Mrs. Lisa Shea: When I found myself faced with a second disintegrating marriage and this time with three kids, I’m like, “This is bad. I.. I need help. I need help! I need hope.”
John Fuller: Hm, well today you’re gonna hear how Lisa Shea found the help and hope she needed to save her marriage. Your host is Focus President Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: Lisa has quite a testimony, and even though this is a serious topic, she brings wit and wisdom in equal portions, so I know you’re gonna get a kick out of this message. Lisa teaches bible studies and mentors women of all ages. And as you’ll hear, she has a deep relationship with the Lord.
John: Here now is Lisa Shea, speaking at Destiny Worship Center in Miramar Beach, Florida. And we’re gonna be diving in after her opening remarks on today’s Focus on the Family.
Lisa: I need to tell you where I came from so that you understand some things. I was raised in church. I went to church every single Sunday. All right? I knew that God was big. He was a big God. He was a powerful God. But he was very busy with third-world countries and starving orphans and wars. And He loved Mother Teresa and Billy Graham because they were doing fabulous things for Him. He was like, “Those are my favorite kids. They’re good.” OK? So that was my view of God and, um, not really a solid foundation at all.
So, I went to an all-girl high school. Any all-girl high school survivors? (LAUGHTER) Oh, oh, we will hug later because, I’m gonna tell you, that does nothing for your self-esteem, OK (laughter)? It was a very tough school, and, um, I was probably 30 pounds soaking wet, so I couldn’t really stick up for myself, so I had the verbal skills. You see, I’m very boisterous. I’m independent. I like to tell it like it is. And if you come at me with something, I’ll getcha right back, all right? So that’s how I learned to defend myself was verbally.
When I was 18, I met the man of my dreams. By the time I was 19, I was engaged. I was married by the time I was 21. I was on the same path as my mom and dad. And they met in high school, got married at 21, and they are still – praise God – happily married. But two years into this relationship, everything fell apart. Everything fell apart. And we decided we were going to get divorced. Who would get hurt? We didn’t have any kids. I was young. He was immature – you know, irreconcilable differences. Who would get hurt? Big mistake – just, oops. Well, little did I realize that that decision was going to devastate me.
I suffered from Chronic Fatigue Epstein-Barr Syndrome. There were days I couldn’t even get out of bed, I was so sick. I was clinically depressed and on antidepressants. I was suicidal. I was lonely because my friends were his friends, so when he left, they went with him, and I found myself alone.
Interestingly enough, I was working at the time and God strategically placed this woman who sat in this cubicle, like, almost on top of me, and her name was Cate. And Cate started telling me about her divorce. She had been divorced 10 years prior. And, “Wow, Lisa, I know how you’re feeling. I know what you’re thinking. I know the pain you’re going through. I know the hopelessness.” Has anyone here ever thought their life was going to go one way and something happened, and it doesn’t look like you thought at all and you feel like, “this is hopeless”? That’s where I was.
So Cate kept saying this thing to me. She’s like, “Lisa, during this desperate time in my life, I met Jesus. And, oh, the hope that I have now. I… there is new meaning to life. And He is wonderful, and you will feel so loved and – and you will understand more. He has a bigger plan. And, Lisa, God has written your name in His book since the beginning of time.”
“Lisa, you don’t understand. Your name has been written in his book since the beginning of time.” OK. I went to church every single Sunday, but the name Jesus was too reverent, and we didn’t talk about him. Oh, so I got – I’m like, “Oh, Jesus – she’s talking about Jesus. And it’s really creeping me out, and I can’t be rude to her because she’s sitting, like, on top of me.” And so I go, “Oh, that’s really nice, Cate” – type, type, type. “She’s one of them. She’s a Jesus freak. Oh, I got – get me away from her. She’s crazy.” OK. But she was so sweet, and she really did care about me. “Your name is written in His book.”
