23: Hope Found, Voice Found
About the Guest
- Learn more about Vicki Rose or her book, Every Reason to Leave: And Why We Chose to Stay Together. http://www.vickirosenyc.com/
- Check out all that's available on the FamilyLife Podcast Network.
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Vicki Rose dreamed of riches, fame, and a family. So marrying Billy should’ve been a dream come true, not a nightmare. Between drug addiction and a long separation, divorce looked inevitable. But God had other plans.
23: Hope Found, Voice Found
Vicki: I had no voice in my family growing up—None!
Kim: Do you think that affected your ability to handle that relationship with Billy early on?
Vicki: Definitely; definitely. I thought Billy was going to make me happy and he thought I was going to make him happy. There’s a name for that. It’s called codependence. We both did cocaine and that kept us out late at night partying. I wasn’t doing my job well at work. I was getting thinner and thinner—got worse and worse and worse to the point of after our daughter was born, I had asked him to leave. I had no voice. I had no voice.
Kim: From the FamilyLife podcast network, this is Unfavorable Odds. I’m Kim Anthony.
Unfavorable Odds is all about finding hope and help in those seasons of life when things get pretty difficult. Jesus has promised us that whenever we walk through those dark valleys, He will always be with us. We will never have to do it alone. On each episode of this podcast, we’ll be talking with people who have learned how, in those dark places of life, to draw their strength from Jesus.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been fascinated by the stories like Cinderella where the one who is often overlooked and mistreated, all of a sudden, has this dramatic life change when her Prince Charming enters the scene. He rescues her from this bland and, I don’t know, less than ordinary life.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to say that a woman needs a man to rescue her or that a woman can’t be happy as a single. I’m just talking about me and maybe others like me who have secretly dreamed about Prince Charming sweeping us off our feet and into this life / this happily ever after type of life that we see in the movies.
Well, Vicki Rose had a similar dream and at one point that dream seemed to be coming true. Her Prince Charming was well off and afforded her the lifestyle she longed for, and her pictures even graced the New York society pages.
But then, a different reality set in and she found herself fighting for a marriage tainted by drug addiction and infidelity. Vicki has written a book called Every Reason to Leave & Why We Chose to Stay Together. When I sat down with her, she talked to me about how God took her off this sure path to divorce and He showed her how to fight for her marriage even though it appeared to be over. She shared how God did the seemingly impossible when she was willing to surrender her will for His.
Vicki, just about every kid has a dream of what they want to be when they grow up and for you that was no different. What was it you wanted to be? What did you want to do so badly as you were growing up as a teenager?
Vicki: It was actually very simple. I just wanted to be rich and famous.
Kim: Now where did that come from?
Vicki: You know, I don’t honestly know except I think part of it was growing up in New York City surrounded by a lot of wealthy people. I went to an all-girls private school and there was a lot of wealth there. My parents actually taught me, sadly, that wealthy people were better. So, I think all of those things combined. That seemed to be the answer in many ways to leading a good or happy life.
Kim: Is that something they verbalized specifically or was it something that you just gained by watching them?
Vicki: No, no, no. They said I should be friends with certain girls in my class because their parents were wealthy, and they were better.
Kim: What did that do for you?
Vicki: It made me feel less than—a lot. I went to an all-girls private school. I lived in an apartment building in New York City on Park Avenue, so obviously we weren’t poor. But in their eyes, comparatively speaking, we didn’t have as much. Whether we did or not wasn’t really the issue. That was their thinking and it made me feel like I wasn’t as good as people who had a lot of money, and in New York it’s a big deal in some ways. People moved to New York to grow in a career or to go into finance or go on Broadway and make their name for themselves.
Kim: Well tell me about your mother and your relationship with her. What was that like for you?
Vicki: My mom was a beautiful woman. She was highly creative. She had an incredible sense of style and she had a horrendous temper and rage issues. She died when I was 18 and we never really resolved any of that together which was very hard.
My memories for her for so many years were just the hard and difficult memories. But as I’ve aged and now have grandchildren, I have more understanding of some of what she went through and the fact that she didn’t have counseling like we do today or a medication that might have been helpful to her. It was hard. I walked on eggshells never sure exactly whether she would be happy with something or just blow into a rage. She was physically abusive in those rages and that added to my less than feeling about myself and I wasn’t good enough.
Kim: Oh goodness. Wow.
I remember reading that one of the things you talked about was her interest in you being the right size.
Vicki: Yes, and that was another issue. She was a high perfectionist / high, high, high perfectionist. I have one older sister and she had this vision for us to be elegant, thin women in New York City and that was very difficult. She had me weigh myself every morning and report to her what it said, and if it wasn’t what she wanted me to weigh, I was grounded—my new clothes that we had gone shopping for were taken away. Things like that.
Kim: Oh, no. Vicki, that’s hard. That’s hard.
Vicki: It was hard. It was hard.
Kim: Now is it true you got to a point where you were so concerned about maintaining the weight that your mother desired for you that you asked the doctor to prescribe diet pills?
