Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: While in an adulterous relationship, Susan Putnam was convicted of what her actions said about the gospel.

Susan Putnam: It was almost as if Christ was there saying, “You’re doing this to Me, and you don’t have to do that anymore.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Thursday, September 29. Today’s conversation will not be graphic, but it does cover the topic of adultery, so you’ll want to use judgment if you have younger children listening with you today. Here’s Nancy, to get us started.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: This weekend, Revive Our Hearts is hosting a special retreat for women’s ministry directors in local churches. We call these retreats, Times of Refreshing. One of the women who is here this weekend for that retreat is Susan Putnam, from the Nashville area. Susan, welcome and good to meet you here in the studio.

Susan: Thank you, it’s nice to be here.

Nancy: I hope you’re going to have a great weekend. I know it’s going to be a time of refreshing for the women who have come for this experience. Last night I got a phone call from a mutual friend of ours, and she told me that you were going to be here. She said, “She has a story that you may want to share with your listeners, and for sure, you’d want to hear it.”

She told me just a little bit about it. So we made quick arrangements and called you late last night as you were driving to Michigan today and said, “Would you stop in to the studio, and let’s have this conversation, because it demonstrates so many things. One is just the incredible grace of God and His mercy in rescuing us when we make foolish choices. We’ll hear that in just a moment.

Also, to see that when God revives hearts, it lasts. Fifteen years after you first connected with our ministry, you are a different person than you were.

Susan: Amen, totally different.

Nancy: To see the redeeming power of God, and this is something that lasts over many years. To have you here this weekend as a women’s ministry director is a long way from where you were back in 1996 when we first connected. We weren’t even called Revive Our Hearts then. Tell us how you first came in contact with this ministry.

Susan: I was taken with a group of ladies from our church. We went to a Friday and Saturday conference in the Nashville area—Lighthouse Baptist. At that point I had just come to really begin to seek a relationship with God.

I was not raised in a Christian home, and all of this was sort of new to me. Along the same lines, my life was a wreck, and I was in trouble. I was very unhappy at home, and I didn’t feel that my husband was meeting my needs. My three children, whom I had poured my life into, all boys, began to get older and of course wanted to do guy things with their dad. In my mind, they sort of became their own little club. I felt very left out and really did not have any good relationships in my life.

We went to church sort of randomly, but Satan, as he’s so very good at, presented a situation where a gentleman and I sort of hit it off. I felt that my life began to feel good. He made me feel good about myself, and of course, I knew it was wrong. I think probably, if he had never talked about the attraction, it might not have happened, but he did. The temptation just allowed it. That ended up beginning an adulterous relationship for the next four years.

Nancy: And all this time you’re still married and have your three sons, and does have your husband have any idea what’s going on?

Susan: No. He, maybe in the back of his mind might have, but as far as really ever talking to me about it, there was really no indication that he knew anything. There was a reason for me to be around this gentlemen.  I worked with him, and so he really didn’t have cause for suspicion. Unfortunately, I was very good at lying about it.

Nancy: And did your husband know this man?

Susan: Yes.

Nancy: And didn’t he have suspicions that this was going on?

Susan: No. We were both very good people who wouldn’t do something like that.

Nancy: How would you describe your marriage during those years?

Susan: To some degree, I really had the best of both worlds. Emotionally, I was much more happy; I think it probably took pressure off my husband. I had no expectations of him whatsoever during that time. But that only lasted for a short time, and then I began to be so conflicted and very tormented, really.

Nancy: Was that guilt?

Susan: It was guilt, knowing that it was terribly wrong. If someone would have ever asked, “What would have been the worst thing that you could imagine happening,” I would have said, "When you’re married, you share each other with so many people and things, and that’s the only part of your marriage that you just share together." I had totally betrayed that.

Yet, I cared for this man, and I couldn’t see leaving him; I couldn’t see leaving my husband. But I got to the point to where I felt like it was so wrong that I just needed to leave, and leave my children, which of course, today, I can’t even believe that I ever entertained that thought.

Nancy: Had you thought of leaving your husband to go with this man?

Susan: Yes. I thought, “I can’t keep playing this game; I’ve got to make a decision.” Yet, I wouldn’t, because it was so tormenting, both ways. I couldn’t imagine my life without him, and I couldn’t imagine my life without my husband and my children.

Nancy: And this went on for four years.

Susan: Yes.

Nancy: Were you in church during this time?

Susan: Some, yes and no. We had been at a church that sort of had a fall-out, and, of course, that was just our excuse to hit the road. Then we really struggled back and forth about going to church. So, basically, no, not really.

Nancy: So when did you start to seek the Lord, to have any sense of Him seeking you?

Susan: Well, it’s all Him, it was not me. I did not want God. I would have told you that I was a Christian, probably, at that point. God is so gracious, that He began to draw me.  My middle son wanted this little boy to come over and play at our house. I kept saying, “Luke, the mother doesn’t know us; she’s not going to let him come over.”

