A Walk in My Shoes

  I am still sorting through the rubble.

The ruined pieces of our marriage.

Pictures, dates, someone’s careless words, a joke about cheating….

All can take my breath away. Can make tears roll down my face in an INSTANT, despite my best efforts to stop them.

I live in a world that wants me to move on

Get over it.  Stop talking about it.

    I say to you,

Please, just let me catch my breath.

Let me work through the rubble piece by piece.

Let me do whatever it takes to heal in a complete, whole and healthy way, even if you don’t think it’s fast enough.

Let me go on 2 overnight trips with my husband in one summer, without judgement, because we are desperate for US time. Because the hardest part about this road we are on, is maintaining normal life with 4 kids.

 I need to be allowed to work through the layers of my hurt and healing. Stuffing down tears and hurts, only means I will have to deal with them later.

  I said to our counselors from our very first session on. I have a gaping, open wound. It is a pain I have never experienced before. I want it healed, but I want EVERY single corner cleaned out.

  I want NOTHING remaining in it, so that when it heals over completely, and it will, that I NEVER, EVER have to re-open this wound because a speck of dirt remained.  A speck of dirt, that over time, turns into a festering puss pocket of hurt or anger or fear that didn’t get scraped out.

  Scraping out all corners of the wound has been a slow and painful process, but a necessary step for the health of our relationship.

  I have pleaded with the Lord from the beginning, “Father, Don’t waste this hurt. Don’t let it be in vain. Let our tragedy be used for your glory.”

Don’t EVER mistake me talking about what we went through, our struggles as a couple trying to rebuild, as me not forgiving.

“Forgiving means forgetting” is the biggest lie out there.

  Forgiving doesn’t mean you have to forget, it doesn’t mean we are to live as people without a history. No. God USES those hurts to then help others get through. When I talk about what happened between Dale and I, it is not to “throw him under the bus”.  It is not to roll around in the muck and mire, or live it all over again.

No. I love Dale. We are ONE.

To “throw him under the bus” is to lie under there MYSELF.

   I share our story, in story form, because I am a story-teller by nature. It’s my passion. We are being asked to share with a hurting world, and we said YES, Father. We are being asked to help shine light on the secret, dark places, so satan can rule no more.

Here me loud and clear:

I WILL keep sharing our story turned HIS.

  Because, to be broken is to be made WHOLE.

 And as my mentor said, “We never know when a ‘Doubting Thomas’ will believe by touching our scars. {John 20:24-29}  Never regret or curse the very things that God will use to show His love through us. Bruised, proven and precious.”

You have not walked one step in my shoes. Not one.

Don’t judge me, please. You don’t have the right.

 Please understand, I have Dale’s full support to speak of what we went through.

   We wrote the blog series on Surviving Infidelity, together. Every time one of us is asked to speak or share at Encounter, we write those teachings and testimonies TOGETHER.

  In fact, we are speaking at a Marriage Matters night at a local church this weekend, together. Telling of our journey to healing, together.  I am terrified. I don’t like to speak in public, I’d rather hide behind my computer screen and blog, but I guess that is the whole “God’s power is made perfect in weakness” thing.

 Doing the “right” hard thing, is just that….



   Please don’t mistake the fact that I am again speaking about this moment that changed our marriage, as sign that I am a man-hater, or against Dale in any way.  We are a team. We are in this together.  We fought for our marriage, because we love each other enough to work HARD to stay together.  God is asking us to share in all kinds of ways, including taking us out of our comfort zones.

  You may sit in your cushy office chair and judge me for sharing our story, turned His. 

Maybe you roll your eyes because I am talking about this, again. 

  Try to understand, my life radically changed last summer…… I am not the same Tonya I used to be.  I am trying to figure it all out, this new life of mine.  In some ways, I am stronger.  I am braver.  I have faced my WORST NIGHTMARE and survived.  I am proud of that fact.  Empowered by it.  But I am also more exhausted, more sad, more weary than I have ever been in my life.  I work hard each day to choose forgiveness.  I work even harder, to choose joy.  A joy that used to pour out on its own, with no effort…I miss that. 

  I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t miss the sunshiny life I found wonderful.   My self-worth in my marriage.  A Tonya that oozed happy, that bubbled joy. 

