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Rebuilding a Stronger Marriage

Air Date 06/12/2018

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Pastor Chris Beall and his wife, Cindy, share their dramatic story of how his pornography addiction led to his infidelity, and how God used their brokenness and a loving church community to restore their marriage.

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Episode Transcript

Opening: 

Excerpt:

Cindy Beall: Yes, you may have grounds for divorce, but you also have grounds for forgiveness. And so that's what I would say to the woman listening. Yeah, if, I get it. There's a lot of betrayal and you may choose to walk and that is your prerogative between you and God. But I say there's still a chance if you've got two people willing to do whatever it takes and work at a marriage, which is what we should be doing in the first place. Man, you have no idea what God can do and how He can redeem 'cause He is a redeeming God. 

End of Excerpt 

John Fuller: That's Cindy Beall. And she and her husband Chris are joining us today on "Focus on the Family." Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. Thanks for listening today. I'm John Fuller. 

Jim Daly: John, I love hearing stories of marriages that are restored and redeemed by God's grace. I mean, that's it. We're fundamentally a Christian organization. We believe in Jesus Christ. And we believe in his desire for marriage. And marriage, unfortunately, involves human beings that are flawed (laughter) and that's - that's the problem with the institution. But I love a story, like I said where they have gone to the pit and have come out of it. We're going to talk about that today. One of the great things we're doing here at "Focus on the Family" is called Hope Restored. And we acquired that several years ago. And I'm really proud to say that we stay in touch with those people who attend those intensives. We do some survey work. And about 4 out of 5 post-2 years are still married and doing better. That's almost - that's an 80 percent success rate. And I am really thrilled with that. And these are typically people that are on the brink of divorce or have signed the divorce papers. Hebrews 13:4 tells us, "Let marriage be held in honor among all." I think that's what I was getting at a moment ago. And today, we want to remind you, especially if your marriage is in trouble, that there is hope for you. And there is a way through this dark moment to bring you through it and to help you communicate better, love each other better and, ultimately, to honor God in doing so. 

John: And our guests are Chris and Cindy Beall. And they've been there. They have a remarkable story as Jim said. They've been in full-time ministry for most of their 25 years of marriage. They both serve at Life Church in Oklahoma City. And Cindy has an excellent book. It's called Rebuilding a Marriage Better than New. And we've got that at focusonthefamily.com/radio. 

Body: 

John: Chris and Cindy, welcome to "Focus on the Family." 

Chris Beall: Thanks for having us. 

Cindy: We love it. Thank you. 

Jim: It's great to have you here. I'm really thrilled with the story. So often couples end it. And you didn't. And that's what I really want to zero in on... 

Chris: Sure. 

Jim: ...Certainly the why of it. But let's get right to the heart of your story because there's so much here. You were a young couple. I think you had nine years of marriage under your belt, probably still in your 20s - I'm not sure - just into your 30s. But you also had a 3-year-old son at the time. What happened that precipitated this crisis? 

Chris: Well, the - the long story short is, you know, there was a pornography struggle that started when I was 8 years old and followed me all through adolescent years into young adulthood, manhood. And it just changed kind of the moral center of my life, even as becoming a believer in Jesus and a follower of Christ and then later full-time ministry. And there was - there was a season where we were a young couple, I was a youth pastor in Memphis, Tennessee, and in that season, I just let the guard down so much. And unfortunately, I had made decisions to be unfaithful to Cindy. And she knew something wasn't right but didn't know exactly what it was. And it wasn't until we moved to Oklahoma City and I joined the team at Life Church that it really was kind of one of those Holy Spirit put me in a corner and said, "You know, I didn't bring you here to be the next great pastor at Life Church. I brought you here to - to heal you." 

Jim: And we're going to get to that hope. That's the key thing. Cindy, obviously, it's your turn.  

Cindy: Yeah. 

Jim: And you are representing women who go through this. You went through it, that feeling of betrayal, all of that. Describe for us that day and when Chris was forthright with you and honest with you, maybe for the first time in your nine year marriage at that point. What did that feel like? And how did you respond? 

