the power that can heal a marriage even when it looks like there is no hope.

Julie told us today that she tried to put up boundaries in her relationships with men but that the boundaries kept moving. I want to suggest that this issue is important for every person. We all need to set hedges. Now those may be slightly different depending on whether you’re single or married. But you need to prayerfully think through those boundaries before you’re on the spot. Before you’re faced with temptation, make a firm commitment so the boundary won’t move.

Serving as I do in a ministry, I work with a lot of married men. Over the years the Lord has prompted me to develop some hedges, some personal boundaries that include things like how I relate to men when traveling, in the office, and over email. These are things God has put on my own heart as I have a desire to protect the marriages of the men around me. They are not a set of do’s and don’ts. They are not a list of laws that make you more spiritual if you keep them. So I’ve always been hesitant to put those boundaries into writing. But over the years so many people have asked me what some of my personal hedges are.

So, I’ve finally described those hedges in a pamphlet called "Personal Hedges." Now the Lord may not lead you to adopt exactly the same hedges, but I do think this resource may be helpful as you think these issues through. I’d like to send you a copy of that booklet, "Personal Hedges," along with a book and a study guide by a friend of my named Judy Starr. The book is called Enticement of the Forbidden. Judy knows firsthand about the hurt and the destruction that can come when you don’t set up hedges. You will learn a lot from her story, and you’ll be encouraged to protect your heart and your home from sexual temptation.

When you support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’ll send you Judy’s book Enticement of the Forbidden along with the study guide and my pamphlet,"Personal Hedges." We do have a limited number of these resources, so I hope you’ll contact us right away. Ask for the books and the pamphlet when you make a donation.

If you want to call us the number is 1-800-569-5959, or you can go online to ReviveOurHearts.com to make your contribution and know that when you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts you are making an investment in the lives, the hearts, the homes, and the marriages of other listeners that we are reaching through this broadcast.

Now, while she was in the thick of an immoral relationship, Julie Petersen emailed Revive Our Hearts. I remember the weekend when that email first came into my inbox. I said to our team, “We’ve got to get in touch with this woman right away. This is a woman who needs help.” Well, suffice it to say that Julie was astounded at the response that she received from our team. Hear more about what happened next tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

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

 

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