And although weeping may endure the night, joy WILL come in the morning……..Psalms 30:5

Don’t you see?  

 I chose this. Willingly. Because obedience brings blessing.  I chose this when I told Dale I’d stay and fight for our marriage, rather than divorce him.
Because sometimes the right “hard thing”, is the hardest “right thing” to do.
I chose this because I am lost without him.  I don’t know how to be ME, without him by my side.
Because I pledged my life to his, for better or worse.
Because we are one.
Because this is what the Lord asked me to do.

Don’t judge my actions.


I don’t answer to you.

 I am taking direction from a God, who heard my plea to not waste this hurt.
A Father who is in the process of making a beautiful mosaic from the shattered pieces of my broken marriage.
A Holy Spirit who moves me to write and share from the heart with words that I sometimes can’t even believe I typed.

Let Him work.
Let Him use Dale and I how HE sees fit.

I answer to one, THE One.

The healer of my soul……

Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.




32 thoughts on “A Walk in My Shoes

  1. Praying for you today Tonya,I can see so well how the LORD is using you BOTH! Hubby and I are always jusdged for doing EVERYTHING together. We hardly ever do anything by ourselves.(I mean we spend the day apart while he work and I am home with the kids but, you know what I mean.) I am like you, I don’t know how to be me with out him by my side. I LOVE spending time together. 🙂 God created us to be ONE! Once we said “I do” we are no long two people any more,we are ONE!
    Sending {{hugs}} to you right now. I wish that I could just sit with you and just let you cry on my sholder or what ever you needed! :/
    I just want you to know that I DO NOT judge you for what you are doing. You have to answer to GOD and no one else and I am so happy that you both are taking that step and following HIS leading in your lives!

  2. I am finding myself sitting here nodding, wanting to shout “yes!” but my kids are still sleeping. Thanks again for being real. You wrote exactly what is in my heart. It is like we are sisters in a journey we did not want, yet will accept because it was filtered through our Lord’s hand. I am so thankful that I found someone who is walking in the same direction that I have chosen to go.

  3. I’m SO right beside Sara and her comment…HOW I LOVE YOUR HEART! You just keep looking to God for direction and healing…cleaning out those corners of hurt isn’t an easy job…but you are getting it done by going forward. God will NOT waste your sorrows….He is building a stronger relationship between you and Dale than ever imagined! And He’s going to BLESS.YOUR.SOCKS.OFF this weekend by your obedience and being willing to share HIS story with others, no matter how painful it is. God is ‘polishing’ you in the Refiner’s fire and His reflection is shining through you. I so love something I recently read…IF SOMEONE CONTINUES TO JUDGE YOU…IT DOESN’T DEFINE YOU…IT DEFINES THEM! Oh how true! Keep looking up Sweetie – Praying for you to have wisdom, discernment and peace as you share on Sat. U R <3'd SOOOO MUCH! XOXO

  4. Amen, Amen and AMEN!
    I have been so touched by your story and am a firm believer that God wants us to shout our stories from the mountain tops. Not so that we can harm others or bring glory to ourselves but so that HE is glorified in us, HIS strength is made perfect in our weaknesses, HIS light drives out the dark and evil from our lives and is a testimony to those around us . So continue to share, to shine His light into the dark places of our world. BE the testimony that God is forming you and Dale into. He will use you to heal and reconcile others that hear your story. Thank you for sharing your heart and being the testimony that we as light bearers are called to be. Peace on you and your loves.

  5. I am sorry for any hateful messages that you have received by sharing your story. Thank you for clinging to the message of truth and being obedient to our Father. I hope and pray that you are supported by a loving group believers as you work towards restoration and healing. You are moving forward and making progress, to the glory of God! Interestingly, the last picture you chose is the one that has been my go-to explanation for my life lately. We are all on a journey, and some of the uphill battles are just simply LONG. God doesn’t promise us quick answers to prayer and instant healing from pain, but he is with us on this journey and your ultimate healing will bring him great glory! Wishing many blessings to you and your family.

