Confessions of An Empty Heart

Today I want you to meet my brave and beautiful friend Lelia Chealey  who shares her story of emptiness and how God redeemed  her brokenness.

Italicized sentences are from Chapter 3 of A Confident Heart

Until our hearts find complete security and significance in God’s unconditional love, we will constantly turn to other lovers and never be satisfied.

Although I stood before family and friends professing my love and faithfulness to my husband, three years later I found myself trying to fill my emptiness in the arms of another man.

When the closed door of a previous relationship opened I ran through it. On Wednesday I was serving on our church’s youth team and by Saturday I was in between the sheets of a bed in a cheap hotel. The result of my affair led to a pregnancy I knew was from the other man since my husband had undergone a vasectomy.

Driving out of an abortion clinic and heading home to my unsuspecting husband, I wondered how I’d gotten to this place. Here I was a Christian wife and mom who had compromised my beliefs in more ways than one. Looking to fill my void with anything but Jesus, I walked further and further away from the One I needed most.

By being honest about her life and the lies she believed, she could start turning toward the Truth. She could bring the thirst of her heart to Him. Only then would she find confidence in the power of His love and start living in the security of His promises.

I ended my affair soon after the reality of my abortion set in. It shook my Jesus-loving heart to the core. One morning, after everyone was out of the house, I turned on some worship music, got down on my knees and began to sob.  Raising my hands toward heaven, I told God, “If I lose everything – my marriage, my kids, my friends, my reputation, but I still have YOU, I’ll be okay.”

Admitting all the lies I had told and believed, I got gut-honest with God that day. And in that place of truth, I was set free and could then turn toward Jesus and away from my life of sin. Like Renee wrote, I could bring the thirst of my heart to Him. That’s what I did — I brought my parched soul to the only One capable of filling me and changing my mess of a life.

Three years later, I felt God leading me to tell my husband about my affair and abortion. We’d attended two marriage conferences during the in-between years and  I couldn’t keep my secret any longer. Deep pain was evident on his face and in his tears. My heart broke once again over my affair as I listened to my husband process my choices.

Still in shock, he told me that while I was having my affair he too had been involved in one.  I sat there stunned, silent and ticked off at God. How had He not prepared me for this moment of my husband’s truth? I felt instant emptiness, but this time I made the choice to bow my heart before Jesus and ask Him to help me.

Jesus came to give us more than salvation. He wants us to experience complete satisfaction in Him.

These words from chapter 3 resonate deeply with my soul. Although, I had attended Christian school from kindergarten though graduation in 1988; went to church on Sundays and returned on Wednesdays and knew countless Bible stories by heart, what I lacked was a relationship with my King.

Sitting there with my husband trying to process his unfaithfulness, God let me know He is the only One that could take my empty, broken heart and fill it with His unconditional love and confidence that I had sought in all the wrong places.

I love what Renee asked us this week, and how she encouraged us to write our own “when-then” statements:

So what do we do when our hearts start tossing and turning with emptiness and uncertainty? We need to stop and ask Jesus to help us see the worth we are placing in other things and the worth we are seeking in other people and shift our reliance to Him instead.

{Here are mine}

When I start to feel like my marriage is not giving me what I deserve then I will turn to God and ask Him to be my portion.

When I feel tempted to return to a life of emptiness and rely on my old patterns of comfort and fulfillment then I will praise God for what He has brought me from and remind myself that I am worthy of the sacrifice of the cross.

Lasting security comes when we bring the empty well of our hearts to Jesus and ask Him to fill and fulfill us with the security of His unfailing love.

It’s been nine years since the day of my and my husband’s confessions. Our marriage is far from perfect, but with God’s help we have walked through the process of forgiveness and restoration. My husband and I serve at a marriage conference every spring and God has used our mistakes to help other couples realize He is much bigger than any circumstance we face. He has also taken the shame and regret of my abortion and used it for His glory by calling me to be part of an abortion ministry, “Surrendering the Secret,” where I now serve as a leader.

I have no idea what your story it, but please believe this woman who almost lost everything for nothing. Jesus is worth seeking and giving Him a chance to fill up all the empty places of your life. If He can look at an unfaithful wife and compromising mom in Nebraska and see beauty instead of ugly then anyone is within reach of being embraced by His amazing grace.

You need to know that God wants you. There is no sin too heavy to stay nailed to the beams of the cross. You are the reason He trekked His way to Calvary and you are worth every step He took!

***
Thank you Lelia, for the courage and risk it takes tell your story – so raw, so real yet so full of His redemption. I see and love Jesus in you!

Your Turn: Will you take a minute to thank Lelia, and let us both know what has risen to the surface of your heart as you read her story or  Chapter 3 this week?  Just click  “share your thoughts”  below this post and do just that. Even sharing some of the answers to our end of chapter questions is great too. This is the place that truly connects us and makes our Confident Heart “community” so special. {Love you guys so much!} And if you are reading this via email, click here to visit my website and connect in community.

About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.

Comments

  1. I usually do not express my feelings but I connected with this article in some ways. Sometimes it is so easy to get to that place of emptiness in your marriage I’ve been there a few times. It can become very discouraging. I’m not giving up and I’m working on building my relationship with God so that He can strengthen my marriage. What a blessing that God has used your story to reach out to many who are experiencing the same things. May he continue to you use and your husband.

    • Elle…I love that you’re not giving up! The marriage conference that Gene and I volunteer with every year is with Family Life and is called Weekend to Remember. I never thought Gene would go, but I prayed and asked and he said yes. Before I could get out of shock I made the hotel reservation. That was back in 2004 and started volunteering in 2005. It has been a tool God has used to strengthen our marriage and help us stay together. Keep pursuing!

    • amy martin says:

      Leila,
      Thank you for sharing your story , what an awesome testimony to our Father. Nothing is bigger or badder than His love. For myself it is my judgmental attitude and my own agenda that can pull me away from the Father. Because they seem less dramatic, it becomes easy to fall into. Praise God He has taught me to pay attention to Him, and to remember I am here to glorify Him, not get my agenda accomplished.
      Thank you again sister,
      Amy

      • amy martin says:

        Renee,
        Thank you for your special email. Your stating : ” However, when that happens I know God is about to do something and the enemy wants to stop it. He’d love for us to give up. It’d be the easiest thing to do.” is an awesome reminder that our enemy wants nothing more than to trip us up with his lies. Praise God for His love for us and His power over evil!
        God Bless You!
        Amy

      • Amy…I love this! You’re awesome…thank you! 🙂

  2. Just wanted to say thank you for sharing Leila’s story. What an amazing redeeming God we serve! Nothing is impossible with Him no matter how impossible the situation may appear. What a testimony to that!

  3. coleen hayden says:

    what a wonderful Father we have in that He would bring you, leila, into our lives today—sharing from the depth of your heart—drawing us closer to Him!!! He alone knows exactly how your story would impact each of our hearts. He knows the trials that each of us are struggling through. and He knows the way to help each of us to recognize our great need to be filled with the only One Who can truly satisfy—our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. thank you, leila, for being willing to share with us. i am praising our awesome forgiving, redeeming, compassionate, loving God along with you! <3

  4. Thank you so much to hear that story I was in almost the same situation and god brought me through!! Am so happy to hear that we are not perfect but we are still loved by god!! Really speak to my heart !! Thank you Leila!!

  5. Lelia’s story is a reminder of God’s faithfulness, comapssion , favor and grace. He has taken her marriage and past and it is now being used for his glory to edify and encourage other women and men in how God can and will restore marriages and family. He can and will heal our hurt.

    • Jackie…YES! I love that you got that this is all about GOD! We are definite proof that God can take any ugly and make it beautiful. All He needs from us is our cooperation! 🙂

  6. Thank you Leila for sharing your story. I am guilty of looking to people to fill my voids, and God has shown me that clearly, I need to look to Him. In chapter 3 it says “God put a longing for unfailing love in our hearts because He knew it would lead us back to Him. Only God will fill and fulfill the desires of our heart.”. I love the when/then statements……. Mine include, when I am tempted to determine my worth as a stay at home mom, then I will remember I am of great value in God’s sight. When I am tempted to feel unloved and disconnected, I will remember God loves me with an unfailing love. I will remember He is the only one that can meet that need! This chapter was exactly what I needed this week, feeling lonely and disconnected from spiritual relationships…… It has brought me to God to be filled as I need!

    • Jackie…I love your when/then statements! We have to keep turning to Him for all of our needs. The video Renee shared this week is such a powerful visual of how we must let Him fill us up. I love what you said, “He is the only One that can meet that need.” AMEN Sister!

  7. Cheryl McDonald says:

    Thank you Lelia for sharing your story. My marriage like yours is suffering consequences of bad choices. Ones that one of us never lets go away We’ve been to counseling; never works. My husbands job is one that requires a very assertive, always in control person. So he never lets go of that. My husband and I are on 2 different planets sometimes it seems. He travels 4-5 days a week, we have 3 kids 11,13,15 who I home school, we just recently moved out of state, and the list goes on. At first I chose be depressed, tried suicide, and then it hit me. I am trying to do all this alone , I am trying to fulfill my heart alone…that’s when I told myself I am God’s child and he alone is the only one who can fulfill me. And bring forgiveness and peace to me. I pray everyday to feel that love I need from my husband as I never had it from my fathers. Some of you are probably going then get a divorce. My husband is a wonderful guy! Its life, finances, traveling, choices, that have come between our once happy loving relationship. All I can do for now is work on me and fulfill me with God so I don’t make wrong choices. It hurts..I cry but God has to have a plan out of all this. I stay in His word daily and with positive faithful friends to help me get through this journey he has for me. I’m sure a lot of us have stories but its what has made me turn to God and lean on Him and not anyone or anything else. I am blessed that God forgives and never leaves. Thanks for listening and have a blessed weekend! Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

    • Kyrie Eléison says:

      My husband and I seem on different planets most of the time as well. As I said in my comment, it is only recently that we made a choice to work through Christ, to work on our marriage. Have you seen Fireproof together ( that’s what helped us make the choice we did, and see that we hadn’t included Christ in the healing of our marriage)? We too have tried counseling (Christian and Secular), and other things, that haven’t worked. However, and I know your time together is quite limited, but we have found reading the Bible together, and praying together, is helping us a lot. Also, daily we are trying to pray for our marriage. We are really giving it up to God at this point. Would it be possible for the two of you to pray over the phone together at night, maybe read the Bible together too, or just some passages? I know it’s odd to hear marriage advice from one who is struggling, like me in my marriage, but then again, maybe it’s because my marriage is struggling that I want to tell you what is helping us. Believe me, it’s far from healed, and I honestly think although some marriages go along more easily than others, marriage is never easy, and always hard work. I grew up seeing my mother go from marriage to marriage, but in all of them the struggle came.

      I think too I bought into what the world sells (not saying you do this). I watch romantic movies, see romantic relationships on TV, and on, and on. I wanted that. I thought it should be that way, always. But God is writing my romance, and in His script He writes in struggles that aren’t healed easily, and when they are it’s only through Him, not a note, not flowers, not after the romantic music plays, etc. It’s only after as a couple we put our whole faith in Him daily, and thank Him daily for our marriage, even on the hard days when it seems like there is nothing there to be thankful for. Also, unlike a movie my marriage will not be worked out in two hours, lol. It’s all in God’s time, that is the hard part. God’s time is one of those things we have no way of knowing, or judging. I like things that I can see and touch, and I can’t see God’s clock, or touch it. I just have to have faith His timing is when things are the best time for them to happen.

      You also mentioned your sadness. I understand that too. I struggle with depression. It’s even harder to see through the pain of marital problems, when it’s hard to make it through a day without struggling inside yourself, I know! I take medication, and have to really monitor my depression (I ask everyone, please no comments on medication. I respect all views, but it hurts to hear some of the comments I have heard on faith vs. medication. I’m not saying anyone here would say anything, just trying to avoid that pain.) My depression can easily cloud all I see around me. I have prayed for the depression to end, but it’s just not God’s time for it to be healed in my life I guess. Sometimes I think it is one of His ways of keeping me close to and relying on Him. Also I believe that He will use my depression, and my marriage struggles to help others one day, somehow. Lelia is using her story and helping so many, and God used many stories of his beloved children’s struggles in the Bible, that I am sure he can use all of us. To help even one person, would be an honor, and if each of us through our story could help one person, think of how wonderful that would be!