At that point, I really had isolated myself. But he kept begging and kept begging, and finally I said, “Okay.” So I went up to the mom and said, “Would you come to my house and let the boys play, and maybe we can get to meet and know each other, and you’ll allow him to come over and play?”

She talked about God, she probably only mentioned God once or twice, but in my mind she was a “Jesus freak.” I was going, “Oh my gosh, she is one of those.” But I liked her, and we ended up forming a friendship. She introduced me to a pastor’s wife that she was friends with, and we began to go to her church. The next thing I knew, I’m studying Marriage Without Regrets. I’m thinking, “I’m in a cult.”

Nancy: Because the concepts were so foreign to you?

Susan: Yes.  Submission . . . that was like from another planet. But I was so intrigued by the faith that the women had in a Person that I could not tangibly see. They would pray, and I would look while they were praying to see Who they were talking to. So on one hand, I was repelled by it, but then on the other hand, I was so drawn, I couldn’t stay away. Through that process, I began to get into God’s Word.

Nancy: So, you went through the study on Marriage Without Regrets, and were there further Bible studies after that?

Susan: There were more Bible studies, but I was very resistant. I fought everything that the teacher said.

Nancy: Because you didn’t agree with it? Or because you knew your life would have to change?

Susan: Probably both, but it was just so foreign to me. They would feel that I would get so close. I think I probably said the salvation prayer, I don’t know how many times, but I would just say that to get them to leave me alone.

Nancy: But you kept coming.

Susan: Yes because, again, I didn’t want anything that they had to offer as far as God, but I was so drawn. One day I was reading John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” and it hit me, “I’ve got to accept the fact that Jesus is God.  I’ve got to accept it or reject it.”

It was at that point I felt it was like jumping off a cliff, because the concept of God was so foreign to me, yet that day it seemed like I jumped.

Nancy: God gave you faith.

Susan: Yes.

Nancy: Then there was a particular study that you got involved in right before the Revive Our Hearts conference came to town.

Susan: Yes, and that was, Lord, I Want to Know You by Kay Arthur.

Nancy: And what a great study that is, because it goes through the names of God which describe His character. How was God using that in your life?

Susan: I think that it was getting me more to knowing God’s character, and into His Word in general, reading the John passage, talking about God, and talking about His character and Who He was, and then the concept of who Jesus was. He was in the beginning . . . and then it goes down in verse 14 and says, “And that He became flesh and dwelt among us.”

I began to realize it was through Jesus that God wanted us to know Who He was, and if I did not know Jesus, I could not know the character of God, couldn’t know Him at all. That realization at that point—God tied that all together.

Nancy: He was breaking down your resistance.  Your heart was softening.

Susan: Yes. One day, I apparently began to not fight the answers. I came to class, and I had the “right answers.” There was a peace about me. After the class that day, I think some of the women got together with the teacher and said, “What happened to Susan?”

Nancy: “Susan’s surrendering to Christ,” and you were on that journey when some women from your church decided to go to a Revive Our Hearts conference at another church. Had you ever been to anything like that before? What were you expecting?

Susan: No. I really didn’t know. I certainly wasn’t expecting what happened, but of course, here I am in this adultery. I loved this man, and I don’t love my husband.

Nancy: You thought you loved this man—not real love—but it felt like it.

Susan: Well, that was my emotion at the time. No, it’s not real love at all, but that's what I thought. I really thought I had gone to the point of no return, that I had done so much damage, that I’d betrayed my husband, and that it was like I’d made my bed. I just needed to go on.

Nancy: By the way, did anybody else know? Had you confided in friends?

Susan: Yes, the pastor’s wife knew. It was funny. It got to the point where she would just call me up and say, “Do you want to have lunch?” I would go, “Oooohhh!,”  because, of course, she never condoned it, and just continued to talk to me about how wrong that was, and that God did not intend that for me. That it was against everything that God represented. She really talked about the marriage covenant.

Nancy: And, after all, you had been through that marriage study, so you had heard some of those things.

Susan: Yes, but she loved me the whole way through, and I look back now, and some of the things I said, I don’t know how on earth . . . because I fought it and fought it.

Nancy: It sounds like she persevered, which is such a great reminder for those of us who have friends who are in sinful patterns. It’s easy to give up, thinking they just are not going to respond. Thank the Lord that that woman stayed in there, and that God stayed in there with you. He’s called the “hound of heaven,” in a poem by Francis Thompson, and I think that’s a great word picture. He keeps pursuing, and sometimes He uses other people.

Susan: Yes, she very much did persevere, and He definitely came after me. The passage in Ephesians, where He says that we were His enemies . . . I was definitely God’s enemy.

Nancy: You were not looking for Him.

Susan: No, I was not.

Nancy: So, you got invited to this conference, and you’re still tormented, conflicted. What happened when you got there?

