CBN.com It was a fairy-tale romance. Love at first sight, a whirlwind courtship. But for Shawn and Michelle Brooks, married life turned out to be much more of a challenge than either of them bargained for.
“During that time, I did go to jail for a DUI and that was hard,” Michelle said. “There was another time where I had come home and we had started fighting in the middle of the night and I hit 911. And they came and they carried both of us because we been fighting, fist-fighting and because there was marks on both us, we both went to jail. And we came very close to losing our children at that time.”
Michelle and Shawn Brooks’ marriage had deteriorated into fighting and bitterness. But it didn’t start out that way.
“We did love each other, and there was the chemistry there,” Shawn said. “So there were ups and downs. It was tough on her, because she missed her family, she missed her friends, and I had pulled her away from that.”
“I did whatever I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. So when I got married, it was great and hunky-dory and everything in the beginning, but then all of a sudden it was like, I’m not independent anymore, you know, everything has to go through him. And I didn’t like that,” Michelle said.
They struggled to keep their marriage together. And then they got the news, Michelle was pregnant.
“That was amazing,” Shawn said, “because she had endometriosis for many years and the doctors told us she might never be able to have children. So we were excited, it was great.”
Just four months after their son Nathaniel was born, Michelle was shocked to learn she was pregnant…again.
Around that time, Shawn was dealing with his own revelation.
“The Lord revealed to me that He was calling me to pastor. He was calling me to preach. And, of course, when you get that calling from God, you want to jump on it right away,” he said.
Shawn took a position in Florida as a youth pastor. They struggled financially. And after the birth of their second son, Michelle developed postpartum depression. Both factors wreaked havoc with her emotions to the point when she lashed out at everyone, especially Shawn.
“He was the target of all my emotions,” she said. “I
never agreed. I kept strife, made sure that we fought, blamed him for
everything. I told him that he did not know how to take care of the
kids, that he was a bad father … that I did everything and that he
was pretty much useless.”
Michelle took the boys and moved back home to Georgia. Shawn left the ministry and followed. They wanted a fresh start, so they both got new jobs. That’s when Michelle’s co-workers brought back an old temptation.
“‘Why don’t we go out?’ ‘Why don’t we go to the bars?’ It’ll help you to relax. So that’s where the process started,” she said. “I’d make excuses to be able to go out. And at that point, I think he was agreeing with anything just to make me happy. Because that made me happy – to be able to go out. I’d get all excited. I’d get all dressed up. And I was able to forget everything, forget what was troubling me and just it seemed like the alcohol solved the problem at that time. But the next day everything was back, the same as it was the day before.”
Michelle’s drinking and partying got worse. And soon, she brought infidelity into her marriage.
“At that time, I was pretty good at hiding it from him” she said. “But I think deep down in his heart he knew.”
Michelle decided it would be best if they divorced. They shared custody with the boys. Meanwhile, Shawn pleaded with God to restore his marriage.
“I was like, ‘God, my best friend’s gone.’ You called us into this ministry together. I know you called us. I said, ‘God I need to know now. I need to hear from you,’” Shawn prayed.
“I’d prayed so many times, but this night it was special. It was different,” he said. “I heard the audible voice of God. And He called me by my name. He said, ‘Love me first, give me your life; and I will give you that which I’ve promised you. I will mend your marriage together, and I will bring your ministry together.’”
“I didn’t realize I was loving her more than I was loving God,” Shawn said. “I was trying to fix her and be everything to her instead of being everything to God. And at that moment, such peace came over me. It changed my entire life. It changed everything that I am today.”
And when they saw each other the next day, Shawn went to her and said, “Michelle I love you with all my heart, but I love God first. And I’m going to run after Him. Whatever you need to do, you do.”
After years of running from God, Michelle reached her own point of desperation.
“I found myself in jail again. That night I told God, ‘If you get me out this, then I’ll never leave you again.’ But told him, I said, ‘whatever it takes, you know you’re going to have to fix this, because I can’t do it on my own,’” she said. “‘You’re gonna have to take the desires away from me, for the alcohol, for the infidelity, for wanting to be free, for not having to be bound, you know?’ And that was the turning point of our life.”
Michelle returned to Shawn, and he welcomed her with open arms and a forgiving heart. They received counseling and began attending a church. Eight months later, they remarried.
“God totally took me and He transformed me,” Michelle said. “He
allowed me to forgive myself for the things that I had done, not only to
him (Shawn), but to my children. That was the hardest part, was having
to apologize to them for walking away from them during that time. And
it took them about a year to get over every time I walked out the door. ‘Is
Mommy coming back?’ ‘Is Mommy gone?’ ‘Is
she ever gonna come back again?’”
“And I heard this for about a year,” she said, “but I just prayed and God restored them and restored us. But it was a process; it didn’t happen overnight.”
Shawn has returned to his calling in the ministry, and Michelle is with him. Now, they know firsthand how difficult it is to rebuild a relationship—and that it starts with a solid relationship with Christ.
“When God did come into my life, I felt the restoration begin,” Michelle said. “I felt a sense of humbleness. Being able to forgive, I was finding myself loving people, loving my children, and loving Him in a totally different way.”
“I don’t have the answers for everyone,” Shawn said, “but I do know this: That when everyone and everything’s telling you to give up, God is saying ‘stay.’ God is saying ‘love your wife as Christ loved the Church. And wives, you know, to love their husbands.’”
“The most important thing is to have God in your life and to give him everything,” he said. “Not try to fix everything, because we can’t fix everything. Only God can.”
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