After facing what she called the “hardest battle of her life” to save her marriage, Lysa TerKeurst announced in June that she would be divorcing her husband of 25 years due to his repeated infidelity.
With Lysa presiding as president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and holding a prominent name in Christian circles, the news came as a shock to many of her loyal followers.
But as difficult as it was for her fans to process, her daughter, Ashley Hodges, took the tragic ending to her parent’s love story even harder. The 22-year-old beauty born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, opened up about the devastating effects her father’s actions had on her own marriage and personal life in a raw guest post for Sadie Robertson’s Live Original blog.
Happy Tuesday friends!! ? I just wanted to remind you to keep smiling today because there’s seriously so much to smile about. There will always be situations in life that will cause you to be unhappy or unproductive or even weak emotionally. But that doesn’t mean we have to let the enemy win. Don’t let him steal your joy today! . http://liketk.it/2rPzF #liketkit @liketoknow.it
“Have you ever been in a position where your life is going great and then all the sudden it turns upside down, unexpectedly, without warning, and you find yourself asking the question, ‘How did this even happen?’ ‘Why is this happening to me?'” wrote Hodges of the experience.
Though she’d heard horror stories of these sorts of “bad things” happening to other people, she never thought the monster that was infidelity would invade her tight-knit Christian family.
But as we know, Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy—and if you name the name of Christ, you ARE a target for his schemes.
“I had just gotten married to the love of my life, David Hodges, and moved to Birmingham, Alabama,” shared Ashley, who had never moved before in her life. “So, it was already an adjustment and very hard for me to move away from my family because my family is everything to me. We are all truly best friends. Only 4 short months into marriage, I found out my dad was having an affair.”
Her initial reaction was one of pure flabbergast:
“WHAT?!…” I could have sworn I was dreaming. “There’s no way this is true.” “No, like you don’t understand… I know that’s not true… my dad would NEVER do that.”
Prior to this moment, her parents had always been her unwavering rock and her “safe place” when life’s difficulties came her way—but who was she to turn to NOW?
To make matters worse, as the daddy’s girl who people pegged the “girl version” of her father, her identity was rocked to the core.
“My dad was my hero, my spiritual leader (for 20 years until I got married), my best friend, my coach, my boss (I worked for him at his Chick-fil-A growing up), and the only man in my life that NEVER broke my trust growing up,” said Ashley. “As you can imagine, I was completely heart broken.”
She admits that her father’s breach of trust also took a toll on her own marriage:
“Imagine this – the father you trusted your life with for 20 years breaks your trust in the worst way possible. How the heck was I supposed to now trust David? A man I’ve only known for a little over a year.”
Thanks to wise counsel, David and Ashley were able to work through the insecurities brought on by her dad’s affair.
“I learned that he is not my dad and that David has never given me a reason not to trust him.”
But she’s well aware that the “hard realities” of her dad’s actions are far from finished wreaking havoc on her family.
In the midst of her heartache, Ashley knows she’s not the only one surviving such “life shattering pain.” She hopes to offer some words of encouragement and biblical wisdom to those facing similar circumstances.
“I PROMISE you’re going to be okay,” she urges. “You’re so much stronger than you think you are.”
How is she so sure??
“Because if you weren’t going to be okay God would never allow you to go through this without His help.”
One of the most helpful healing strategies for Ashley when she’s hit rock bottom has been spending quiet time with God:
“When I am in such a low place that taking just one more step is impossible, all I can do is sit in silence. Sit in silence trusting and remembering that the same God that moves mountains and speaks stars into existence, is the same God that calls me his beloved daughter. He’s putting breath in my lungs and holding my hand every step of the way. I say these words in my head over and over again, ‘My God has never forgotten about me nor forsaken me, and I know he’s not going to start now.’ ‘My God is so big, so strong and so mighty. There’s NOTHING my god cannot do for you.'”
Ashley elaborates on the paradoxical “honor” and privilege that is pain in referencing the famous Bible story of Job.
“But wait, why would God suggest that Satan test Job – one of his faithful servants?” she asked. “Is it because God was mad at Job or wanted him to hurt? No, absolutely not.”
Ashley insists that “God suggested Job because He trusted Job.”
“He trusted Job to stay strong through whatever trial Satan might throw his way, knowing Job would never blame God or give up on Him,” she continues. “God gives his toughest battles to his strongest warriors. In a way, it’s an honor to be trusted with pain because it says a lot about what God sees in you and what He wants to bring out of you. I have to remind myself that suffering is not an obstacle to be used by God, it’s an opportunity to be used by God like never before.”
“My tears will turn into a victory for the cause of Christ,” she writes.
Ashley explains that through God perfecting her in pain, she has experienced ‘supernatural strength’ like never before, and it is a “gift” she would not trade:
“Where there is impossible pain, God always offers incredible power.”
Her bold but hard-to-swallow assertions are reminiscent of James 1:2-4: “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
But after her powerful Jesus pep talk, Ashley poses the honest question, “So, am I okay?”
“No, not really,” she replied.
“But I will be!”
In closing, the TerKeurst daughter encourages others navigating the ‘problem of pain’ to do three things every day to keep their eyes fixed on the Lord: get in the Word, worship often and look BEYOND your current circumstance.
“In adversity, you have the opportunity to shine Christ’s light brighter and louder than ever before,” she adds. “The darker it gets, the brighter His light shines. The more impossible it gets, the more it becomes evident that the only answer is Jesus.”
And if you are one of those “honored” souls going through a difficult time or an unbearable tragedy, Ashley offers up this humble prayer:
“I pray God gives you grace to suffer well. I pray He surrounds you with a community of love and support. I pray he gives you strength to do more than ‘just make it’ through this season, but to shine so bright through it. I pray God increases your influence like never before. I pray that He daily gives you the faith to not stare at what’s in front of you, but to see what God sees. His view goes beyond the temporary. His view is eternal.”
May those words be seared on the heart of every suffering servant today.