      I am so glad we have this study. We all seem to be blessed from it in different areas in our life, but especially in now knowing one fundamental thing, only God can fill us up. It seems so simple, but it is hard to do. It is hard for me to translate God’s promises from my head to my heart, but as I work on it daily, it is becoming easier. It is even helping in my marriage, as I was relying on my husband to fill me up too much. It was far too much for one person to take on, only God can.

      It’s wonderful that you have friends, are in His word, and are trusting in God to fill you up. You are very blessed to have such good friends, and we are all blessed to have Jesus as our Savior. I hope you didn’t mind me speaking to you about all of this. I hope it didn’t sound like a “lecture”, I am far from a place where I have any business doing that! I just felt your heart hurting, and I felt like God wanted me to reply to your post as someone who is in a somewhat similar place.

      • Kyrie Eléison says:

        Oh, and I forgot! A Happy Mother’s Day to you, and all of the ladies here too! 🙂

      • Kyrie…It’s great when you realize, as you have that ONLY GOD can fill you up. You’re on the right track, my friend! And yes, we all have a usable story, we just have to cooperate with Him and He’ll equip us to share however He need us to. I always thought this stuff would be a secret between Him and I, but He had different plans. 🙂 “A Confident Heart” has been a tool that God used and continues to use to change my heart and keep me focused on Him.
        Proud of you! Keep moving forward!

    • The article really hit home as well as what you wrote. I understand the pain of not being in the same place as your husband and I will be praying for you. Thanks for sharing your heart. I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. I am reminded of a couple of weeks ago when my husband told me he had no desire to work on our marriage. He didn’t care if it got any better. I was able to here that and know that my husband was not my hope. My hope is in Christ alone. So bad things happened and God got a hold of my husband and I am amazed at what he is willing to do now. God is faithful. Thanks for your heart.

      • Sarah, thank you so much! We had confessed to each other in 2006 so God has really worked on us and in us over the last 6 years. It was 9 years ago it all started, but the confessions didn’t happen until ’06 on our way home from volunteering at a Family Life Weekend to Remember conference. It was a life changing moment for us individually with God and together as a couple. God is SO amazing.
        I love you and your husband’s story of how great our God is! Thank you also for your heart…God is worth bragging about! 🙂

      • Lydia G says:

        Wow Sarah- I remember you mentioning your struggling marriage back in the first week… and to hear that your husband’s heart is changing… how wonderful to see the power of God!!!

    • Cheryl…I love what you wrote here: that’s when I told myself I am God’s child and he alone is the only one who can fulfill me. And bring forgiveness and peace to me.
      No matter how hard marriage and life get, always continue to seek Him! I’m sorry that it’s tough, but as I shared last night when I spoke in a wedding Isaiah 43:2-3 says that God will get us THROUGH the tough stuff. We may come out on the other side wet or smelling like smoke, but you will not get burned or swept away because He is the Lord your God and Savior! Hang in there!

  8. Thank you for sharing this story. I remember when I felt so empty and alone. A class mate of mine had committed suicide and I could feel her loneliness even though I was married I felt such loneliness. It wasn’t to much longer before God called me back into His life and into church again after not attending since being a teenager some 20 years. There have been times that I could not go on without God and His unconditional love. I have filled my voids with doing service projects and trying to please other people. I am learning that I have self worth and I just need to fill myself more and more each day with God and His word.

    • Amen Brenda! You have enough self worth to send a man to a cross and get crucified by choice! I too am learning that I have to fill myself with God and His Word DAILY. And when I don’t, I miss Him. 🙂

  9. Machelle says:

    Thank you Leila for sharing. You will give hope to many women who think whatever choices they have made or things they have done will keep them from the love of God. NO SO!! You are living proof of HIS amazing grace. God bless you are He uses you and your husband to help others to find their way back.

  10. Tiffany Bell says:

    Thank you, Renee, for bringing this testimony to us and also to you, Leila, for your openess and honesty. I am sitting here in tears. I have looked to others to fill voids in my heart, too. I am so thankful that our God is a forgiving God. I feel as if I am so undeserving of His love, compassion, and forgiveness. This story has helped me trust in and believe that God has forgiven me. Blessings to you both, my sisters in Christ ~ Hugs 😉

    • Tiffany…it’s so easy to turn to other people or things to fill our voids, but what we don’t realize at the moment is emptiness can’t fill emptiness. Let your Savior wipe those tears and embrace you right where you are. And you are right girl, we ARE all so undeserving of what He offers us, but let us daily lay aside our unworthiness and embrace all He that He is. He makes it so worth it when we allow Him to fill us with His confidence as Renee teaches us about in “A Confident Heart.” Renee and I are both proof that only He has what it takes to fill an empty heart. Will be praying for you!

  11. This story touched me in so many ways. I’ve had 2 abortions & am on my 4th marriage. I wasn’t raised in a Christian home. I was married to my 1st husband with my 1st abortion. I had 1 child when I was 19 & not married. My 1st husband was divorced & refused to pay child support. How could I raise 2 children on my own. Steven was already cheating on me. I was single when I had my 2nd abortion. Then I married my 2nd husband. We were married for almost 10 yrs, when I had an affair. I couldn’t look @ him, much less myself. I ran hard & fast. Husband #3 was a drunk. During most of this time I was going to Church & going thru the motions of being a Christian. It wasn’t until my youngest son became a heroin addict that, that I gave myself to God. And starting trusting in the promises that I had read so much about. When I heard that being a Christian was a bout a relationship & not a religion. That’s when my eyes were opened for the 1st time. Now my current & 4th husband were having a lot of problems. Mostly because I clam up & hold things in. (My father was a alcoholic & could be abusive) Last year our Church paid for us to attend Weekend to Remember, put on by Family Life. Our marriage isn’t perfect, but we are working on it & plan on attending Weekend to Remember every year for as long was we’re still here together.
    I want to Thank you for sharing Renee & Leila. Helping me to be strong & over come all that life has dumped in my lap from the day i found out that I wasn’t planned or wanted. My story is long & hard,but God has a plan for my life & He doesn’t make mistakes or junk.

    • praying for you, patti! thanking God for all that He is doing in your heart&life…He DOES have a plan for your life! <3

    • Patti…you have been through some stuff…all usable by God! Weekend to Remember is the conference that Gene and I have attended and volunteered at every spring since 2004…life changing and amazing! So glad you guys go.
      Besides working through Renee’s book, “A Confident Heart”, in the future you may want to see if you have any Surrendering the Secret groups in your area. It’s a great post-abortion ministry. You can find more info at our website http://www.surrenderingthesecret.com/get-help-now/certified-leaders/united-states-leaders-map/

      And amen Patti..based on Jeremiah 29:11 alone, He has greatness planned for your precious life!

  12. As I struggle to understand why at 38 I am still single even though every part of me longs for marriage and family, I can’t help but wonder as I read today’s post if God has saved me from some deeper heartache. Was I truly ready to commit to a man when I haven’t truly surrendered to God? I still have emptiness when it comes to my relationship with my heavenly Father. Through the encouragement I have received in this study, I have resolved to let God fill my emptiness with Himself and then, I know, I will be ready for the future destiny He has in store for me. Thank you, Renee, for your prayers on the behalf of all the women participating in this study. You and your book are a blessing to me.

    • Dallena Hess says:

      I’m 43 almost 44 and I’ve never been married. I like you have wondered why I’m not married either. It could be that God feels that I’m not ready or that maybe it is his will for me to never marry.

    • Julia…I love that you’ve resolved to let God fill your emptiness. In “A Confident Heart”, Renee walks us through how to live a life that daily turns to Him so that He is our constant source of fulfillment and He is our confidence. Keep pursuing your King and believe what He says in Psalm 45:11 about you…The King is enthralled by your beauty.

  13. Denisse says:

    Wow! Thank you so much for sharing our story!

    For the past two years I have been dealing with a man whom I thought was for me but as time has gone by, I can see that he is not. I thought he was it, I met in Church, he is on the praise team but I never thought after meeting him and beginning a relationship with him, that I would be where I am now. After year of dating, the lies came, the manipulation, the other woman, and a hidden marriage. I couldn’t believe it but then I again I could. Two years later and I am here, nothing has changed. I do not understand how I allowed myself to get here, how could I allow this man to be a part of my life, how could I allow him to be around my children. I decided to leave the state, I thought that maybe if he didn’t see me, it would help, maybe he will really leave me alone but even being here he contacts me.
    A few das ago, I was home alone and I just cried out to God and told Him “I don’t want this life anymore, I do not want to live like this. If alone you want me, to never marry and be alone, I am ok with that just please get me out of this mess!” I told the guy that I couldn’t do this anymore, that I NEED God and I am not going to jeopardize my salvation for nothing or no one, and he should want the same.

    I want to go back home, back to my church, back to my life! But I go with a different mindset, and without him in my life. I woke up this morning a little scared because of his threats as far as what he can do to hurt me, not physically but he always threatens to make me look bad somehow. I have allowed somethings to happen just for his love, and I do not know why! But I have repented and I know that God has washed away all of m sins, and that this man cannot cause anymore pain or hurt in my life.
    I want more, I know that God hs more for me and my children!

    I realized recently that since the time that I gave my life to God, I always tried to fill a void with a man. I felt that I needed a mans company and attention to feel wanted and secure but I was wrong. All I need is God, He can fill every empty place in my life, He will make me whole, so I reach out to touch the hem of His garment for I know that I will be made whole!

    Thank you so much for sharing our story, it has helped me to realize that I have the reassurance that I am forgiven and that God is for me and He loves me. I use to beat myself of because of all the wrong I was doing and I had no peace becuase of my relationship with this man, from my own guilt and the confusion adn clutter he was causing in m head I felt so lost…. But I know that God will take all the ugliness and use it for His Glory…. This definitely feels like Redemption!

    • Denisse says:

      I left out that I have had 3 abortions, and this is something that is really hard for me to talk about. Even saying it now tears fill my eyes. But I know that I am forgiven and that God has a great life for my 2 children who are now 13 and 11 years old. I went to a pre screening of the movie “October Baby” which I highly recommend and right there in the movie theater, healing took place and I know that God has forgiven me for what I’ve done years and years ago when I allowed m children’s father to convince me to do it because he wasn’t ready. Yes…the things one would do for a man. What a live I’ve lived and I’m only 31 but, I am ready to do whatever I have to do FOR GOD!!!!

      • hi denisse…i’m sure it took alot to share your life and heart with us. praying along with you that God will continue to heal you and bless you and take the story of His redemption in your life and allow it to be used for His glory! <3

      • Denisse…you are so brave my friend to share your story! I love that about you. Keep pushing through Renee’s book, “A Confident Heart”…if you allow God to do all He wants to in your life then by the end of the book, you won’t be the same woman you were when you started it.
        I strongly recommend visiting the post-abortion ministry website and seeing if there is a leader in your area…http://www.surrenderingthesecret.com/get-help-now/certified-leaders/united-states-leaders-map/

        And you’re right….God will use your ugly past for His glory!! 🙂

        • Denisse says:

          Lelia…. Thank you so much! I am going to keep pushing and I have that expectation, that after this study I will not be the same woman! Thanks for the link, I’ll look into it and thank you again for sharing your story! 🙂

    • I just want you to know that Lelia is reading and praying for each of you – with tears in her eyes. She only got her blackberry and it’s really hard to leave a comment with it but she’s hoping to get online so she can interact with you all today.

      I love you Denisse as my sister in Christ, and I’m proud of you for being so brave to share your story and your sorrow with us. We are for you and we are praying for you to feel the power and redemption of God’s truth and love in your life. You are worth what it’s gonna take to live free. One step and one redeeming life-changing choice and dependence on Jesus at a time. He’s in you and with you and for you – HE will do this as you rely on HIM!!

      • Denisse says:

        Thank you so much Coleen and Renee… Your kind and loving words just overwhelm me with tears! I know that God is purging me and preparing me for a completely filled life in Him. I’m not going to let anything hinder me from seeing to it that His purpose be fulfilled in my life.

        I am so thankful for this study, I didn’t think that it would be so much for me but it is! And I thank God for it and I thank God for you Renee… Never stop!

