Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Seeing Your Husband for the First Time

Leslie Basham: Julie Petersen spent years harboring bitterness towards her husband because of the way he treated her while dating. Then she committed adultery. Here is what she says about a marriage that looks hopeless. 

Julie Petersen: There is always hope with God. It might look like it’s taking forever, like it’s not going to happen, but as you submit yourself to the way God wants you to live, He can give you what you want, the desire of your heart.  

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, November 17.    

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: All this week we’ve been listening to the story of Dean and Julie Petersen.   Perhaps each day you’ve thought, “How can this story get any worse? Will it ever get better?” Well let me just say that for many what we are listening to is so true to life. I know we have people listening to this story this week who feel that they’ve made such a mess of their life or their marriage, that the situation is truly hopeless.  

Well today we are going to see a turn in that story, and we'll hear about the joy that comes from true forgiveness. Yesterday we saw how genuine forgiveness can work in a messy situation. Dean was challenged to forgive an unfaithful wife just as God had forgiven him. Julie came to realize that because of the destructive power of bitterness, she was choosing to withhold love from her husband.

Now in a situation like this, is forgiveness really possible? Can a person really be free from bitterness? Let’s listen. 

Julie: It is amazing what God has put in Deans heart. I’ve got a wonderful man here, but it took me quite a while yet after initially talking to him about how I was really feeling and what I had done, again. We decided that we would probably just live together.  

We knew divorce was not right. So now he knew exactly how I felt, and we were just going to stay in this home. 

Nancy: You still didn’t think it could be any different? 

Julie: No, I was totally hopeless that I would ever love this man. I didn’t know that the key or one of the main keys was to be honest with him about my feelings.
 

Nancy: And to deal with the bitterness.
 

Julie: And to deal with it, yes. So as the months went on, I started seeing this man in quite a different light. Because now the bitterness was gone, the anger was gone, the resentment was gone, and I wasn’t looking at him through those glasses.
 

Nancy: That is such a HUGE key that you’re describing here.
 

Julie: Yes, it is! Because all those years I’d looked at this man and I didn’t like him. I could pick out all the critical stuff, all the bad stuff because I was seeing him through those glasses that were colored with that garbage that I’d had in my heart. When they finally came off, I began to see how wonderful of a gift this man is.  

The gift that God in His providence had given to me 33 years ago. He knew I was going to need a man that had so much forgiveness in his heart to live with me, to provide for me. I started thinking, “and he looks pretty good too!” I’d never thought that before. I really hadn’t, if you can believe that! You always hear love is blind, and for me it was just the opposite.

When I finally fell in love with him, I could see his good qualities. I could see him for who he really was and decided maybe I do love him, maybe I can love him. I kept pondering that thought in my heart and talking to the Lord about that for quite a few weeks before I was willing to say that to him. I did not want to say it if it wasn’t going to really be true; I didn’t want to give him any false hope.

I finally decided it could indeed be true, and it was true. God had done an amazing thing in my heart and gave me a love for him. I had a wonderful time telling him that. We celebrated our first anniversary of actually being in love on December 18, 2004—when I finally told him that. I told him at that point because God had planned a honeymoon for us.  

God, in His perfect timing, had laid it on a person’s heart to give us a two-week stay at his condominium in Hawaii, just out of the blue. We had never been there. He asked us if we would like a trip like that. Dean wasn’t very excited about it because he thought it meant, “Well, I’m going to spend two weeks in Hawaii with a woman who doesn’t love me.” So I thought, “He’s got to know; I’ve got to tell him quick!”

So I planned a special evening and told him that God had really changed my heart. I could see what a great man he was, and that if I was a single person and met him and he was courting me, I would want to be his wife. And that was just incredible! I never thought I’d feel that way; that I would want to be his wife. I realized I would chose him; I would chose him and that is what I would want in my whole life to be able to chose the man that I was in love with. Now God had given me that privilege to say in my heart, “I would chose this man.”
 

Nancy: And you’d never heard those words before—never in truth.
 

Dean Petersen: Never, Nancy, never in truth. You know, God always has something wonderful planned for you, but it is that "doing it God’s way" I can’t explain how God put it in my heart to forgive. I couldn’t explain how that works. All I know is that if you do things God’s way instead of your own way, it will work out. That is why I say to go back to that verse again—the patience, the love, the understanding.

I didn’t blame her. I know that there are a lot of influences out there, so I was able to have that compassion for her and that love and understanding. I realized that when you have someone that is hurting as much as she was, you don’t treat a person bad. You don’t treat a sick person bad. When someone is hurting you help them. That is what I wanted to do for Julie, to help her. I could see that she needed help.  

Nancy: And that was all God’s grace—supernatural. You couldn’t have that heart apart from Christ in you.

Dean: You couldn’t do it.

Nancy: Any you couldn’t love your husband apart from Christ.

Julie: I could not. God has just continued to teach me so much over the last year-and-a-half or so. Your wonderful study Seeking Him has meant so much to my life. It came along at just the right time. I went through that and really got those foundational principles in my life.  

