Just tuning in? Please start at the original post of this Series on “Surviving Infidelity”: Shattered Hearts, Broken Promises.
Written September, 2011.
Hi, it’s Dale. I am here today because I feel I owe you an explanation and an apology. As you guys come here to read about my family every day, you are investing your time and your heart in to our family.
I know I’ve disappointed you. I hate what I have done to Tonya, to our family and our beautiful life. If you’d give me the chance, I’d like to take this opportunity to say I am sorry to you as well. I made a foolish decision that day, but God is a God of grace and forgiveness. And Tonya, amazingly strong Tonya, has allowed me to stay and win back her heart and re-earn her trust. She is the most Christ-like example I have ever known, giving me grace and love when I deserved none.
I went to the 1st Men’s Encounter because I knew Tonya wanted me to go. (Click that link, and read the challenge she gave, not knowing what was coming!) I am so glad I did, because it forever changed my life. God used Encounter to break down walls I’ve had built up around me since I was just a kid and to bring forward my ugly secret. I knew it needed to come out, it was eating me alive. But it was worth keeping the poison in me, because I was so sure it was better hidden than hurting Tonya, if that makes any sense.
This article written by Rebekah Lyons, says it better than I could:
“We become slaves to our secrets.
The thing is, Satan DWELLS in the secret, in the haunting, hidden brokeness. The longer we keep that secret, the more power he has to speak lies into our own identity. We have a crisis of faith; we don’t truly believe that God will hear and lavish us with his love upon our confession. We don’t REALLY believe that we will be made new. So we keep it and hide it and cover it and die from it.
A friend told me recently that she kept her secret of infidelity from her husband for 3 years. Another woman told me recently, she held her secret for 5 years. Another discovered her husband’s secret after 10 years. And yet, another after 18. Overtime, life becomes more about keeping the secret than saving the soul.
The secret often wins.
Perhaps a new day is dawning. Perhaps walls are coming down. Tears are streaming and confessions are starting to pour out like hope reborn. Do you know the main catalyst for this revolution of the heart?
You guessed it. Someone shared their secret.
Someone gave voice to their secret and in doing so, gave permission for another person to share theirs. Naming the one thing that held them captive for years rendered the secret powerless. All at once, the church at large is beginning to echo the chorus of confession. We all begin to bear witness to the bondage that is breaking by secret-sharing. The naming is bringing healing, and healing is bringing freedom. A freedom many of us are experiencing for the very first time. This secret-telling is what’s actually saving us. And this new normal is exactly what will keep us in the light.”
As I have come out of the darkness, and into the light, the Lord is doing a work in my heart. One of the big things He is working on now, is helping me find my true worth.
My parents divorced when I was 12. I didn’t let it get me down, but I never did understand why my mom left my dad for what to me felt like no apparent reason. What I didn’t know, until recently when the Lord revealed it to me, was that it was going to create a need in me for the rest of my life.
A need to please. A need to fit in. A need to be whatever I needed to be to be accepted, so I wouldn’t be “left”:
If I was with my church friends, I was a good Church boy.
If I was with my party friends, I could drink with the best of them.
If I was with a girl I liked, I became whoever she thought I was, whoever she needed me to be.
What I didn’t know, was I was going to take that into my marriage too. That this need to be accepted, was going to one day be what brought me to my knees before God and my wife, begging for understanding and forgiveness.
Remember that dream Tonya shared with you about the horses?
I loved the line where our mentor said:
A lot of times, when we think of Broken, we think… broken in a bad way.
In the world of horses, if you’re not broken, your value is less. Brokeness is a precious word to the Lord. He desires our brokeness.
I come to you, Broken. Broke from addiction, broke from a shroud of secrecy, broke from lies, broke from infidelity, broke from pride, broke from financial security and self-sufficiency. This entire year has been a breaking down process of ME.
I needed to become a broken vessel before the Lord, so I could admit I needed Him now more than ever in every aspect of my life.
I had to learn the hard way, that my worth cannot be determined by my paycheck.
My worth cannot be determined by what car I drive.
My worth cannot be determined by who I think I am or who I strive to be.
My worth is found in the Lord Jesus Christ….and the blood He shed for ME, a filthy sinner. He would die for ME if I was the only one in the world to save, because I am so very valuable to Him. I am His and He calls me by name.
It kills me that I hurt Tonya in my selfishness. It breaks my heart to see her with tears streaming down her cheeks and knowing that I caused her this unbearable pain. Tonya is a strong, Godly woman. She is God’s gift to me and I blew it. She has been nothing but faithful to me from her first purity pledge at age 13 on….I don’t deserve her, I know this. But she has trusted me with her heart again, and I swear, I will NEVER take that responsibility lightly.
I didn’t even REALIZE that the devil was drawing me away from first my Lord, then my wife, but when we don’t chose God every moment of every day, we automatically default to satan.
Think about that for a moment.
