Thursday, December 29, 2016

Here I Go Again

Blogging again isn’t something I wanted to do. Quite frankly, I don’t have the time. When I blogged before, I worked a normal 9-5 job, didn’t have a kid, and only traveled occasionally. Now, I live a very busy entrepreneurial life and am raising a very active 1 year old boy. I have far more personal and professional contacts than I did then, and I value my privacy more than ever. I hardly ever post super personal stuff on social media, let alone sharing my life’s story on the internet. I’m not in love with the idea of anyone being able to read about some of the most personal details of my life.

But this isn’t about me. Yes, it’s my story… but my reason for sharing it has nothing to do with a personal desire to do so. When I blogged about Zane’s accident in 2010/2011, I saw the incredible effect of sharing our tragedy with the world. I saw so much good, and so much healing come from that openness. People connected with the struggle, and were inspired by the faith that God gave us through that time. SO much good came from such a terrible situation. And while that time was extremely difficult, I can confidently tell you that what I have endured the past year and a half has been worlds harder. I have been broken more deeply than I thought possible, all while no one knew.
However, I am determined not to let my pain go to waste.

Over the last several months, I got that feeling in the pit of my stomach. The one where you know you’re going to have to do something that you absolutely don’t want to do. It was God nudging me out of hiding my experience. I know now that I have to do this. It won’t be easy to relive my greatest hurts or unveil my darkest moments, but someone has to be the voice. I’m not entirely sure why God seems to always push me to be that voice, but I do believe that He’ll supply the strength needed to share it.

I also believe this has to be very honest. If I’m going to share this story, I believe it’s one that requires sharing the whole thing. People often look at my life (especially in our perfected social media culture) and assume it’s pretty fabulous. I work in the fashion industry and get sent on oodles of free trips. I have (in my completely biased opinion) the most adorable, smiley little boy, and a pretty big house with lots of land. My husband is incredibly smart and talented, not to mention has the strongest faith of anyone I’ve ever met. My dog has her own Instagram. On the outside, we totally looked like we had it all together. But, no one saw the ugly. The silent struggles that nearly tore us apart. And no one will be helped or encouraged by feeling like we have it all together. I hope that my vulnerability will connect with someone and that God will use it to encourage you. We’re all human; we all struggle; and sometimes those we think have it all together are fighting a bigger battle than we can imagine.

To those of you who have reached out with words of encouragement, thank you. Your support has literally gotten me through the past 24 hours. There are so many that I haven’t been able to respond, especially as I worked through my own personal hurt over the hate that has come our way.

To those of you who are spewing that hate, I’m sorry. I’m so deeply sorry that you are in a place in your own life where you think it’s okay to attack others. I pray that you never have such a terrible situation impact your own life or that of someone you love. I pray that you are never judged with the same harsh words you have seen fit to say to me or my husband. I don’t know what you intended to accomplish by tearing down a family you do not know, hiding behind the safety of an anonymous comment. I hated you for a moment. You kept me sobbing in my bed most of the day. But now, I know that it’s my job to show you the same grace I showed my husband. He sinned against me in a very deep painful way, and we have spent the past year and a half recovering from that. Your words still sting, but you deserve the same forgiveness. Hate is not how we fix a problem. Tearing someone down does nothing but breed further brokenness. So although I’m sure you feel completely justified in your actions, I forgive you, whether you feel you need it or not. I am done looking at the comments online that I can’t control. But here, I will write my own story and your hate is not welcome to be a part of it. Comments will be turned off in the interest of guarding my already broken heart against what I must imagine is brokenness in your own life as well.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Reason I’m Blogging Again

An open letter to our family and friends:

By now, you’ve probably seen the news circulating. You’ve probably gasped in shock and double checked to see if you read it right. I had a similar reaction when I found out.

I found out in May of 2015 that Zane had an addiction. Like 85% of men, he had struggled with pornography. Only for him, he had gotten addicted at age 13. Occasionally, the addiction cycle would pull him into downloading the same underage material he’d viewed at 13. Luckily nothing was considered “hard core”, but enough that the authorities tracked the download and showed up at our house one Thursday night in May.

Just as you are probably shocked to read this, I was devastated, confused, hurt, and angry. Zane has always been one of the most strong, Godly men I’ve ever known… it’s a big part of why I married him. His faith has been well known in our community, especially after the tragic accident that burned 58% of his body in 2010. But, he is also human, and is capable of being attacked with addiction just as much as any of us.

I’ll be honest, I struggled with the fact that it was underage content. It took me many months of researching the psychology behind these things and studying addiction to understand. Through my own personal pain, I began to see things as they really were: He was still the same man I married; the same man I fell in love with. He had been fighting this battle by himself for 16 years. He so badly wanted to be free of it, but the shame and stigma that is attached to pornography was so great that he didn’t feel he could reach out. It breaks my heart to know that so many people fight addictions silently and on their own for fear of judgement when they ask for help.

Although that was a terrible day, it marked the date that Zane was set free. He met with our pastor and started seeing a counselor right away. I am incredibly proud to say that he has been completely clean ever since. Let me be clear on a few points, as I know there will be gossip: In no way, shape, or form has Zane ever been attracted to underage girls in his real adult life. He was caught and charged with possession of the material only- he never shared it or had contact with anyone either online or in person. And yes, he 100% sees how terrible and wrong this was, and he will face the consequences of his actions.

We didn’t hear from the authorities for almost a year. Last March (2016) we got a letter stating that they intended to prosecute and Zane should get an attorney. After hiring who we believe is one of the best in the state, we found out that the penalty is typically 3-5 years in prison. We are praying for a miracle when it comes to that sentence. The sentencing hearing is likely to take place within a few months. Zane was taken into custody today after pleading guilty. He had previously entered a not guilty plea in order to keep him with family through the holidays. Although the ramifications are extremely painful for our family, we take solace in the fact that he is free of this addiction and can look forward to truly living without that enormous weight on his shoulders.

I don’t want to undermine his crime or make light of the situation- believe me, I of all people, am fully aware of the pain it caused. And although I didn’t talk to a single soul about this for almost a year, I won’t pretend that it wasn’t the hardest year of my life. Many of you know about my health challenge with pregnancy, my business expansion, and the struggle of being a new mom. I’ve most definitely gone through my moments of anger that I have to deal with this, and I understand if your response is one of frustration or confusion. I was there. But I do want to ask for your grace.

My husband is human, and is susceptible to sin and struggle as much as anyone. He accepts full responsibility for his actions, and has worked incredibly hard since that day in May to completely change his life. And he has. I have witnessed the most remarkable transformation and healing.

I pray that you see that humanity. I hope that you can find grace inside of you. Please know that Zane is sorry. He wants so badly to speak for himself, but I’m speaking on his behalf for the moment, as we fear the public isn’t going to be in a place where they will even hear his voice.

We need your prayers, as we face a difficult road ahead. There will be days that will be incredibly hard. Although we have both experienced much healing, your words still have the power to break us. And as much as I appreciate any support I personally receive, what tears down my husband will tear me down too. We have a sweet little boy who is counting on us, so we need all the strength we can get. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank you for allowing me to state the facts and speak from a very personal level. This is not the first great challenge we’ve faced, and although this is very different, I will say the same thing I did through Zane’s accident in 2010: God is faithful, and He will take care of us.