  6. I tend to forget that there are people out there who DON’T understand, and who continue to roll their eyes and want to move on. But Ecclesiastes reminds us that ‘there is nothing new under the sun’, and if we don’t learn from the past we are destined to repeat it. I don’t envy what you went, and continue to go through, but I love that your heart is to help other couples learn from it, and fight for their marriages early. With everything that they have. Know that there are so many more who stand with you, who continue to pray for you and others going through similar situations, and that ultimately you’re pleasing the only One who matters 🙂

  7. Dear Tonya,
    I just started reading your blog about a month ago. You don’t know how much of a Blessing you are to me. I’m so proud of you for fighting for your marriage. You never hear that and most people just think it’s okay to divorse. You have been very encouraging to me that I told couple of my friends about your page. May God give your family Blessings for making your family a family again. May God give you comfort & peace as each other work together to fight for your marriage. Thank you for sharing your story.

  8. I, for one, (and I am sure there are many who agree) am so thankful for your honesty and obedience to our Savior. Because of your honesty, I have found peace and a connection with your story. I have felt like you have been in my head, typing out the words that I have not found a voice for yet. Although my husband is not quite “there” yet, (like Dale) I find comfort in reading how God, our Redeemer, has and is healing your marriage.

    I too chose to stay and fight with everything I have for my marriage. Reading your posts have given me comfort, courage, hope, confirmation and determination to not give up when the enemy applies more pressure. I KNOW that I KNOW God is working to make our marriage better than I could have done on my own.

    Calling it out the way it is…SIN, that satan lives to destroy us…something I do not think people really grasp until something tragic happens.
    Walking this unintended journey is the most difficult thing I have ever done and when I felt like I was the only one on the path made it much more difficult. When the Lord led me to your blog (and yes, I believe with all I have in me, He led me to you) I KNEW why. If for no one else, it was for me. I was so thankful. In my brokenness, Christ gave me hope through yours and Dale’s testimony. I came to realize in my darkest hours one night while reading your story that God was telling me He would not let my pain be in vain.

    I understand completely how you want total healing. I understand completely how you can be so hurt and angry but love your spouse with all God has put in you. I understand how forgiveness is a verb, that it is a choice every day (sometimes moment by moment) and that it is WANTED. I UNDERSTAND THE BATTLE WITH THE ENEMY EVERY DAY…to take captive my thoughts and the meditation of my heart so it will be pleasing and acceptable unto Him, my rock and Redeemer! (Psalm 19:14) I understand the roller coaster of emotions. I know what it is like to be back to that “moment” in an instant..like a snap of the fingers. I may not want to know and understand but I DO!

    I truly believe that most people who are critical and judgmental about how you both are sharing your story have either never been through this horrible, horrible life changing event or they are being deceived by the enemy. There can be NO darkness in the LIGHT (Christ).

    Please do not be disheartened or discouraged…God is using your story for His honor and glory. Satan is just ticked off and as we both know he doesn’t sleep or slumber…he is always seeking those whom he can devour. He is aware that you are going to speak this weekend and he knows the havoc he is causing in the lives of those who will be hearing your story. He knows that God (his enemy) will use your story to minister to someone who is on the verge or knee deep in it. I can’t help but think of Psalm 51:13 where David is broken before God and said “THEN I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners WILL TURN BACK TO YOU” (I added emphasis)

    I didn’t mean to ramble…but my heart over flows with thankfulness for yours and Dale’s testimony and how because of your obedience to the calling from Christ, He is using it to help others who may not be “in” your shoes but are walking beside you and with you on this unintended path. THANK YOU TONYA AND DALE…thank you and may God bless you until your cups run over!!

  9. Tonya, I confess that I can’t always read your blogs because my story does not mirror your “beauty from ashes!” I want to say that YOUR story shows beauty, but mine does not. There has been so many times that I have been jealous of your blessings. Then God gets a hold of me to remind me that He did NOT make any two alike, PERIOD! I DO have beauty, and blessings, and joy from the Lord, I just don’t always choose to seek them. He reminds me that I just have to live for TODAY, and NOT for tomorrow! He reminds me, when I’m willing to look and listen, that He has many promises to reveal to me, if I choose to search Him and his word. God has reminded me in the last 24 hours, that I have been choosing doubt, fear, self pitty, and worry. Today I choose: TODAY, TRUST, JOY, PEACE and EXPECTATION; because he has heard my cry for help and he knows the desires of my heart! Thank You Tonya, for sharing your story.

