Enduring hardship for the Glory of God

I grew up as an only child in a very dysfunctional home. My father was mentally ill and drank to medicate himself. He beat my mother. My mother was obese and a gambling addict. They divorced when I was 4. As a teen and 20 something I turned to alcohol for fun and as a way to escape from the problems in my life – funny, I didn’t consider the heavy drinking a problem. I got involved in the occult and ran with the wrong crowd. I had been to church as a child and heard about Jesus but never really understood anything other than the main fact that Jesus could get me to Heaven. God sent people into my life to “fish” for me but I didn’t want to give up my partying and turn my life over to Him. At age 30 I cleaned my life up best I knew how i.e. quit drinking, lost a bunch of weight, etc. but found I was empty on the inside. So I went back to drinking as it numbed the sting of reality. I was lost.
I was a closet Christian radio listener for years and God was really drawing me to Himself through it. I made the decision to give up my life of partying and searching for anything this world had to offer and fully surrender to Christ. I realized that nothing in this world was truly fulfilling. I gave my life to Christ in 2003 and got married the same year.
My husband was also raised in a very dysfunctional family (truly who wasn’t raised in some degree of dysfunction seeing as Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel were the first dysfunctional family – sin breeds throughout humanity. Thankfully, the New Adam is turning things around.)
Both my husband and I had a lot of “baggage” to deal with. We fought almost constantly. My husband had revealed to me that when he was 14 he was sexually abused at gunpoint by another boy. I was the first person he’d ever told. I didn’t think it had a hold on him as an adult because before we married (and before we surrendered to Christ) we were sexually active. For some weird reason, right after we got married, he became sexually anorexic. I fought with him because he wouldn’t talk to me about what was going on. Heck, he didn’t even understand what was going on. Not to mention the spiritual aspects of the situation. Satan always works against Christian marriages.
I had so much anger to deal with. There was a demonic stronghold of rage in me that I needed God’s help to get rid of. I saw my face change demonic on me in my mirror. My left arm lifted up without me making it. Contrary to what some people believe, you can be saved and be “occupied” by enemy spirits. Until I was willing to turn from my sin and obey God, I was open game for the enemy. I experienced spiritual sight and hearing. I was being tormented by evil spirits. I saw flickers of them and heard their evil voices and laughing. I thought I had become like my father – paranoid schizophrenic. But God confirmed something I heard in the Spirit through a viable source to help me know I hadn’t lost my mind.
Most of the other Christians I talked to couldn’t relate at all to what I was experiencing which made me feel very alone. I know now that the reason why all this garbage happened to me was because 1) I was sinning greatly against the Lord by disrespecting my husband. Scripture says submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee. If I’m not submitted to God, I surely cannot resist the devil. 2) Because of the occult activity I had opened myself up to prior to turning to Christ, I believe I was being tested to see if I’d be faithful.