First I was separated from them by my shame that I looked at porn again. Then, my pride kept me from seeking help. Next, came my need to provide for our family with my own 2 hands, not leaning on the Lord at all and then….it happened. The devil got between me, my Lord and my wife, so much that when he laid a trap of lust for me, just 4 short months after I began to look at pornography again, I WALKED right into it.
I Peter 5:8 “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
Do you know how angry that makes me? Do you know how STUPID I feel? The Lord has removed the scales from my eyes, put there by the devil himself to blind me. I now clearly see the path of destruction I was on and I THANK THE LORD that He saw fit to discipline me, so I would see the error of my ways before things got even worse.
Listen up, porn is a real temptation. 90% of all men look at porn and struggle with lust. This is real…..this stastistic includes Christian men, we are not exempt. I lied to Tonya and told her it didn’t happen to me because I was a good Christian man, right? It doesn’t happen to family men that go to church.
Guess what, it did. It DOES, all the time. This statistic means 3 out of 4 men in your church pew have a dark ugly secret that needs to be brought into the light.
Do you know that porn latches on to you, even when you walk away from the computer? The jaws of lust keeping you captive without you even realizing it. Even if I didn’t mean for it to occur, even if I wasn’t seeking it out, if a woman with a lustful spirit walked by, my lust spirit attached to her and I followed her with my eyes. Even if I didn’t think sexual thoughts of her, I still turned. I realize now, this is a very real thing that occurs between genders.
Watch a woman sometime, you know the one: She walks by a group of guys in a crowd, waiting for them to roam over her with their eyes before she walks on. She likes it, she feeds off of it. What you see occur is her lust spirit attaching to theirs and vice versa, and once you are aware of it you can actually see and feel it occur. Disgusting.
Praise God after I repented He took the spirit of lust from me! When a woman walks by, a clanging bell goes off in my head so fast I don’t even have to glance her way. I am thankful my “radar” has been reset, my focus back on my Heavenly Father and my beautiful bride. My eyes are set to “bouncing” mode, so if a woman comes into my line of sight, I quickly look away. Men, you may not be responsible for the first look, as media bombards us with images, but it’s the second and third lingering looks that are the problem. When your eyes are set to bounce, you see and look away almost in a split second. Your trigger finger on the remote gets faster and better as you quickly flip away from images on the screen. This is our call, to be PURE in all things, what better place to start then our eyes.
Wives, pray for your men to be attracted to holiness and purity like a magnet, so that when anything entices us that isn’t holy or pure, we detect the pull immediately and are made uncomfortable enough to completely reject it.
“For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.” I Thessalonians 4:7
The draw of the flesh and the devil’s plans are a lot stronger than we’d like to think. In a moment of weakness, we can end up doing something we NEVER thought possible. Only the power of God, through prayers, can make a difference. Don’t say it can’t happen to you, Tonya and I said the same thing. Satan loves to use this against us as he sneakily gets between us.
One day when we were going to counseling, we found this plaque at a Christian book store. It went along exactly with what I was learning at Men’s Encounter, and I knew I needed it to reside in my home:
What can you do with a dull sword? NOTHING.
This plaque resides on my dresser so I never forget again that I need to daily sharpen my sword in Gods word, so that when the devil attacks, and he will, I AM READY.
Psalms 34:17-19 “Yes, the Lord hears the good man when he calls to Him for help, and saves him out of his troubles. The Lord is close to those whose heart is breaking. He rescues those who are humbly sorry for their sins. The good man does not escape troubles – he has them, too. But the Lord helps him in each and every one.”
I am proud to tell you that, after last year, I no longer get on the computer to feed that ugly addiction, and I am seeking counsel to make sure this problem doesn’t return. I am putting on the armor and this new purity ring, DAILY. As I leave our home, there it is, on my right index finger. A constant reminder of my pledge, my 2nd chance at a life of integrity. It has a cross wrapping around it, and THE ARMOR OF GOD, Ephesians 6:10-15.
4 little Ferguson readers, I stand before you today, broken.
Broken before Christ.
He had to break me to let me see the truth, to look back over my life and have my eyes opened to the lies I was living. He had to break me so I could feel His tender mercies on me, which are new every single morning.
So, don‘t look at “broke” in a bad way, because it’s not:
Broke in Christ is a good thing….to become BROKEN is actually to become WHOLE.
The Lord used Men’s Encounter to break me, to clean my temple, my “house“ if you will…..He stripped me of all the junk I had in there, and filled it up again, with HIM. He made order of the chaos that reigned there and took control of my life. I write you today to give Him praise.
I know I don’t deserve Tonya. I know you all think I am a jerk, or worse now, but please, hear my heart on this. Know that if you could see me, you’d see the sorrow written on my face. I was so foolish and so wrong. I knew better, I did and I was stupid. I was stupid enough to think I could play with fire and not get burned.