Cindy: So we had been at Life Church for six weeks. And he was the worship pastor at our second location. We only had two locations back then. And he came home one Tuesday morning after a staff meeting, and he said, "We need to talk." I was still unpacking boxes. We had only been in our house that we had just bought, like, three days. And we sat down. And he proceeds to tell me everything he's just told you about - pornography and that it led him to act out. And then everything was just dropped on me. And then the final blow was that one of the women that he was in a relationship with was pregnant. And so not only did I deal with the betrayal, but I dealt with that he would be a father to another... 

Jim: The consequences. 

Cindy: ...Yeah. And so immediately, like, you talk about 60 seconds later, I was unpacking boxes, excited about our new world, our new life, and then I'm deeply devastated. I literally just wanted to die. 

Jim: You wanted to - yeah - end everything. 

Cindy: I just thought I can't live on this earth - just immediate and utter ruin was all I was thinking. 

Jim: Chris, let me come back to you because we didn't, um, illuminate that part of the story. You were at the church. The pastor there, Craig Groeschel, said something that really challenged you that took you home to make the statement that you made. What was it that he said to the group that convicted you? 

Chris: Yeah. He spoke to the staff and said, um, that it is our private integrity that gives us the ability to minister publicly. And in that moment, it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me, "that's not me." I don't have that. And not only that, but - but am I going to be the guy that brings devastation on this incredible ministry? And that was the straw. I will say, God had been working on me prior to that moment... 

Jim: Guilt? The sense of I'm in a bad place? 

Chris: ...Oh, just - just a - I am - I am a prisoner. I am - I am in bondage. And is there - God, is there a chance that I could be free? I don't know if that means that my marriage would be restored or, certainly, ministry was not a part of - you know, that's over. I've blown that opportunity in my head at that moment. But when Craig said those words, it was like, that's it. 

Jim: And that's what pushed you to go home to address the issue. 

Chris: Correct. 

Jim: What was the next hour like? What was the next day like? 

Cindy: Well, he then called Jerry Hurley, who is one of our executive pastors, leaders. And he came over. And then Jerry called Craig. And then Craig came over. And I mean, it was everything you would have imagined - bad. And they just, sometimes, just sat there as the both of us wept. We wept for different reasons. And they were speechless. But they just began to help us and just began to go through each section of, um, what our next steps were. And it was just... 

Jim: What were those next steps for you? What did you decide to do? I mean, you're in the driver's seat at this point, obviously. 

Cindy: Well, I had wise people around me. So another couple, Jim and Beth Kuykendall, Kevin Penry, another leader at our church, they just said, "You know, your emotions are so all over the place. Probably the last thing you need to do is make a decision right now." And so that was the counsel I had received. So I didn't make decisions for the next six months. I was like, OK, what are we going to do today? And so the next step was resignation. They were graceful to let him resign, even though there wasn't an option. And he didn't want to - I mean, obviously he wasn't expecting to stay. And so there was a resignation. And then Craig preached about it to our campus the following Sunday. 

Chris: That weekend. 

John: How did that come about? 

Chris: So - so I'll tell you, this will go down as one of the moments in Life Church. He stood onstage and said, you know, basically, this is the deal. And without room for wondering what happened or what I did, he was pretty direct. And he said, "Now here's why I'm telling you the truth about Chris and what he's done and why he's resigned." He said this. He said, "The local church is one of the only institutions in the world that shoot their wounded. And we will not be that. We will be a hospital within which they heal." And he said that, "If we all know the truth in love, there's nothing to gossip about. And so we're not gonna give our spiritual enemy an inch of ground here. So we're gonna know the truth and it's gonna empower us to love Chris and Cindy as God does a work in their marriage." And I'm telling you that moment of courage not only was the catalyst for our healing. It changed our church forever. 

Jim: You know, in so many ways it sounds like the woman caught in adultery. 