Susan: Friday night, I think that you were talking about John chapter 4 and the woman at the well. I guess what impacted me so much was that living water, and “What are you looking for?” As women, what were we looking for instead of that  living water? You began to talk about emotional affairs and adultery, and how we as women were getting that need met from other men.

You had some women get up and share some testimonies, which blew me away. I could not believe that women would get up in front of other people and share that, and Friday night I think that gradually began to break my defenses down.

Saturday afternoon there was a woman that had gotten up and shared her testimony, and you just continued talking. I could so identify with that woman at the well. Even though I had not had five husbands, or five relationships, I definitely found that I was seeking that living water, but it was in the wrong place.

God finally had broken me completely down. You just kept talking about the woman at the well, and how she was getting her needs met in the living water, and you kept bringing us to the fact that only Jesus Christ could do that, and that He was the Living Water, and He could provide all of those needs. I saw myself as that woman, and how I had been running after things that were really keeping me in bondage. Something that I thought was going to be a life-sustaining thing to me, I had become a slave to it.

You’re so soft-spoken. Another thing, the fact that you have never married, and you talked about not being married and how you were serving God in your singleness . . . Obviously, you’ve allowed Jesus to meet all of those needs in your life, and all of that together . . . I just began to weep.

The fact of what I was doing in my life to my husband, to my children . . . It was almost as if Christ was there, saying, “You’re doing this to me, and you don’t have to do that anymore. I’ll give you My life if you will give me this life that’s in ruins. If you will trade Me, I will rebuild it.”

I’m typically not someone who cries a lot, but I was totally broken, just sobbing uncontrollably. There was a prayer room, and I took the pastor’s wife and another woman in there and prayed. I told them what I knew what Christ was asking me to do.

Nancy: Which was . . .

Susan: Go back home to my husband, to share with Him. I knew that that was something I could not do, I could not go home and not be completely honest with him. I knew I had to do that the next day, regardless of what it cost me, that I had to do that. 

Sunday, I wanted to go to church first. I felt like I needed to go and get that extra little encouragement or courage, or whatever, and my husband had a headache that day. He must have had some foreknowledge or something, that something was going on.

He stayed at home, and I said, “When I get back, I’ve got to share something with you, and it’s going to hurt you very badly, and I need you to be praying while I’m gone.” When I came back, the boys were at a friend’s house, and I shared with him what had happened at the conference, and that I had been committing adultery with another man, and had been for four years.

Nancy: Someone he knew, also.

Susan: Yes, and he did say, “Sometimes I thought there was something, but of course, I never would have dreamed that you would have done that.” It was very, very difficult, but he never talked of divorce. He ended up leaving—he’s a coach and a lot of times he’s talked about that the field is where he feels he can talk to God. He almost manicures the baseball field, he is so particular about it.

He went up there, and there was a time I was afraid, “This is going to be it. He’s going to go up there and think about it, and he’s going to come home and send me packing.”

Leslie: Susan Putnam has been talking to Nancy Leigh DeMoss about the destruction caused by adultery. Let me tell you about a few ways you can follow up on what you have heard. Susan Putnam was convicted when she heard Nancy Leigh DeMoss talk about the woman at the well. This woman couldn’t get her thirst quenched apart from the Living Water that Jesus offered.

Nancy has spoken about this here on Revive Our Hearts. To read the transcripts of these important messages, visit the newly redesigned website, ReviveOurHearts.com. Search for the radio series, Satisfying Our Thirst.

Here’s another way you can follow up on today’s program. We’d like to send you a book that will help you run from the kind of destructive actions you’ve heard about today. It’s called Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome. Nancy Anderson, who has been a guest on the program in the past, wrote this to help you put up boundaries in marriage, think through convictions, and protect against temptation.

We’ll send you Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. Ask for it when you call with your donation. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or support the ministry by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.

Here’s another way you can respond to what you’ve heard. Take some extended time focusing on God’s Word. As we’ve heard today, He used a Revive Our Hearts conference to get Susan Putnam’s attention, convict her of sin, and give her the power to change. She left that conference a different woman.

We’re praying that process will be multiplied among thousands of women next year at a conference called True Woman ’12: Seeking Him Together for Spiritual Awakening. Nancy will be speaking, along with a solid line-up of biblical teachers: Priscilla Shirer, Janet Parshall, Elyse Fitzpatrick, Joni Eareckson Tada, Mary Kassian, and others.

The focus of this conference is revival: in your heart and in our nation. Learn what it means to be fully right with God and right with others. We’ve been telling you to mark the conference on your calendar, and today we’re announcing that registration is now open. Sign up for True Woman ’12 in Indianapolis, September 20–22. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Our guest, Susan Putnam, will be checking in on our listener blog today. If you have questions or comments for her, just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, scroll to the end of today’s transcript, and add your thoughts on the listener blog. Susan may read it and respond.

Tomorrow, we’ll find out what happened when Susan Putnam confessed her adultery to her husband. Hear about the power of God to build trust, even when a marriage seems hopeless.

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

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