Story of Restoration
We know how God’s presence was evident in previous generations, and we invite God to make Himself known in our time (Habakkuk 3:2). God’s story has always been one about restoring peace, and with the “Our Turn” campaign, we recognize our opportunity to see how each person’s story is a glimpse to God’s greater narrative of peace/welfare. Steven and Jessica Gereghty, covenant members at our Downtown Campus, openly share about a recent episode of their life when the people and the ministries of Harris Creek intersected with a deep need in their faith and in their marriage.
TELL US ABOUT A DEFINING MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE AND HOW HARRIS CREEK HAS PLAYED A ROLE IN SEEKING YOUR WELFARE
Heading into Welcome Back Sunday of August 2014, we were really excited to co-lead one of the first family Life Groups for the Downtown Campus alongside our best friends. It was something we felt certain we were called to do, and something for which we waited anxiously all summer. We had 7 families attend our group—14 adults & 12 kids under the age of six—during the Life Group kick-off phase. During that first week none of us would imagine the depth of community that we were about to experience as we jumped into each other’s lives almost immediately. We were excited, but admittedly a little overwhelmed with the potential chaos of it all.
Meanwhile at home, our marriage was experiencing chaos of its own and was breaking down from the inside. We were under a tremendous amount of pressure from the outside world through our young kids, career shifts and strains, financial burdens, and family health issues.
As we faced these outside factors, the hidden world of our marriage was suffering greatly; what we mistakenly thought were tiny little fault lines in our marriage’s foundation shifted and caused a cataclysmic earthquake that could have registered an 8.9 on the Richter scale. We were left with exposed dysfunction, sin, and hurt that had been hidden or ignored for over 4 years. It felt like our life had been broken into a 1000 pieces, and instead of it getting better, almost every week it just got worse. One Saturday I woke up & realized Steven’s truck had been randomly stolen from the front of our house—in our cute Waco neighborhood—while we slept, and I really felt like God was testing us to the point of no return. We were hopeless, lifeless, and just trying to survive enough to give our sons any amount of love we couldn’t find for each other or anyone else. Our marriage was a battleground & it felt so fake to act like things were okay, but we didn’t know how else to survive. The few of our best friends who knew all the details felt hopeless too, and they honestly didn’t even know where to start with helping us, as we were in such a fog of anger, pain, and shame.
In November, our church started a series on ‘The Art of Peacemaking‘ focusing on the hard work of restoration. Week after week, we would check our kids into childcare, walk across the street, and sit next to each other (with contempt) and listen to Brady describe the amount of hurt and bloodshed that we can cause our brother, knowing that he was perfectly describing what had happened in our marriage as if we’d actually become enemies. We were so broken and had no idea how to find the true third option about which he preached, beyond even forgiveness: true restoration in our marriage. It was almost unthinkable to us.
Although our Life Group was only a couple months old, I’ll never forget the Wednesday night we just knew we had to share with the group our level of despair. Honestly, I don’t even know what we said that night, but I remember tears of exhaustion, sadness over deep wounds, and sharing that “I almost couldn’t see a way out other than the D-word.” We’d been to counseling and were open to more, but we needed more than a quick band-aid for the deep wounds in our hearts.
From an outsider’s perspective, these people were simply our new acquaintances, but from God’s perspective the members of our Life Group were His hands & feet ready to truly love and fight for our marriage as if it were their own. They asked us if we would be willing to leave our kids for a few days if they found a place for us to receive intensive counseling. “Absolutely, we’ll do whatever it takes,” we said. Within days, they had collected (a lot of) funds to book a marriage intensive and volunteered to take care of our babies for 5 days while we were gone. We were in shock! Just at the point when we thought we were drowning for good, they didn’t just throw us a life jacket and a prayer, but rather, built a boat where we found great rest and hope, then offered to row us ashore. They prayed for us and with us daily as we prepared for the intensive, and they all chipped in to love our two babies while we were gone.
Nothing magic happened at our intensive, rather something miraculous did occur: Steven and I spent over 45 hours spanning 4 days (a near equivalent to a year of regular counseling) learning and exposing all of the hurts from our past as well as ways that we had expounded each other’s pain in our 7 years of marriage. We dug deep into childhood legacies that included abuse/neglect/abandonment/self-reliance/multiple divorces. We opened ourselves up for healing, and God’s great Grace met us there. Peace & Hope showed up. We came home with new tools to slowly restore trust, communication, and a determination to go again. Our marriage and our family could be victorious in a war against the enemy, but not against each other.
Of course, the last year hasn’t been easy, by any means, but the depth of our community, and commitment to each other (in Life Group and in our marriage) has been a deep wellspring of life. There have been other marriages, and relationships in our group that have been/are going through a crucible but honestly, we all know that we have put a stake in the ground for restoration, and the fullness of that work will never be done on this side of eternity. We also know, we won’t ever have to go at it alone.
God chose to use our Life Group to rewrite our legacy to be a story of restoration, commitment, and hope in Him.