Michael Cusick: The End of His Double Life
By Gorman Woodfin
The 700 Club
Original Air Date: November 23, 2010
It all started when Michael Cusick was five years old. His uncle made him do the unthinkable.
“An uncle started abusing me sexually," Michael tells The 700 Club. "I had to keep that a secret, and it was really devastating to who I was as a person. There was also me not only being exposed to pornography, but being used in pornography in photographic shoots by my uncle.”
Even at that age the pain was so intense he did his best to suppress his feelings.
“It became pretty natural for me just to pretend that those things didn’t happen. I certainly couldn’t talk about it. I took it and I stuffed it as far under as I could.”
When Michael was in high school he got involved in a Christian youth group.
“I was introduced to the idea that God loved me, which was a brand-new concept for me. God actually saw my heart as something worth dying for, And that really changed my life.”
He gave his heart to Christ. But the memories from his childhood still haunted him.
“Inside I was profoundly lonely. I was filled with shame and anxiety. “
Michael developed a double life. On one side, he was the devoted Christian. On the other, he was filled with secret desires.
“One of the very first times that I acted out sexually, I felt so ashamed. I felt so much self-hatred. I felt like I had jumped off a cliff, like I’ve crossed a line of no return. I had no one to talk to.”
At age 19, he decided to go to a youth pastor for help.
“I confessed to him that I had this lifelong struggle with lust, with pornography. He told me, ’Well, you’re a new creation in Christ, so you just need to kind of forget about that and move on.’ That moment something died inside of my heart. What I concluded wrongly at that point was that the gospel of Jesus Christ really can’t touch this.”
So Michael decided to fight his demons the best he could. Despite his struggles, he wanted to help others, so he became a youth pastor and later worked as a counselor at a Christian university.
He met and fell in love with Julianne, a fellow counselor. They soon married. But Michael was still leading a double life.
“I’d been acting out with pornography, with prostitutes, and in ways that were clearly, clearly immoral and wrong and deeply, deeply hurtful to her.”
For three years he kept his other life a secret from Julianne. Then she discovered the truth.
Michael says, “I was caught. The lies were exposed. The shame was exposed.”
“I wanted to leave," Julianne says. "I told Michael, ‘I don’t love you. I don’t know if I ever will love you.’”
Michael continues, “The hardest part of that was for the first time in my life coming to grips with how much damage I could do as a human being in the life of somebody that I really, really cared about.”
In an attempt to save their marriage they went to a Christian friend for advice.
“He said to Julianne, ‘Michael has committed adultery. Michael’s violated your marriage vows, and I’ll drive you to the lawyer if you feel like God is leading you to divorce.’”
Julianne faced a very tough decision. Should she stay with Michael or leave? She prayed to God for guidance and decided to stay….
Julianne says, “The only reason I am staying is because God, I don’t feel, released me to leave. But it was a very, very difficult, painful time.”
“One of the things I’m most grateful for is that she did make that decision and she followed the voice of God in that.”
Julianne and Michael started the long process of rebuilding their marriage.
“Trust is built on honesty and a commitment to the truth," Julianne says. "Michael made a commitment to me when the truth came out that anything and everything he would tell me. I could trust his heart that he would tell me the truth. That’s how trust started to rebuild and how it has grown."
Michael says, “The healing of my marriage happened over a process. It was a very long, painful process. It was, to this day, probably one of the hardest things that I’ve ever gone through. There were a number of milestones. The first milestone was that she talked to me. She was responding out of appropriate anger and pain. I slept on the living room floor for a long, long time. When she invited me to come back and sleep in the same bed that was a milestone.”
“I remember in one of my times of wrestling with the Lord," Julianne say, "I sensed Him say to me, ‘You haven’t had a marriage. If you want a real marriage, I will rebuild it for you.’ He has been faithful to do that.”
Today Michael and Julianne have two children and counsel other people going through the same trials that they did. While rebuilding their marriage was a painful process, their relationship and love for one another has emerged stronger than ever.
Michael says, “I love the quote, interestingly by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He said that the pursuit of purity is not about the suppression of lust, but about the reorientation of our life to a larger goal. The second part of my life has not been about suppressing the sin, it’s about knowing God, letting God love all of me, living free, living whole, learning what it means to be intimate.”
"What I love the most about Michael is his heart," Julianne says. "There is a purity and integrity of heart in my husband that I cherish.”
“The gospel of Jesus Christ is that yes, He died on the cross, shed His blood to forgive our sins," Michael says. "But that’s just the beginning. That’s just the doorway into a kingdom life where we can become whole and our wounds can be healed. Change and freedom and healing are not only possible, it’s God’s will for all of our lives.”
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