About a month ago I had a dream. I was in a house, and there was a demon there. I knew it was there, I could feel the presence of it, and I knew it had an awareness of me also. I dreamed of being in the rooms of that house, and I would try to walk out of a room, and as I went to push a door open, I would feel it pushing back. Trying to keep me from getting the door all the way open and leaving the room. I would push harder and the resistance on the other side would grow stronger. Then I would suddenly skip ahead and find myself in a hallway, and would come across a door, and when I would try to open a door to enter a room, the demon again would pull from the other side, trying to keep me from entering. Again and again I would find myself in this tug of war at every door. Trying to enter a room that I couldn’t get in, or trying to exit a room that I couldn’t get out of. Until I finally found myself walking into a kitchen/ living area. And I saw Jeff standing there. And then suddenly, the demon was in him. He is coming at me. Swinging for me. Trying to get to me so he can put his hands around my throat. He wants to hurt me and he wants to use Jeff to do it. I know what I need to do. I just have to tell the demon that he doesn’t belong here. That he’s not welcome here. I have to tell him that he can’t have Jeff. I know exactly what to do. I know I have the authority. And so I try to speak. I have the words. But my throat feels like it’s closing up. The strength I’m using to push the words out should be creating a loud shout, but I can barely push them out. I am straining so hard to make the noise come out that it literally causes me physical pain. There is definitely a little trepidation in me, for I know the seriousness of facing this demon. But there’s a boldness within me that pushes back that fear, and pushes me to fight. I dig deep and try to pull as much strength and authority as I can muster into my voice as I try to speak. But all that I hear coming from my mouth is barely more than a hoarse whisper.
“You can’t be here. You can’t have him. Get out. You’re not allowed to harm me. You leave in the name of Jesus! Go and don’t come back. You’re not welcome here. Get out. Get out. In the name of Jesus, GET OUT!!!”
Over and over I try to speak the words. Sometimes managing to barely make the sounds, and sometimes only able to push out the air as I mouth the words.
But I keep trying. I keep fighting that demon. Wishing I could get the strong shout of rebuke that I have within me to come out as more than a whisper. Fighting off the fear that maybe I don’t have as much authority over him as I had believed. Beginning to wonder why my shout keeps coming out as a strained, painful whisper. But even still, refusing to back down. Grasping hold of the promise that no weapon formed against me shall prosper. Holding tight to the hope that my voice may be nothing more than a whisper, but that the power of God in that pained whisper is enough to defeat that demon.
It’s not the first time I’ve had that dream, or some version of it. There are variations of it, each one slightly different, in a different location, or with the demon taunting me in different ways, but always ending the same, with me staring him down, and struggling to make my voice reflect the power behind the words I’m trying to get out.
I have spiritual dreams every once in a while. It’s not completely out of the norm for me. So I didn’t think too much about this one when I woke up.
But looking back, I can see now that this dream, along with every other one I’ve had like it over the years, is usually a reflection of something going on in our lives. They come as a warning sometimes. A warning that something is not right. A warning that we are under attack, and to be vigilant. Other times they come just as a reminder. A reminder that the fight can be hard, and that the fight may take more out of us than we think we can handle.
A reminder that sometimes even when it feels impossible, even when it seems we are drawing on what feels like our last breaths just to force out a battle cry, no matter how small our voices, no matter how weak our shouts, we only need the slightest whisper of His name.
I always wake up in the midst of the fight. Usually just as the demon in whatever form he has taken has me just within his reach. But I never wake up afraid. Or feeling defeated.
And so I’ve often wondered if it was enough, those pained whispers. Enough to drive the demon out.
And as I thought about it today, I realized that is why I wake up. Right in the middle of the fight, just as the tip of his fingers nearly reach me, at a point where I should be terrified, I always wake up, completely unafraid. Able to go right back to sleep.
And so it occurred to me finally, that maybe it was enough. Maybe, the pained whisper was all I needed to defeat him. The pained whisper of the name of Jesus was enough to drive him away and wake me from the nightmare and bring me peace.