Vicki: I did—not having any idea really what they were. I just knew if I could just get to the weight she wanted, that things would be maybe more peaceful at home and maybe I’d be able to have clothes to wear like my friends were wearing. So yes, I had a dermatology appointment and I was by myself—my mom wasn’t with me—and I asked him for diet pills, and he was happy to prescribe them, but I had no idea that they were addictive.
Kim: The dermatologist prescribed diet pills?
Vicki: This was a long time ago. This was, let’s see, 1968/69/70 and he was happy to prescribe them and keep prescribing them. I was able to hide it and what they were was speed.
Vicki: It helped me with my schoolwork, but they were highly addictive. So after even a few days I just needed one to be awake and think clearly. It was frightening. I look back on that—
Kim: Wow! Did your mother know that you—
Vicki: No, she did not.
Kim: So how—you were still in high school—
Kim: —and you were prescribed this addictive medicine?
Vicki: The last two years of high school my mom was sick with cancer / a form of stomach cancer and very sick—
Kim: I’m so sorry.
Vicki: —and dying. In fact, she died a week before high school graduation. So it was easy for her to not realize some of the things that were happening—that being one and it wasn’t until a year or two after she died—I forget whether I was a freshman or sophomore in college—I got really sick from the medication. My dad found out and a doctor was called in. The root issues were never dealt with, but the medication had to be stopped and I did, finally.
Kim: Take me back to the time you first found out your mother was ill.
Vicki: Oh, I can easily do that. It was the end of August of 1970 and my dad had a home outside the city and sister—my older sister—who had by now graduated college and was working in Boston. The whole family was there for the weekend and Dad took my sister and me upstairs and closed the doors and sat us down and said “Your mom has maybe less than a year to live. She has this kind of cancer and I haven’t told you up to now.” He had found out previously in May and didn’t tell anyone including my mother that she was dying of cancer.
Kim: How does that happen?
Vicki: Well, again, it was 1970 and there weren’t those laws that a patient has to know what’s happening.
Kim: Oh, my goodness.
Vicki: Dad kept it to himself. His motive was that he knew my mom would be terrified and he wanted her last year to not be terrified. But there I was about to begin my senior year in high school knowing that my mother was dying, and I couldn’t tell anyone.
Kim: Oh, my goodness. Did you and your sister talk?
Vicki: Not a lot. She was going through some things. She was a little bit bitter towards my parents and she was living away. I was the only child at home—
Vicki: —and did very little schoolwork and spent each evening with my mom. It was in the night times she would get especially sick and her stomach would back up and all of that. I’m grateful that I opted to not do schoolwork and sit with her that last year, so we got to spend a lot of time together. I used to sit—dating myself—we’d watch The Dick Cavett show and Johnny Carson show and it would help her fall asleep. Then I would have not done my homework and have to get up early the next morning to go to school. None of my teachers knew. The school didn’t know.
Kim: Nobody could know.
Vicki: Nobody knew. It was a very strange time. You know back then, at least in my family, we didn’t counter what my parents said. I’m glad to see my children not just saying yes, yes, yes to everything but to have conversations. We can have conversations that don’t have to be heated to discuss things and that became truer in my children than it was in my own family growing up.
Kim: That’s wonderful. It’s so important to have that back and forth communication. I think as we do that with our children, it gives them a sense of self-identity—maybe they don’t agree—
Vicki: That they’re important and they’re loved.
Kim: Exactly, and their thoughts and opinions matter and maybe sometimes we will acquiesce and say “Okay, you know what? We’ll compromise” or maybe we’re still saying “No, you cannot go and do that,” but at least they have a voice.
Vicki: Right. I had no voice in my family growing up—None!
Kim: What was it like when you were caring for your mother and you come out of this background where she was abusive / not very nice at times but yet, you’re sitting here caring for her. Was there some type of healing that took place for you there or how did you feel?
Vicki: We weren’t into feeling very much back then.
Vicki: I just did what came next. I wanted my mom to love me and I loved her. I knew she loved me, and I loved her. It was just time together / time spent. You know it was before I knew the Lord and so everything—on top of everything—everything was different.
Kim: Talk about when your mother did eventually pass away. You were preparing to go to the funeral and what did your daddy tell you?
Vicki: Well I remember the moment. Dad had been called to the hospital early in the morning and he asked me if I wanted to come with him. I said “No.” He called me an hour later that she had passed away; did I want to come see her?
I said “No” which I definitely regret. Then we went to see her body and seeing her body gave me some inkling of the fact that whatever made her alive didn’t just suddenly disappear. So that was one of the things.
She died on June 4th. The funeral was June 7th on a Monday and that morning my dad handed my sister and me each a half of a Valium and said “Now take this; don’t cry. Let’s show everyone how strong we are.” Okay that’s what—I’m a rule follower even then so that’s what we did. Like life just tried to go on. My dad wanted life just to go on as if nothing really had happened. We didn’t talk about it that much. We couldn’t because he didn’t want to cry. He didn’t want us to see him cry.