        Your sister in Christ,

        Denisse

  14. Barbara Milburn aka Sunshine says:

    Over and over again I find myself in tears as I read chapter after chapter and then here again as I read Lelia’s story. I re-live the shame of things in my own past, some of which I believe have me now in this place where I don’t really want to be. I’ve spoken more than once on my two failed marriages but what I have not said is that I carry the guilt and shame of why marriage #2 failed. I messed up when I looked to fill my loneliness in the arms of another man, a man that I snuck around with behind my husbands back not for weeks or months but for years. Going to cheap motels and even being stupid enough to pay for the rooms myself because his significant other controlled all their finances and he couldn’t even justify the few bucks that was spent once or twice a month when we found time to sneak away for a few stolen hours. All the while, attending church each week, participating in ministries, professing to love the Lord with all my heart. My husband was never home; we were like ships in the night working two very schedules coming together on Sunday which I called happy married couple day because we would go to church together holding hands as we entered the church, Afterward we’d go have breakfast or brunch; he’d open doors, help me with my coat and then we’d come home and retreat to separate rooms and probably would not see or speak to one another again until the next Sunday morning. I felt alone, I felt neglected and even though I know now his time away from me was not spent with another woman I always suspected it was so and so I based my actions and my behaviors on assumptions and feelings instead of the word of God. It was me who packed up and left, it was me who threw 22 years of marriage away to be with another man who then turned around and married the significant other who he has been living with all the time we were sneaking around. I was crushed the day he married her. I remembered the day of their wedding I sat and watched My Best Friends Wedding over and over and over again with tears in my eyes and a pain in my heart I thought would never go away. I could not believe that now that I had left my husband and free to be with him that now he chose to marry her. On top of that, as soon as the wedding ceremony was over and he could be by himself he called to see if I was alright?? I asked him if congratulations were in order and he replied, I guess you can call it that. Even after he had made his choice and was now married he still wanted to sneak around with me. How ironic now I was the single one and he was married. What a fool I was. Three years later, his marriage failed and he and I had our opportunity to have the relationship I thought I wanted only to find I did not know him at all. All that time I had no idea he was heavy into drugs and other criminal activities as well as suffered bipolar tendencies. My prince turned into a frog and to think I had thrown everything away for this. Talk about jumping from the pan into the fire. To add to all of that I found he was diagnosed with liver cancer and as much as I wanted to walk out I could not leave him because with the dissolution of his marriage he’d lost everything and had no one but me. I remember one Sunday, sitting on the balcony of my small apartment in tears because again I had missed Sunday service because we had gotten into it early that morning; yelling and screaming at each other and I was so upset I just couldn’t get it together to go to church. As I sat there I talked to God, reliving the past few years in my mind wondering how I wound up in this place, so miserable and so un-happy with the man I thought was the man of my dreams. I couldn’t walk out on him but at the same time I couldn’t take the life we had together any longer. I cried out to God and asked him how He was gonna get me out of such a mess; three days later my friend was dead. More tragedy, more pain, more emptiness. That was 4 years ago and today although I’m in a very different place with God I’m finding I still have not given Him all my hurt and pain. I thank God for Renee, her book and this study because it is bringing the pain to the light and allowing me to deal with it and process it in a why I never have before. I’m learning that I can’t be fulfilled with the love of a man until I allow God to fulfill me with his love and that I can not allow the relationship that I’m in now where the man I love won’t commit to mold me or shape me or change my own self worth. My worth is in God; only he can fill my empty places. I am so very grateful that God led me to be a part of this Confident Heart bible study.

    • Kathy Sturgis says:

      Dear Denisse:

      I do not find myself in the same place as you, but drawn to the same conclusion. My marriage has been hard because of my demanding that my husband be my satisfaction. It has pulled us apart in spirit but we are still together. God is teaching me to find my satisfaction in Him and it is quite the journey. Sometimes He pulls layers of the onion off and I see clearly how I am not bringing my needs to my faithful God other times it is a slow process of seeing all the mistakes and finally bringing them to the cross to be buried there. I keep saying heal us please and I know God’s reply is “I am, but I am starting with you so just keep working with me and we will get there in my timing.” I am learning to trust that statement. Keep taking it all to God our true source of the bread and water we need to grow and live a satisfied life. I will not lie and say it is an easy fix. Satan definitely is opposing us but our GOD IS GREATER. Believe with me and stay on your knees.

      • Denisse says:

        Amen Kathy! I am believing with you and will remain on my knees til I see my breakthrough. You are right, it isn’t easy but God tells us that this battle is not ours, it is the Lords and it has already been won! Glory to God! So with all this I remain with an attitude of praise, as you said OUR GOD IS GREATER! and bigger than any situation we may be facing! Thank you my sister in Christ for your words of encouragement! I am standing in agreement with you! God bless you!

    • I’m here praying for you too Barbara, and for each of you reading and sharing today – and those that are simply reading and holding back the tears.

      I’m proud of you Barbara for being so courageous… so willing to let down the walls around your heart and share your story and your heartbreak with us. We are praying the power and redemption of God’s truth and love over your life. As I shared with Denisse, you are worth what it’s gonna take to live free. One step and one redeeming life-changing choice and dependence on Jesus at a time. He’s in you and with you and for you – HE will do this as you rely on HIM!!

      Jesus I pray that you would continue to take Barbara’s story and make it Yours. Redeem her brokenness and make her whole, healed and courageous enough to hope again. Give her a continual deep desire and thirst for you and Your words of love and affirmation. Draw her to Yourself to drink deeply of the truth that is hers in Christ. YOU ARE THE ONE SHE LONGS FOR – give her more and more longing and satisfaction in You – the Lover of her soul. In Jesus’ Name amen.

    • AMEN to all that Renee prayed over you Barbara! In His timing, God will use your story for His glory…He’ll blow your mind and help others at the same time.

    • Lynda H. says:

      Barbara, I’m so sorry for all the pain and emptiness that has followed you in life. But I’m praising God that you are finding that only He can fill those empty parts. Your story has hit on so many things in my own life. While my life on the outside appears to be stable, behind the walls and doors it is anything but. And while I haven’t had a physical affair, I have had emotional ones which are just as destructive. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us all. It gives me hope. Hope that everyday I can grow stronger with God and allow Him to be my ultimate friend and love of my life! I’m praying for you and will continue to do so. Can you pray for me? I’m so glad that I joined this group as well. I am a missionary living in South Korea which causes a HUGE amount of loneliness which also leaves doors open for temptation. I only allow myself to take it a day at a time or a hour at a time or a minute at a time or even a second at a time.

      • Praying for you! Thank you for sharing your heart and asking for prayer!

      • Barbara Milburn aka Sunshine says:

        Linda, I am honored that you have asked me to pray for you and find it a privledge to do so. How awesome it must be, serving as a missionary in Korea but I can also see how it may open you up to lonliness and temptation. Satan knows our every weekness and looks for every opportunity to use it against us. Scripture says he comes to kill, steal and destroy but the GOOD news is that Jesus comes so that we may have life and life abundantly. (John 10:10) That being said, May the Lord our God in His infitnite wisdom comfort you and may His favor chase you down and surround you every where you good. I will be keeping you in my prayers and am asking that you keep me lifted up too!

  15. Thank you Leila and each and every one of you for being brave enough to share your story and thank you Renee for this study. It’s amazing to see how detrimental a non-confident heart can be in our lives because it allows Satan to manipulate our thoughts and feeling. A confident heart in Christ is our greatest blessing but often we are so overwhelmed with life that non-confidence creeps in slowly if we aren’t careful to stop our negative thinking. Renee’s what-then statements are very beneficial in establishing positive thinking for our spiritual growth with Christ. I’ve determined the following acronym for Confidence to help me.
    C-count O-on N-nothing F-from I-individuals D-determine- E-every N-need C-Christ E-empowered

  16. Kyrie Eléison says:

    Lelia, thank you so much for sharing your story. That could have easily been me. I was in, what I call an emotionally inappropriate relationship with a man at work. There was no sexual intimacy, no kissing, hand holding, none of that. However, I confided in him, the way I would have, and should have, my husband. My husband and I were having problems, and instead of looking to God to fill me up, or asking Him to help fix my marriage, I was letting this man emotionally fill me up. One day this man and I went out for a cup of coffee, and I felt my self very attracted to him, and I knew the feeling was mutual, no words had to be said, it was just obvious. That day I cut all ties with him. My husband knew he and I were friends, but not how deep it had gone. Soon after that I told my husband all about how deep it had actually gone though, and how much it had scared me.

    My husband and I decided to have a baby, and I became a stay at home mom. However, I have decided that to keep myself from that temptation ever again that when I do go back to work one day, my interactions with men at work will only be business like. I will also pray for daily strength for myself to stay away from emotionally inappropriate relationships, and to strengthen my marriage. This isn’t to say it isn’t possible to be friends with a man, and not do what I did. I know myself though, and I thought because I had great male friends in HS and college, that I could still do it after my marriage. The difference is I was single then, and if I had become their girlfriend, it would have been OK. I know it is much easier for me to be friends with men. I fall easily into a friendly, and fun banter with men, but it can easily turn into flirtation, and then more. I have come to know this about myself since that incident.

    I am daily, since this study, turning to God, and asking Him to fill me up. However, for me, I know that despite being filled up, my marriage is still rocky, fragile, and we are only now turning to God, ,and have rededicated ourselves, through Him, to our marriage. Also, since I know I have to daily ask God to fill me up, I could fall into a danger zone with a man again emotionally. So it is better for me to keep as far from temptation as possible. I think all of us dance with temptation, thinking we can handle it, and with God’s help most of the time we can. But I never forget I am human too, and as it says in the Bible in Romans 7:15 ESV, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” So I understand what happened to you, and how it can happen. I am so glad that you found how God can fill you up. I am also so very proud of how you, and your husband, through the work of Christ in your lives, stayed together.

    We have so many broken marriages nowadays, and I can’t judge them, my own marriage is being worked on daily by Christ, and my husband and I have to rededicate ourselves daily to staying in the marriage and working things out. I know if I weren’t a Christian, with a Christian husband, our marriage too might be one of those broken marriages, a divorce. Again, thank you for sharing your story. God has done great works through you and what you went through, may He only continue that work in you, and in your husband. God Bless You! 🙂

    • Kyrie…I go to the extremes to protect our marriage, I have to. So continue to be wise and never let your guard down. Renee’s book is a great and timely gift from God to teach woman how to allow Him to fill their hearts with His confidence. Excited for you…keep moving forward one step at a time. 🙂

    • Lydia G says:

      Kyrie, what a blessing to have learned the importance of boundaries with men to protect your marriage! I am a nurse and there is one particular intern who I feel attracted to- so when I know it is his month on my unit, I take call whenever it is offered so that I don’t have to be around him. I don’t even know if it is mutual, but I don’t want to place myself in the line of temptation! We are commanded to flee such temptations in the Bible, and FLEE I will! I think emotional intimacy is such an easy trap for us as women to fall into with other men, especially if our husbands lack a bit in listening, communication, and empathy. But for the grace of God, there I would be as well! I thank Him for protecting me from being tempted in my greatest times of vulnerability- this is what I pray for when I am feeling so weak from my own emptiness and insecurity- first that God would fill those places, but also that He would keep me from temptation when I know I am most weak. May He do the same for all of us as we learn to look to Him and not our husbands for complete fulfillment!

      • Kyrie Eléison says:

        Lydia, good to know I am not alone in having to flee this sort of temptation. You are right in that emotional intimacy is an easy trap, especially when like me, you have an already fragile marriage. My husband is a wonderful man, but our communication skills are still under going work. We often misunderstand what the other needs, especially emotionally, in a situation. Fortunately, God can fill those places, and spaces until we have learned more about communication, and really God should be the one who fills each of us first anyway. Thanks for sharing with me Lydia. God bless you! I will be praying for you, for all of us.

        • Kyrie,
          Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Mine is very similar. I have had an emotional relationship with a male friend from work. We even continued testing after he moved away. He is married as I am and his wife found out about our texts and conversations. I hope I have not ruined his relationship with his wife. I was using this relationship to fill the emptiness of my marriage, but now I realize that God is the only one who can fill me. I have not contacted this person since his wife found out, but the temptation is still there and I struggle daily to avoid it. I thank God for bringing me to this study and for all the brave women who encourage me by sharing their story.

