Since birth, my husband had always gone by his middle name, Clint, until a God moment occurred back in 2011 that helped me find forgiveness. In the story I am about to share I will be referring to my husband as “CLINT” for the first part of it. My prayer is that you will witness a story of forgiveness and true love that never gave up in this blog post.
Clint and I knew early on that something wasn’t right in our marriage but we couldn’t put our finger on it. We had seen several marriage counselors and shared openly about our struggles. Topics of drinking, lying, and sneaky behavior were usually the main discussions. To sum up what we got out of years of counseling was, 1. Clint needs to cut back on drinking and tell the truth and 2. I need to work on trust issues. This was common advice for about the first five years of marriage. We would try to better ourselves but the unhealthy life cycle of a hidden addiction kept spinning out of control.
Over the years, the downward spiral of addiction was growing more and more powerful by the day. However, I still didn’t know that it was an addiction we were dealing with in our home. The disease was a well kept secret and I was not aware of it. As far as I knew, my husband was taking the meds the doctors prescribed and occasionally had a drink here and there…nothing to be concerned about. As the years passed by, I felt like I no longer knew the incredible man I married back in 2004, a hardworking driven person with a heart of gold. It was hard for me to understand why he couldn’t just simply get his act together and grow up. We both hit our breaking point in June 2011 and decided to look into a treatment center that specializes in trauma, hoping to find help. Making this decision was extremely scary for both of us. The word “REHAB” seemed so taboo for a preppy family in the suburbs. Our ignorance allowed us to think that only celebrities went to rehab, not ‘normal’ people like the Mabry family.
A week after our major decision, Clint packed his bags and was on a plane to Arizona for a 45 day treatment plan. I packed the rest of the family’s bags and we temporarily moved up to Michigan to stay with my parents. The transition was hard and painful. I was overwhelmed with embarrassment and heartache. There was no time for grieving because I had a 7 month old baby and a 3 year old who needed me at all moments of the day. I was never off duty…even though my mom was a wonderful helper. I felt defeated. Anger, sadness, tiredness, bitterness, and resentment consumed me. I felt little joy. Something had to change, I couldn’t live like this any longer. I was a prisoner of my own grief.
My brother sent me the book, ‘Redeeming Love,’ by Francine Rivers, to my parents home in hopes to lift my spirits…and boy was he right! Every night, I looked forward to crawling into my cozy bed and curling up to read the next chapter. Little did I know how much this book would speak to me!
The story is about a broken relationship and the power of God’s redeeming love and grace. The main character, Angel, faced a lot of trauma in her life. She allowed the traumatic events to define who she was as a person…broken and fearful. She tried to sabotage every good thing that came her way because she didn’t think she was worthy of receiving any form of love. Angel realized that her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than her husband does, God. She eventually recognizes God’s love for her and receives Christ in her heart. She begins to work with other victims of trauma by helping them leave their old ways. On the very last page of book, Angel reveals that her real name is “Sarah” to her husband. “Sarah” is no longer a prisoner of her past sufferings. She is made new. WOW!
Ironically, Angel changed her name to Sarah (my name) but that has nothing to do with the impact this story had on my own life. I, too, was a prisoner of my own brokenness caused by my reoccurring trauma due to my husband’s disease. I needed to be freed from the hold it had on my healing but I wasn’t sure how to go about forgiving Clint. How was I supposed to forgive someone who has cause me so much pain yet is someone I love? After much thought, I decided that forgiveness doesn’t excuse his behavior BUT forgiveness does prevent his behavior from destroying my heart.
The name change that occurred at the end of the book really had an impact on me. In fact, it was the key that was about to unlock my bondage to my hurting past. As I closed the book after concluding the final chapter, I decided that from this point forward I was going to call my husband, “JOHN,” his legal first name…which happens to mean, “God is gracious.” Making this name change allowed me to separate my husband from his traumas, addictions, and his past…which I now refer to as “CLINT.” Please understand that I know I am married to both, John and Clint. I can’t have one without the other unfortunately. If that was an option, “Clint” would have been kicked to the curb a LONG time ago and John and I would live happily ever after. However, life isn’t always that simple!
Every day I make the choice to forgive the addiction for all the pain and hurt it has caused me. It is so freeing! The power of forgiveness is the biggest gift I can give to myself. It might seem drastic to go as far as changing my husband’s name, however, I believe that we serve a mighty God who can redeem, renew, and heal with his all-consuming love, grace, and mercy. How awesome is that?!?
***While he was at treatment in Arizona in 2011, a counselor who had seen “Clint” daily for the past 30 days greeted him one day with, “Why, Hello, John Mabry!” even though for the past month he had been calling my husband, Clint. It caught John off guard. The counselor told John he should consider going by his first name, John, instead of ‘Clint’ because John Mabry is a nice strong sounding name. A few days later over a quick phone call (which are very limited when one is in treatment), I too informed John that I was going to call him by his legal first name from that day forward in hope to work on my healing. I had no idea that his counselor said the same thing a few days prior! So as of 2011, John has made the choice to have everyone refer to him by his first name, the man God created him to be.