Chris: Right. 

Jim: The shoes on the other foot in terms of the gender, but it's that experience. 

Chris: Yes. 

Jim: Jesus could have executed judgment on her... 

Chris: Right. 

Jim: ...But chose not to. And it really ticked the people around him off, didn't it? 

Chris: Right. It made a statement to the church of it's okay not to be okay. And God's grace and his healing is enough... 

Jim: Yeah. 

Chris: ...If we're just honest about it. And I'm telling you it that moment is the reason I believe God brought us to that church. 

Jim: Yeah. 

Chris: I just don't know that our story would've ended the same without that moment. 

Jim: Cindy, you did go and stay with your mom. I don't know if that was immediate or a few days later. What happened? 

Cindy: A couple weeks later. 

Jim: Tell me about that bit a journey. Was that just to get some space? I mean, betrayal is hard to manage. I mean, most - I can hear women screaming back at the radio right now or the podcast they're listening to saying, "Cindy, why did you stick with him?" I mean, it's true. 

Cindy: Yeah. 

Jim: Let's face it. 

Chris: Sure. 

Jim: They have a little sense of vengeance on your behalf. 

Cindy: Of course. 

Jim: So talk us through going to your mom's, the encounter you had there with your mom and your mom's pastor, I think, and why you came back to Chris. 

Cindy: So it was about two weeks after his confession that I actually went. But leading up to that, I watched my husband broken as broken can be. I mean, I've never seen anything like it. 

Jim: So it was genuine for you it wasn't - he wasn't. 

Cindy: There was - I mean, he would sit on the floor and he would call our old pastor in Memphis where we were living and tell him and he would call - he called his dad and he called his mom. And he called my mom. And he just made these phone calls to people that were close in our lives and confessing and telling them because it was - if it's gonna be public at our church, it's going to get out. And sure enough I just watched him say I - you know, I know I've done this. And I made - our marriage may be over. And, I mean, you may never trust me again. But if you'll give me a chance, I'll spend the rest of my life trying. So that's what I was dealing with at home. So I didn't have this guy saying if you have been a better wife, if you had met more of my needs, if you had been the - you know, whatever. I didn't have that husband. I had a husband who took it all upon himself. He didn't blame me for anything. And, you know, I felt like years - I mean, months later, I did internally look and say, "What did I contribute?" But those two weeks I was with a man that was everything I'd ever dreamed of. Everything. So I still didn't know if I was going to stay, though, because I thought man this is really great, but I'm not sure it's gonna stick. So I just said, "God, I need to hear from you. I need more than just advice from people that are wise. I really need to hear from you. I need a word. I need something from God's word." So I decided to go see my mom. And, of course, she made me go see her pastor. And I was like, "Why are you doing this? I'm 31 years. You're forcing me to go see someone." But I was, like, so emotionally weak I couldn't refuse her. 

Jim: It was the right call. 

Cindy: It was. So I went to visit with him. And by the point as I'm confiding and telling him everything, I'm weeping, he's just as gracious as gracious can be. And he just looked at me and he said, you know, you are not a fool to stay and be a part of the redemptive work in a man's life. And I was like, "What?" I couldn't believe that came out of his mouth. And I was - that was the moment that I thought okay maybe, maybe there is a chance. 

Jim: Huh. So it didn't irritate you 100 percent.... 

Cindy: No. 

Jim: ...Just 98 percent (laughter). 

Cindy: Just - yeah. Yeah. So, like, I was so glad and I left that meeting. It was the first time in 12, 13 days where I felt a little hope the first time. 

Jim: Cindy, I want to ask you because you're in that place of the betrayed woman. And, again, there's a lot of fear there. 

Cindy: Right. 

Jim: And it's been said if women actually knew what went through the minds of a man, they probably never marry men anyway. It's just part of our makeup. 

Cindy: Right. 

Jim: It doesn't excuse it. It's what the Lord wants to bridle. 

Chris: Right. 

