There was a morning, quite a while ago, that I woke up, and realized that my husband of 9 years, the father of my three children, hadn’t told me that he loved me in quite a long while.
I’m very sad to say... that I should have been devastated, or completely thrown by it, but I wasn’t. I should of gone straight to Ed and asked him why, but I didn’t.
Instead, I remember been mildly peeved, slightly irritated, saddened and a little concerned. I quickly brushed away the niggles that came, and sadly, got distracted with the tasks and the business of everyday life.
A few weeks later, as planned, we went away to attend an annual NCMI church conference in the Drakensberg.
As having planted a church and still busy leading it, this was a exciting time of input, inspiration, connecting and building friendships. Also a wonderful break and a treat!
It was there, in a private meeting that my husband had called, with a few chosen people that Ed confessed to.
(This break was about to come to an abrupt end and the treat, to horribly vanish into thin air.)
After the meeting, he came back to our room, where I was waiting, and told me we were leaving immediately and that in the car he would explain why.
On the longest three hour journey home, imprisoned (that is what it felt like) in what seemed to be the smallest of cars, he proceeded to inform me, unemotionally, factually and rather clinically, that....
1/ He had had to close a friendship, (which had become quite physical) with the wife of one of our friends, who was in our church. That it had been over for quite a while.
2/ He was in love with a lady; whose husband and her were our friends. He went on to say that he had made the biggest mistake in marrying me, that he no longer loved me and that she truly was his soul mate and the true love of his life.
To say I was shattered, guttered, devastated and heart broken, is putting it politely and mildly.
I remember that I literally felt as though my heart had been ripped out of my chest and torn in two. The pain was so intense that I couldn’t believe I was still breathing and somehow alive.
The next few days were horrific.
For both of us!
It was as though we had become total strangers living under the same roof.
Ed had to tell the congregation what had happened and stepped down from leading the church and the people he loved.
He had to go and find a secular job.
I felt that I had lost my husband, and a whole lot of my friends, and had to give up my place of fellowship and belonging. It was totally overwhelming, and there was incredible pain, anguish, anger, bitterness, grief, and a huge shocking mess. Everything seemed surreal and nothing felt normal any more. I felt a fool. I felt alone. I felt rejected and unloved.
This was the time of an incredible connection with Jesus. He was my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my Saviour and so much more. He showed me he loved me when I felt unloved. The Holy Spirit’ beautiful presence and his amazing power got me through each and every day, and nothing satisfied me as much as Gods word. It was like I had been deprived of food for a very long time and now was sitting down to a feast of all feasts. God’s word really fed me and led me. I’m ever grateful that at this time God gave me hope through a specific word and a vision.
So I stayed.
What on earth for?
-Because I still loved him and wanted to make it work.
-To not be another failed marriage statistic. (I know, I know, there was probably a little bit of pride in there as well.)
-To show others, especially satan, that because of God we could be a success story.
-Not because he loved me but because he was petrified of God. He knew that I was the one God had given to him, and not her, so he would never have had the blessing of God, if he left me for her.
So two, very broken - hearted people (Ed having given up the love of his life, and I having lost the love of my life) left the town of Port Edward, and moved to city of Pietermaritzburg to try and put all those broken and shattered pieces together again. To try and make our marriage work! I gave it a year.
We moved to a place where we had no friends, no family (my mom and dad couldn’t help as they were busy going through a divorce themselves) no money, no savings, and we had no work. We then, out of necessity and desperation, started our own business. We were forced to do absolutely everything together and I mean everything. God has a sense of humour!
Because of God, because of some wonderful people, because of our connect group, and a wonderful church; we slowly crawled back to real life, love and marriage!
A long, tough, hardly easy, emotional and very tiring and difficult journey!
There was much repentance and forgiveness that took place.
We also looked at ourselves and saw and took the responsibility in the areas where we had personally gone wrong, where we had become complacent, where we had taken for granted or stopped attending to our marriage, and started working at them.
Today, 26 years later, I can honestly and truthfully say, that I am utterly in love with my man, and that he is utterly in love with me. I am truly loved and wonderfully cherished. I am deeply content, marvellously happy, beautifully healed and restored, richly loved and forever grateful to be living this life I love, alongside my man.
The biggest thank you is to my incredible Saviour, Jesus. Because of him, we are together and because of him, we have this success story.
How privileged am I!
Ed & Heidi Strong have written a book called It Happened. Due to be re-released shortly. Details to follow.
Read Heidi Strong's bio here