  10. As I was getting ready to check your blog today, I was thinking to myself, “I hope she knows we don’t mind her still talking about the pain. Because i am sure it still hits her like a ton of bricks sometimes.” And then I read what you wrote. So, I just want to say, I do not know who thinks you should be over it, but they are dead wrong. Thank you for loving God and your man enough to not pretend to be over it, since faking your way through would be the end of a real marriage for you. Bless you for reminding all of us that pain is worth walking through, because walking through the pain brings intimacy with God and with the ones we love on earth.

  11. The world wants us to “forget” and even the church will sometimes forget & “push things under the rug”, but God says to share our struggles with one another!! Don’t be discouraged. The beauty from ashes story you and your husband have IS being used for HIS glory… Even when you don’t feel it. I am so sorry for the hurt your family has been going through, but I am so encouraged by the ability you have to not give up! Marriage is hard work. Every day. Thank you for answering to God alone!

  12. I found your words very encouraging today. While I have not yet decided if I want to stay in my marriage after finding out about my husband’s 4 year affair, we do still live in the same house. We do still do things as a family with our 2 sons. I know many people don’t understand how I can live this way or don’t agree with the way I’ve chosen to work through this so far, but they are not me and they don’t know what God has put in my heart. I am patiently seeking God’s will for my marriage and my family. I am not going to make any decisions until I know for sure it is the direction God wants us to go. God’s timing is perfect. I still talk about it and think about it everyday. My husband is ready to move forward with our lives but understands I am not there yet and may never be. Every persons journey is different but important and the journey is where the living and learning take place, not the destination. I will say a prayer for you and your family!

  13. There is way too much judging going on this world. The saddest part is that these judgmental people are, many times, the same ones who grace the pews of our churches every Sunday. If you’re going to publicly proclaim that you belong to Jesus, then you should carefully guard your heart and tongue as He has instructed us to do. It is these judgmental criticizers who actually turn people AWAY from Christ, what a “fine” legacy that is. Tonya, do not allow negative remarks, deep sighs, and eye rolling to deter you from your goal. God put this in your heart and you are an inspiration. I’m not just talking about your marriage and your family; but the fact that you – on top of all of the other things you have to do in life – still manage to be still enough to hear His voice calling you, prompting you, leading you. Thank you for all that you do.

  14. I have only recently found your blog, but your words could be mine…our situations eerily similar in many ways. My husband and I also fought for our marriage upon his confession 7 months ago and as hard as it is to admit, there are lessons and blessings among the broken pieces and we are now closer than ever before. God has opened both of our eyes to the many ways we took our love and marriage for granted and stopped taking care of the gift he gave us on our wedding day 13 1/2 years ago.

    Please continue to open your heart in this way. I love the recipes and family stories. Your photography is beautiful…I would love for you to take pictures of my family! What resonates with me most though, is the story of you and your husband. I find so much comfort, strength and encouragement in your words. I too have to choose joy now, where it used to come naturally, and most days I succeed, but on the days I fail, it is reassuring to know I am not alone.

    Your openess and honesty is a blessing to me and I look forward to reading all that God has in store for your marriage.

  15. I also want to make sure to encourage you to let you know what an encouragement it is for me to read your blog. I was told by a friend about your blog. My husband and I are also walking down the road of restoration after infidelity. It is so hard, but when there is repentance and and a genuine desire to change and look to God together, I am so confident it is the right thing to do. Keep it up and thanks for being transparent.

  16. Tonya I have been where you are at in your marriage. Floyd and I worked thru it and had 42 years together before cancer took him. I pray for you and Dale.

  17. Tonya, You are an amazing, Godly woman! Do not listen to the naysayers. Ignore them. Delete them. Keep on keeping on in the right direction you are going. We need more like you in our world. God bless you & your husband! Continue to preach it, girl friend! God is using you for His glory!!

  18. I have been following your story since a mutual friend posted your Beauty from Ashes series on Facebook. I am so grateful I decided to click on the link that day, because you are a beautiful woman of God. Thank you for being such a great role model to a young woman who wants to pursue Jesus with her whole heart. Your blog is AWESOME 🙂
    I am going to Woman’s Encounter in October, will you be there?