Jim: The idolatry that he wants to get a hold of in a man's life. But it's powerful. Sexuality is powerful. How did you process that great fear, the spear of all spears? Because I know some women, this is the dagger. If you betray me that way, I'm never looking forward for you. 

Cindy: Right. 

Jim: Help that woman who maybe decided I'm not going to stick with it. I'm not going to take your mom's pastor's advice. I'm getting rid of them. 

Cindy: Sure. 

Jim: And maybe they've already done it. 

Cindy: Right. 

Jim: But what about that woman that may still have that happening in the future? But that is the most sensitive area of her heart... 

Cindy: Yeah. 

Jim: ...Is that kind of betrayal. 

Cindy: Yeah. Well, I mean, it just strikes to I'm not as sexy as those women he looks at on the video. I'll never, I'll never be able to do the things they do. I'll never meet up to what he desires so there's that that you have to kind of walk through. But Pastor Craig often says, you know, yes you may have grounds for divorce, but you also have grounds for forgiveness. And so that's what I would say to the woman listening. Yeah, if - I get it. There's a lot of betrayal and you may choose to walk. And that is your prerogative between you and God - 'cause I don't ever tell someone what they should do. That's between them and God. But I say there's still a chance if you've got two people willing to do whatever it takes and work at a marriage, which is what we should be doing in the first place. Man, you have no idea what God can do and how he can redeem because he is the redeeming God. So that's what I would say to that woman listening. 

Jim: And it's evident and we're going to get to that part of the discussion. You guys are probably more in love today than you've ever been. Is what it looks like. 

Chris: No doubt. 

Jim: But I'm going to let you express that. I want to come back to something you mentioned of Cindy rather quickly and that was in part the affair that you had, Chris, I mean, this other woman is pregnant. 

Chris: Right. Right. 

Jim: OK. So women are on your side, Cindy. Now they're really on your side. 

Cindy: Right. 

Jim: How could you deal with that? And what is happening today? Is that child present in your life? 

Chris: Absolutely. 

Cindy: Uh-Huh. 

Jim: Speak to that, Cindy. 

Cindy: So leading up to his confession, two and a half years of our marriage was chaos. I was convinced that I was the worst wife in the world. I wasn't doing what I needed to do. He was everybody's hero at church. And something was off. And I was - it was our senior pastor and it was us. And so I didn't have anybody go to. I had nobody. And I - I just dug deeper in the word, I spent time with my father. I mean, God truly became more important to me than my husband. And so when this all came out, I kept hearing him just gently speak to my heart and just saying you going to ask me what I think, you going to ask me what I think. 

Jim: (Laughter). 

Cindy: You said you would follow me, you know. And I thought okay, God, what should I do? You know, I finally had the nerve of, like, six days later what do you think. And I just remember I was stirring spaghetti and I was crying. And I remember him saying, "Cindy, remember when you told me you'd do anything to bring me glory?" And the moment I heard that I was just like now I don't believe God caused this, but he's certainly going to use it. So that's where I began to just say OK, God. So it became less about my husband and more about the kingdom, for me. That's what it was. 

Jim: That's a powerful statement. I mean, that is a really powerful statement that can be applied in any aspect of life as a Christian. 

Chris: Right. 

Jim: I mean, Lord, how am I going to resolve this? How I'm gonna get through this? 

Cindy: Yeah. 

Jim: Sometimes it's really tough stuff... 

Cindy: Yeah. 

Jim: ...What you two went through. 

Cindy: And the birth of the child was five months after his confession and that was still a very difficult season for us. But I'm telling you that child - he'll be 16 this summer. And he's my son. He's my boy. Like, I - we say we have three sons. I just didn't have stretchmarks with him. You know, like I adore him and I adore his mom. I adore her mom. I mean, it's - you know, some people might say it's a bit Jerry Springer-ish. 

Chris: It seems a little unrealistic. 

Cindy: It seems like almost too good to be true. But isn't that our God? Isn't he too good to be true to send Jesus to die for us? 