          • Kyrie Eléison says:

            I understand that temptation Nancy. Stay strong through our Lord hon, pray for the Lord to give you the strength daily not to contact him. I felt very lonely after I cut myself off from the man I had my emotionally inappropriate relationship with, so I know what you must be going through after you cut yourself off from him. I know though that God put you in this group for that very reason, to keep you strong in Him, our Lord, to keep on track and feeling the new closeness to Him and his promises filling your mind, and His love filling your heart. Jesus will take the place this man once held. It wont happen overnight, and it will hurt, I wont say it wont. However, you now have Renee’s prayers to repeat when you need to. Great Bible verses she has given you to pray, and put these all in your heart, really believe them. I have to pray everyday for the Lord to keep me close to him, and bring the verses from my head to my heart. I didn’t grow up in household filled with the Lord, so when I went to church I felt close to God, and anything I did outside of church was “homework”. I think subconsciously I felt as though Jesus lived in the church, as that is where I felt Him most, and that as long as I was “good”, and did my “homework” all week long He would be happy with me. However, this left a void in me and in my relationship with the Lord, and I became vulnerable. I needed the Lord in my heart daily. I am only now learning to ask Him to be in my heart each day. I am thinking of these verses and my time in the Bible as love notes from God. When I pray I am trying to visualize our Lord being with me. Little by little it is all bringing me to a much better, and far different place in my relationship with Him. I don’t know if you have experienced any of this, as far as your relationship with the Lord goes, but I wanted to just let you know what has helped me in case. I will be praying for you! (((HUGS)))

  17. I’m here praying. Jesus take our stories and make them yours. Redeem our brokenness and make us whole and healed. Re-direc the desires of our hearts to thirst for you, to come to you, to listen to Your words of love and affirmation and to drink deeply of the truth that is ours in Christ. We want to need you more and more. We are tired of living dependent on rings and people that cannot satisfy. Oh Jesus, YOU ARE THE ONE WE LONG FOR – give us more and more longing and satisfaction in you. Renew our hearts and our minds, restore our hope and our confidence as we put our trust in YOU!! We want to know and rely on the love you have for us. In Your powerful Name, amen!!

  18. Hello All,

    I don’t know if this is the place where I post this? I had a head injury a week ago now. Through the gross negligence of a PT. I’m still having many of the symptoms of this mild concussion. Also, back pain. The symptoms are: headaches, nausea, dizziness. I would ask for continue healing.

    Thanks!

    • Donna B says:

      God,

      Thank you for Debbie. I would ask that you would give the doctors wisdom in treating Debbie and her head injury. Go before the doctors. Order their steps. Ease Debbie’s pain. Be Debbie’s Jehovah Rapha, her healer. I think of the story in the Bible of the hemorraging lady’s faith and how her faith in Jesus healed her after she touched the robe of Jesus. What amazing faith!! I would ask that you would completely fill Debbie with that same believing faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

  19. Kathy Sturgis says:

    Lelia’s story has encouraged me this morning to write down some WHEN-THEN statements of my own. I have sought the satisfaction only God can give in my husband and as the journey continued and the satisfaction did not come I have hurt him in many ways. Praise God although there were moments I wanted to leave God has kept me true to my commitment and now is teaching me who my source of true satisfaction is. This is the second time I have done this study with Renee and the biggest thing I have learned is that we have to be active in the learning! I have always just wanted God to “Poof” change all my problems but that is not how He conforms us to His image. He asks us to be part of the working out our salvation by cooperating in what He says is necessary. I used to also live by a check off list expecting God to answer my prayers because I checked off my list of things I should be doing. He has shown me His ways are so much different than my thinking. One of the when-then statements I have written to help me is: WHEN I feel like I must be doing something for God THEN I will crawl up into the lap of my Father who just wants me to BE in His presence and rest in His love. Another is: WHEN I feel empty THEN I will cry out to the Bread of Life and Living Water to satisfy my soul. Thank you Lelia and Renee

  20. WOW…in tears reading through these comments. You all or as my girlfriend Renee would say “y’all” are some gorgeous women. I’m out of town and unable to use my laptop where I’m at but heading to a place I can use it. So, I’ll be back to respond to these amazing hear-felt comments.
    Big hugs and lots of love,
    Lelia

    • Kyrie Eléison says:

      Love and prayers right back to you Lelia! Thank you again for your powerful story. God is truly working through you!

    • Kathy Sturgis says:

      please pray that God can weed out the need for me to feel important so that HE can use my healing story for HIS GLORY totally. I have felt that I have to be perfect forHim to be useable and and I could not be perfect. I failed many times and was crushed by the load. Now I know that ‘GOD IS PERFECT AND I DON’T HAVE TO BE (Thank you, Renee) and I also know that the thought was one of satan’s lies that I refuse to believe anymore; but I have lots of weeds that need pulling to keep me humble and useable. Thanks!!!

      • Donna B says:

        Kathy, thanks so much for your honesty. Praising Him for you and praying for you as you continue your journey to the heart of God!

        God,

        Walk alongside Kathy and reveal to Kathy that her worth is found in you alone. Cause her to remember that we are all a work in progress. That we are all seeking after your heart, step by step. Remind her of your words in Isaiah 62:3, “You will be a crown of spendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.”. Guide and direct with her weed pulling. Show her how to extend your not only to others but to herself as she moves forward to your heart.

        I praise you for how you are revealing yourself to Kathy during this study. I thank you for how you are using Renee’s story to bring Kathy and others closer to your heart. Fill Kathy up with yourself. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

      • Kris Ray says:

        Kathy – I can really relate to that. I have always tried to be perfect and meet everyone’s expectations. I grew further and further from God when I felt like I was letting him down. It wasn’t until recently I figured out I don’t have to clean my act up to go to God. Jesus made that possible. In fact he helped me realize that he did what he did for us because nothing we do could ever be good enough and he loved us that much that he wanted to stand in the gap for us. Only by His power are we made perfect in our weakness!

  21. This was really needed today. Thank you

  22. Valerie says:

    I have just started receiving your emails. Thank you Lelia for sharing your heartbreaking story. Thank you for your bravery. Thank you for your transparency. Thank you for testifying to the fact that Jesus needs to be our all in all and in Him and Him only will we be complete. You truly ministered to my heart today.

  23. Thank you Lelia for sharing such a powerful testimony. It truly reminds me that nothing is impossible for God and that He is a restorer, reconciler, and forgiver. What a mighty God we serve. I too have tried to fill empty voids with people and things only to no avail. I have recently learned to trust Him and accept His unconditional love and allow only Him to fill my empty spaces. Continue to pray my strength this walk and total trusting is not easy but my mind is made up and that makes all the difference. God bless and Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mothers.

  24. Dallena Hess says:

    Thank you Leila for your honesty. Thank you to all who have also been honest . I’ve done some things to try to fill up my voids-things that i knew were wrong because of how I’ve been raised. I’m really trying to look to Jesus to fill me. God is truly more than enough.

    • Donna B says:

      Yay God and Dallena,

      Been there and done that too!! Always trying to fill my Jesus void with pretty much about anything that would dull the pain … from alcohol, to drugs, to guys , to work, to other people…and the list went on and on ….can’t help but think of how Renee personalized it all for me on page 60 with her when-then statements. And I’ve also learned to turn to Chapter 12 …(I call Chapter 12, Renee’s Cliff Notes version of A Confident Heart) and am constantly reading and storing His promises found there in my heart.

      Loved these verses Renee called out in Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those (Dallena, this would be you!) who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Dallena, God does have a purpose for you and he will use your past to bring Him honor and glory. He will work everything together in your life for His kingdom purposes. Praying for you and you seek His face.

      Blessings,
      Donna B

    • Dallena…yes He is more than enough! I went against all that I knew too. I loved what Renee says here toward the end of chapter 3: “Salvation is a one-time decision, but finding satisfaction in Christ and living in the security of His promises is a daily process.” I love that she said DAILY. Keep going Dallena, everyday…seek Him!

  25. Veronica says:

    Wow…it amazing how God uses our experiences in our past to give him glory. and it wonderful to know and to help other that are or might be going through similar situations can actually find salvation and forgiveness from God. Knowing that his reches of mercy are forever faithful and that he able even to restore the very brokeness of our hearts. God Bless you and may God keep Blessing your marriage in a such amazing way so he can keep on being glorify in each area of your life.

    • Veronica…I too love that God use will use our experiences from our past in our present for His glory! So cool! God bless you too as you read through Renee’s book, “A Confident Heart”!

  26. Kris Ray says:

    Thank you Leila for baring your soul. What an amazing witness you must be to others at this point in your life.. from ashes to beauty! As I read through some of Renee’s recounts of her past I too was reminded of my own. I was raised in a Christian home where my mom was the spiritual “leader”, my dad is actually now a proclaimed aetheist. Her attempt at leadership was riddled with guilt trips and control, something I did everything in my power to fight. Before I was 16 I was sexually active. Today I am 46. I have been happily married for 6 years, although to a man who much like my father, is not a spiritual leader. Prior to meeting him I was involved with so many men, I lost count. I was constantly turning to men to fill my empty heart and time and time again was hurt to the point I was numb and completely separated from God. In fact, I turned to drinking to help make me feel good and make it all feel “fun”. Despite my rebellion and separation from God, he spared me from so many of the consequences that could have and should have been mine. I see that now and am so very thankful. When I got married at 40, I was unexpectedly pregnant with my now 5 year old daughter. At age 2 she was diagnosed with severe autism. Through the challenges and trials of raising a special needs child as well as the joys I have experienced through her innocence and pure heart, I have begun to learn reliance upon God and am FINALLY after 46 long years, looking to really build a lasting relationship with him. I have been actively involved as a leader in the local Autism Society chapter and just recently started a special needs ministry at my church. However, I know God probably has much more in store for me to use my past in ministering to other. One step at a time!

    • Kris…love your honesty!
      If you and your husband can ever make it to a Family Life “Weekend to Remember” conference, I encourage you guys to take a weekend away with each other if you can and go. Really strengthened our marriage.
      Keep going through Renee’s book…it’s such a power tool God used to change my heart around.
      And love how you are involved in your local Autism Society chapter. 🙂

  27. anonymous anonymous says:

    Your story touched my heart and soul today. Although my “emptiness” has nothing to do with a husband, it resonated with me as, I’m living with my son and daughter-in-law and I want to be so close to them and it’s not happening as I want it to. I won’t go into all the details of my story but, I feel as though as I’m living in a vaccuum. I have a room here, but nothing else. Today, I was feeling particularly sorry for myself (with tomorrow being Mother’s Day) and I happened to click on this blog. The truth struck to my core. I’m looking in all the wrong places for my fulfillment. Thanks for the reminder. Only Jesus can give me what I need.

    • Sweet Anonymous friend…I love that in the midst of your sorrow, God took your hand and led you to Renee’s blog. What a tender-hearted Shepherd we have! If you don’t have Renee’s book, I urge you to get it. I love what she says here in chapter 3:
      “We long to be acknowledged. We want to be noticed…So what do we do when our hearts start tossing and turning with emptiness and uncertainty? We need to stop and ask Jesus to help us see the worth we are placing in other things and the worth we are seeking in other people. On thing that has helped me is to write when-then statements: For example:

      -WHEN I start to measure my value by how well I am doing as a _______________(mom, mother-in-law, etc.) THEN I will thank God for the gift of my roles and for the gift of His unconditional love that determines my worth.

      -WHEN I feel insecure about my position at work, church, or somewhere else, THEN I will thank God for the high or low position I have on earth and for my position in Christ that secures my significance forever.

      -WHEN I feel an aching emptiness that I’m tempted to fill with food, television, or anything other than God, THEN I will thank God for being the strength of my heart and my portion forever–and remember that He is the One who satisfies the hunger and thirst of my soul.

      *This next part I have the word “Important” written next to it in the book*

      “By recognizing and replacing our emptiness with the fullness of God’s promises, we drink the gift of living water. We acknowledge our need, which allows Him to pour His truth into the well of our hearts.”

      I hope this encourages you to look to Jesus for your fulfillment because as you said…only Jesus can give you what you need.