So I don’t know if any of you remember this back in the day – I’m really dating myself – but she handed me a tract. Does anyone know what a tract is? So she gives me this tract. And what a tract is, for those of you who don’t know, is it’s a card, and on the card is a prayer. And the prayer is, um, to accept Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior. Hey now, a prayer does not save you. Jesus Christ saves you. But, you know, she handed me this note, this little tract. I go out on disability. I am really isolated, and I’m desperately thinking about ending my life because I didn’t see any way out of this pain, this illness, this depression, this hopelessness, this death of a dream. And I realized, you know, I could end my life, but I can’t do that to my mother.
So, I pull out the tract, and I read the prayer. And I read it again and I read it again and again and again and I feel nothing. Now, I’m gonna tell you this. Side note – the first minute that I prayed that prayer for the very first time and I was crying out, Jesus saved me like that. That is the truth. But I didn’t know that. I wanted to feel something. I don’t know what I wanted to feel. Did I want the heavens to open up? Did I watch harps and angels? Did I want to jump for joy? Did I – I don’t know what I expected. But I knew I didn’t feel any different. We take our salvation by faith. But, again, I didn’t know that.
So this is what I did. I said, “God, I don’t know if I matter to you. I really don’t think I do. But if I do, will you show me? Will you show me that I – I matter and that You care? Because things are really bad right now, and I don’t know if I can live another day.” Hopelessness.
Not long after that, my grandmother shows up at the door. And my family knew I was very sick. They knew that I was, you know, bummed out, but they didn’t know the depth of despair that I was going through. And she’s like, “Lisa, I have something for you. It’s your great-grandfather’s.” Now, my great-grandparents lived with my grandparents from the time I was born till I was 12 years old. So any time I went to grandma and grandpa’s, Nana and Gigi were there, OK? So it was not a big deal that my grandmother would have something of my great-grandfather’s. She was a pack rat. Her house just kept getting wider because she saved everything. But when I was 12, my – both my great-grandparents passed away. So she said, “I have something for you.” Great. So she hands me this book.
We have a picture. “Oh, that’s cool, Grandma. Thank you so much. I love heirlooms. This is really neat.” It is a New Testament, Army-Navy edition. “Wow. Thank you, Grandma.” Then I opened it up. And inside it says, “To Lisa, from Gigi and Nana.” Ladies, gentlemen, my name was written in His book. (crowd: ooooh) Your name is written in his book, too. No matter where you are in your life, no matter how hopeless things may be, He sees, He hears, He knows, He cares, He’s watching. Your name is written in His book. I mattered to God. “Cate, guess what. I get it now. I’ve got hope. You were divorced. You met Jesus. He forgave you. I got divorced. I met Jesus. He forgave me. I get it.” I’m on fire. I’m on fire. I’m telling the whole world about Jesus. I become one of them. (LAUGHTER)
And it was so cool. And I’m on fire for God. I did not – and then at this point, Cate moves to a different company, and we only keep in touch at Christmas time through Christmas cards. And I don’t have godly women around me telling me what I should do – right? – you know, what to do, what not to do and to pray for me and encourage me. And so I take matters into my own hands, and I meet Mike Shea. And I was like, “Bow chicka bow bow – he is a hottie. Thank you, Jesus.” All right. “This is good. I’m good now. I’m good now, God.” And I put God in my back pocket. Am I the only one? Things are really bad and you’re like, “God, God, God.” And then he, like, picks you up, brushes you off, gets you OK, and then you’re like, “Woo, peace out, thanks.” And you go on your merry way until you fall right back into a whole ‘nother pit and then you’re like, “How did I get here?”
I dated Mike Shea for four years. I studied him under a microscope. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. Uh-uh, nope. I broke up with him whenever he got creepy because, you know, guys can be a little, you know. (LAUGHTER) Sorry, gentlemen. Don’t worry. I broke up with him when I got creepy because girls can be a little creepy too, you know? So I was like, “I am not married. I am dating. He looks at me wrong. He is out of here. Yeah.” And then he kept coming back. And I was like, “Hmm. Ah. This must be the one because I am trying to run him off and he just keeps coming back for more. Hmm, all right. Must be the one.” (Laughter) So I will add this, too. I did everything wrong in that relationship. Do you know what I’m saying without saying it? I did everything wrong. I did not honor God in that relationship. We lived together because I wasn’t going to make that same mistake.