People invited us to dinner and we just partied every weekend at the house in the country—liquor / alcohol. Dad would invite all his friends for dinner every Saturday night. My sister and I, we called it our cake, steak, and brownie summer. Like we would run to the grand union and buy food and she and I pretty much would cook dinner for everybody. Dad would barbeque a couple of steaks; we’d make a salad. Oh, cake, salad, and steak—whatever it was.
Kim: And that wasn’t something that you normally did when your mom was alive?
Vicki: No. Mom was in control / in charge.
Kim: So that’s the way your family coped?
Vicki: That’s how we dealt with it, yes, and that was the summer before my freshman year in college.
Kim: Okay; okay. When you think about that need your father had to make sure that you all were strong and you showed people how strong you were, where do you think that comes from?
Vicki: He’s German. His background was German, and he also had lost his dad at a young age. I think that’s how he coped with it. He’s a really huge optimist which I appreciated about him so much. But I think that was his take on life is just be strong and keep moving. I mean he’d lived through the war, the depression, all those things and that was, I guess, what had gotten him through a lot.
Kim: So, to be optimistic after going through what he had gone through; that’s pretty amazing. That’s pretty amazing.
Vicki: He was optimistic almost to a fault at times. But I loved that about him. The cup was always half full.
Kim: You had this idea of an ideal life. What would that look like for you?
Vicki: You mean back then?
Kim: Back then. Not now but back then. What did that ideal life look like?
Vicki: The ideal life was getting married, having children, living in a beautiful apartment. That was as far as I got with it but that’s what I thought I wanted.
Kim: Then I read about this society page you used to read. Tell me about that.
Vicki: Coming home from school every day on the front-hall table—my mom subscribed to a newspaper called Women’s Wear Daily which is a retail newspaper, but it had a society column. In it were the pictures and the descriptions of the beautiful people and beautiful clothes and jewels and parties they attended and all that kind of thing and museum openings and said what they wore and who the designer was and I thought that’s the answer. That’s what will be a good life. So that’s what I hoped for.
Kim: And how did you hope to get there? Because I know a lot of young girls, they want that type of lifestyle too—especially in this social media age where you’re seeing all these celebrity, red carpet, those type of things. So how did you plan to fulfill that dream?
Vicki: I think in my mind the plan was to get married. I thought that would solve everything. I thought that all the hurts from childhood; all the loneliness that I had growing up; the emptiness I felt growing up because I really didn’t know who I was. The things that were expected of me were rather empty. There was no God in the mix really—in a way that I understood anyway.
Vicki: It was all outward things. I wasn’t allowed to leave the house in blue jeans in New York City back then. I had to be dressed perfectly. Everything was external.
Kim: Okay. That’s pretty interesting. That’s a totally different lifestyle than how I grew up. I’m thinking about jeans now—now a days, jeans are fine to go out. But that seems like a lot of pressure. I’m thinking about you as a teenager, reading this society page, looking at the glitz and the glamour and wanting to marry into the glitz and the glamour is what your plan was, is that fair to say?
Vicki: Yes, I didn’t like some teenagers have a journal or a diary where they write: this is what I want. I didn’t do that. But I think after my mom died, especially, that the plan for me in my mind was get married, establish my own home the way I want in that role. Restore some sense of normalcy, maybe. I’m a real nester so I wanted a home and all that.
Kim: But then you did set off on a career yourself.
Vicki: I did.
Kim: Which was pretty fabulous I would say.
Vicki: I went to work literally I think a week or two right after college graduation. I started working at Saks Fifth Avenue. In the first six months I was a salesperson in the fur department which was really fun. They didn’t have an opening at that point in their executive training program.
Then the following, either January or February, I began at Saks Fifth Avenue in their executive training program. It was really fun. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after college, but I loved clothes, so I figured it was a good enough place to start was a place that sold clothes.
Kim: There you go.
Vicki: That was the motivation there and suddenly, I was earning money and it was very—it felt great.
Kim: Then you met this young man named Billy Rose.
Vicki: My mom had died. My dad remarried three years later. My stepmother had three children and my dad had two of us so they sold the apartment that I grew up in and moved into an apartment that would have room for everybody.
Billy Rose lived in that apartment building. He had just graduated from college and was in the process of moving into his own apartment but was still living at home. He had seen me leave the building. He was with a friend who sort of knew me. I didn’t see either one of them.
Anyway, his friend said, “There goes Vicki Gage,” and Billy recognized the last name Gage as a friend of his mom’s. His mom called my aunt. Anyway, we were set up. I was called by my aunt and said this young man wants to take you out in your new building. I said “Well tell him I’m seeing someone” which I was.
A year later I broke up with my college boyfriend and I called my aunt and I said, “If that guy is still available, I am now.” We went out a week later on our first date, and in two weeks we celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary.
Kim: Happy anniversary!
Vicki: Thank you.
Kim: Forty-three years—that’s commendable.
Vicki: By God’s grace.
Kim: Yes, and we’re going to get into that story. Tell me about your first date. Because Billy was a man who could offer you the lifestyle you had hoped for growing up.
Vicki: That’s right. Our first date—I can picture him—he rang the front door. I opened the front door and he was standing there with his coat—a polo coat—slung over his shoulder. We were 22-23 years old. He took me to a fancy club in New York—a dinner and dancing club called Le Club—and we had dinner.