I didn’t realize it when I had that dream, but we were in fact, facing a spiritual battle. The past couple of months had been stressful. The usual things that affect most families. There had been some financial stress. I had also been under a good deal of stress because of an abnormal mammogram result, which was followed by a couple of follow up appointments spread over a few of what seemed like very LONG weeks. It turned out to be nothing to worry about, thankfully. There was also some college stuff for both girls that needed to be worked out. I’d not been sleeping well due to some leg pain from my old back injury. In the middle of all that, we also had some serious trust issues resurface. And somewhere in the midst of all that busy-ness and stress, there had grown a distance between us. I felt it, he felt it. Neither one of us quite sure what initially caused it or when it started growing, but both painfully aware that something just wasn’t right.
And to say that my PTSD-like reactions were triggered by all of that would be an understatement.
He felt defeated. I felt panicked. And sad. And slightly terrified.
Two months ago we were fine. Better than ever. We felt like we were in a really good place. And I can’t really tell you where or when things went wrong specifically. All I know is that we got complacent. Maybe a little lazy. We let one too many things slide. And it didn’t seem like we were that far off track. Except for that dream I had. Except for this gnawing feeling that things just weren’t right. This overwhelming prompting to perk up and pay attention. A feeling that we somehow ended up unintentionally perched on the edge of a cliff, because of our lack of intention.
And I’m not gonna lie to y’all. It got kind of bad. Actually it got really bad. It was the second big fight in the past few months that had us both feeling like we were reaching our breaking point. It culminated in an emotionally charged discussion in which Jeff hinted at the possibility that he might be ready to give up, and me suggesting that if that was truly the case that he should maybe go pack his bags.
Yep. That bad.
And just like that, we had fallen off the edge of that cliff.
All it took was for us to stop paying attention to where we were standing, just for a little bit, to stop paying attention to where we were headed. We stopped talking to each other as we walked down that road and yet somehow were still surprised when we found ourselves on the edge of that cliff. And by the time we got there, we were so disconnected and so frustrated and feeling a little lost as to how to find our way back to the path we were on before we went so far off course.
And looking over that edge was so dizzying. So disorienting. And so we tumbled right on over.
But we didn’t die there.
We found a ledge on our tumble down, and we grabbed it.
Suddenly, painfully aware of this precarious position we’d gotten ourselves into, we began to face the hard truths of what got us there. What are we doing out here, hanging on by our fingertips? We don’t belong here. And so, we climbed.
With admitting that we had both taken our eyes off the ball.
With him apologizing for some not so great choices.
With me admitting that my reactions to situations can sometimes be bigger than the situation warrants because I’m not really reacting to whatever is going on at the moment necessarily, but am actually reacting to the fear that whatever the thing we are fighting about triggered inside of me.
We pulled ourselves back over the top of that cliff by acknowledging that all of this stress, and this downfall was really a fight with the enemy, and not so much with each other. We pulled ourselves back up by realizing that to get where we want to go, to have the relationship we want to have, and be the people we want to be, we’ve got to fight together, instead of against each other.
We’re a bit exhausted, if I’m being honest. These past two months have been A LOT.
A lot of me facing my biggest fears.
Fear for my health.
Fear of lack of provision.
Fear of being deceived.
Fear that Jeff would let me down again.
Fear that these past few years, all of our hard work, everything we’ve put in to rebuilding this marriage, would end because of a bad decision, or because one or both of us just couldn’t push through one more hard day. That we would do all of this, only to fail. To end up with nothing.
And then there’s the fear that we would let all of you down.
I looked at Jeff, in the middle of our fight, and said, “This is not just about us. We’re at a crossroads here. There’s something big ahead, bigger than just us, I can feel it. And I feel like we need to be real careful how we move forward. A lot of people look to us. They look to us as an example of hope. The choices we make here, now, don’t just have the potential to affect us, there’s a whole lot of other people we would be letting down too.”
We’ve been given this platform, and we don’t take it lightly. So, yes, besides the fear of being hurt again, letting you all down or failing you in any way is one of my biggest ones.
But the truth is, we’re human. We don’t have the magic formula for repairing a broken marriage. I’m not an expert. We aren’t licensed therapists. We aren’t ordained pastors. We are just Jeff and Amy. We are two people that walked through a very dark place. We’re the guy that made the worst mistake of his life. We’re the girl who’s heart was broken. We’re a couple that found our way through the brokenness to forgiveness. We chose goodness. We chose the hard path of refinement and redemption. And I’m just the girl, following the pull on her heart to share it all with you. To be real…and sometimes painfully, raw, with sharing our story with you in a way that most people wouldn’t. Because I feel so strongly that this world needs more people willing to share their truth. Not in a vague way. Not in a glossed over highlight reel. But in the details, in the hard truth of the trenches, and the bright light of the mountaintops, and all the highs and lows of the moments in between. The world needs more people willing to shine a light in ALL the dark places, to admit that you’ve been there before, and help others see that there’s a way out.