So Mike Shea and I decide it’s time. We’re going to get married. We were the best of friends. We communicated, like, amazing. We finished other’s sentences. We’d love to be together. He would go grocery shopping with me. Who does that?
So we decide it’s time to get married. So we get married. In the first year of our marriage – so we get married. I get pregnant. He gets a new job. I get a new job. We move out of state. Then I had a baby two months later, so 14 months. So, within the first 14 months – oh (laughter) we bought a home. So, in the first 14 months of our marriage, we nailed seven of the major stressors in your life (laughter). So stupid. Again, with God in my back pocket.
John: Well certainly some people are over achievers and our guest on Focus on the Family is one of them., Lisa Shea. And you can donate and get a CD of this entire presentation when you call 1-800-A-Family or go online get the CD or audio download at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Lisa: During that time, our focus was definitely not on God, and my focus was on my baby, and his focus was on, “Oh, my goodness… now, “I am, you know, supporting…” – I was a stay-at-home mom at this point, and he’s got the pressure of his job. The pressure of the bills for everybody. The weight of “I need to survive and care for this family.” I didn’t understand all that. I just thought he went to work. You know, I had a baby at home. He could go to the bathroom by himself. I had someone on my lap. He’s like, “I had such a bad day.” “Did you (laughter) – did you go to the bathroom alone?” “Well, yeah.” “Well, you had a better day than I did.” (LAUGHTER)
And “I did your job.” We worked at the same company. “I did your job.” I’m telling you. Your job is a lot easier than mine.” OK. But that’s where my mind was. So he’s focusing on him. I’m focusing on me. I’m focusing on my child. And things disintegrated rapidly. Now, we did have some good days in between those bad days. We have two other children. (LAUGHTER) All of a sudden, we were outnumbered, and my last two, if you noticed, they are 13 months and 28 days apart. I had two in diapers. I was, like, pulling my – I was like that picture with my hair like this. It was like that every day. It wasn’t the wind from the beach. It always looked… (LAUGHTER)
All right. So our marriage disintegrates, and I’m standing at the top of my stairs with two of the three, I think. And I look down at the foyer, and he’s standing up looking at me and he goes, “I hate living here.” [exhales] And the sad thing was I hated living there, too. I didn’t know how this happened. We were best friends. I would walk into a room, and he’d say, “What’s wrong now?” OK. High school, Lisa – this is what high school Lisa said. “Huh! What’s wrong now? I just got here, so you must be the problem.” (LAUGHTER) He would shoot a little spit ball zinger and I would bring out the high school atomic bomb (imitating explosion). He could not win an argument with me. Can I tell you? That does not help your marriage at all. (LAUGHTER)
It doesn’t. Now, I know I’m making light of some things and we’re laughing, but, ladies, when I found myself faced with a second disintegrating marriage and this time with three kids, I’m like, “This is bad. I.. I need help. I need help! I need hope.” So I started reading. I read 20 self-help books on marriage and self-improvement to try to fix things – 20. We went to counselors on and off. One counselor was sitting there. He met with both of us, and then he met with us separately. And he said, “Lisa, the only way you’re going to get his attention is if you throw him out.” Ohhhh. I don’t have grounds to do that, and you’re telling me that my situation is so hopeless… Hopelessness yet again – this time, even worse.