Then the second date he invited me to a New York Rangers hockey game which I had never been to so that was exciting for me. One of my wealthy classmates used to have season tickets there so I figured this was a good thing to do.
After that, he took me to a really expensive and fancy restaurant called the 21 Club in Manhattan. We went there for dinner after and then on and on. He sent me a dozen red roses.
Kim: And that’s what you looked for.
Vicki: The guy I had dated in college was sort of a starving artist and wasn’t faithful to our relationship anyway. I was definitely on the rebound and also, definitely on a different lifestyle.
Kim: You talked about in your book how you and Billy were so different and there were many times when you sacrificed doing things you want so you could do things he wanted. Tell me more about that.
Vicki: Well there’s a name for that. It’s called codependence and I was extremely codependent thinking that someone else had to be a certain way for me to be happy. That’s kind of a basic definition of codependence.
I really think at that point I just wanted to get married. I didn’t want to do anything to mess it up so whatever he wanted to do I was willing to do. I had no sense of self. I didn’t know the Lord. I didn’t know that I had gifts and talents of my own. I didn’t know I was important enough to count in the relationship. So that’s what I did, and it caught up with me eventually.
After about a year it was just—and we were so different as you started to say. He loved to watch sports on tv all weekend and I loved to go do sports. I liked to go ice skating or go for a walk or go shopping or go to Central Park. Those are important things for a couple to have more things in common. Like I see my kids’ marriages and they all like to run together and they do some more things together.
Kim: But because, perhaps, you didn’t have a voice growing up, do you think that affected your ability to handle that relationship with Billy early on?
Vicki: Definitely; definitely.
Kim: That’s really hard.
Vicki: It’s taken me many years to really, really find my voice through many years of marriage and it’s taken knowing Jesus to know who I am in Him and that He’s given me a voice. It’s not just my voice.
Vicki: But it’s my voice through the Lord.
Kim: And your voice has value. He wants to hear your voice. He wants you to share your voice with others.
Vicki: Yes, things like I have the mind—I have pages of lists of who Jesus says I am. That I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength and I am His coworker. Second Corinthians 6:1 For I am confident that the good work that God has begun in me will be perfected, and that I have been given great and precious promises by God—on and on and on—all those things that make me know my voice isn’t just my voice but it’s the Lord in me and His voice.
Kim: That’s good.
Vicki: That’s way far from where I was then.
Kim: And there’s so many women who are in that space now. They’re trying to figure it out—trying to find their voice and use it, which is not necessarily easy, is it?
Vicki: Well depending where you’ve come from and what your background is, probably not. There’s some women who have a voice that’s not biblical and use it in ways that might not be pleasing to the Lord.
Kim: This is true. This is true.
Well you’re dating this young man who is able to give you that ideal life that you so longed for; high society so to speak if that’s what I may call it—and now it’s time for you to make it official. Tell me about when he proposed. How did that happen?
Vicki: I’ll backtrack a little bit because he was very into baseball and you had asked before about our differences. I had never been to a baseball game in my life and the first game I went to was opening day, sitting in the owner’s box, at a newly refurbished Yankee Stadium and there were all these celebrities. His sister I had seen in the pages of Women’s Wear Daily—that newspaper—and then, at a game, I was photographed clapping and cheering in Women’s Wear Daily.
I thought I had finally arrived and, I figured this was the guy. I mean our backgrounds weren’t similar but we’d both grown up in New York City. We’d both gone to private school. We’d both gone to college. He was in the textile business with his dad selling fabrics for the fashion industry. I thought we had the same fashion interest and vocation. I started just waving my ring finger at him like—
Kim: Did you? [Laughter]
Vicki: —I want to marry you. Yes.
Kim: Let’s do this.
Vicki: Yes; exactly. Finally, after—I don’t know, he proposed to me, I think it was in July. We had met the November before.
Vicki: It wasn’t a romantic proposal at all. [Laughter] He kind of handed me the ring box, said “Open this; Will you marry me?” We were on our way to a Yankees-Red Sox game.
Kim: [Laughter] How’d that sit for you?
Vicki: I was just glad to be going there. I didn’t know any different to be honest with you.
Kim: When you said, “I do,” did you believe that you would live that happily ever after kind of life?
Vicki: I think so. I was trying to orchestrate everything. I figured I could orchestrate that like I’d orchestrated who I was going to marry in a sense. I’d basically asked him to—you know wanted to get married. I was moving along this thing of: if I get what I think I want, I’ll be happy, and I’ll have that life and that will make me happy.
Kim: But did it?
Vicki: It did not. I was even emptier than before because Billy was very wrapped up in his sports world and I wasn’t, and it was lonely. I liked to talk and process. He’s an extreme introvert; not a talker.
It was very hard and very lonely. And not his fault. I had so much baggage that I had not even approached dealing with—didn’t know about dealing with—didn’t know how to deal with. My mom had died; I’d never grieved that. She had been abusive and on and on. I had a lot of baggage I brought to our marriage.
