The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


One Drink Away from Divorce

By Tim Smith
The 700 Club -“We were acting like college students in parent bodies,” remembers Mary, “and you just can’t keep up with that kind of lifestyle. This is a long road down a big, black hole.”

Eric and Mary Lanka married in 1998 and never saw the “black hole” ahead.

“We were both head over heels for each other,” says Mary “but we both also had this drive that we each saw in each other, and it was very exciting. And we knew that together we could make a lot of money, and do a lot of great things.”

Both had successful careers in their own right. Erik was a real estate developer, and Mary was a creative director for a real estate company, and an artist. They worked hard and they played hard.
“So we were always out having a great time,” says Erik.

“I was very focused on making a lot of money, young, so I didn’t have to work as hard as my parents did,” adds Mary.

“Mary was drinking then. I was drinking then. Of course, all of our friends were drinking,” says Erik.

Before long, Erik and Mary had their first son, Zack.

“Is this what we’re giving him?” recalls Mary. “Just work, work, work? I didn’t have time for him. I was too busy.”

In 2005, Erik decided to parlay their wealth into a huge condominium project.
“I thought I could sell it out and be able to retire, and do what I wanted to with my family. I was being stymied by city officials, by family members, and therefore, I started to drink more.”

In 2006, their second son Joshua was born. That same year, the housing market crashed. Eric knew they were in trouble.

“When the bank came calling after two years of no sales, I was seeing the writing on the wall coming. I started to literally drink myself to sleep every night, or drink myself to pass out every night.”

Mary remembers how Erik’s drinking affected him. “He went from this jovial social drinker to someone who would pass out at 5:00. I couldn’t rouse him. We were having arguments, that he wouldn’t even remember them the next day. I didn’t want to drink anymore. I hated it. I started to really loathe the whole lifestyle. And I started to hate him for checking out, when he really should have been dealing with things. It scared me, and I remember thinking, ‘This is not what I signed up for.’ He was getting to the point where I didn’t want him to take the children in the vehicles, because someone told me they saw him drinking and driving.”

“She literally had to take me aside,” remembers Erik, “and say to me, ‘It’s either your booze, or us.’ And that’s when I really did start to have an epiphany, that this social crutch turned into gotta have it in the morning, addiction. After Mary told me I’d lose everything we had, being them, Mary and the boys, that was too much for me to bear. So I told her I would stop drinking.”
Mary began a search for spiritual help.

“I went to my Uncle Sal’s church, and I brought my son Zack to one of the services. And I remember sitting there, and thinking, ‘Oh my goodness! This is what I’ve been missing! It’s true, all the stuff I heard.’ It all kind of gelled at this one moment. I felt the power of the Holy Spirit come on me so quickly. It was dramatic.

 Erik says that God was working on his heart too.

“After the ultimatum, I really started getting into this Daily Bread book, and it had daily devotionals in it, and I started to read those. And they really started to sink in. And I think that’s what really helped me start to focus more because when I read those devotionals, it made me question more where that devotional came from. So then I would go into the Bible, and read more where that passage came from.”

“It wasn’t overnight with Eric,” says Mary. “I had to trust God day by day by day, and put one foot in front of the other. It came in millimeters. It didn’t come in leaps and bounds.”

With two children now, and number three on the way, and no job prospects, the bank foreclosed on their home in December of 2006. They were forced to sell almost everything they owned and live in a camper while Erik looked for work.

“We were completely blown away that this is where our lives had taken us,” says Mary.

“We didn’t know where we were headed,” adds Erik. “We just knew it was a new beginning. But we were both confident that God would lead us to where we needed to be.”

“We had to rebuild our marriage, but God was the foundation we put our marriage on,” says Mary. “And then we built up from there. And that completely changed the whole marriage. We didn’t count on each other to fill our needs. We counted on God to fill our needs and to respect and honor each other. Wow! What a concept, I know. It works. It does. It works a lot better than the way we tried it.”

After living in the camper for seven months, Eric found a development job in Durango, New Mexico. Erik, Mary, and the boys love their home in the mountains.
“I think the Lord broke it down for us in very simple terms: ‘I’m going to help break you back down, so you can re-learn what it means to be together as husband and wife. And it’s painful, yes, but I will be with you every step of the way.’” says Mary.

“We’re about to celebrate our 14th year of marriage,” says Erik, “and I absolutely would not want it any other way, than to go through what we’ve gone through together. Because we are so much more to each other, and for each other, now, than we ever would have been, regardless of how successful we could have been in the monetary and material worlds. Mary is who I married, and I feel very blessed to have Mary in my life.”
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