It’s hard for me to see Tonya hurting, struggling, crying. I have to face what I did to her each and every moment of every day, and it kills me. She is so strong, and I have never loved and respected her more. She is taking the steps of forgiving me, by fighting for our marriage each and every difficult day.
So now I ask you, please, forgive me?
“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36
Dale-I am awed at what God has and is doing in your life and that you have been honest enough to write to the readers of this blog. It couldn’t have been easy at all, and I thank you for doing this, and allowing God to use your story to help others. As a sister in Christ, I extend forgiveness to you, and please know that I have been praying for you, Tonya and your family.
Dale, You are a beautiful Broken vessel; a work in progress. The progress and change and growth I have seen in these past 9 months is nothing short of a miracle, a spiritual intervention. Because of your obedience to confess and become broken before the Lord I see a new creation, and it is beautiful. I see it in your every action and every word to your lovely wife, my dear daughter, and to those 4 precious little Ferguson’s, whom I simply adore!! Thank you for listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit! Thank you for your courage to share your ugly, dark secret! My prayer is that countless men out there, men who have kept secrets for possibly decades, will see and understand the freedom in Christ that can be theirs if they too will bow the knee. God bless you richly in Every area of your life and may He always and forever receive all the Glory for the amazing work He has done in your life. I love you and Tonya and the children most dearly!! Mamma B
Dale, that was very well said and you are forgiven. Stay strong in the Lord and he will never let you down.
Dale. I am so glad you took the time to write this post yourself. To not hide. The pain you feel and caused are so evident, but the love you have for your family and God will triumph over that. My husband has the same addiction as you had, but does not see it as a problem. I want him to read your words and see if they sink in. In your brokeness you may help fix many more men and families. God bless you for your courage and Tonya for being so strong.
Dale and Tonya,
Your story is powerful and good. I love you both dearly and am loving the work God has done in your lives. Your testimony I know will bring others into the light and let God continue to do HIS work.
Dale, you asking for everyone’s forgiveness just shows how strong of a man you are in Christ and of course you have it from us. Who are we not to forgive when Christ himself as forgiven you. I pray that your example will be able to set others free from their secrets and that they can follow you and Tonya’s example on how to put Christ first in their lives.
This is HUGE, thank you both for allowing God to use your story to open the eyes of so many others. God is using this in earth moving ways. You both are so dear to Justin and I and hold such a tender place in our hearts. We are proud to call you our friends.
Forgiven………………and still loved!
I’ve been following this series all week. The first day I read I thought ‘this can’t be real’. I’ve experienced the pain, so I can say I know how horrible and gut-wretching and consuming it feels. Whatever need you had to share this, however it helps you heal, that is for you alone. I can’t even express what I felt to see Dale bear his heart like this. Surely no one has the right to judge, and our forgiveness (as readers) should not be necessary. I have no doubts that the two of you are ministering to someone else right now.
Every night we do a devotional after dinner, and last night’s devotional made me think of you guys: “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter says, “tell me to come to you on the water.” Matthew 14:28. Peter is not tesing Jesus; he is pleading with Jesus. Stepping onto a stormy sea is not a move of logic; it is a move of desperation. Peter grabs the edge of the boat. Throws out a leg…follows with the other. Several steps are taken. We do the same, don’t we? We come to Christ in an hour of deep need. We abandon the boat of good works. We realize…that human strength won’t save us. So we look to God in desperation. We realize…that all the good works in the world are puny when laid before the Perfect One.
And as Peter is going down, Jesus never criticized him because He never criticizes people who try to do the miraculous. Peter walked on water, and when he started going down, Jesus reached out a hand and pulled him back up. Ya’ll are walking on the water.
We must believe that God’s power to forgive is greater than our power to sin.
You are one lucky Guy, Dale…it took me 15 years and after divorce to forgive my Husband to allow me, not him, to move on. He moved on thoughtlessly, unlike you.. for that I will forgive you the indiscretion. Tonya is a much better person than I was at 27 years old.. she has the will of God in her and she is your wife and the Mother of your 4 beautiful children. Unlike myself who ended up childless. Please Please Please!! Cherish your wife and children, for they are your legacy! They should be the #1 priority in your life. I know her pain and I do not ever want to feel it again, so I remain unmarried. I do have a significant other, but I never want to Lie to God again and stand before the alter promising for better or worse and not to be able to fulfill that promise to him a second time.
Work hard at your relationship as it will save your family! Your children need you. You have my support to save your marriage!
God has enough grace for you too.
Such a powerful testimony Dale. So awe-inspiring to read it and be witness to it. I realize that it is mainly women who will probably comment here but I do pray that God will bring men to read your story as well. It was so powerful to hear your side of things. To open our eyes again to the powerful temptation that both men & women, husbands & wives encounter daily. I think, and I said this before, many of us become complacent in our marriages. We kind of just exist and move forward. We love each other deeply, yet, are we really nurturing our partner in the way they need? Are we helping them become the person they want to be in this life? Are we helping them be righteous or are we only looking out for our own selves? This is a beautiful life lesson Dale. Beautiful in it’s honesty. Tonya is not perfect either, but her love for you and our Father is. And that’s all that matters. You are imperfect but your love shines through for your wife and your family and now a full relationship with God.