Kim: One of the passages that really stood out to me in your book is this one. You said “We continued to do everything Billy liked. All of which had to do with sports and nothing that I liked. But I begrudgingly put up with it because it was still more important for me to be married than to be myself.”
Vicki: Well that’s because I had no sense of myself. I didn’t know what or who myself was. I was a dance major in college and when I started working at Saks—you know I went to one dance class in the city—not because of Billy but because it was just a whole lot of trouble, and I didn’t really love the atmosphere, and I was tired after work. I don’t want it to sound like I’m blaming him. It’s just I didn’t know who I was.
Kim: Right; right. And it’s hard if you don’t know who you are yourself. It’s hard for you to communicate that to somebody else. I get it.
Vicki: And honestly, we got married thinking—I thought Billy was going to make me happy and he thought I was going to make him happy. I thought by my doing all the stuff he wanted, he would then be to me what I needed or wanted. Although that was never really communicated. I was afraid like if I ruffled his feathers and—you know he would get mad and say, “Well we’re not doing that,” and then I would back off.
Kim: Okay. Describe the lifestyle that the two of you led.
Vicki: Well we were both working and then we’d go at night. We’d hang out with this fast crowd. He’d met the owner of the Yankees and we’d hang out with him and a bunch of his friends who were much older than we were. We’d go to Studio 54 and there were drugs and all sorts of stuff. We both did cocaine. That was the main drug. That kept us out late at night partying. I wasn’t doing my job well at work. I was getting thinner and thinner. It was not good.
Kim: Did you and Billy ever have conversations about it?
Vicki: I would say “We’ve got to stop,” and he was like “No, it’s just fun. This is fine.” Back then—we got married in 1977—cocaine was not known as an addictive drug. It was a party drug. We didn’t know the seriousness of it. I knew nothing about addiction. I knew nothing at all about addiction. It was just what people did I thought. I stayed away from it for a long time because of my previous diet pill thing. I was afraid but then I succumbed for about six months. I finally said “I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to do it anymore.” I asked the store to send me—they didn’t know I was doing it, but I said, “I think I need to go visit the stores in Florida.”
So they sent me on a work trip and I extended it at my own expense for a couple of days and ate and had no drugs available to myself and basically detoxed over the weekend—slept a lot / ate a lot and that was the end of it for me pretty much. Billy couldn’t—you know he wouldn’t, and he couldn’t. So, whether—which comes first is never really clear with addiction.
Kim: And was that difficult for you?
Vicki: It was awful.
Kim: —having stopped but it’s there. It’s right in front of you.
Vicki: Right. It was very difficult. Our worlds now are separate because he was into the party world and I was no longer.
Kim: I’m not sure of the timing of this but you talk about when you found out that you were pregnant. You didn’t expect it.
Vicki: Yes, and I had done a lot of drugs not knowing I was pregnant and found out I was pregnant. I had just been given a job promotion—big job promotion—that involved serious travel to Asia. Like on Friday, I’d been given the job promotion—found out on Saturday I was pregnant and Monday, I went to the store and said “I have to give back the promotion because I just don’t think being pregnant and traveling like that will work for me.”
Then about 14 weeks, I had a miscarriage and never grieved that either. Because nobody had ever mentioned that was a word or a heart attitude that needed dealing with.
Kim: You just went on as usual.
Vicki: Yes. I was heartbroken but I didn’t really even know why. Nobody talked about the fact that I had lost a baby. It’s just a miscarriage. It’s just hard.
Billy and I weren’t really on the same wavelength in our marriage and when we had to go to the hospital, he called his mom to come and that felt like interference to me. I wanted it to be private between us. But I didn’t know how to voice that really. He hadn’t left and cleaved. There were just so many issues we faced. He was still very dependent on his parents and that was very hard for our marriage.
Kim: Even though you had this miscarriage and it was an unexpected pregnancy, you did still want to have children. So, you and Billy decided to start a family. Did you think that having children would fix the marriage or help in some way?
Vicki: I don’t know if I really thought that as much as it was just a desire that I had. I was 28-29 years old and I think it’s a God given desire for many women—maybe not all but for many—to have children. I think for me it was the next thing. Like my job wasn’t really fulfilling anymore. My marriage certainly wasn’t making me happy at that point. So maybe having children would make me happy.
Kim: And I’ll ask you that question again: did having children make you happy?
Vicki: Terrified me, actually. I had no one to come alongside me and teach me anything about being a new mom. I think right after our son was born; I was like “What have I done?”
Kim: Did Billy step in to parent with you?
Kim: So, you were left pretty much to fend for yourself.
Vicki: Parent alone, yes.
Kim: Yes, to parent alone. How was that for you?
Vicki: Douglas was born the end of May, so it was during baseball season. I don’t know, the fourth, maybe the fourth, or whatever night at home it was, Billy wanted to go to the baseball game. I was like “Yes; go, go. I’ll be fine.” Because I didn’t want him to feel like his whole life had been tied down now that we had a baby.
I was afraid that this would drive him away, so I wanted him to do what he wanted. That’s just so opposite of where we are today. I mean I didn’t know how to ask for what I needed. I was afraid, really, to ask for the things I needed and that’s part of codependence.