      Happy Mother’s Day tomorrow. xo

  28. Kristine says:

    Wow this story has helped give me the insight I need to continue on my path with Jesus…. My husband has left me for another married woman we have been together 16 years & have been thru a lot in that time. I have always put my husband above God & have found my worth in him not in God. This separation has been devastating &i have felt like dying without him. But everyday I get up even though I don’t want to & I put my faith in Jesus for my life & my marriage. It’s hard but I know God is my only hope He is my portion & who is going to give me my worth my value & who is going to fill all my empty places not my husband. I am praying & believing God wants restoration for my marriage but I know that all depends on my husbands choices to follow God or to continue in his sin….. I can’t imagine my life without him but I know God will make me whole no matter the out come. I truly want my husband restored to God & to me but I know Gods got good plans for my life. Please just pray for me for him & for us that we can follow Gods plan in our lives & that we could be restored to a better marriage than before one built on God first. Every day is a struggle but I’m just handing it to God every morning & some how by end of day I’ve made it thru another day. Your story gives me renued hope & helps me to hold onto Gods promises & strengthens my faith that all things are possible with God even if they don’t seem possible to me. Thank you

    • Oh Kristine, I feel your pain. Even though I had betrayed Gene, I was still trying to process my own pain of betrayal. And it is such a deep pain that doesn’t go away. I will be praying for you and I hope that you allow Jesus to fill what your husband was never created to fulfill in you. If you’re husband is willing, I encourage you to get yourselves to a Family Life Weekend to Remember conference. I never thought my husband would go, but God surprised me and he said yes. We went the first year in 2004 and started volunteering in 2005 and just in March completed our 8th year of volunteering. It is an amazing conference.

      http://www.familylife.com/events/featured-events/weekend-to-remember

      Will be in prayer for you!

      • Kristine says:

        Thank you I will try but he says he does not love me doesn’t want to work out our marriage for sure wants divorce & loves this other woman & is just waiting on her to leave her husband. I knw God is all I need & he is so much ginger than all this that my husband says but it is all so hard to process & hard to deal with….I love my husband so much & I see a man that God created not this awful man he is but it still only hinges on my husbands decissions now… Please keep praying & I am doing best I can to wait on God & keep Him first in my life…. I’m praying for a miracle & I know my God is the God of miracles even today still.

        • Praying for you Kristine. On behalf of the adulteress woman that I once was…I’m so sorry….an apology you’ll probably never hear from her or perhaps him. Sorry for the pain their selfish choices have caused you. Sorry for the unworthiness you feel. Sorry for the emptiness you feel.
          But in the midst of your pain I hope it’s Jesus that you trust with all of you heart, soul and mind. And please remember and believe Psalm 45:11…the King is enthralled with your beauty.
          Hugs,
          Lelia

    • hi there, kristine…agreeing in prayer with you for “…me for him & for us that we can follow Gods plan in our lives & that we could be restored to a better marriage than before one built on God first.” and thanking the Lord for His goodness in helping you to make it to the end of each day as you struggle but endeavor to give it over to God. i can only imagine that it pleases Him! <3

  29. So much of this resonated with me on so many levels! I’ve not had an affair or anything, but the temptation was there due to a void I felt within my marriage. I am blessed to have a relationship with my husband in which I can talk to him about any and everything. This article has me convinced that communication is so important between both my spouse and God. I need to be open and honest with both!

    Thank you for sharing Leila!

  30. Sarah H. says:

    I have got to admit, I am behind in my study with A Confident Heart. I have felt the Holy Spirit nudge me daily do do my reading, to get involved with these awesome words from the heart of this dear woman! But I keep putting it off. I suppose because I really don’t want to dig into my emotional place.
    I don’t have a story like any of these above. Yes, I am in my third marriage. It isn’t perfect. We have two children. My husband is on disability and he smokes marijuana to keep him from getting depressed (the reason for his disability) Any how, I loathe his drug use. I put up my wall. I am not as a wife should be to him because there is so much about him that I don’t like. I stay angry at him more times than not. We live only on his monthly disability check and to say the least, we are dirt poor. Kinda stinks especially since I stay at home to homeschool our two children. (What we feel we are led to do with our children)
    I guess I just need prayer that I would learn to let go of some of my anger that I have towards my husband and our circumstances. I know money isn’t every thing, but not having it really really is super hard.
    Anyway, I just wanted to say that I am thankful for this study and for each and every one of you that have poured your hearts out via your testimonies above. I don’t know what else I have to say, just that I pray for healing for each and every one that is in here and all those that are not being “vocal” about their struggles . Thank you so much Renee & Lelia for today’s post. (((HUGS))) and God Bless You!

  31. Lydia G says:

    But for the grace of God, there I would be as well! I thank Him for protecting me from being tempted in my greatest times of vulnerability in my marriage- this is what I pray for when I am feeling so weak from my own emptiness and insecurity- first that God would fill those places, but also that He would keep me from temptation when I know I am most weak. May He do the same for all of us as we learn to look to Him and not our husbands for complete fulfillment! Thank you Lelia for being transparent with us and encouraging us to look ahead with God’s forgiveness for the past. I love to think that God will use the whole of my story for His good- what I see as both the bad and the good.

  32. Beth M. says:

    Thank you Lelia for sharing your testimony. I have gone through many trials and temptations in my life, and looking to God for his help and strength gives me hope that I can make it through. Until I learned to look to God to fulfill my heart’s desires, I struggled greatly. When I am weak-then He is strong! I love this study, I went through it once, and I am reading it for the second time!
    I hope everyone has a great mother’s day!

    • Beth..thank you! Love that you’re going through “A Confident Heart” a second time! I notice each time I learn something new! Yes sister…we’re weak—but—He is strong!

  33. It’s amazing how God can take our mistakes, and bring beauty out of them. With every bad situation, and bad mess we get ourselves in at times… God will bring his glory out of it somehow. 🙂 God is amazing! I thank him for his forgiveness, grace, and for restoration. I’m currently waiting on God to restore me in a relationship with a guy that I left; knowing he was the one God had for me. You never know what you have until it’s gone…

  34. Lelia,
    I was part of the conference call for the An Untroubled Heart study. I loved hearing your story then and thank you for being willing to share such an awesome testimony with us. I am so proud to have sisters in Christ that remind me we all have shortcomings (oh, mine are long and detailed) and until recently, I wore those as guilt that kept me feeling never quite good enough. Ours is a God who is not only loving, but restorative, and it is so uplifting to others to hear such a testament of his power. My husband and I have attended the Weekend to Remember, and will actually be attending in October. I am hoping this year my husband will be a little more interactive (his answer was, we have a good marriage, to we really need all of this) yet, he is always ready to go and looks forward to the weekend! Again, thanks for sharing, I for one was just blown away!

    • Gina~Thank you so much! I’m glad you were part of the conference call with Melissa. That was an amazing experience. Excited that you guys are returning to the conference. Just put all your expectations on Christ instead of your husband and you won’t be disappointed! 🙂 Thank youi for your sweet encouragement. Gene and I will pray for you guys before we close our eyes tonight.

    • Amen, thank you also for sharing, continue to pray for your husband as I do with mine. I think they feel somewhat of a disappointment if we as women say, yes our marriage is good BUT this would help us more. We too have attended a marriage conference and it enlightened our hearts but just like your husband mine was why, do your really think we need this. To me, marriage conferences are just like going to school, or church or reading the bible, the Lord will touch, encourage, and give you what is needed in your life at the time. Each day is a new day for each, and we will hear, see, and encounter what the Lord has in our best interest for that day according to the wonderful plan he has for us. Thank you for sharing, God Bless and I will lift you up in prayers..

  35. Lelia, I give thanks to the Lord for your courage to truthful share your testimony. Emptiness is a part of my life along with mistakes. Your story gives me and every woman a light of hope that when we drop to our knees, completely confess and share with our Lord, that His love is unfailing. No matter what I face each day in life, I know that I am not alone. This study has opened my eyes to see that even things that happened years ago can still have a hold on me now. With each chapter and the questions I find that I am not only becoming closer to Jesus but also with being honest with myself. I continue to pray for each of our sister in
    Christ that this study makes an impact on their life and their relationship with Christ just as it is in my life according to what Christ wants me to learn and understand. I too have attended a marriage conference and I do believe that praying and reading the bible together as husband and wife if glorify the Lord, if you have a chance to attend a conference, please do. Our love for Christ has brought us together and keep us together during several devastating trials so no matter we both endure as husband and wife, I know we can survive with Jesus by our side. For He is the truth, the way to my salvation and to our marriage. God Bless with Love

  36. Thank you Lelia for sharing your story. I think many women have feelings of dissatisfaction and frustration with their marriages. I know I have, and it would be easy to seek out someone else at times as an escape.
    I know what you went through couldn’t have been easy and you are brave to pour out your heart to us. The part of chapter 3 that shouts out to me is; “So what do we do when our hearts start tossing and turning with emptiness and uncertainty? We need to stop and ask Jesus to help us see the worth we are placing in other things and the worth we are seeking in other people and shift our reliance to Him instead.” Just this week I was terribly hurt and disappointed by a friend. I was looking to my friend and our relationship to fill a void, a need, an empty place in my heart and that friend let me down. I have been in tears off and on since Wednesday. I need to remind myself to shift my reliance to God to fill my voids. Friends come and go and they let you down, but God is our faithful and constant friend. I must remember that at all times!!

  37. Thanks for sharing your story. Isnt it neat when you know that God is in control of your marriage. My story with my marriage. WE got married when we were 18 and have now been married for 27 and 1/2 years. We have done 14 yrs in the Navy and believe me that was alot of lonely days and nights. But we stayed faithful to each other. We have 3 kids, which of course are grown now. But it has been in the last few years that our marriage has gone through some very hard trials. In a matter of 2 yrs my mother, and my granny passed away plus i had to have a hysterectomy and I fell into a very deep depression that I could not get out of. My husband tried his hardest to be what I needed him to be but I wanted nothing to do with him or anyone. Then he went through a period of time that depression came on him. We went through some uncertainties in our marriage that we did not think that we would be able to over come. Divorce was coming out of our mouths but it was not in our hearts. WE knew that we loved each other more than we wanted to be away from each other. We had gone through counseling.So even when you have been married for 27 years satan does not care. He just wants to destroy what God put together. We have been reading a devotion together every morning that is part of the fireproof collection.
    God is bigger than our situations we just have to allow him to take them and the determination to overcome them.

  38. The place where I try to find my worth is in the area of control. God is helping me to realize that I try too hard to control me in a negative way. I can be quite obsessive about how clean my house should be, how my bed should be made, how my clothes are folded, how my clothes are hung in the closet, and even how I tie my shoes. It takes me way out of my comfort zone for me to make a mistake when I hand write anything and oh my, the tension I feel if I make a mistake when I am posting something on Facebook or Twitter. Satan whispers in my ear that people will think that I am a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad person just because I made the mistake. Which brings up something that is intertwined with my control issues and that is how other people see me.

    Leila, if you had the courage to admit to what you had done, not just to God (which frankly I can find easy since He already knows it anyway), but also to others (including strangers like me) who can be loving and supportive, who will not think you a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad person, then it gives me hope that through Christ, I can also conquer my control demon. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for your honesty. God’s continued blessings upon you.

  39. Susan M. says:

    Thank you for being so open and sharing your story with us Lelia. To be open with your husband and then to us and others about your affair and abortion and your blessed marriage now takes strength which I see as coming from God and the Holy Spirit. All women are open to these attacks from satan and we always need to keep our guard up at all times, men and women can fall at any time so your sharing of how God helped you handle the situation took courage to share I am sure, and your sharing will bless others.

    I heard years ago this saying from someone in a bible study class, she said “Go to the Throne instead of the phone”, and it has stuck with me since. If we take the time to put our God first and go to HIm for our guidance with anything, He is faithful to us and never changing, we can always count on Him, He is what He says He is in HIs Word, and that never changes, we can always count on Him. Because He is our help we can sing in the shadows of HIs wings , HIs right hand upholds us.

  40. Thank you for sharing you story. My story was a lot like yours in that my late husband and I both cheated with many, mnay people, it was such a ugly life. I attempted sucide several times planned on leaving my husband, it just never worked….Thankfully my husband and I had already asked each other for forgiveness, right before he was diagnosed with lung cancer in July of 2004, I had 13 months with him after he was diagnoed, he passed away in Aug. 2005…It has been really hard for to forgive myself for all the things I did, I still struggle with forgiving me. I am better at it now than I was and want to continue to trust God to me leave that in my past, and feel Gods love…..Thank you to all you wonderful ladies that have shared your stories…..Lisa

  41. Thank you for sharing, thank you for exposing yourself naked before GOD and strangers… I pray more christians would be as honest with our walk and sruggles in christ, as you have just done. What the enemy ment for evil GOD turned this into something awesome. I know this experience will help so many other couples. God Bless you.. Lelia

  42. Lelia and Renee,

    These posts and God’s redemption and mercy have touched me deeply. It’s just so hard to believe/trust that there is a God who loves me this much and whose grace and mercy can cover my sins and wrongdoings.

