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Celebrate the Progress Along the Way

Celebrate the Progress Along the Way

Let Him Do a New Thing

I remember two points of our story like they were yesterday, so vastly different and surprising looking back. After that terrible night when I thought about ending my life but heard God’s kind, loving words drawing me to Him, Josh and I went to church the following day at the Seacoast Dream Center. The service was incredible, and it felt like everything — the worship and message — was made for our exact season of pain. Afterward, I remember going to the front altar with Josh and telling the pastor our entire story. I finally felt free enough to say the words because I had been encouraged by the words of a loving God.

With tears running down our faces, when I confessed to an affair almost ruining our marriage, the pastor looked at us with this incredible strength and said, “Me too.”

  • Me too are powerful words.

He pointed to his wife and children on the front row and said twenty years ago they were in a similar situation, but look at what God has done. That was all he had to say; I didn’t need to know the details of his story to feel the hope and inspiration that started to spring up in me, thinking, I wonder if that could be us.

Hope is like oxygen in times of crisis, and I believe God orchestrated this moment to give us a deep breath that we so desperately needed. However, two hours later, I experienced a bit of confusion, shock, and discouragement when I spoke with my sister. You see, Jess is my best friend, although it hadn’t always been that way growing up; I was a pretty miserable sister, much less a friend. When we both were grown and became believers, though, we instantly made up for the lost time of childhood. During the darkest season of our story, when I was hiding from Josh and friends, she was included in that. Even though at this time she was across the country from me in Seattle, we would FaceTime almost daily. My marriage crisis had been challenging for her because of her deep love for Josh and my persistent hiding things. Early on when news of my affair came out and she was hearing stories from Josh that were different from what I was telling her, it was all too much for her to handle, especially living so far away. Then later when she found out from Josh or my mom about another truth I was hiding, she was hurt, mad, and disgusted all at the same time. So when I called her that afternoon following the church service, my level of enthusiasm and hope was not returned.

I immediately started the conversation with, “Well, Jess, God has changed me and healed me, and I know He will use this story for good. I don’t know when, but we will be preaching about this moment. He loves me and has great plans for my life.” I’m smiling right now as I write this because I remember it as if it were yesterday, and I also remember Jess’s response that I’m sure was accompanied by a massive eye roll that I could feel in Charleston.

I get it, though. There is a lot of pain to walk through, and the healing was still very much in process.

When facing a considerable marriage trial or betrayal, two things can happen. The first is premature confidence that things will change, and change quickly. The second is too much delayed hope, which can allow your hard days to overwhelm you.

For me, delayed hope happened five years after my confession, when God had done tremendous healing in our hearts and story. Josh and I were meeting with another couple walking through a similar pain, and I knew after counseling them for a couple of weeks that five years was too soon to be a healer for others. I started comparing our marriage struggles to theirs, rating how bad my betrayal or sin was in comparison and feeling a bit self-righteous. I knew this was not healthy for my heart, because even a hint of self-righteousness one minute will be full of shame the next. One of the Enemy’s most effective tactics with humanity is to keep us on the pendulum swing of judgment — from lamenting, “I’m beyond hope” on one end to flippantly claiming, “Grace covers all” on the other. This keeps us from the ultimate judgment line that falls right at the center:

There is no one righteous, not even one... For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:10, 23

Under God’s love, this leaves us right where He wants us: standing in judgment but believing in forgiveness and redemption because of the cross.

Once we finished counseling that first couple, I knew I needed more time before I was ready to minister out of our pain and healing. I was asked to preach at my first church-sponsored women’s event a month later, and I cried through the entire message. I was hoping to break the shame of others and point them to Jesus, but as I shared the pain and the brokenness from our marriage, I realized how fresh the shame and sadness were for me.

Step-by-Step Toward Your Goal

There is a time and season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1), but if you want a new marriage and have decided to embark on this journey of staying and growing, then you must determine what is the new thing God wants to do and where He wants to begin. I believe with all my heart that marriage and lasting love is a great gift God gives the human heart and soul. The marriage covenant allows for change, security, growth, stability, passion, and promise.

  • No two people are more poised and ready to let God do a new thing in them than two people committed first to God and then to each other.

If you are a business owner or project manager, an athlete or a hiker, or anyone that sets goals, you probably celebrate your accomplishments. If you have ever set a goal to accomplish a new thing, break a bad habit, or change a lifestyle, you know how challenging it can be and how achieving your goal can be nearly impossible if you don’t have clear steps for what you will do or stop doing to achieve it. You understand that big goals must be broken down into smaller, more attainable goals that can then be broken down by weekly, daily, and hourly steps.

The same must be true when we let God do a new thing in us and our marriage. We must be clear about what we are asking, how much time we will devote to achieving a chosen goal, and what right actions we will take while we wait for God to do what only He can.

I never dreamed God could restore my passion and emotion for Josh; I thought, at best, I would end up with a chum or pal. So my very first goal was not overly ambitious. I did not expect myself to immediately become attracted to Josh again and have butterflies every time he walked into the room. I could not control this. So instead, I purposely started thinking about which actions or behaviors of his were attractive to me, training myself to recognize and acknowledge the good in him, the things I once loved about him. I then broke this down into daily, weekly, and monthly action steps for one month at a time. I was hoping by the end of month one, I would see growth in this area and could celebrate the progress along the way.

What is one goal you could have for your marriage to feel or look “new” in the next month?

Maybe yours is to have more intimacy, not yell so much, be more patient and get less annoyed, increase your desire to spend time together, be a better teammate or partner — the list can go on, but your first step needs to be something that you can control. Don’t make a goal that you can’t come up with behaviors to support. Then break your goal down into daily, weekly, and monthly actions or behaviors. The following example lists the steps I took to become attracted to Josh again:


  • Pray for God to restore my attraction to the husband of my youth.
  • Think about Josh in a loving way for ten minutes a day.
  • Smile at Josh whenever he comes into the room.
  • When I see Josh, say something in my mind like, How am I so blessed? or Other women would kill to be his wife — something to reframe my thoughts.
  • Touch Josh whenever he is close.
  • Hug Josh five seconds longer than usual.


  • Set aside weekly or biweekly time for intimacy.
  • Work to be fully present and engaged in conversations.
  • Have a weekly date night where I act like a girlfriend — fun and flirty.
  • Worship together.


  • Have a time on the calendar for one night away that includes fun day dates where we do things we loved in the beginning of our relationship.
  • Write Josh a letter telling him how grateful I am for him.

You get the idea.

To let God do a new thing, write down your goal — the new thing you are hoping for. Then break down the action steps that you are responsible for and pray with faith that as you take these right actions, God will do what only He can do!

Here is the most important part: celebrate the markers. When you look back and realize you are stronger, healthier, and have more clarity than the season or month before, you will need to celebrate this.

Excerpted with permission from New Marriage, Same Couple by Josh & Katie Walters, copyright Josh and Katie Walters.

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Your Turn 

Your marriage might be really hard right now. Maybe one or both of you have made seemingly unforgivable mistakes. What would happen if you both let God in to the middle of it? What might happen if you let Him do a new thing? ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full