Kim: Were you afraid that he would leave?
Kim: Okay, that was your biggest fear?
Vicki: Yes, and meanwhile, through all this, he still has this major cocaine addiction.
Vicki: Which got worse and worse and worse—to the point of four years later, after our daughter was born, I had asked him to leave. In June of 1986, we separated.
Kim: So now you’re a single mom in New York City and it’s quite different from the ideal life that you had wanted. How was that for your children? What was life like as a single mom?
Vicki: Well for me versus my children—for me in some ways it wasn’t that different than what I’d been doing. But it was frightening. It was scary. Like we had a dog and in New York City when you have a dog, you have to go walk the dog at 9:00 at night or 8:00 at night. I had two babies, so it was challenging.
It was very challenging / very exhaustive to be a single mom. I think it’s one of the single hardest jobs there are. It’s lonely. Children need two parents for a reason—a mother and a father / a male and a female—to raise them. Douglas used to ask questions like: “Why isn’t Daddy here? Why doesn’t he love me?”
Kim: Oh. It’s heartbreaking.
Vicki: It was heartbreaking. But a year and a half after we separated came the big change. I was invited to an outreach dinner party where the gospel—good news of Jesus Christ—the Jesus Christ who shed blood to cover my sin. That Jesus died to forgive my sins. It says in the Bible “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
And I did that. I said a prayer that confessed with my mouth that Jesus is Lord. I asked Him to take over my life, to forgive me of all my sins, and to make me into the person that He created me to be. And that was the big amazing change for me that started me on a road to, essentially, recovery from codependence and finding a voice.
The Lord started to give me strength and the Bible / His Word started to give me strength. I started to see things that made sense to me and the emptiness of my heart started to get filled by reading the Bible. It was an incredible change.
Kim: Was there anything in particular about the gospel that you heard that really resonated with you that night?
Vicki: Well the way it was presented they said that God loved me and had a plan for my life, and I definitely wanted to be loved. I had never heard that God had loved me. Or somebody might have said it, but I hadn’t heard it with my heart. And that God loved me and had a plan for my life and that I was separated from God by what the Bible calls sin. And that sin was anything like worry or anxiety or not doing what God says. I had done plenty of that, and that He loved me—had a plan for my life. I was separated by sin, but the good news was that Christ died—while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me.
Kim: Before you got your act together, right?
Vicki: Before I changed at all and that I simply had to receive Him. In the Bible it says, “to those who receive Him, He gives the right to become children of God.” So, on November 29, 1987, at that fancy dinner party in New York, I prayed, and I became a child of God. At that moment, the Holy Spirit came to live in me and to guide me and to show me what I was doing that was not what God would want and to encourage me to start walking in the ways of the Lord and according to what the Bible said.
It was so exciting that finally I had someone to turn to who was the truth. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” He wasn’t one of the truth. Like I didn’t know what child rearing book to read because they all were different and which author to believe. But now I could believe the author who created the universe, who created me, and who created my children. He was the One who was going to tell me how to raise them.
I discovered that every question there was an answer to in His Word. It just changed my outlook. I started to say what I needed. I started to have joy in my life. Life was still hard. I still had these two children. I was still a single mom.
I had gone back to work by then. I was working at Macy’s corporate as a corporate buyer—traveling to Asia twice for two weeks at a time. But there was this new joy. Actually, yes, brand new joy. I had never really had joy like that before.
I had hope for the first time. I had hope not in “if I have this, I’ll be happy.” I had hope in knowing what God said in His word; that my future was in His hands and that if I’d seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, then He would provide all the things that I needed.
I didn’t have to worry anymore. I had hope that when I died, that I would spend all of eternity with the Lord Jesus in heaven. That I would never be separated from God because He promised to never leave or forsake me. The fact that I’d been abandoned by my mom—that I’d been abandoned by my husband; I now had one who says He sticks closer than a brother. I had Jesus with me at all times. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone about Him.
Kim: And what did your children think? Did they see the difference in you?
Vicki: Well, the friend who had invited me to the dinner where the gospel was shared—gospel by the way means good news and Jesus Christ is the best news we can ever receive—She’d given me a book called Leading Little Ones to God. I started reading it to the kids at breakfast because the three of us were trying to get dressed; have breakfast; and get their schoolbooks together and get out of the house. It was very chaotic.
Kim: I can imagine.
Vicki: I just started reading this book to try to calm things down. One morning—Douglas was by then six years old—he said “Mommy, we need to pray for Daddy to know Jesus.”
Vicki: I thought in my mind “I’d rather kill this guy than pray for him.” Thankfully I did not say it, and we did. We started to pray, at breakfast that morning, that Daddy would come to know Jesus. Then at bedtime, when we tucked in and said prayers, that Daddy would come to know Jesus. We prayed for three years that Daddy would come to know Jesus. I asked my Bible study and they were praying, and I called all these prayer hotlines.
And three years later, Billy prayed to receive Christ. I had, by then, left my job at Macy’s. I was working part time for the ministry that had hosted the dinner party. I started inviting Billy to these dinners and he came one night, and he prayed to receive Christ.