So, I drive home in my minivan. (LAUGHTER) And I’m sobbing. And I go to the very last resort that should have been my first resort. And I said, “Oh, God, oh, God, I am so sorry. I’m in a mess. I know I’ve done this. I don’t know how I did it. I mean, I’m just caring for me and my children. I’m just trying to care for my children. I don’t – but I need your help. Do you remember me? I’m Lisa.” Now, this is what I did know. I knew enough that God was not going to rescue me back here and save me and deliver me from depression and heal me of sickness and save me eternally – I knew He wouldn’t do that back here to abandon me here. He is the same God yesterday. Let’s give Him… (APPLAUSE)
He is the same God yesterday, today and tomorrow. And, yes, it was my fault I walked away from Him. Yes, 100 percent, it was me, and my husband did the same thing. But He is a loving and merciful God. And if you find yourself in that position today, you call out on Him and He will answer you and He will rescue you because He has plans for you. He has plans for you.
Ok…Back to my story. So I’m crying, crying, crying, crying, and I feel the Lord say to my heart, “Don’t you do that. Don’t you throw him out. Hm-mm, you be still.” I’m like, “Oh, OK, I’ll be still.” I don’t know about you, but, like, I’m like, 40-something, but inside, I’m still a little girl. And I just wanted to cry to my Daddy in heaven. And He said, “Be still.” OK. So, one day, I go – not long after, a couple days, a couple days – I go to the mailbox, and I open up the mailbox and inside is a package from Cate. Remember Cate? Crazy Jesus freak Cate. Remember? (LAUGHTER)
I’m like, “Cate!” And she sent me a gift. We don’t do gifts. This is weird. And I open it up, and it was a book. And on the book was a note. And she said, “Lisa, we heard this man on the radio on Focus on the Family. And he wrote this book, and I read it, and I cried. Dean read it, and he cried. And we just think it would really bless you. It really changed our marriage.” “What?” Now, I don’t know about you, but we only exchanged Christmas cards. On my Christmas cards, I did not write, “Merry Christmas, my marriage is in the toilet. How are you?” (LAUGHTER) Do you? No. “Life is great. We’re great. The kids are perfect.” (LAUGHTER) That’s what you put in your Christmas cards. (LAUGHTER) You don’t air your dirty laundry.
So, I open up the package. I tear off the note. And the title of the book – Motivating Your Man God’s Way. Are you kidding me? (LAUGHTER) Just – like – get this. God told me to be still. He sends me another book. I’m catching on now. He speaks to me with books, right? And the title of the book is Motivating Your Man God’s Way – bingo! God knew that my husband needed motivating. He knew that it was all Mike’s fault! He knew that I needed rescuing and that he needed motivating and He sent me the answer in this book.
So I’m like, “This is so good. This is an answer to prayer. God is so good.” And I read it, and it says Ephesians 5:33 – Oh, OK. Ephesians 5:33 says, “a husband must love his wife as he loves himself.” “Yes! God, you – you – your word is my heart’s cry. I cannot believe this. Yes, of course, he’s supposed to love me like he loves himself. And, God, while I’m at it, while we’re talking about this, um, the reason I haven’t been loving him the way I should is because he loves himself enough for the both of us, so I have to love me. (LAUGHTER) He’s just so self-absorbed.”
So then I keep reading the Scripture – oh, “and a wife must respect her husband.” “Yeah, well, of course I’ll do that when he’s loving me as much as he loves himself – awesome!” And then I kept reading, and I learned that it was a command that God had given wives apart from, regardless of, our husbands’ performance – pfft. (LAUGHTER)
I’m doing it because I know most of you here are thinking it, and I thought it, too. And I’m gonna be very honest with you. I hated this book. I hated it. “This isn’t fair. Don’t you know that I am a strong, independent female, and I like to say it like it is? And if he doesn’t want to listen to me when I have something to say, that’s his problem. That is not my problem. And there is absolutely no way that I’m going to do some of these things that you’re telling me that I have to do – uh-uh, uh-uh.” I wanted to shove this in the garbage disposal. I wanted to flip it under the lawnmower. There was no way. (LAUGHTER)
Well, 20 self-help books, and those didn’t work. God tells you to be still. And then He sends you a book that’s based on His Word, which is what you cried out for. Hey, ladies, how many of you have prayed for God to do something and you don’t like the way He answers that? LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)
(Laughter) “I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to. I…I don’t want it… “ (LAUGHTER)
This isn’t fair. Look at how he’s treating me. Look at how he’s talking to me. Look at how – he’s breaking my heart (mumbling).” (LAUGHTER)
And again, I’m laughing now. We’re laughing, but if you are there, sister, I was with you. It is not funny. You’re not alone. You’re not the only one. You’re not the only Christian who’s struggling in her marriage. Hang on to what I’m going to say, OK? All right. So I’m like, “OK, I have to do this. I have to. I’ve done everything else. Nothing’s worked. I’ve overeaten. I’ve overspent. I have yelled, nagged, screamed. I’ve withheld, you know, you know. (LAUGHTER)
Yeah. None of it works. Just don’t even. Don’t even. Just – none of that works. OK, God, I will trust you.” Do you know some of you in your marriage, you think you’re in a marriage crisis, but it’s really not a marriage crisis. It could be a crisis in your faith.