Jim: Well, in the response, I mean, it's so admirable the way you have responded to this. And, you know, again I just applaud you spiritually for choosing the right thing to do. It's tough. Life is tough. Chris, I can't imagine being in your shoes, I mean, going through what you went through, all self-inflicted.

 Chris: Right. 

Jim: Make sure people hear that. 

Chris: 100 percent. 

Jim: I'm not giving you sympathy for bad decisions. 

Chris: 100 percent. 

Jim: But, man, what in the world are you feeling when all this is happening over those first five months and the girl, the woman's calling you saying... 

Chris: Right. 

Jim: ...I'm pregnant? 

Chris: Right. 

Jim: And ouch. 

Chris: I'm caught. You know, I think you can - especially guys we were quite capable at compartmentalizing parts of our lives. Are we not? And - but your sin will always find you out. It always does. And it was a nightmare of coming to this revelation of this thing that I've kept hidden is not going to be hidden for long. But it was freedom. Freedom was what I longed for. What is - the Scripture says it's for freedom that Christ set us free. And I had Grace and I understood the Gospel, but I was not living in the freedom of the Gospel in the freedom of my identity in Christ. 

John: Because of that hidden sin. 

Chris: Exactly. Right. And so there is this really interesting paradox of real brokenness of realizing what I have done even to the name of Jesus because, granted, I was in ministry when all this was coming out. But then on the flip side, waking up one day and having no secrets... 

Jim: Right. 

Chris: ...Was something that I had in my adult life have never experienced. And that was the first taste of freedom. And it was life transforming. And then watching this boy grow up, who later gave his heart to Jesus, who later I got the honor of baptizing him and his mom has come to faith in Jesus. And you know, 16 years later, there is more redemption associated with this story than there is pain. And that young man is front and center of redemption. 

Jim: Well, and that's so powerful. So powerful yet - you know, how do we get to the resolution here? 

Chris: Right. 

Jim: You know, the practical helps. Let's start Cindy with you for that woman that's struggling. She can't believe you've done this number one. 

Chris: Right. 

Jim: She's saying to herself. That's incredible. I'm not Cindy. 

Cindy: Yeah. 

Jim: I couldn't be her. 

Cindy: Yeah. 

Jim: But the truth is in Christ you can be... 

Cindy: Of course. 

Jim: ...Because you're learning these things from the Lord. What are some of those practical things? WEB EXTRA VIDEO I can only imagine the temptation to throw it back in Chris's face all the wrongdoing. Did that happen for a while? Did you control that? How did that happen? 

Cindy: I did not. 

Chris: I'm just going to say not once. Not one. 

Jim: That's remarkable. 

Chris: It is remarkable. 

Cindy: Well, and I just love the Lord so much that I felt like when people say they're going to get revenge on someone, the person they're doing that to first is Jesus before they do it to their spouse. And so I felt like it's like some - let's say I decide, well, I'm going to go cheat on him now. Well, I'm hurting the heart of God first before I'm hurting him. And I just couldn't do that to my Lord. And so that was my mindset. And so if a woman hears anything, you know, we as Christ followers her goal is to walk forever until we finish the race. And we fought the good fight and we have kept the faith. But if we don't go deeper along the way, we're missing out on so much. And so I felt like I've just gone so deep with the Lord that to throw it back in his face I just couldn't do that. I couldn't do that to my Lord really is what it boiled down to. But what happened was we were given permission by God, by, with each other to grieve. People want to get through the pain so bad. And we watch people who are hurting and we want to get them through their pain so bad. You just can't rush healing. And so we would grieve together. And I would grieve walking in the store at Walmart and buying groceries and something would remind me and I'm crying in the aisle. So I just allowed myself to grieve and as I grieved, I healed. I really believed that. I believe that when we grieve appropriately - so that was, those were the things that helped me heal... 

Jim: Right. 

Cindy: ...Deeply as I began to just really heal. 