Kim: Oh, my goodness.
Vicki: A month later, he checked into rehab to get off cocaine and literally had an experience with the Lord and was completely delivered that night in his—I don’t know—first or second night in rehab. We spent the better part of another several months in counseling—like almost a whole year actually, and he came home. We had been separated for five and a half years when he came home.
Kim: You mention in the book that he didn’t come home so easily. It wasn’t this instantaneous thing. Tell me about that. It was a process.
Vicki: It was a process—one that I wanted to happen overnight. But God’s ways are not usually quick, quick, quick. Billy, although he was now a new creature in Christ and was now sober from cocaine, he was still testing out the waters in the world versus with his family.
It was a hard year. Some truths came out that were hard to hear but I can’t encourage anyone enough to get counseling in marriage. It’s so needed and helpful. I mean here are these two people, totally opposite—which is true in most marriages—totally opposite, different likes and dislikes, different sets of baggage and they say “Okay, now the two shall become one.” Well it’s a process. It’s a long process. And as Billy used to say when we would speak together; he would also say “And I thought when it said the two shall become one, that I was the one.” He was like he thought he was the one.
Kim: Oh my. [Laughter]
Vicki: It always makes me laugh but I think we both felt that in some ways.
Kim: You will become me. You will do everything I want to do.
Vicki: Just because we come to know the Lord doesn’t mean we change immediately.
Kim: That is so true.
Vicki: It takes time. It takes time.
Vicki: God is—and that’s really important—God is so trustworthy and faithful. I didn’t know that that well then. I can sit here today, 30 plus years in the Lord, and Psalm 91:4 says His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart and it’s through several more sets of muddy waters that Billy and I walked through that the Lord has taught me that that He/God is faithful—regardless of what He allows us to walk through—and His faithfulness is a shield. It’s a protection.
Kim: It is. And the fact that you have been married—you’re coming up on 43 years you say?
Kim: —is a huge testimony to God’s faithfulness and His patience and how He draws us to Himself. Because at one time you and Billy were still married—you’ve never divorced each other—but you were married, living separately / separated and he was still living as if he was single when it came to the dating relationships.
Vicki: That’s right.
Kim: That had to be difficult for you.
Vicki: It was crazy and yet when I came to the Lord, I started to have a peace about it. Like God’s in charge; I’m not; I’m going to trust Him. And that came through reading His Word.
Kim: That’s good. That was my next question. How do you—if you are a person in that situation—you want the marriage to work. You believe God can save your marriage, but you don’t see that anything you’re doing is working. How do you remain trusting in God? How do you keep it up?
Vicki: One day at a time; be in His Word. I read a one-year Bible every year for the last 20+ years. So, I read through the Bible and His Word it’s all about His Word. Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God and that’s true! I can’t tell you enough how true that is.
For instance, Psalm 143:10 it says “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your good spirit lead me on level ground.” Seeing what God has done like the life of Joseph. This week in my one-year Bible we’re reading in Genesis the life of Joseph and how when his brothers finally came, and he said to them “I forgive you. What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”
You know reading a story like that—that isn’t just a story; it happened—and seeing how God worked in his life—humbled him. Joseph needed humbling. But God had a plan and it was for good.
It says in Romans 8:28 “in all things God works for the good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” Leaning on those verses; claiming them; holding them tight. Holding tight that it says his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
It’s like “Okay, I’m not going to lean on what I know or see. I’m just going to trust God and God you are for marriage. In fact, you hate divorce and I know that from reading your word. I’m giving this whole situation to you Lord. You have to work this out; I can’t.”
And then pray like “help me to be faithful Lord,” one day at a time, in your word—applying it to my life—not just reading it but trying to do what it says. Asking God to give me strength to do what it says and then trusting Him. God is trustworthy.
I love Hebrews 12. It says God disciplines us for our good that we may share in His holiness. How great a promise is that? In the midst of hardship, He’s going to allow me to be holy like He is. It says no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful later on however produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
I have a choice. I have a choice every day if something’s hard or I don’t like it, then and now, I have a choice to trust that I’m being trained, that God sees me, that He knows, that He is sovereign. He’s allowing this so that I can share in His holiness. Wow! That’s better than anything this life has to offer is God’s holiness.
I have a choice to believe that and say “Okay, I’m going to take you at your word God,” and pray it back to Him. “Lord, I want to share in your holiness. During this time of hardship and trial, show me what to do. Show me what you want me to repent of. Show me. Draw me closer to you and please make me holy like you are holy.” That’s where the joy comes in regardless of what’s happening around me.
Kim: That is a beautiful segue to my next question for you because one of the things you did, while you were waiting for God to move in your marriage, was that you did allow Him to train you. You allowed him to reveal things about your own heart. You didn’t just say it’s all his fault and continue to push it on him. But you allowed the Lord to shine the light on your own heart in some of those areas that maybe you need to have healed or changed. Tell me more about that.
