A Gut-Honest Look at Love.” That was the title of my first blog post of this year. Based on 1 Corinthians 13, I wrote, “Love isn’t what I have the opportunity to get from this world, love is what I have the opportunity to give.”This perspective on love has been a lifeline during the most painful season and decision of my adult life. I so wish we were sitting face-to-face so you could see my tears and hear the deep grief in my voice as I share this with you. My husband, life partner and father of my children, Art TerKeurst, has been repeatedly unfaithful to me with a woman he met online, bringing an end to our marriage of almost 25 years. For the past couple of years, his life has sadly been defined by his affection for this other woman and substance abuse. I don’t share this to harm or embarrass him, but to help explain why I have decided to separate from him and pursue a divorce. God has now revealed to me that I have done all I can do and I must release him to the Savior.
Anyone who knows me and Proverbs 31 Ministries knows how seriously I take marriage. I’ve always encouraged women to fight for their marriages and to do everything possible to save them when they come under threat. So, for the past couple of years I have been in the hardest battle of my life trying to save my marriage.
When I first found out about Art’s infidelity 18 months ago, I made the decision not to divorce him. I had just finished fasting and praying for 28 days and really felt led by the Lord that I was to love Art in my reaction to this shocking news and trust God for every step moving forward. I was still committed to doing everything I could think of to make our story one of restoration, even in the face of the worst kind of betrayal imaginable. I prayed continually. I sought counsel from family and other wise friends. And Art and I even made repeated trips across the country together for intensive counseling especially designed for marriages in crisis. But sadly, though I have repeatedly forgiven and accepted him back, he has continued to abuse substances, be unfaithful, and refused to be truthful to me and our family.
I believe I have the capacity to love Art and to forgive him, but his steadfast refusal to end the infidelity has led me to make the hardest decision of my life. After much prayer and consultation with wise, biblically-minded people, I have decided that Art has abandoned our marriage. Yet, the Lord has been so faithful to help me at every step of this very painful journey and has now assured me I’ve done all I can do.
I am brokenhearted beyond what I can express. But I am more committed than ever to trusting God, His promises, and His plans, whatever they are from here.
As many of you who have followed our ministry know, I’ve never shied away from sharing how God has gotten me through tough seasons and even grown me through my struggles. Thankfully, my story has been one of learning that I’m not defined by my circumstances. I’m Lysa, a beloved child of the one true God. My true identity doesn’t shift or fall apart under life’s strains, failures, my own imperfections, setbacks or heartaches. While people—even God’s people—change, I’m so glad I serve a God who doesn’t. I love this verse in Malachi 3:6—“I the Lord do not change; therefore you, children of Jacob, are not consumed.”
So what does all of this mean for Proverbs 31 Ministries and for me? Well, for over 20 years I’ve had a calling supported by my family for equipping women to deepen their relationship with God, study His Word, and to share their stories for God’s glory. Though my heart is so heavy that I’ve certainly pondered giving up, I’m determined not to let darkness win here. Therefore, after a season of rest and continued Biblical and professional counseling, I will continue to do ministry with an even deeper belief in the goodness of our God and a greater empathy for the deep heartbreak that happens to us all in this broken world.
Many people think Proverbs 31 is a picture of a perfect woman; but the Proverbs 31 woman is, at her core, someone who seeks the Lord in everything she does and trusts Him wholeheartedly with her life. Our mission is to meet women where they are in the real, hard places we all experience, and to intersect God’s Word right there. We are simply a group of women sold out to saying yes to God—and He truly does the rest.
“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” That’s what the Psalmist wrote long ago (Psalm 27:13) and it beautifully reflects what I’m holding on to in the midst of the deep grief my children and I are now walking through. We have some amazing counselors and pastoral leaders who are committed to helping us pursue healing and learn how to move forward.
What can you do for us? I’d simply ask you to pray. Pray for my precious children and grandchildren. Pray for me. Pray for our team at Proverbs 31. And yes, please, please pray for Art.
I love you all. Most of all, I love the Lord, who first loved me.