Recording artist, songwriter, performer and author Tiffany Arbuckle Lee, better known as Plumb, has sold more than 3 million albums and singles worldwide, and released her first book earlier this year. In spite of her wildly successful career, Tiffany’s home life as a wife and mother has experienced some serious setbacks and dark moments. In the following excerpt taken from her new book, Need You Now, Tiffany shares honestly about her journey of brokenness and redemption.
When I was pregnant with our third child, Clementine, I was already deep in the trenches of mommyhood. Besides dealing with our two little boys, I had severe anemia during my pregnancy — all while trying to sell our house. During this time, I began a slow downward spiral.
Our little cottage on Bluefield Avenue was bursting at the seams. My husband, Jeremy, and I decided to purchase a giant home about 35 minutes from our old neighborhood. It would have tons of space for our three little ones and a bigger backyard. It seemed like a great trade-off for living close to friends. It was a decision we would soon come to regret.
A bad move
In reality, the move left me feeling isolated and anxious, and it left our family living house-poor. In a different season of life we might have thought, Maybe we should think about this a little more, maybe we can last another year in our cozy little house. But we were caught up in a whirlwind of baby wipes and hormones. Or at least I was.
We moved 10 days before Clementine was born. Boxes were piled everywhere, and my once close-knit community was now miles away. My best friend, Melis, still came by to hang out and play with the boys while I nursed Clementine, but the daily running in and out of each other’s lives slowed. And I was missing out on girls’ night with my friends.
I was alone at the new house with a 3-year-old, an 18-month-old and an infant. Normally pretty lighthearted and upbeat, I was now frazzled and cranky. Looking back, I can see that I had postpartum depression.
The daily chaos of three little ones led to my being more disorganized, more unfocused and more forgetful than ever. I was exhausted and I was emotionally cut off from my friends. My love of life was seeping out of me, one drop at a time.
Jeremy was experiencing his own struggles. During my pregnancy with Clementine, he hadn’t been sure what to do with me. He knew I was having trouble coping. We had always been super open with each other about how we were feeling, but in my present state he didn’t feel like he could say things like, “I am starting to feel disconnected from you.”
Instead of telling me he was having a hard time being open and honest with me, or that he felt the weight of the world on his shoulders, Jeremy simply kept quiet.
Ultimately, Jeremy and I found ourselves in that place of upheaval for a long while. The months became years. Without recognizing it or asking for it, we were soon completely and totally overwhelmed.
Then one day, Jeremy sent me a text message saying he was frustrated and couldn’t live like this any longer. After trying a few counseling sessions, he told me that he was leaving me — and my world went black.
The only true thing of beauty during this difficult time was how our community held us up. All those friends who had been with Jeremy and me since our dating days now rallied around us. Two days after Jeremy left me, 40 of our closest friends gathered to pray for us in the chapel we were married in. They held us up in prayer, then in the following weeks and months they held us up physically — with calls, food and baby-sitting.
Even though our friends were heartbroken about Jeremy’s decision to leave me, they did not leave him. And they certainly didn’t stop loving him. They were able to see something most can’t: That Jeremy’s behavior wasn’t Jeremy Lee. It was evil. So our friends asked God to do what only He could do — overcome evil’s stronghold on one of God’s very own people. They wanted our marriage to do more than just survive. They were praying for reconciliation and redemption.
Almost as heartbroken as I was, my friend Melis didn’t offer advice. She didn’t tell me that Jeremy was a jerk. She loved us. Not me. Us. She loved Jeremy like the older brother she never had. She made a point of telling Jeremy that she loved him and was praying for him and that her role was best served standing behind me and pushing me toward reconciliation, while still loving and praying for him.
She didn’t tell me everything would work out or that Jeremy and I were going to get back together. Instead she said, “Tif, no matter what happens, because of Jesus, ultimately you’re going to be OK.” She spoke hope into my life when I didn’t know where else to look for it. Melis and her husband must have prayed a thousand prayers on our behalf. I was wounded, scared and uncertain of the future. But whatever was going to happen, I knew that I wasn’t going to face it alone.
I didn’t have a plan to win Jeremy back. I just knew that I wasn’t done loving him. Even though his words and actions hurt me, I wasn’t ready to give up. I asked our friends to meet with him, to reason with him. I asked his parents to talk some sense into him. But nothing got through to him. If anything, it all pushed him further away from me.
Jeremy Lee wanted nothing to do with me. All my manipulations were failing. Then one day, in a moment of clarity, I realized there was nothing I could do or say that was going to save my marriage.
When I told Jeremy that I was done trying to make him stay, something began to change in his heart. And something changed in mine.
Through the next months, we started a new kind of marriage. One that was honest and fragile. We took our time. We prayed a lot. We laughed a lot. We cried a lot.
We started simply, by just hanging out as a family. No dating. No touching. Jeremy didn’t move back into the guest room until months later. We went to counseling religiously, and still do.
One year from the day that Jeremy Lee and I had held hands for the first time since our separation, the same 40 friends who had held that prayer vigil for us when we separated were watching us marry all over again. They were present to watch God redeem what only He could redeem.
There is one irrefutable truth about Jeremy and me: I love Jeremy Lee. He loves me. We love Jesus. And we believe in resurrection. As Jeremy and I look to the future, we know one more irrefutable truth that will hold us until eternity: There is always hope.
Plumb and Susanna Foth Aughtmon are co-authors of Need You Now: A story of hope.