All marriages take constant work, care and nurturing even if there is not infidelity in our marriages. God will walk you both through this day by day. The story doesn’t stop here. It will continue on. I am so thankful for you both for sharing such a deeply painful time in your life with us. I am in awe that you would even ask the forgiveness of a stranger. But if it is true and loving forgiveness you seek – then you have it Dale. I’m praying for your family and for all of us who have learned so much from yours and Tonya’s posts. May our eyes be opened from these truths and may our marriages be nurtured and protected from the sins that seek to destroy it. Love to my brother and sister in Christ.
I appreciate your sincere words. May the Lord continue to lift you up and lead you daily to the cross. One says that the bigger the sin the bigger the joy of salvation. Although, a sin is a sin and really none are greater than others. I believe it’s the depth of repentance that results in a greater joy of salvation. In that repentance is a reflection of God’s grace, mercy and love that overflows through us to those around us. Clinging to it daily and knowing you are who God says you are. Knowing that you are broken but knowing that He is the strength in that brokeness that He will use for His glory!
Below is a link to a song by Jeremy Riddle “Sweetly Broken”. This song came to mind reading your post.
I’m so touched by your posting this morning. I don’t know you personally, as do many on here, but I’ve come to “know” Tonya over the past months. Yes, she is strong and she is beautiful….we have all seen the evidence of God’s grace in her life over these past days. But for you to come to us and ask for forgiveness and humble yourself before the Lord and before us has gripped me this morning. We are all sinners saved by grace. There is not one of us that has not made terrible decisions in our lives….perhaps not the ones you made, but ones that have changed the lives of our families, our spouses and our children just as surely as yours has. And so as a sister in Christ, I extend forgiveness but just want to tell you that I’ve been so humbled to fall before the Lord again and thank Him for all He has done for me and for my family. God is good….all the time. I’m excited to see how he continues to work out His plan for your lives in the coming days. Sending much love from Michigan to the 4 Little Fergusons….we may never meet on this earth, but what a day of rejoicing it will be in Heaven when we all meet. Blessings.
Dearest Dale – I’m wiping tears away and my heart is so full after reading this heartfelt post, I could write you pages and pages. I’ve so looked forward to reading this, and am certainly NOT disappointed. :-} Bless you for sharing your deepest regret and sorrow. But the beauty is…it doesn’t end there. Thank you both for allowing God to use you in huge ways to minister to soo many. How I praise God for bringing you out of the darkness into His Light. Such a beautiful tribute here from your mil. Just precious!! Sometimes we all need a ‘wake up call’ and how thankful I am for those times when God’s mercy and grace mean more than ever before because of the pain we’ve endured. I love you Brother and am so excited all that God has ahead for you as the spiritual leader of your home. I know you realize how VERY blesed you are to have a godly woman like your Tonya. We ALL are blessed to have her in our lives – even long distance. I look forward to hugging your neck one day…won’t be long now. Continuing to pray fro all of you day and night. XO
I so strongly believe this thought, and I believe it applies to your post today…WE ALL MAKE WRONG CHOICES…THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS WHAT WE DO NEXT….Thank you Jesus for forgiveness and cleansing.
Dale, we do NOT think you are a jerk. We think you are a man who made a mistake and deserves nothing but love and the grace of God. Nobody is immune to what happened to your marriage! Praise GOD for your amazing wife and your repentant heart for showing us the beauty that can arise from the ashes and that we must all fight for our families, no matter what our circumstances may be. It’s so easy to think that our marriage is in a “good place” and to just settle in and enjoy the ride, but we forget about the enemy lurking around the corner, just waiting to strike when we least expect it. Thank you both for reminding us that marriage requires never-ending work and, most importantly, Christ at the center! We love you both and are rooting for you!
I know it took an amazing man to win the heart of tonya bontrager. And I know it takes an amazing man to win the heart of tonya ferguson. I have never met you but am so proud of the man you are changing into. I think especially this day and age NOBODY wants to air their business…their dirty laundry like you guys have done…but the truth is. I don’t see bad secrets. I see how awesome God is and how much God can change and work on so
(sorry downfall of an iPad) anyways I see how much God can work in someone’s life if they just TRULY open their hearts to Him. I’m NOT perfect by any means. I had a daughter before I was married…did things I’m not proud of…but hearing ur story has really hit a place in my heart to really just open myself and my life and my daughters life to Jesus…..so I thank you for sharing ur story. You guys are always in my prayers!