    I am at a loss for words. Can you please pray that this Living Water will become an abiding Reality for me? (I want to see myself and others and this world through our Father’s loving eyes.)

    With deepest thanks for who you are and for sharing your stories,
    Grace

  43. Wow Lidia, talk about touching the nail point, it is hard when you feel that no own is there for you including God, sometime back i had funds to do whatever go whereever but never cared about loosing it or feeling empty, friends needed help they call on me family loosing home the called on me, my kids got the best of everything i never had, at some giving time God start taking it away, but i run to a friend for help in time of jams, after awhile he wanted sex in exchange (did not that till after learning he was married and when i ask for help with anything and did not feel like having sex he will leave with the money) i trues that after i while going back to church, i started noticing that i rather have nothing and not be used so i called him and told him i dont what his help anymore, i dont know when but God start working with me by leading me to His blessing all i had to do was obey the voice and trust Him, at time when things dont move fast enough i am tempted to call that friend for help or he happeness to show up offering help and then i remeber God will help me if i dont go off track and trust only Him, I learn to let God be in control no lie at time i try to take control (its hard when from small you only depended on you to get by) but later in the day i make sure i did not step out of place were God is concern, i need His unconditial love to fill my emptiness for with others there is always a catch or a price where with Him its just pure love.

    God bless you all

    • Angie, thank you sharing. I am quite sure there are others who have been where you where. I thank the Lord for stepping into your heart and for you accepting his love and guidance. But it is true, we all seem to have to get to a point in our lives where we need and desire the Lord, might have been a loss of a loved one, or a bad marriage ect. but the important part is that we all know and share Gods unfailing love, His forgiveness and His blessing.I will pray for you, for your are right, no one or no thing can fill the emptiness in our hearts but Christ. God Bless

  44. Thank you God for giving Lelia the strength and the words to share her story. Lelia, your story is my story with an ending still being worked out by God…His timing, my waiting. Renee and Lelia, you both have created the puzzle border of God’s love for His daughters. We are now bringing the pieces; the colourful, the plain, the mis-shapen, and even the ones that look like they don’t fit or belong [from our own broken perspective]; and are placing them in the frame of God’s healing and love. I pray that as each piece is linked together to reveal our awesome God’s love, everyone who has shared their piece will find God’s everlasting peace knowing that they are a part of His big picture. Let’s keep building this puzzle so we can share in the finished work and be ready for the next one God has in store for us. God’s blessings to all and thanks be to you Father.

    • hi gloria…what a beautiful picture—that of the puzzle border that renee and leila have made and we each are filling in with the pieces from our individual lives! praying along with you for the revelation of God’s love in our lives as He shows us His big picture! thanks! <3

  45. Michelle says:

    Thanks to all you wonderful ladies for sharing. It is so good to know that there are so many of you who struggle with the same things. I too tried to fill myself up with everything but God. I got married at 19 to an abusive alcoholic man. Having been adopted as a baby I went through my childhood feeling rejected and feared abandonment. I thought if I just had a husband to love me I would be okay. I knew in my heart that this relationship was wrong when I found out that he had been previously married with five children. Needless to say after about 5 years of marriage he cheated on me and left me alone with 2 children. I have never seen or heard from him again. During this dark time of my life a girlfriend led me to Christ. It only I had known then to be filled with Him but I continued to seek fullfillment in men. I have been married to my husband now for 17 years. This time I put up walls around my heart to make sure I am never hurt again. I am extremely critical and angry at him and even though I ask God to help me to change the way I am treating my husband, it continues and I feel extremely guilty. I am now filling the voids with alcohol which numbs the pain temporarily but causes the guilt cycle to continue. I am so thankful for A Confident Heart and for this study as it is opening my eyes to so many things that I believe God wants me to know.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all!

  46. Thank You Lelia for your testimony. We all have one, but are afraid or ashamed to tell our story. my testimony is Jesus delivered me from a drug addiction and prostitution. I really was afraid to repent this time because the enemy told me that I was going to relapse again, that He is totally done with you and it would be a waste of time. So I prayed for deliverance again and asked Him to do it because I can’t do this. And I told Him about my fear of relapsing. OMG! He is doing everything.

    He brought this book to me at the right time. He brought everything to me at the right time. Put me in a church that I can grow. When it is God ‘s timing can’t nothing stop it. I go to Him first in everything I do and I do mean everything! It is critical to let God lead you. I read the Truth everyday in the am and pray. I told Him I did not know how to pray effectively, so quess what? He has been showing how to pray from the truth also I had a book on praying in tongues on my book shelf. After I read your book. I was like I need something to read and came staight to this book on how to pray with power by praying in tongues. Everything is just lineing up for me to stay strong while my mind is being renewed. I have been clean for two months and I am so free right now. That fear of going back gone.

    GLORY BE TO THE MOST HIGH GOD. I hope that you can understand my writing. I thank God for you, Renee. It was so not about you but it was for us who need to change our mind and be freed from doubt,shame and fear. I love you and all the women who can tell their story and free others. God Bless You!

  47. Susan Hutch says:

    Hi Ladies,
    I have been late in posting simply because I feel like I am the ONLY ONE filling my emptiness with
    buying things–anything and everything. I am obsessed with the good feeling I get when I buy anything,
    but, it subsides, so off I go to buy something else. Does anyone else have this solution to emptiness?
    I heard once that there is a GOD-shaped hole in your soul that only GOD can fill. I know in my head this
    is true. But then the temptation to fill it up overwhelms me again. That feeling I get as I buy is one that
    GOD could be filling. When I want to fill my emptiness with “things”, I will ask GOD to give me a feeling
    of “enough” with his love. Now, the hard part is to put that into my heart from my head. I have been
    trying but again that feeling I get in buying is so overwhelming….I am truly enjoying and learning from
    this study. I will pray that we all move to closer to GOD and his promises for us. Happy Mother’s Day!

    • hi susan…perhaps 😉 you might be the only one to fill that ‘God-shaped hole’ with purchases and shopping but you are far-far-far from the only one trying to fill that emptiness. and, you are so right: ‘the hard part is to put that into my HEART from my HEAD…’ as always, the Lord is not looking for us to do things on our own! He wants us to have the desire to change and to recognize our overwhelming need for His help…which He is faithful to provide. true? <3

    • Oh sweet Susan, you are NOT the only one who tries to fill her emptiness shopping. You may feel that way because turning to people and men is the focus of this blog post based on Lelia’s story. But I think we all look to a variety of people, things and activities. I have looked for love in all the wrong faces, looked for life in all the wrong places and went shopping for stuff to fill my empty spaces. Yes, I have tried them all and none can fill us up.

      I hope, if you didn’t already, you’ll watch the video I posted on Weds where I share the many ways we try to fill our emptiness and how we can go to Jesus and ask Him to be our enough. Here’s a link: http://reneeswope.com/2012/05/letting-god-fill-our-empty-places/

      I think it would really encourage you. :0)

    • Susan,
      Before confessing my affair I was without the other man, an empty marriage and dealing secretly with the choice of abortion and I too shopped. Wracked up $15,000 worth of credit cards. I tell you, I do not know why Gene stuck with me through so much, only by God’s grace, but we now are credit card debt free. It took me so long to realize that Jesus Christ is the only One capable of filling my emptiness. I have to daily turn to Him.
      Please watch Renee’s video she suggested because it is so encouraging and such a powerful visual!!!
      Praying for you!
      Lelia

  48. As a child, I was sexually abused by my father. I just realized as I was reading this article, that I want my husband to be all of those things my father never was. I want him to be communicative, open, honest, forgiving, willing to seek the Lord. Not that he isn’t most of those things, but somehow I feel that their should be an emotional bonding/closeness that just doesn’t exist. Now I need to ask my Heavenly Father to show me what is reasonable to expect from my husband and what is not and to continue to pray not only for my husband’s desire to be involved in a close relationship w/Christ, but where mine is lacking; where I have placed too heavy a burden on my husband’s unsuspecting shoulders and not taken enough to my Abba Father. Wow! Is God amazing or what? He reveals if we take time to ask and listen. Thank you, Jesus!

  49. I am a 50-year old, never-been-married, single mom to a 16yo son. I grew up in a Christian home. Received Christ into my heart as a 5-year old Kindergartner at Christian school, a school I attended K-8. I went to public HS, then 4 years of Christian college. You’d THINK I was a healthy, Christ-centered person! Nope. My earthly father was a very distant person, not around a whole lot because he worked hard, as well as emotionally distant. I believe Renee points out in her book, and I have read it elsewhere before, that much of how we view Father God comes from how we view our earthly fathers. I believe this was my basis for how I tried so hard to be loved by men, often times placing myself into un-healthy relationships. After having several “flings” with married men, I met yet another married man who I fell totally head-over-heels in love with. I believed he loved me, too. When you view yourself as being “un-loveable”, it is pretty amazing how the desperation causes you to believe something that is NOT TRUE. Looking back on it now I am just amazed at how stupid I was. Long story short, I got pregnant at age 34, thought he would leave his wife, he never did, I got pregnant by him again 5 years after our son was born, still thinking he would leave his wife (HELLLOOOOO! Gaaa,..I was so blinded.)! I miscarried baby #2 and I have to be thankful for that because I was actually going to abort as I could not face my family for a 2nd time and admit to them how lost and misguided I STILL was. I am also thankful because the miscarriage opened my eyes and I made the decision to STOP obsessing over this man..he was NEVER going to love me as he claimed he did. Finally, after my son’s dad left the wife and re-married another woman who I knew nothing about (this man was seeing multiple women besides me the entire time we were “together”), I stopped believing all his lies. My son was 10 and I had been raising him alone with no support. I got myself into court and have been receiving child support ever since. (My son’s dad chose to have no relationship with his only son.) Through it all, God has been leading down a road that led to “A Confident Heart.” I am in a great church, I have wonderful friends who love me as I am, faults and ugly past and all. My son is a great kid – God truly protected him. I have a terrific job. But soon my son will be joining the Marine Corp and I will be…..alone. God has taken away the utter desperation I always felt as a younger woman to be MARRIED. So, “having a man” is not my goal any longer. Truthfully, I am thankful to be single after seeing first hand some awful marriages and reading here about how incredibly hard it actually is to BE married. But…where will God place me after my son graduates HS and moves on? This is my wonderment now, ut I am excited to see where God leads. I thank you Lelia for sharing a story that is REAL. I sometimes think I am the only Christian woman who has blown it. Clearly, I am not. All you women who have shared tough stories – THANK YOU. There are REAL and HURTING women all around us, aren’t there?? Why do we try and pretend that we are OK? Why do we think other women will SURELY reject us if we tell our “true” story? Why do look down our noses at other broken women and “tsk tsk” them for making mistakes? Why do we become so prideful and think that we are any better than other women? I am so grateful that God is opening my eyes to SO MUCH. I am sitting here at my desk just praying that God works in & through each life that shared on this blog and I pray that God continues to use women like Renee and Lalia to keep reaching other women who need to hear all these words and more from our precious Savior. We are all SO WORTHY to be loved and cherished by HIM, our King of Kings, who created us in HIS image. I pray that I can believe in this love more an more every day and that you all will as well!! HAPPY MOTHER’D DAY.