Honesty, that week on honesty in that study meant so much to me as I realized, “Yes, I have to be honest with my husband about the things I’m feeling.” I need to have a clear conscience. In each one of those aspects God was showing me deeper levels in my life where I needed to make that really true in my heart. I could live looking good on the outside, but if there wasn’t truth in the inner parts, like it says in the psalms, that is what God wants—truth in the inner parts. It doesn’t matter what it looks like on the outside, I need to have the truth in my heart and to be honest about what is really going on in here.

Nancy: Julie, I asked you when I knew you were going to be coming here and we’d have a chance to talk this way, I asked if you could help me by just sending an email with bullet points of the chronology of your story, and you did that. You sent me a couple of pages. I was really touched by the opening paragraph of your email. If you don’t mind, I’d like to read a part of that. You said,

How I wish I could just press the  "delete" button and have the reality of the life I’ve lived disappear along with these words. I’m sick inside to know that this is what my life has looked like. But Dean and I don’t believe that God has bent over backwards to heal us in our marriage for us to keep it to ourselves. People need to know there is hope because of Christ for any hopeless situation.  

And then you quoted Psalm 78, verse 4, “So we will not hide them. [We will tell] the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord; his power and the wonders he has done” (NIV). And you have done that. The evidence of Christ’s grace and His glory and His presence is in your lives and in your marriage. I’ve been with you now long enough and talked with you both on the phone enough to know that this is a miracle.

Dean and Julie: Absolutely. It is Nancy; it is a miracle.

Nancy: I believe it is not just a miracle for you because it is not about you. And that is what we started out saying in this recording. It is about the glory of God. Already I know, Julie, that the Lord has used you and your story to minister to some others that you have given us the freedom to share it with. I want to just ask each of you, Julie and then Dean, what would you say to a couple who is (whether it is the wife or the husband being unfaithful or having to forgive) but there is not love in that marriage, and they don’t think there ever could be.  

You have a chance right now to say some words of encouragement and hope to them. Out of what you’ve seen God do in your own lives, what would you say to that husband or wife?

Julie: There is always hope with God. It might look like it’s taking forever, like it’s not going to happen. But as you submit yourself to the way God wants you to live, He can give you what you want, the desire of your heart, as you live for Him and are obedient to Him and humble yourself towards your mate. One of the keys for me was being very humble with Dean. He talked about how I was critical in the past and I did not like that about myself. When I would find myself making a critical remark, I would say, “God, I’m sorry. Help me not to be that way anymore.”  

But I didn’t tell him. I didn’t say, “Dean I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have made that remark.”   So being able to humble myself as I’ve learned from listening to Revive Our Hearts and . . . By the way, we listen together every morning. It's our morning time together with Nancy. So now I can tell him, “Honey, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.” I just keep an attitude of humility.

Dean: In any kind of relationship, there are always two sides to any story. I think the Bible tells us the first thing to do is to love. "Love one another as He loved us" (see John 13:34). That is putting away yourself and putting that other person above you. Because you cannot love unless you give up something from yourself, to give to somebody else.   So I am telling anybody who is trying to love someone else, you have to give up yourself and concentrate on God’s love and what God is telling you about how to live your life for that person.

Julie: There is a verse in Ephesians 5 that talks about husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. It goes on to say, "husbands, in the same way love your wives" and that is what Dean has done (Eph. 5:27-28). He has given up his life, a life that could have been normal married to somebody else. But he’s given that up like Christ gave up His life to make me pure. Like Dean is saying, give up something, sacrifice. He has done that, and it has made a tremendous difference in our marriage.

Dean: If I was just to think and focus on myself and what my desires are, it would have never made it. If you want a relationship to work, you have to give up on yourself and work on what that other person needs. What their needs are I don’t know, but I do know that by looking at Julie's needs, God has me giving up myself to think of her.
It comes back as more of a gift than you’ll ever know. You can’t out-give God. When you love somebody in God’s way, He gives you back more than you could ever imagine in your mind. I would never have realized that our marriage would have been like this, but Nancy, maybe God planned all this that it would help somebody else. Maybe the whole reason why we went through this whole marriage is that there is hope when you do things God’s way.  

It’s not going to be easy. You have to be obedient; you have to give up things, and it is not an easy thing to do. Our tendency is always to think of ourselves first and that is what causes a lot of problems. When we start giving up ourselves and start thinking about that other person, then you’re really going to see some changes because it is going to allow you to grow. When you get yourself out of the picture and put God in there, look out, because that is when it’s really going to happen. But you’ve got to get yourself out of the way and put God in there first, then it takes off.

Nancy: And Dean you had something in there that I really respect about you, in that you were willing to let God change you and to be a man of humility and brokenness. I think that is part of what gave you the grace to forgive again and again, to realize there were issues in your life that needed to be changed. So this has been a washing of both of your hearts.