Dale-I too am one of the many who do not know you and your family in person, only through Tonya’s beautiful posts each day. Yes, first impression of this unfolding story make one want to lash out at you for being the “ungrateful husband.” But, like Tonya, you have risen above all the ugly and are showing that you are truly the good man, husband and father that we all thought you were. It takes a strong person to admit guilt, much less to admit that guilt to the world-it is indeed very humbling. My constant wish for all of you since day 1 of this story is that you will once again have a wonderful life together-not the same one we all thought you had, but a new one, better and stronger than the original. You and Tonya have a beautiful love story and it will go on! I am praying for you all every day!
Because you have written these words, you are a man of truth, honor. YOU are NEW in Christ. He is in you and and letting you speak for HIM! I totally admire you for owning YOUR truth. Sincerely, Connie Worthing
Not many men could do what you’ve done. What you two are doing through sharing is so brilliant..you are reaching HUNDREDS and letting so many see a path that the world does NOT take on situations like this. It offers people hope. A hope of healing. Thank you, thank you so much for sharing.
Thank you for being so sincere and sharing your part of the story with us, you are brave. Stay strong for Tonya and your lovely children, life is way to short and can be ripped from us in an instant.
Can we clone Tonya? I think every one of us needs a best friend like her. (too bad I live in Michigan!)
I whole heartledly agree with everything everyone has said. Not a whole lot of people, women and men alike, could do what you have done and openly told your story. I thank you for telling us your part and the path from where it started. Stay strong in God and know that I have forgiven you and yet I do not know you. Blessings to you and Tonya as you both continue to walk with God.
Dale, Very humble. You are a good man and I believe you have your family’s best interest in your heart. Your wife is amazing! Share and cherish your bond of faith and strength always.
Dale, like so many here I don’t know you personally, but have been blessed to get to know your family through this blog over the past several years. I’ve prayed for your family many times, depending on what I’ve read in certain posts or whenever the Lord leads, and to see and hear what the Lord is doing in your life brings such tears of joy to my eyes. What an amazing God we serve! As I was reading your post, the verse that came to mind was 1 Cor 13:12 “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” The grace and mercy you’ve received is such a testimony to me, and a reminder as a wife that fighting for my marriage begins NOW. Thank you for sharing your heart, you are most definitely forgiven
Praise God! That’s mostly all I have to say after reading your post. Thank you for being vulnerable, because it allows God’s strength to shine thorugh. Oh, and I love the paragraphs you wrote about ‘bouncing’ after that first look–what a great tool for men to use in these daily struggle!
Dale Your very brave to come before the world and humble yourself so.
It is not our place to judge so of course your forgiven.
Tears came to my eyes as I read your post knowing what a lesson you have learned and that you do have a second chance to save your beautiful marriage.
I believe God will walk side by side with both of you each day as you work to repair both of your needs…
Stay strong in your faith….
gives me chills to read this post and see how God is working together in your lives and i just know God is giong to make your marriage stronger in the end. i know what its like to stare satan in the face and fail miserably when temptation comes along. unfortunately it took me awhole lot longer to realize how badly i was screwing up my life. usually when satan gets a hold its even harder to turn it around. i highly commend you for being brave and doing what you need to do. thank you to you both for being an example and letting people realize, giving up is not always the answer. marriages can be healed.
So many great comments and I agree with every one. I am so filled with emotion that I don’t have the words. I am honored to be getting to know the Ferguson family!
I’ve been following this series of posts since following a link to the first one from Smockity Frocks.
Tonya–Thank you for sharing this process with the world. And thank you for choosing to fight. I’ve been praying for you and Dale, even though I don’t know you at all. I’ve also been there. My husband wasn’t always faithful. We’re going on 11 years now, and we have a better marriage than I could have dreamed of.
Dale–Thank you for sharing your perspective on all this. I wish my father had chosen to fight for his marriage when faced with that decision. Just as in the story of Cain, the way we proceed after committing a sin is often more important than the sin itself. As indicated above, I’ve been there too, and I chose to forgive. We all have failings and imperfections, some worse than others–your failings are no different. You had my forgiveness before you asked.
Having dealt with this very same addiction in my husband 4 years ago, I feel the pain and the healing in this post. I am praying for your family. Praying that you can go on to be stronger because of what you’ve endured together…..just as my husband and I have. God bless you both!
I forgive you. This is a good day. The light’s on, and SOMEBODY’s home!
Oh Harold – you are so great with words! I love this awesome thought! =)
When I read her post the other day I was thinking this is how I feel about my husband’s pornography problem…..then I see you have struggled with it as well. I feel your family’s pain. We are Latter-day Saints (Mormon) and each time they talked about pornography in church I thought there is no way these wonderful men are doing this so why are they talking about it. My husband was even doing it at work which put us all in jeopardy. He was doing it on my teacher issued laptop. The consequences could have been grave. We go to therapy as well and it is something I know we can all conquer!! Thank you for your post and honesty and you and your family have all of my prayers.
And I just had to add Satan gets us all to believe lies! He even gets the women to believe the men don’t deserve to be forgiven. He is wicked!