  50. Beautiful, Beautiful story of God’s Redeeming Love!
    Great Job Lelia!!

    And thank you darling friend Renee, for allowing her to share,
    Love you both,
    pat

  51. Karen in Canada says:

    Thank you Lelia for sharing your story and how God is working in your family and marriage today!
    I am a 43 year old mom of a 5 and 3 year old daughter, step-mom to two teenage boys and married to a much older atheist husband. I have been tempted by the enemy more than once to just leave this unhappy situation. Daily I struggle to keep my eyes on Jesus and to look to HIM for satisfaction. This morning I turned to our verse of the week (psalm 90:14) before I re-read your story; I really hope that God will reveal his unfailing love to me through this study.
    There is a line in Renee’s book that I don’t want to forget either….”Salvation is a one-time decision, but finding satisfaction in Christ and living in the security of His promises is a daily process”.
    I pray that each person participating in this study will experience God’s unconditional love in a powerful way.
    Happy Mother’s Day Renee and Lelia
    Karen (from Canada)

  52. Donna from Honolulu, Hawaii says:

    First of all I’d like to say ” Happy Mother’s Day” to all my sisters in Christ 🙂

    Thank you Lelia for sharing your deep and personal secret- you are amazing and I know you have been set free just by sharing your story with all of us.

    Renee- The questions in chapter 3 I finally wrote out the answer and saw it for the first time on paper brought back a lot of sadness, emptiness,

    Question 1:
    What was the craziest thing you have ever done for love?
    I tried to commit suicide by taking a bunch of pills and ended up in the hospital- all because my love at the time was having an affair, I felt so betrayed, so ugly, so un-wanted-un-loved.

    You know still today I carry an emptiness- I keep searching for happiness all in the wrong places? I never shop for myself- but I feel a real low- I shop for jewelry-handbags that I NEVER would buy for myself, When I get them home I’m so excited & happy, but it’s so temporary? They are just stuff… and I know I can’t take it with me? I’ve always been a spiritually hungry Christian, trying to read His Word, doing devotionals, Even reading … I am now reading besides “A Confident Heart” a book called “The Happiness Makeover” by M.J. Ryan- I have also read “The Power Of Patience” — but why do I still feel empty- and when things go wrong I feel like me reading all these books is thrown right out the door? It’s like I haven’t learn a thing from these books. I know I need to learn how to fill up on Jesus… but my mind is always racing, I have so many negative thoughts that I can’t even pray correctly- most of the time I just talk with Him as if I was there. My relationship now is good- we’ve been together for 29 years BUT I am still not happy? I’m still searching as to WHY? I still feel that I’m suppose to be doing something more? I try to be accountable by memorizing scripture, by reading the bible, doing my devotions…. BUT… some days I feel I’m just going through the motions- some days I truly get it and some just a blur? I pray that by the end of this online bible study & reading “A Confident Heart”, that I can stop searching for happiness.

    All the women who share- you are all so wonderful! I know it’s not easy to expose such personal experiences & hurts- It helps me feel that I’m not alone. My Love To You All!

    Aloha from Hawaii xoxoxoxoxo
    Donna

  53. Jill Howard says:

    Renee and Lelia,

    You both have risked much by sharing much this week. May God bless you and protect you as this is a very vulnerable place to be. This past week I had much struggle and interference with my schedule and have only today gotten to finish the week’s lessons. Our enemy truly is out there working hard to keep us from knowing how loved we are and living confidently. I would have avoided a lot of drama and tears if I were filled by God.

    Lord, as women we do struggle with empty places and seeking to fill them in all the wrong ways. I ask for each of us that you would reveal to us how we are doing this. Then, I ask for a supernatural strength to turn away from those and run into Your arms. Help us to rest there allowing You to fill our hearts and heal our hurts.

  54. I too have been guilty of looking to others or things to fill in the emptiness I felt inside for so many years. Having suffered from sexual abuse as a child and an ongoing troubled relationship with my parents, I grew up to be a woman with many insecurities and needs. On the outside everything seemed perfect…but on the inside I was dying. When the emptiness became too much, I ultimately ended up doing something I would have never thought possible…I turned to alcohol and to the numbness it brought. This only further added to the emptiness I felt. But thank God he is God of redemption and restoration! I am happy to say it has been 3 months since I surrendered myself to God and truly accepted the love only He can give. I no longer see my self as unworthy or not good enough and fully embrace all that God has to offer.
    I am so grateful for you Renee and all this bible study is doing for me! I so appreciate your words and wisdom. And a special Thank-you to Leila for sharing her story and being an example of the love and grace of God!

  55. Thank you to Lelia and all the ladies in this online study who have been so open with their hearts and their life experiences. I can definitely relate to what Renee says in chapter 3 about trying to gain fulfillment from everything and anything but Him. I need to remember:
    “You’re been trying to earn your value in everything you’ve done. But you will never find the love you long for in anyone or anything but ME. I AM the unconditional love you are looking for.”

  56. I remember Lysa saying in one of her books something along the lines of “blessed are the transparent, for they shall do mighty works for God.” May not be exact, but something like that. And that is what I thought of here. What a powerful testimony of God’s faithfulness and love. How it blesses my heart to see you willing to be so open, to put your heart and your story out there. I loved you already, but this makes me love you all the more.

    I know the Lord is using your testimony to help Him break chains, to set captives free. Praying for you as you step out and minister truth and hope to others and praying for the hearts He wants to minister to deeply!

    Much love,
    K

  57. WOW!!!! Thank you for sharing your story with us!!! It was truly a blessing!!! I like so many others have turned to things that I shouldn’t have to fill me. Thank you again for sharing your story–it gives me hope!!

  58. I can so relate to this story. I too have things from my past that have haunted me. I have been married 3 times searching for love and acceptance. I too have had an abortion. I too have had an affair. In fact I have had many affairs. When I was 15 yrs old I was molested by a police officer who put a gun to my face. I felt so alone during this time in my life. When it was brought to the surface noone wanted to talk about it. My parents, my friends acted as though it never happened. I felt isolated and scared. I wanted to talk about it. Instead it just got swept under the rug. I began cutting myself with a knife to somehow take away the pain. I felt as though hurting myself was somehow hurting the man who did this to me. I couldn’t find God during this time in my life…feeling as though He had left me. Looking back, I think having the many marriages and the abortion was my way of running from God and running into the arms of any man who would make me feel good about myself… or at least for awhile. The “feeling good about myself” never lasted long. What I needed all along was God to hold me in his arms and tell me it will be okay and I will never leave you. At last, I am almost there. My relationship with God is better then it has ever been. I truly know He loves me and His love is all I need. He is enough!!

  59. August Rose says:

    I am in awe that you chose to stay and so did your husband. Its amazing to me that God has touched you through your being honest and Him loving you unconditionally. I have believed so many lies thru being In marriages with men who did not love God as I was lead to believe. I was looking for unconditional love. I have been for forever it seems. I hurt so bad and most days I get angry that I was fooled. I wish I had known better and could have been spared so much pain and heartache. Not to mention my children. I want the shame and anger to leave me and never return. I want beauty for ashes. Thank you for your honesty.

  60. shanette says:

    thank you for sharing your story. although i am no longer married, i know the feeling of searching for something, someone to fill the “empty” spaces in my heart. when i found myself single after 16 years of marriage, i felt like such a complete failure & wanted to be whole again. i thought this could be found in another man fulfilling the loss of what i had in a “secure” marriage. needless to say, i haven’t found that “one”, but compromised my morals and belief in search of him. then as i began to really draw close to God & His word, I began to see that His son, Jesus shed His blood on Calvary for me…yes, just for me…me the heartbroken…me the worrier…me the fornicator…me…just me…just as I am….yes, JUST AS I AM…with this new found knowledge, I have turned to Him in ALL things and I feel so complete…No, I’m not there yet, still a work in progress, but I thank God that when I turn my insecurities over to Him, I feel so much better, have much more peace, and feel so much secure…i’m emerging as a new woman in Christ and am so much like SAM..thirsting after that Living Water! God Bless…

  61. My emptiness lies not in my marriage, but within my self image and worthiness. Hearing this story hit home with the thought that no sin is to great to be forgiven. That I am worthy of God’s love . I need to keep repeating that, hang it up to remind me. Help me believe it!

  62. Thank you for this. This can apply to other ares too, not just marriage!
    I have a question….I’m a Christian and I struggle with getting God in the center of my life and my family’s life. I know once God is first, everything else will fall into place. What exactly des that look like? I struggle with what this is and how to do it. I spend time in His word everyday, I pray alot, and read devotions, yet I’m in a bad place right now. Marriage stress, work stress , friendship stress, finding out where I Belong, trying to be a good mom and wife and friend etc. I’m not feeling any peace. So when everyone talks about putting God first and finding peace and rest in Him etc…what does that look like and mean. I’m tired. I go to church and serve. Yet I’m not feeling close to God. I feel lonely in all my relationships. I have given It all to God and just pray. What else? How do u make God front and center and get to that happy place that puts life back together for u? I’m doing what I’m suppose to, but nothing is changing.

  63. I love the thought that Jesus trekked His way to Calvary because He deem me worthy. Because Jesus deemed me worthy of the price He paid, it would be disrespectful for me to deem myself un-worthy. It would be like saying I know more about myself than He does (did). I love that He counted me worthy enough and that He saved me out of the pit.

    Thank you for sharing your testimony.

  64. Lori Johnson says:

    Lelia, I loved your post, though I know it contained painful things. I do not feel empty in my marriage, but I often feel a generalized emptiness, specifically that there will be no one to care for me. I think it’s a childhood echo. I fill that emptiness with food. Thank you for your encouragement. I am going to seek jesus and write my own When/Then statements!

  65. Thank you Lelia for sharing your story with us. I know I am late with my gratitude, but just wanted to let you know what a wonderful reminder that God is always there for us. All we have to do is ask.

  66. Casey Smith says:

    Thank you Lelia for your honest story. I, too, was in your situation. Full of emptiness in my marriage and ran to other men. (no pregnancy though). My story ended much differently with divorce after 11 years.
    My heart fell in love with a great man that turned me to God! I felt free for once in my life. Away from emotional abuse and back into the arms of God. I asked forgiveness from God and each person I hurt with my lies. Each lie was spoken out in the open and all truth was told.
    After 10 years, I have lived through honesty and the Lord.
    May God Bless you for all the work you have done in His name and for sharing your story so that others may know they are not trapped…God is with them.

  67. Thank you so much Lelia for sharing your story. We have some similarities in our story, but that’s not what is important. As I was reading your story, I was thinking about how, at this moment, I am telling myself that I’m not worthy of good things to happen to me…your story prompted a little conversation within me, that ending with, “You’re not asking God to help you to achieve that which you are struggling with”. I allow FEAR to get in the way of the things that I need to accomplish in order to move to the next step; and that’s what I heard in your sharing…how we get tripped up in jumping to the next thing instead of working on, or fixing what is in front of us…wow; Thank you so much…when I am done writing this, I am going to start moving with God’s help in the direction of forward, not to the side. Thank you!

  68. Thank you very much for sharing your story. There are days when I truly ask for help in my marriage. Mine is far from perfect. I know that my husband and I need to attend church more than what we do. Hopefully very soon we will

  69. Leila and Renee, I appreciate your honesty and willingness to be vulnerable with everyone. I too have been through an amazing journey these past 2 years in which I have learned about my husbands addictions to both narcotics and pornography. I have wondered for years what was missing in my marriage. There was no intamacy and I became a very negative person to my husband and my children, not realizing that my husband was living a double life. It wasnt until I began to look at my part in the relationship and surrender my husband to God, that He was able to work in ways I could never imagine. God wants us to surrender everything to Him, it is very difficult sometimes to do so. God is showing me that He has much greater plans for my life. I have to admit that the journey is not always an easy one. Since my husbands disclosure and relapses, he has lost his job and we are still waiting for God to show us what is next. We are down to our last reserve in our bank account and we dont know what will happen next. I have to have Faith in who God says He is and trust that He is Sovereign. He does ask us to be obedient and to take One Day at a Time. So, to all of you who have been through much worse than I, hang in there and God Bless!

  70. Thank you Lelia for being so brave. The enemy has put a lot in my path again. I have struggled in a marriage for thirty years to submit to a husband who talks the talk of a christian but cannot seem to walk the walk. Distracted by worldly opinions and backslides to see his only worth in his job performance for his boss, co-workers, or employees. The marriage and our family has suffered consistently. I have had hope in Jesus name and tried to do my best (knowing I have not) giving in to my loneliness and overwhelmed to be both parents failing my children when they need me most. The more I pray, study the word, and walk towards being who God made me to be I am attacked. I am currently in christian counseling again and seeing a cardiologist for tests. My greatest concern and confusion is that I have put my marriage first instead of God, yet I am always counseled God hates divorce. I am thankful for this book and study so I may again have A Confident Heart with the Lord, and not allow myself to be deceived by the enemy. My created purpose is to be a child and heir of heaven – to SHARE God’s word – and not allow myself to feel a burden of responsibility to prove His word. That is the work of the Holy Ghost. May God be with all of you this day to live in His peace and security.