Julie: Oh yes.

Dean: And that is a life that has a lot of embarrassment, a lot of sadness that I have to live with. There are consequences to my decisions and what I’ve done. I pray that men don’t have to go through what I had to go through, to avoid that. But God had such grace for us. Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up. That is so true; I mean He is just an awesome God, and we just love Him dearly.

Nancy: Julie, you sent me an email in the process that said . . . Actually, I think you wrote to Sarah who works here at Revive Our Hearts. And you said, “You, [Sarah,] my friends, my husband, and my children have all told me that God will redeem this time and use it one day to help others.” Then you said you hadn’t dared to believe that until that point, and then you said, “I’m finding hope that God will make me an oak of righteousness." That is a phrase that comes from Isaiah 61, "an oak of righteousness, a planning of the Lord for a display of His splendor” (see v. 3).

It is a process for all of us that we’re all in. I really believe when you wrote that back in November of 2004, before you’d even told Dean that you loved him, you were still very much in the process of dealing with all this. But now as I look back, it has been years, and God has done that. He’s made you a virtuous woman. When we talked that first time, you didn’t think that was possible. We’re seeing here, those of us who are listening to you today, a display of the splendor of God, and it is an awesome thing.

Dean: So awesome, Nancy.

Nancy: Is there anything you’d like to say to each other?

Dean: Julie, I love you! I thank you for loving me, too. There were times when I wasn’t very lovable, and you maybe didn’t love me in a way that you wanted to love me, but you were never mean to me, and you were easy to love. I just want to thank you for that; thank you for loving the Lord as much as you do. I know that we give God all the blessings and the grace and the thanks.  

He’s given us three wonderful children, and we are going to have our son getting married in the next couple of days up in Traverse City. We have a beautiful, little grandson. God has just blessed us beyond measure, and I just love you. Honey, I thank you for loving the Lord as much as you do.

Julie: Thank you, Dean, for not giving up on me; for loving me and forgiving me all those times and for letting God love me through you. You’ve shown me Christ’s love by the way you’ve loved me. It is beautiful that He’s allowed us to have the life that we have. We don’t deserve it, do we? We do not deserve that, but He’s blessed us immensely.

Dean: Yes, He has.

Julie: We are very thankful, and thank you for staying with me.

Dean: Thank you.

Nancy: I’m going to cry! Can I pray for you? Lord, we love You more because we’ve seen Your love, Your supernatural love in this couple. Thank You, Lord, for this miracle of Your grace. Thank You for the reminder that there is no hopeless case with You. Thank  You that You are a redeeming God who is able to make all things new. Thank You for doing the impossible.

Lord, I pray a hedge of protection around Dean and Julie for however many more days, months, years, You may give them;  that their marriage would be from You, through You and to You; to You be the glory forever. And not only would You protect them, protect them from temptation, deliver them from the evil one. I pray that from all those past patterns and areas of vulnerability, You would just protect them day after day after day by Your grace and that they would receive Your grace and walk in humility before You and before each other.  

And then Lord, would You continue to use them to be a blessing, an instrument of Your love and Your grace in other lives who may be thinking their situation is hopeless. So Lord, make them fruitful beyond anything they’ve ever dreamed possible. Thank You Lord that You are a God who restores the years that the locusts have eaten. Thank Tou for making all things new.  

And Lord, thank You for those precious friends and partners of this ministry who have prayed. Thank You for those who have prayed for Dean and Julie when they got that letter or the email that was quoted. Thank You Lord for Sarah on our team who has been in an ongoing email correspondence with Julie for these last couple of years. Thank You Lord for those who pray for Revive Our Hearts, for those recordings. Thank You Lord for those who have given so that this program could air on that station in California where Julie was exposed to this message. Thank You for those who support this ministry so that all the behind-the-scenes operations can take place.

I pray that you will encourage them to know that their investment is not in vain and really that only eternity will reveal all the fruit that will come as a result of the investment they have made in Your kingdom. So Lord, we love You and give You glory and thanks and worship for You are a great, great redeeming God. We pray this in Jesus holy name, amen. 

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been praying with Dean and Julie Petersen. They are proof that there is hope for any seemingly hopeless marriage. And like Nancy just said, we are able to speak to women like Julie Petersen over the radio thanks to those who give.  

When you support Revive Our Hearts you are helping us present the truth to women in desperate situations. Today when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’ll say "thanks" by sending a helpful pamphlet Nancy wrote called, "Personal Hedges." It will help you avoid sexual temptation and make wise decisions. We’ll also include the book Enticement of the Forbidden by Judy Starr and the study guide that goes with it.  

These resources will show you how to safeguard your marriage and avoid tempting situations. Ask for Personal Hedges and Enticement of the Forbidden when you call with a gift of any size. Don’t delay. We have a limited number of Judy Starr’s book. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.  [NOTE - We have sold out of the Enticement of the Forbidden books. We are substituting the books with The Greener Grass Syndrome.]

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

 

 

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