In Shadows, we first meet you at a conference. Going into that conference, did you have any preconceived notions about what would happen?
Oh my! I had no idea what God had in store for me. Honestly, I was so appreciative that my peers recognized my hard work, and I let that cloud my judgment, I think. I went into that conference thinking I was hot stuff. It’s true. Pride goes before the fall. You know? When Gerald approached me and exposed my sin, and then confronted me to make it right, I was overwhelmed. But, deep in my heart, the Holy Spirit convicted me—and I knew the truth. I just had to make it right with God. But, then I had that horrible fight with my wife, Connie, and that made my sin seem justifiable. I’m so grateful that God gave me the strength I needed to overcome that moment of temptation when that she-devil approached me and tried to seduce me. I can honestly say that I was flattered. And tempted. She was quite tempting. But, at that moment of weakness, God had Connie call me and she gave me the strength to overcome that moment. And I thank God for His mercy. And as for the other stuff with the Lair? Well, no. I had no idea.
We also learn you’re discontent in your marriage. Was there a single event you can pinpoint that on or was it gradual?
You know? I have to be brutally honest here. My marriage was not perfect, but it wasn’t horrible. Connie carried a huge load, and I was not really stepping up to help her like I should have. All of the issues we had were because I was not being the man of God she needed. I was failing her and not respecting her. I was becoming very selfish. I’m so thankful that God granted me the ability to see my faults and gave me a chance to start over and do things properly. Connie is a magnificent woman, and knowing that I have her respect means the world to me.
Had you not been unhappy in your marriage, do you think events at the conference would have had a different outcome?
Gee. That was a tough moment for me. Very humbling to realize just how complacent I’d become. I have to admit that Dahlia was quite overwhelming. But, when it comes down to the truth, I love my wife, and I could never, ever, inflict that kind of pain on her. Or on myself. Or on my kids. I mean, if I’d failed, who knows what would have happened? But, I committed my life to Connie, for better or worse. Sadly, I was the worst part. But, had we not had a strong marriage, even through that one rough patch, I suspect I would have failed. Thank God for His mercy! I can’t imagine what my life would look like without Connie and the kids.
God’s mercy is great indeed! As each event unfolds, are you conscious of how things could have been different, had you chosen a different course at the conference? Do you ever stop and think, “I’ve been so blessed.”
Well, once God opened the doors and the blessings started rolling in, I had no way to fully appreciate what He was doing. But God had a plan. The way He used Connie to start that shelter for battered women was amazing! And she has touched so many lives in a positive way. And the kids, too. Ginger is such a sweetheart, and a very giving person. And Kevin! I mean, look how God used him during the war. He saved so many lives! And God chose to use that money to make a difference. I had no idea what He had in mind, but I’m humbled that He chose me. And so very grateful that God trusted me enough to allow me the honor of investing that wealth back into our community. And all these years later, I look back and see how God has blessed me with a beautiful, loving wife, and two wonderful children, and all my grandchildren!
You’ve had a great life, but if you could go back in time, what, if anything, would you change in your life?
If given the opportunity, I’d go back to myself and remind me that I need to be more diligent to invest in my wife and children. I’d kick myself in the pants for not being a better husband, and for not being a better father. You only have one chance to do some of those things, and you don’t want to waste one minute by being selfish.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I do. I know my life isn’t perfect and that there are so many things I could have done differently. We have no idea how our lives are effected by our choices. Each of our choices determine the outcome of our lives. If you are a husband or father who is complacent, stop. It’s never too late to start over. It may be too late to make it perfect, but it’s not too late to make it right. We have to own our actions and own the consequences, and determine that we make the right choice from this moment forward. We must commit to doing what’s right, even if no one else is watching. That’s integrity. That’s righteous. And with God’s grace, we can keep moving toward Him and His blessings for us. But, it’s not even about the blessings. Those come with obedience. It’s about being true to God, and serving Him with our whole hearts. The rest will fall into place!
This chat has been very inspiring. Thank you, Justin, for sharing your very personal story for us, and I hope it can be a message for us all!