  19. Many years ago I almost married a man who ended our relationship only weeks before the planned date of our wedding. He dragged me on for a bit. He didn’t want to marry me but he didn’t want to be honest about it either.
    In the end he cheated on me, and used me and generally made me feel like trash. What made it all so easy, in the end, to let him go was knowing that he was not willing to fight for me. He wanted things easy.
    It took me six or seven years to be able to talk about it all without having a very physical, visceral reaction. I would shake, get sick to my stomach, all my muscles would tense up. I would get goose bumps and sweat. Six or seven YEARS. I went on to marry the most wonderful, godly man. A man who would fight for me.

    You take all the time you need. You talk about it all you want. This is your space to be real and to put your story- all of it- out there for others to be encouraged and convicted. I think that you and Dale are a blessing. You are evidence of God’s grace and in many ways a beacon of hope for many people who need to know that sin can be overcome.

  20. Thank you tonya. To have someone express what is in my heart is so refreshing, healing, and encouraging! I continue to pray for you, dale, and your beautiful family.

  21. Tonya,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I don’t have the same story as you.. no one does…but your sharing of how God is healing you and Dale from the hurt and wreckage that Satan caused in your life is helping my story. When you say ” I work hard each day to choose forgiveness. I work even harder, to choose joy.” that is what I need in my life right now. Not because of my marriage..but because of our son who has chosen to walk away from the life we thought we had raised him in. Satan has stolen our world too. We are fighting to save and rebuild our life too. I know God has it already worked out and all we need to do is wait paiently for HIS timing. Man is that hard!!! But your story of healing is inspirational not only for infidelity but for loss of ALL kind. Please know you are helping more people than you relaize. THANK YOU!!!

    • The Good Shepherd leaves his flock of sheep to go and find the one that wandered away. I am sorry for your heartache! I know God will hear you prayers and the cry of a mothers heart. Pray without ceasing!
      HUGS, T

  22. I just want to let you though although I’m new to your blog.. I’ve read all of your surviving infidelity posts. I find myself constantly understanding what you say, and even the swing of emotions you’ve gone through in the past months. Never stop talking about it..it will help others, and restore you! Although I am not married yet (only 19), my boyfriend and I have gone through infidelity. His struggle with pornography came to the light May of 2011..and I still remember the moment I discovered as if it were that very moment. Never be discouraged by people who haven’t been through things similar to you or just don’t understand. Believe me, I’m only 19 and have already been through very similar things. If it weren’t for blogs like yours and the many other christian sites I’ve been on..I would be far from the place I am today. Praise God for using brokenness to make us whole in Him! Continue writing and sharing… I hope to someday be able to use my boyfriend and I’s story to share with others in order to both help the already hurting, and make awareness on the dangers of pornography and lack of purity in relationships! We still have a long way to go, but I have realized that despite the hurt of the past year and a few months.. these have been some of the most impacting and memeorable months of my life. Here’s to hoping you and Dale are getting stronger each day and that me and my boyfriend can continue on our path to healing, in hopes of God restoring us all despite the pain both of us have endured! Thank you for all you have shared and just know you are NOT alone in anything you’ve gone through… women and even some men of all ages and relationships have struggled with all sorts of infidelity/lust/pornography/betrayal type situations and if we don’t stick together and look towards God we will only continue in our stuggles. Let’s be reliant on God, not listening to the world’s “forgive and forget” because really..forgetting is lying…we NEED to remember what happened..it has created the beauty in what we have now..and what we will have in the future!

    God Bless,

  23. Hi Tonya—– I see you holding a candle—In the darkness–singing THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE I’M GOING TO LET IT SHINE—-Because of your honesty I don’t think you know how you are helping people realize there is a way to forgive for any reason……….That way is Jesus….The only one who can help us and the best part is we only have to ask…..He says that in his word…..Through you he is helping others and this is something satan does not want, He wants people in misery….bondage….. Satan wants you to become discouraged so you shut up. One encouraging thing you must be doing something right or he would be leaving you alone. Jesus never said it would be easy, but I thank God we have his SON to bring us through. Be encouraged!!!!!!!!!!!! Chriss

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