God is always faithful, so you’re never too early in your story to share it.
When Chelsea and I got married, we both had our own baggage—she was struggling with loneliness and started drinking, and I dealt with anxiety and depression. We also didn’t have a strong support system at the time. The people we did have, the relationship was very surface level—we didn’t feel like we had anyone that we could build real community with. At the time, I was a bodybuilder competing at a high level and started using steroids to reach and maintain that level of strength.
The anxiety, combined with the drugs I put in my body, caused my mindset to shift, and I found my identity in the gym. I just… checked out mentally—out of our marriage and out of raising our kids. The enemy would fill my mind with thoughts that I wasn’t the one for Chelsea and that I’d made a mistake. All of that had me struggling with suicide and depression even in the midst of my career taking off on social media.
I always thought that if James would commit to God just a quarter of what he was committing to the gym, he would be a really strong Christian. I really desired that James would be the leader of our family. But at the same time, my needs weren’t being met. The problem was I was seeking my worth and my purpose and love from James instead of the Lord.
One year into our marriage, I got really drunk, and I cheated on him. I told him the next day, and he was rightfully angry, but He forgave me, hearing the Lord say, “Forgive her 77 times 7.” The very next day, we found out we were pregnant with our first child, a baby girl. We had a couple of good years after that, but after the birth of our son, James began taking steroids. Things got worse—he would bring up the past, getting very angry and verbally abusive. I started drinking to numb the pain. That’s when a neighbor reached out, and we started talking. What I thought was an innocent friendship quickly grew to more because my marriage was toxic. The affair was emotional and began to get physical, but before it could go too far, I cut off that relationship entirely.
We moved away and started at a new church… everything started changing. We went from sitting in church feeling dead inside—like the enemy had us on puppet strings we couldn’t control—to being in this healing place. The pastor issued a Bible-reading challenge, and James started taking it seriously. He’d just gotten injured and couldn’t do much at the gym, so he really started digging into the Word. We started going to a marriage group at church where we started the Indestructible Marriage study by Jimmy. It gave us the community we desired but required us to be really vulnerable in front of our group. As we got more involved, I started seeing a new version of my husband… Eventually, we started being more vulnerable with each other as well, and we were finally able to confess our infidelities from the pandemic to each other.
I can’t explain the feelings of peace and forgiveness we experienced in that moment. I can’t say there wasn’t anger later, but what I can say is there was a really cool moment of realizing we were free from the turmoil of unconfessed sin. We were sitting there suffering, and God just started tearing down strongholds the enemy had put around our hearts—her drinking, my idols of the gym and my body—all of those strongholds just started coming down.
At the time, Chelsea was listening to Dave and Ashley Willis’ podcast, and we were going through the process of healing from our affairs. We sat down and just ripped off all the bandaids, sparing nothing, telling all our truths. If you don’t, your spouse just sits there with all these unanswered questions: Did you have sex with them? Did they get pregnant? Did this happen? Did that happen? It required us to be so vulnerable and open—all just two weeks before XO Conference. It really prepared our hearts.
The entire weekend felt like redemption, a renewing of our entire relationship from dating to that very moment.
The weekend of the conference was our anniversary, and it felt like every message was meant for us. The entire weekend felt like redemption, a renewing of our entire relationship from dating to that very moment. In one weekend, God restored our marriage, our wedding day, and even our honeymoon. In the midst of it all, I felt the Lord say, “James, I can’t do anything in you if you’re attached to anything.” The word I got was about carrying my cross because He’s going to do something beautiful. Since that day, I’ve been seeking the Lord. I flushed all of my medications—the cleaning ladies must have thought we were drug dealers or something! I stopped bodybuilding and forsook everything and just poured all my energy and focus into the Lord, into my marriage, and into my family. And now it’s bringing fruit!
We brought a couple who had been through something similar with us to that first XO Conference we attended, and the Lord put us in a position to really speak into their marriage through our testimony and help build them up. Since then, it’s just funny and crazy to see how God works. We opened our home up, and now we have a Bible study that’s grown to more than 20 people! There are people growing, and we’re seeing fruit.
Chains are being broken, people are laying things down, and we can feel the Holy Spirit coming into our little house, all because Jesus is faithful. He pulled us out of that river of death using XO as our life raft, and now we get to help Him do the same for other couples. He has a plan for every marriage—there is always hope. If we can get through a double of infidelity, so can you. We just decided we weren’t going to let any of that steal our peace in our marriage, and we turned toward the Lord. He did the rest.
God is always faithful, so you’re never too early in your story to share it. Wherever we are in our story, we know we’ll never be perfect or finished. But we know XO Conference and the books and podcasts changed our lives, and now they’re changing lives in our community, producing fullness for the kingdom. We tried counseling—even Christian counseling—and all they told us was, “Wow, y’all have a lot of work to do. It sounds like you might not work out.” They didn’t help us grow like XO has helped us and transformed our marriage. Even now, we are a walking testimony. Our story is one of forgiveness and release, of hope and seeing God’s faithfulness.
He pulled us out of that river of death using XO as our life raft