Thank you Dale… for humbling yourself before the Cross, your wife, your family, your friends and your Church Family. Thank you for allowing God to penetrate your very being. I will pray for you and Tonya as you continue to take on this exciting new journey in your relationship with Christ and each other. Blessings are already starting to flow and He is being Glorified! May he continue to use you. Praise God for and through the storm!
Dale, I admire your courage and your post. I pray for your continued growth and maturity as you become ‘new.’ Let’s be clear, while I am humbled at your open request for forgiveness, you have never been anything but encouraging and kind with me. As I am reading Corinthians, Paul is very clear about where we are to leave the responsibilities of judgement and I will do just that. You have been a good friend and I will be in your corner as you battle up against the forces of evil. They are extremely strong and the sword and the Lord is our only method of ‘beating’ them. We cannot go it alone. You bringing to light the struggles of your flesh is what is inspiring and I assume will empower you moving forward.
1 Corinthians 4 follows as Paul reminds us where the judgements are to remain.
“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.”
Dale, you guys will survive this. God has a plan for your lives. We are all human and we all make mistakes. We are not to judge lest we be judged. I admire you for coming forward in your walk with God. You would not have been able to do this if you were not growing in God and becoming the man he wants you to be. As long as you have God, you and Tonya will have a great life together. Yes, there will be struggles, yes there will be hard times, but know that you have friends, family and most a all a God who loves you and wants the best for you.
I am thankful you don’t feel the need to be “macho” and cover this all. It shows what a good and gracious God we have.
I anxiously await the rest of your story as you continue to grow together. You guys are an inspiration to us all.
Wow…thanks for sharing…what a breath of fresh air…my husband and I have been so blessed by both of your testimonies this week…PRAISE GOD!
So proud of you Dale. Greater is He that is in us, than he thatbis the world. He loves us too much to let us go. Love you both. Net
Dale, I have been thinking all day about you, and your post. Of course you are forgiven!!! If Tonya can forgive you through the power of the Holy Spirit, of course I can! This transparency is so healing….I suspect not just for you and Tonya, but for many. Many are reading these posts who are not commenting, but who need Jesus’s healing, too. You are just an amazing couple, and I count myself privileged to know you!
You don’t owe US an apology. You have asked forgivness from those who matter most; Him, Tonya, your family. You are moving in the right direction. Love, honor and protect what matters most EVERY SINGLE DAY – your wife, children and relationship with Him. The rest doesn’t matter. Wish you the best and many blessings.
Dale we love you and your family SO Deeply!!! Yes you made a grave mistake that day, but you have repented and you have already been forgiven by your God, and your wife, and so many others in both of your family’s people you thought would never forgive you have forgiven you. I have told Tonya before but before I even got off the phone with her you were forgiven in my eyes, and it did not take Marvin that much longer after the initial shock to come to the same conclusion.
This is because once you have repented and asked for forgiveness from our Heavenly Father you are instantly forgiven and he does not sit there an hold a grudge or keep bringing your transgression back up over and over once you are forgiven that is it over an DONE Period!!!
That is also how God calls us to forgive we are not as good at it many times as he is, but we are called to truly have a loving, kind, strong, and forgiving spirit and no grudges afterwards.
I have honestly never even from day one held a bad thought towards you this stuff does happen to even the BEST of Men when they give into temptation and let the Devil lead them, it happens to the best of women too, you are not alone there are so many others with you, but I forgave you moments after hearing what happened. Yes I was VERY Shocked that this could happen to Tonya of all People after what she had been through when she was younger so it was not even what you did that I was shocked about I was more shocked that she lived through it and forgave so quickly only because of her past and in that very Moment God said to me.
“Heather I see no SIN as worse than any other sin, a small lie of a child is that in the same as what Dale or other Men and women have done SIN is SIN, it all can be repented and forgiven and the SINNER can be redeemed!!”
“He also said to me to remind me what I have always tried to do is NOT JUDGE others that is his and his alone to do and if you look at every situation in the way God does that a BIG HUGE BAD sin in our eyes is NO worse than that little sin our child committed then guess what that very quickly will take ALL Judgement right out of you cause there is nothing to judge that you have NOT done already yourself you have sinned and come short of the Glory of God, yet every other Human Being other than Jesus has done the very same thing.
Yep try to judge anything or anyone when you view life that way – it is IMPOSSIBLE!!!
LOVE you guys very much!!!
Such a heart-stirring post Heather. So sweet. One of my favorite quotes is…FORGIVENESS IS TO SET A PRISONER FREE, AND DISCOVER THE PRISONER WAS YOU. (I bawl every time I say that too!=) OH TO BE LIKE JESUS!