It’s become painfully apparent to me that my biggest struggle is with fear.
I constantly have to remind myself that the fear, all that fear that I fight on a daily basis, is a liar.
He’s the demon in my dreams trying to hold the doors and keep me stuck in a place where I can’t share God’s goodness. Trying to strike out at me and wrap his wiry fingers around my throat and choke the light, God’s light, right out of me. He’s the one I see in the face of Jeff at the end of my dreams, the one telling him that he might as well give in. That he’ll never win this fight, that he’s not the man God says he can be.
The truth is, even if we failed, even if, after all these years of work and hope and sweat and joy and tears, we end up falling over the edge of the cliff, God is still there.
And He will no doubt have a path full of goodness mapped out for us. He will hold out his hand, and pull us up, and show us the way out, whether that be together, or apart. All we have to do is look to Him. I’ve seen many, many examples of God’s goodness in situations where a marriage ultimately doesn’t work out. And so while I won’t stop fighting, I also shouldn’t be afraid of letting you all down if we fail. Because while this blog is about restoration and redemption and hope for broken relationships, it’s also about restoration and redemption on a personal level. My hope, our hope, the true hope of God is that He has a plan for you, no matter the decisions of someone you love. We can’t control the actions or choices of others. All we can do is look to Him and trust in His presence and His goodness.
He’s there on the good path. He’s there on the easy days. He’s also there in the midst of those really, really hard ones. He’s there on the edge of that cliff.
And if we happen to find ourselves falling over that cliff and ending up crumpled and broken at the bottom of that canyon, He’ll be there too.
I know, because I’ve been there.
We survived the initial fall all the way to the bottom several years ago. And the climb back up has been hard, and exhausting, but also rewarding, and full of joy. We’ve had more good days than bad ones. I could have chosen not to share any of this latest struggle with you. I could have given in to the fear that to continue to give you the hope you need, and to “promote the brand” or keep up a certain image that we need to have a perfect marriage from here on out, with the appearance of neither of us failing and only having good days. But the truth is, we aren’t perfect. And a dishonest version of redemption is not a story of redemption at all. I don’t write this blog to create a brand or to gain followers. I write it to show you that we all have good days, we all have bad days, we all have victories and struggles, and that God is right there through all of it. I share our setbacks and our failures with you so you know you’re not alone. So you know that just because you’ve pushed through your hardest days, you still have to be intentional and fight for your family, for yourself, for your marriage, for the life you want. I do it so you’ll know that the goodness is worth the fight. And I do it so that you know that even if you get off course, and take a little tumble, that it’s ok. It happens to all of us. You can still grab on to that ledge and make your way back up to steady ground.
We took a little tumble. But we climbed back up. And we woke up the next morning with a renewed sense of purpose. A reminder to be intentional.
And also with great expectation. Because when the devil comes at you like that, it’s usually because God has something in the works. There’s something ahead that God wants for us that the devil does not want us to have, and maybe something that God wants us to do that the devil does not want to see come to fruition. So he came swinging at us, aiming for all the places we are the most vulnerable.
And we have just a couple of words for him:
Jeff had a dream of his own last night. He dreamed that he and I were both in basic training.
I don’t think that was just a dream either.
Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)
12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Sometimes we all have setbacks. Just because we’ve come so far and healed so much does not make us immune to the attacks of the devil or immune to simply making a mistake. But we can win those battles and overcome those hurdles. And I strongly believe that most of our setbacks are really just setups for something on a grander scale in our future. We just have to see them for what they really are and keep our focus in the right place.
So we’re gonna keep fighting.
We’re going to keep fighting for us. We’re going to keep fighting for you. And we can’t wait to see the good that God will bring from it.
Don’t give up.
Don’t lose hope.
Don’t give in to the fear.
Just keep fighting.
Even when it’s hard. Even when you barely have enough breath to push the words out. Even when all you can manage, is a pained whisper of His name.
There’s power in that pained whisper.
That pained whisper is enough, and it’s all you need to win the fight.
Amy Thurston Gordy