And I felt like God said to me, “How are you going to teach your children to have faith in Me if you don’t have faith that I can do something in your marriage?” Uh! You know when you hear the truth and it brings you to your knees and it goes against every grain of your being, but you know that it’s the truth? I knew that was the spirit of God.
John: (serious) Lisa Shea on Focus on the Family, and you’ll hear how her marriage radically changed, next time.
Jim: Yeah, John, there is a lot of hope coming up, as Lisa continues her story.
You know, I was delighted to hear that Lisa’s friend, Cate, learned about Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and the Love & Respect principles from the Focus on the Family’s broadcast – what a great surprise and what a great illustration of how we’re helping marriages together! Cate got his book, Motivating Your Man God’s Way right here from Focus, and read it with her husband, and then sent it to Lisa. So well done, Cate! That’s just one example of how we can do ministry together right here at Focus on the Family.
And you know, our research tells us that we’ve helped 11-thousand couples per month resolve a major marital crisis…. and when you donate, you become part of that success! Please join us with a regular, monthly pledge if you can do that – that’s the best way to help us make these resources available for hurting couples. And when you make a pledge of any amount, we’ll send you the book, Love & Respect, by Dr. Eggerichs….it’s the most comprehensive book he’s written on this topic addressing both the ‘love’ and ‘respect’ sides of the equation for men and women. And if you can’t make that monthly pledge, we get that. Get in touch with us anyway and we’ll send this excellent book to you for a one-time gift of any amount.
Next time, Lisa’s is going to be talking about how she applied the Love and Respect principles in her marriage. But let me point out that if you’re experiencing abuse from your spouse, you need to get to a place of safety and keep that location a secret. Especially if you have children! Once you are safely away from your home, you can pursue counseling for both yourself and your spouse, while remaining physically safe.
And I know, in addition to that, give us a call and speak to one of our caring, Christian counselors. They may have to call you back but they will spend time with you on the phone and then refer you to a Christian counselor in your area who has experience dealing with domestic abuse.
And let me remind you that our Hope Restored marriage intensive program is a great resource as well. At Hope Restored we help couples break free from cycles of pain in their marriage and we help them thrive in ways they thought were really impossible. When we interview couples as they’re leaving, 95-percent say the intensive experience WILL make a difference in their marriage. And we verify that two years later. Four out of five couples say they’re doing very well. That’s an amazing success rate.
So, to those who donate to Focus on the Family, let me say THANK YOU for helping save these marriages! And if you’re not a donor, let me encourage you to become one – be a partner with us today!
John: And you can show your support for marriage by making that monthly pledge, or a one-time gift of any amount, and uh, request the book, Love & Respect, by Emerson Eggerichs when you do.
Our website is focusonthefamily.com/broadcast and you can call 800 the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459.
And If you enjoyed today’s program, please, tell a friend to tune in next time, as Lisa explains how she began showing respect to her husband Mike even when she didn’t feel like it.
Lisa: Some of you may be thinking, “if I do these things, I’m going to be a doormat.” No, you’re going to be a welcome mat for the power of God in your life.