Tonya and Dale,
Your story speaks volumes to me, being a wife recovering from my husband’s infidelity. Our stories are similar and different and yet I cling to evry word you two write, thanking the Lord for it being here. We made the choice to work through the stumbling block but before us by Satan, and with the Lord’s grace and mercy my husband has also quit the alcohol, pornography and looking at other women. It is such a deep dark place to have been thrown into, I often say if only I could just kick Satan in the nads, then he could feel some of the pain he has caused us. I just wanted to thank you for sharing and praise the Lord for giving you the vision and strength to. You are helping others with your story and that makes it all worth it in the long run. I can see that now. Blessings to you…
Dale, thank you for sharing from your heart. I praise the Lord for the work He has done and is continuing to do in your life, Tonya’s life, and your marriage. Thank you for your honesty and transparency!
You are wonderfully and beautifully made and you have been forgiven. 🙂 No need for me to forgive you, you owe me nothing. Isn’t that great news??
I think you and Tonya might be some of the bravest people on earth. I know you feel weak, broken, and unworthy . . . or I can imagine you do anyway, but out of a year of brokeness you are stronger now than you were when the battle raged within you. I hate that it happened. I hate that you let it happen. But sin is sin and I’m NO better than you my friend. No better at all. I hope you see that. I hope you remember that. Oh where would we be without His mercy, His grace? I’m so proud of you and Tonya. I wish we were friends. I wish I could hug your neck and tell you how proud of I am of both of you. What an inspiration you both are. I know, hard to believe you are an inspiration after what’s happened huh? Rest assured He is using you as a vessel of inspiration. There is honor in your transparency Dale. I pray you only feel healing and support from every direction. May you forever be in His tight grip and may His glory shine through the darkness. ((((virtual hug))))
NOTHING….NOTHING is ever wasted when put into the Lord’s hands. He is a redeemer. He is already using your story; your faith; your obedience; your courage to redeem many marriages. Thank you doesn’t cover my profound respect and appreciation
In our family, we say a lot: when you hide your sins under the table you give Satan power to continue to use them to destroy you and others, but when you put them all out on the table in all their horrible ugliness, you give all the power to God. Satan can not use them anymore! Praise God for full disclosure, for vulnerability, for grace, for forgiveness. Praise God that Satan can no longer use this sin, but that God, in His amazing, miraculous way, can use even our sin to bring glory to Himself. I pray for healing for your wife, for your children, for you.
“There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” Anyone following your and Tonya’s heartfelt words can truly sense the love that you two share. It is rare and beautiful and is a gift from God. Keep fighting for each other, everyday!
Dale, it takes such courage and strength to open yourself up to the world and be vulnerable like you have. But, knowing God can use this to bring other couples healing and forgiveness shows that you have truly died to yourself and given yourself for His glory. Praise God for men like you who have chosen to follow Him and not give into Satan’s lies and destruction. I respect you for your honesty and I know God will continue to bless you, Tonya, and your family for your obedience to Him. You are a light, and wonderful example to this hurting world of what God can and will do in our lives if we just humble ourselves and allow Him to do His amazing work in our lives. You and your family are loved.
Dale, you are forgiven!!! And I think highly of you and Tonya for sharing your story! I can’t wait to see how God uses this all for good and for His glory!! Thanks for being willing to share.
Wow… I’m not sure what else to say. Thank you for sharing this with us and the world. Praise God for what he’s done and is doing in your life and in y’all’s marriage! Thank you for opening up and speaking honestly about your struggle with sin and need for the Lord. More men need to hear/read this message. You are forgiven! No sin is beyond God’s forgiveness. Your wife is amazing as she submits herself to God and allows him to work through her to extend forgiveness and unconditional, selfless love to you. None of us are capable of loving each other like God loves and holding to our marriage vows without His help. No marriage is capable of lasting success and satisfaction without God at the center. None of us are immune to the temptation to sin. We all struggle with it and are capable of falling into it. If we’re not on guard and intentionally choosing to follow God and honor him and our spouse, then what are we doing? We’re usually falling away. By staying in His Word, hiding it in your heart, and being in constant prayer you can and will be able to fight the enemy and sin in your life. Instead of fighting from a place of trying to achieve victory, as Christians we are fighting from a place of victory. Christ has already overcome the power of sin and death. We just have to act from that standpoint through God’s power in us to conquer sin and Satan. Your story is amazing. And considering the statistics today of infidelity, addiction to porn and divorce, your story needs to be heard. It will save other peoples’ marriages and bring glory to God. Thank you for sharing!
When you fail, God keeps loving you and forgives you because His love for you is not based on you- it’s based on Him.
Dale, I was the one in my relationship that strayed, and I thank God, and my husband, every day for breaking me and making me see the error of my ways. And for forgiving me. And fighting for our relationship. And for trusting me more everyday. It’s been 7 yrs since the incident and neither of us has forgotten, but we have forgiven and moved on. You can do this, stay strong!