As you can imagine, I was a mess. I remember praying to God to let me divorce or let me die or to let him die. I just didn’t want to deal with my husband’s problems – I kept telling myself I couldn’t handle it. God kept gently encouraging me to not give up. At the same time, I heard the sweet small voice of the Holy Spirit tell me to go to Celebrate Recovery (a 12 step Christ-Centered recovery group). It’s not just for addictions like the stigma of the word “recovery” alludes to. It’s a safe place where I could deal my anger, my childhood, my pain, everything. I attended there for five years and it really helped me to endure through the hard times in my marriage as well as work on my own issues.
Celebrate recovery offered me practical knowledge and emotional support from other women who’ve endured or continue to endure similar situations. While there, I learned that I was 100% responsible for what came out of my mouth and for my actions. I used to blame my husband for my actions and tell him that I wouldn’t act this way (screaming, hitting, demeaning him) if he would just get some help for himself. Granted, it was and still is a very difficult situation to deal with. Thankfully, my husband also joined Celebrate Recovery but it was about three years after I did. He too was there for about five years.
As far as the spiritual stronghold of anger and the spiritual terrorization, it subsided more and more and I was on my knees asking God to help me to obey Him. To give me understanding and compassion for my husband, to deliver me from the evil one. Truly, God was my help as no man could have helped me. I learned to cling to Jesus throughout this terrible time. I counted on his mercy and unfailing love for me to help me.
The pain I feel as a woman being denied intimacy with her husband is bigger than I ever imagined. It’s a trial of long-suffering that’s endured for ten years. My husband and I have only been together about 25 times.
Nevertheless, God is with us and He reassures me of His love and care for me. He understands my pain. At the same time, I’ve finally understood that that I can’t be angry that my husband is taking so long to recover from such a personal and horrific sin committed against him. I used to blame him for not loving me enough to conquer the fear involved of facing the pain of sexual abuse. What I didn’t understand was that especially as a survivor of sexual abuse, it would take a lot of time for my husband to make decisions based on the Spirit instead of the soul. As a Christian, God wants us to learn to make decisions according to His will in the spirit – not continue to make decisions based on feelings like we do when we live out of our soul. To grow in this area, we have to remember Jesus going to the cross. It was an act of obedience to God – He certainly didn’t feel like doing it but thankfully He did and we who believe now have entrance into Heaven. My husband is recognizing this truth more and more – praise God – and is moving forward in his recovery.

Deception is one of our enemies favorite devices and God has been delivering me from any and all lies of the enemy and strengthening me to endure patiently through this trial and become compassionate and understanding towards my husband. To be his friend and be supportive of him as he heals. I know I probably look like the bad guy in this marriage but I suppose you never know how you’ll react to something until you’re in it.
Recovery is a lifelong process. Part of it may be in a recovery group and part of it by spending alone time with God.
Learning to embrace pain is not easy. Jesus carried His cross and because His Spirit lives in the believer, He helps us to carry our crosses too but we have to be open to Him and open to the painful situation instead of resisting it. Something supernatural happened as I started to embrace the pain and accept my situation. I literally felt the strength of God living in me. I started to experience the Peace that surpassed understanding and the Joy of the Lord as my Strength. Also, a lot of His Comfort.
Scripture says that when we are weak, God can be strong. Christians need to embrace whatever the Lord wills that makes them weak (difficult marriage, handicapped child, difficult boss, etc.). It’s only when we are weak that Christ can be manifested in us and show Himself to others. I had a co-worker ask me “Considering all you’re going through, how can you be so…joyful?” I answered “Jesus!”. God is using me to draw others closer to Him. Also, when we endure and persevere through difficulties we start to mature and become patient – it’s the only way.
The Christian life is very difficult but Our Awesome God teaches us how to yolk ourselves to Him so that many times it feels effortless. It’s a very cool thing to be in Christ and allow Him to do what He wants to do through us because we get to know Him better and we are part of His great plan to fish for men and women.
The pain in this life is only momentary compared to the awesome future we have in the New Heaven and New Earth to come. Stay close with other Christians and learn as much as you can. Read the bible at least a little bit every day or so and ask lots of questions. Become a disciple of Christ’s and let Christ be your life.
A final word on my marriage, the Holy Spirit spoke very clearly to me and told me I would have a son someday and he gave me a vision of him. He’s so cute and I can’t wait till he gets here but I asked God long ago to not let my husband and I become parents until He knew we were ready to be the best parents we could be. As we endure, heal, and love each other I know God will bring about baby Jon at just the right time. Love to you all and stay close to God through our Lord Jesus Christ!

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Comments

  1. Timothy Luke says:

    Thanks for sharing Tracey… God bless you and your family. He is so good!

  2. Your testimony is very inspiring. Thanks for sharing it.

    • trcanzano says:

      Thanks Sunshine! I’m glad that there’s sites like this one where we can post our testimonies and encourage others. Have a great day!

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