  71. Wow. What amazing stories you have all shared. It is nice to know I am not alone in my struggles. I grew up in a Christian home, but had sex at age 17 (what I did for love). I later married him, feeling it would “erase my guilt”. It didn’t. I became very resentful and came dangerously close to having an affair. My husband is emotional distant. I have requested counseling several times and have been denied each time. I have requested retreats and have been denied. I have spoken very frankly with him (especially about being so distant from our children) and have been met with a complete “shut down”. I have realized I have held out my jar to be filled by all the wrong people/things! I have prayed all week for God to help me place those people/things back in their rightful places so He can fill my jar. I don’t want to be emotionally lonely any more. I don’t want to rely on others to fill me up! I want the Lord to do it! I have kept my “dirty little secrets” (of premarital sex, marriage for the wrong reason, near affair, and unhappy marriage) all to myself. I’m not sure I’m ready to share my story with people who know me (YIKES), but I want God to use me (I guess I need to let go & trust Him)! I want to pour myself in to Him and Him to fill me!!

  72. Please know that I’m reading each one of your comments as well as Renee is. We are moved to prayer on behalf of you ladies. I appreciate all of your encouraging kind words and my heart aches for those struggling. If you’re not, please spend daily time reading God’s Word, the Bible and also in prayer. And if you’re reading through “A Confident Heart”, keep pressing through it. It’s so worth allowing God to make the changes He feels are necessary in our hearts.
    I love you all as your sister in Christ and will continue to read through your comments and pray for each one of you. You all have blessed this Nebraska girl more than you know. <3

  73. Beatrice says:

    Thank u so much for sharing this story. My marriage has been attacked by infidelity also. I was pregnant w my 1st child wheny husband started his year long affair w one of his employees. Once I found out the horror dread & pain broke me as a person & left me lifeless nside. I worked for a man at the time that preyed on my brokeness & started making advancements. N the darkest moments of my life I gave n to doing inappropriate things w him. Both my husband & myself found the Lord thru these extremely tramatic events & have since had a 2nd child. But reading ur story made me realize how broken I still am. I’m tormented by bad memories & my heart still hurts more than I’ll even admit to myself. I know God can restore us & from where we were 4 yrs ago He has…the Rd is so long and so hard I wonder if I made the right decision by staying… Ur story helped me to see that when I’m empty Gods love will fill me.
    Again thank u for sharing a testimony that is ignored at times n the Christian life…it’s been my experience that infidelity labels me & I feel like I’m perceived as less of a Christian woman because of sexual sin. But i want to rise above that but for now I just feel stuck…

  74. Cheryl McDonald says:

    Kyrie Eleison….I hope you look back to see this email.I just want to say thank you for sharing with me. We have learned to “talk ” about God and how he impacts our lives. What we haven’t done “together” and need to is Bible studies and praying. I would love to just sit down and do a study just “us ” together. I guess I am afraid of asking not wanting to feel rejected. I am going to pray about it and see where God leads me on that. What a great idea you gave me about praying on the phone when he is gone. He is a Christian man but doesn’t openly show it not ever to me and we have been together for 21yrs. He does have a heart of gold. I do say sometimes “Let’s pray about this situation” when I feel the Holy Spirit kinda give me that kick..lol I think asking him to pray with me would be a great idea. Its hard for me to ask. I came from an abusive step father and a father who abandoned me. I always have this fear of rejection. I am working on that. Those 2 people have caused so much hurt with me and there have been so many consequences “I’VE” had to deal with because of their choices.
    I do thank you for taking time to share with me. It does mean a lot is is great appreciated!
    I also read your email about the emotional relationship that can happen when there is a lack of things in your marriage. I too have experienced that. Nothing at all sexual. Just the talking and confiding when I should have been doing that with my husband. I too had to decide to let the friendship go and we both knew why. My husband and I did discuss this as he saw me talking a lot to this man. My husband and I did sit down and talk to each other about what we lacked in our relationship and how can we change that. Well it helped for a little while and then life again over took our relationship and our distance started again. Its hard that he travels and has to come home and play his role. We have had several discussions on this. When he is home he want to relax and my job still goes on. I didn’t tell you but I am also a Home school mom. THIS YR ONLY! That has cause an enormous amount of stress on me. 5th , 6th, and 8th grade. I just want those “good times’ back and Christ at the center of them. I know with him guiding us we will be fine. We’ll be fine…I just know I need to take the lead and that’s hard for me sometimes. I TRULY appreciate your words of wisdom.
    Lelia:
    Thank you too for your kind words and for sharing Is 43:2-3. And do I have to come out wet and smelly yuck..lol Guess its better than getting burned and swept away! Right??lol I will continue to pray for your ministry and you for sharing to help others just like me. You truly are a blessing!! Thank you! Hugs to you both!

    • Haha! Yes, being wet and smelling like smoke is a lot better than the flames setting us ablaze as it says in those verses. 🙂
      Keep going forth sister! 🙂
      Hugs back to ya from Nebraska!!

  75. Pam Miller says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story!! I recently went through something similar and it struck me to the core of my most inner being. I felt that I was at my lowest of Lowes, stressed, out of control, and in a very strange place. We have spent so much time talking and turning everything over to God. We are getting to a much better place and things are getting better due to Gods amazing grace and love!!!!!

  76. Rebekah says:

    I’ve had many times where I could have given up in my marriage of 3 1/2 years. There were times I actually told my husband I was done. I’m kinda at that point now as well. Because of this study, the message through Christian music, and great Godly people – like Renee and Leila and also my church family – I am still holding on. I’m not sure where God is leading me, but I know He IS leading me. And in my times of doubt, I look to God to bring me through safe to the other side where there is peace and rest.

  77. Liela thank you so much for your story! and sharing your heart, and thank you! Renee! and thank you to all the women for sharing your hearts! God has really been speaking to my heart during this study! I’ve been hiding so much because, still to this day and I’m 48 now. I’m totally blind, and I live on my own, just to tell you a bit about myself Liela, I have an amazing computer with sppech program. I read everything. I just have to know the right key stroke commands. I wanted to download the book confident heart, but my computer, only reads word files, not p.d.e. files, however, my computer teacher just gave me special instructions, and told me some computers with speech do read p.d.f. files. I’m just now praying for another opportunity to donwload this for free, because, I am on a limited disability pension! God is so good to me! I’ve never been maried, There are a lot of unpeaceful situations in my family that makes me so sad! I pray all the time. I love my family and I just want evweryone to be happy! God is so good to me! I’m in my church choir. two years ago, I started listening to this amazing Christian radio station that I take great confort from! God has really found that for me! Great music great bible teachers. I have a few favourites. Dr. Charles Stanley, James MacDonald. This station is Joy 1250 in Oakviele ontario. I live in canada. Let me tell you a bit of background about my family, before, i share with you my heart! First, I want to say, I thank god all the time, for finding me such an amazing study where people really share their hearts and no one judges! God knows, I’ve been beating myself up a lot, and I always pray for healing for forgivenes. I need to forgive myself. I need to forgive my mother. I beat myself up a lot that I wish I could. I’m so happy! God find me this study! My parients. for fifteen to twenty years! They are both with someone for a long time. We were raised catholic. Two years ago, I rededicated my life to Jesus during a prayer with Dr. charles Stanley. The guy my mother is with is agnostic. My mother doesn’t go to church any more. This makes me sad. My mother’s partner is very negative. Every word that comes out of his mouth is negative. It’s anoying! It doesn’t bother my mother. He’s just good to her and that’s all she talks about. One time, someone from 100 Huntley street was praying for her to be disatisfied with negative thinking! I like that! I never though about praying like that. Anyhow, This weekend, my dad was reminsing how he was thinking that Saturday would have been him and my mother’s fiftyth wedding anaversary! now, I know for a fact that my mother doesn’t think about him that way any more, to remember annanversaries! Out of site out of mind! Yes, there is a bit of anger there! Today, I realized: and God made me realize this the only way I’ll heal is put my heart here. I keep a journal! I do feel much better when I talk about things. I was raised to keep my feelings bottled up inside. It’s just that my dad is so sad, and I feel my mother doesn’t care! I’m being very harsh and judgemental to her, i don’t mean to be! I can’t help how I feel! wow, next to telling god stuff, I’ve never poured out my heart like this! I’m so glad I found this study! Another issue. I have a sister eight years younger. A few years ago, Her and her husband split up. They are devorced now I think. shortly, after they split up, my mother called me to tell me, that he went home, Jammy my ex brotherinlaw, he went home, and cried for forgiveness. My mother said “but he cheated! Her tone! I knew she was going to discourage my sister from forgiving him and that made me so mad! Anyway, to this day, I’m beating myself up to say if only I said something to encourage my mother to encourage my sister to forgive, not discourage. the thing is, my mother is always talking to me about how we forgive everybody. I think the man my mother is with is a bad influence on her! I just feel so bbad for my family! Right now, everyone is so happy, but I really think inside, people are not happy, my mother, my dad, my dad shows his feelings, but a lot of times, he doesn’t. We are Italian! We are very emotional! I take after my dad. I keep my feelings bottled up! God is awsom! for encourageing me and finding me this great study and great women that I can hear their hears and i can share! now, I was saying about my computer. I am able to pariticpate a lot in this study! I get the e-mails. I’m able to hear the videos! i’m able to read the comments. and post my own comments! I love long e-mails, and i do know, there is a lot of women who posted long comments! So, i felt comfortable to do that! Thank youso mucyh for letting me share my heart! and that we can all be so honest! Renee God is so good! to your! to help you so much to heolp people! Thank you! for this amazing study!

  78. Also, I wanted to say, when I began typing, I was saying until this day, and then, i changed the subject! I do that a lot. I get people confused! What I wanted to say was to this day, I hide things. Because that’s how I was raised. God is really speaking to me through this study. I’ve been hiding from him! Even though he knows everything, he still wants us to communicate with him. I always think of the verse we have not because we ask not. and I cired out to god today and said I realize it’s too late. Things will never change with my family situations, and there, I go again beating myself up again, I said to g
    od! Renee This morning, when I went to my e-mail to listen to a message from a bible teacher, I got the indication on my computer that I had e-mail, and it was the video from you sharing your heart! and I do feel I’m knowing the chpters really well! But, I was going to do something else, but when i received your e-mail, I believe that was God encourageing me to share my heart! because I said I would. He knows I put things off! I’ll say I’ll do things later, then, when later comes, they don’t get done! Thank you agaon for an amazing study!

  79. Thank-you Leila for having the courage to tell your story, and thank-you for helping hurting woman!

  80. Cheryl McDonald…Haha! Yes, being wet and smelling like smoke is a lot better than the flames setting us ablaze as it says in those verses. 🙂
    Keep going forth sister! 🙂
    Hugs back to ya from Nebraska!!

  81. A.Renee says:

    Good testimonies. God IS the one who heals, changes and transforms!

  82. Christina Wall says:

    Dear Lelia Chealey,
    I want to thank you for sharing your story. it is so similar to my own I too am in the process of rebuild ing my marriage through God redeeming love and grace. It has helped give me more confidence and reassurance that I am on the right path as I seek him out in all that I do. Though I hear from those around me that I am it does help reading another story similar to your own. Thanks and Godbless you in all that you do for Him who loves us all.
    Your sister in Christ,
    Christina W

  83. Mariazhope says:

    Hello Leila Thank you soo much for sharing your story! I am in the process of letting GOD take over the hurt and pain and turn it in to a story for HIS glory…
    Thank you again!

  84. Thank you for these heart felt emails!

    God is who I have been leaning on now for a very long time. But, now that I have been separted from my husband, I depend on him so much more. I look to him to fill that emptiness in my heart and my husband’s. Only he can do this. God knows that I desire to be with my husband so much, but we need to be fixed and that we need to go throughy recovery (healing) is what has to take place, and no one can do this but Jesus. I know that once the healing has been done then we can begin the restoration. I’m depending on him for all my needs and through this process.

Trackbacks

  1. […] In May 2012, I wrote a post for the blog of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Renee Swope, which she titled Confessions of an Empty Heart. […]

Share Your Thoughts

*