Dale – Thank you for sharing – I am in a very similar situation where I was unfaithful and have destroyed my marriage of 10 years (very recent). I have fallen to my knees and asked God to begin to do the work in us that God has been doing in your lives. I am so encouraged by what your family is sharing and can’t wait to feel and experience the pouring out of love and grace from the Lord you’ve shared. I know my wife is so torn and has not yet decided if she can handle moving forward with forgiveness. Please pray for us, in a way I think only you guys can pray for us with understanding. Thank you again for your encouragement and openness.
Thank you, please have your wife come to the Surviving Infidelity Series. Maybe she can be encouraged by Tonya’s words. I would beg you to make good choices to break free from your old life, that may mean a phone filter, computer gone, change jobs if you have to. In the Bible it says when a home is clean, the devil comes back with demons 7 times stronger then before to try to fill it again. Your home, your life, is clean. Be ready, be in the Word of God, surround yourself with Godly men that hold you accountable and know I am here anytime as well. Thank you for taking the time to comment, it has been such a blessing to Tonya and I, to be able to share the power of God’s healing touch with the world.
Thank you again! I have changed jobs and removed the ease for temptations. I’ve also put myself in accountability to God, my Wife, and a couple of Christian men to help keep me accountable, to encourage and chasten me when necessary. The heart is weak, but the spirit is willing… curious is you guys do any type a devotional together. If so, do you recommend a specific one we should pick up? sorry if you already mention it in the post, we are still getting through them.
Thank you again – and If you guys are ever in southern California, we’d love to make, or you guys to dinner. God Bless
Bless your heart, what a great offer! I hope we can take you up on that one day. 🙂
Dale and my favorite devotionals are as follows:
Night Light by Dobson
Love Language Minute by Gary Chapman
We switch off between these two and have for 11 years now and love them!
Some good reading for couples that is less bite sized devotional and more chapter by chapter reading and discussing:
The Resolution for Men and The Resolution for Women, two great books to be read after watching the move Courageous. (An absolutely incredible Christian production about stepping up as the leader of the home! Worth owning!)
Sheet Music by Kevin Lehman
His Needs, Her Needs by Harley
Another great video for a date night movie would be Fireproof. Then do the Love Dare book together.
I hope this can be a great start for you in creating a habit of devotion and face to face time each day! God bless you both
I am going through the same struggles as you are. After reading surviving infidelity, I confessed my sins to the Lord and my wife; I pray for forgiveness and for healing my wife daily. I to was to self reliant; I thought I could do everything on my own. It took me losing my family before I became broken. Tonya and you are a Inspiration; showing, believing and trusting in God will get you through anything. I will keep Y’all’ in my prayers.
Dale you are an incredible person for stepping up and taking responsibility and even more, allowing God to change you and loving your wife and family enough to fight for them. I was not that fortunate.
Wow! I do not feel you need to ask forgiveness from readers, strangers, but as I have grown to know your wife through her blog, I want to tell you that she has changed my own heart with her words. I went from running a full time photography studio and being the ‘i phone mom’ to the home schooling, ever present and cherishing moments mother and my whole life has changed for the better.
I forgive you, as your Lord has and as your wife has.
I want to encourage you and also tell you about a thing I know that might be helpful. Its a program you can get for all your devices called ‘covenant eyes’ it will monitor internet, even phones and send reports to mentors and people you are working with, accountability partners if you will, about your online activity.
The internet is a pool for the devil to swim in and he uses it to destroy marriages and families. This is such a powerful testimony! Bless you and your family!
Dale, I came across your blog, my heart wept. I have been in your wife’s shoes and the outcome was not the same.. You should feel pride for acknowledging your addiction and facing it. Most don’t, they blame everything else around them, and allow the shame or addiction to turn away instead of towards, it really is devastating. I pray you continue to have strength and courage and remember that what you have been given is a blessing.
Dale, I am a sister in Christ..you are forgiven. How we not forgive you as we desire Christ to forgive us…Bless you brother in Christ.
My brother, you are now a sharper sword. I salute you soldier. Much respect from Australia..!
I hear and feel your pain. Now fighting that same battle. Having hurt my wife as you did. And I often say to her she has a godly love that bears all, suffers all, endures all she is an amazing woman. She deserves so much bette than me and I only have what’s left of my life to make it up to her. It isn’t long enough though.
Your story and stories are blessing us and helping us through this time. Thank you for you humble open honesty it is of great help.
God loves you and forgives everything and I know I and my wife just think you two guys, yes both of you are an amazing couple stamping all over the devil and his desires with your swords in your hands!
Thank you! What a beautiful thing to say. And WOW, your love of your wife, and the repentance of your heart, is so evident in your words about her. God’s wonderful blessings to you and your wife as you rebuild. What doesn’t break you DOES make you stronger and powerful blessings will follow your obedience. Hang on to your hats folks, the best is yet to come.
Hugs to you both, Tonya and Dale
This post gives me hope. I trust God and am so thankful he guided me to this blog. God is great. You are forgiven and I forgive my husband. I just pray he opens his eyes and comes back home to our children and me, his wife. Praying constantly and trusting God is all I can do.