Jim: Wow. Chris and Cindy, I so appreciate the openness and heart you've brought to our Focus on the Family couples today. It's been good for all of us to hear this. Your story is captivating, and the words of advice you offer are so applicable to any stage of marriage. And I have one more question for you before we close out. 

But first, I want to thank you, our listeners, for supporting Focus on the Family with your prayers and your financial support. 

You know, here at Focus, we want to help you have the best marriage you can. The reason? Because it's a witness before the world about your commitment to Christ. That's why we continue to produce these kinds of programs and other resources and tools to give you that reinforcement. We are here for you. If you need answers, give us a call. We count it a privilege to come alongside you and help get you through the tough times whether it's a small thing or a major thing.  

And if you're in a good spot, I hope you'll join us in making a difference in the lives of families who need a shoulder to lean on. We couldn't minister to them without prayer and regular financial support from friends like you. When you give a monthly pledge gift of any amount today, I wanna send you a copy of Cindy's book Rebuilding a Marriage Better Than New as our way of saying thank you for helping us encourage couples and families like your own. We're grateful for the support that you can give to Focus. 

John: And you can donate to the ministry here and get your copy of Rebuilding a Marriage Better than New when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459, or stop by focusonthefamily.com/radio. 

Jim: Cindy and Chris, the last question I wanted to ask and this is a loaded one. And - but it's an important one. Before we close out, there may be a listener who has that unconfessed sin, they haven't shared anything with their spouse. Man, this is so delicate and there's not a one way approach here. But what would be your advice to that person who you have touched their heart today? That man, Chris, who's saying I've never shared that with my wife.

Chris: Yeah. 

Jim: What would you say? 

Chris: Well, first of all, my heart breaks for you and I know the darkness of that, the weight of that secret. I would say that honesty will never steer you wrong. It will hurt. There will be damage. People will be hurt. But I think about what James wrote that, you know, so often we confess our sin to God and expect him to fix our problems or remove the consequences. But there's no Scripture that it says he actually does that. But instead, confess your sins to one to another, to another person, to a human being, to somebody that you trust and pray for each other, and the Bible says, "That you may be healed." And that's a promise. And so my encouragement is know that God is a God of compassion, that your choices have real consequences that God will not remove but that his grace is bigger than you think it is. And find somebody that you trust that you can confess it to seek prayer and then just watch what God will start to do in your life.  

Jim: That is so good. Cindy, any other thoughts? 

Cindy: Well, I would say to the wife or the husband who gets this kind of confession. I would say it's very typical for a lot of people to run from God, to get mad because he didn't do as they thought he should. I would say run to him. Run to him even if you don't understand. Just run to him. He will begin to reveal things to you in his time. 

Jim: Good advice. Cindy, Chris thanks so much for being with us. 

Cindy: Thank you. 

Chris: Thanks for having us. 

Closing:

John: Well, join us next time when you'll hear a powerful conversation about breaking down racial barriers. 

Teaser: 

Mr. Benjamin Watson: The reality is there's an implicit bias, and the Gospel says, "No." I need to look beyond cultural stereotypes, and I need to see through the blood of the cross to see you in the inaugural day. And humility says I can learn from anybody. There's not a lot of learning, there's a lot of talking. 

End of Teaser

 

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Guest

Chris and Cindy Beall

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Chris and Cindy Beall have been in full-time ministry for most of their 25 years of marriage. They speak openly about their difficult journey through Chris' infidelity and pornography addiction that nearly destroyed their marriage and ministry back in 2002. Through the restoration they've experienced by God's grace, they have inspired thousands of couples, and they have returned to full-time ministry where Chris serves as the Oklahoma City Campus Pastor at Life.Church. Chris also oversees nine other Life.Church locations in the Oklahoma City metro area. Cindy serves alongside Chris at Life.Church and is a mom and published author. She has written two books, Healing Your Marriage When Trust Is Broken and Rebuilding a Marriage Better Than New. Learn more about the Bealls at cindybeall.com.