Vicki: Well like two hours ago, before we sat down to talk, I was at the grocery store and the checkout woman was moving like in slow motion. I was kind of in a hurry. [Laughter] I was like “come on. What’s wrong—" in my mind like “What is wrong with you? Why are you moving so slowly?” and then I jumped and tried to help her pack everything.
I walked away like “Lord, I’m so sorry. That was just rude of me. After all these years Lord, I’m still in a hurry. I still think my timetable is more important than someone else’s. So please forgive me. Lord, please change me. I don’t want to be like that.”
Kim: But it says something about how God has worked in your life that you are able to recognize ooh—
Vicki: That’s not right. In the past I used to do it and think “Yeah!”
Kim: Yeah! [Laughter]
Vicki: And now I’m like ugh.
Kim: Oh goodness.
Vicki: and that’s good. Jesus never rushed anywhere. That’s a whole other part, but just trying to slow things down so that I can pause and hear the Lord giving me directions. You know this is the way I want you to walk. Walk this way. Do this.
Kim: A lot of times He gives us that direction through people / through our friends. I remember the story you shared about your friend that you were talking to and you were complaining about how angry Billy made you. What did she tell you? lovingly. [Laughter]
Vicki: She said “Vicki, Billy doesn’t make you angry. You’re an angry person.” I really heard that, and she was right. I did. I had a lot of anger bottled up from all my past baggage. I really took that to the Lord and started praying about it.
I asked him to bring healing and to remove that anger. That anger spilled out over to my young children and then I was a single mom, so I had a bedroom to myself which was a gift. I would get up really early and get on my knees at the foot of my bed and just have these long conversations with God, and that was one of them. I pleaded “Lord, please take this anger away. My children do not deserve it.” God really brought a healing there—slowly, but definitely brought healing.
Kim: That’s good.
Vicki: Because when you pray according to His will, He answers.
Kim: Describe for me what is was like when Billy finally decided to come home.
Vicki: One of the things I’ve learned all these years later is to limit expectations. Because I had this expectation when he would come home that we would have a big thing and a big ceremony and maybe a renewal of vows and something to mark the occasion.
And in retrospect, it would have been a good thing to do. But I never communicated that with him because I was still not at that place yet—like this is what I’d really like to do. His mother became very ill / was in the hospital and dying. He called and asked me to meet him at the hospital and I did. He said—he was just like this—he said, “I’m going to pack my bags and come home tonight.” I’m like “Okay.”
Kim: Just like that.
Vicki: You know all these things went through my head. I didn’t want to do anything still to deter—to change his mind or deter that. Remembering too that with my kids they had been praying for their dad’s salvation. They would say things like “If Daddy comes to know Jesus, will he come home?” They would pray for their Daddy to come home.
Kim: That is so precious. Did you ever once think “Oh my goodness, these children are praying this and it’s never going to happen”?
Vicki: I was so focused on placing our hope in the Lord. When they asked me “will Daddy come home if he comes to know Jesus?” and I said “you know our hope is in the Lord. I don’t know the answer to that.”
Kim: That’s a great way to respond.
Vicki: Because I didn’t know the answer. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see; is that right?
Vicki: Yeah. So really just trusting the Lord and trying to teach my children that as well. Like “I’m not in charge here. God is. I can’t orchestrate this.”
Kim: I think that’s such a good lesson because many times as parents when our children are praying for something, we want to—or maybe it’s just me when my kids were little—I want to say “Yes, God will answer your prayer” because I want them to keep praying and trust God. But the way you answered them—I mean sometimes the best answer is “You know what, I don’t know but we’re going to trust God for whatever happens.”
Vicki: Whatever is going to happen, right. And that’s where freedom comes in in life. Like some people will call me and say oh please pray that so and so gets this job or my husband gets this job. In my mind I think “Well, I want to pray for the job that God wants so and so to have.”
Kim: There you go.
Vicki: I want to pray that God’s going to place so and so in a place where he can use his gifts and talents and grow in the Lord most. Like when my children were getting ready to go to college. I wasn’t praying oh he has to go to x college. I prayed like “Lord, put them where they’re going to grow the most in you.”
I wasn’t obsessed about them getting into this that or the other school. I’d just pray that God would put them in a place where they’d grow in Him, and He did. Oh, my goodness, He answered that prayer mightily.
Kim: I mean if you think about it, He sees everything.
Vicki: One of His names is he is El Roi, the God who sees.
Kim: Yes! The God who sees.
Vicki: That’s such comfort in the midst of trials to know that He sees what I’m walking through.
Kim: Yes! He sees, He knows, and He is able to care for—He’s able to walk with us through that. He doesn’t always pluck us out of those difficult spots or spaces, but He does walk with us through them. He promises us to never leave us nor forsake us.
Vicki: One of my favorite verses. I will be with you always even until the end of the age. And that’s the hope. That’s the gift. That’s where the security comes in.
Kim: So now you and Billy are both Christians. You’re both living under the same roof again. One would think, perhaps, that everything just fell into place and all was well.
Vicki: No. [Laughter] Marriage doesn’t work like that. It’s a lot of work and we needed some more counseling which we got. We needed counseling to figure out how to parent together. Because I had been parenting by now for five and a half years on my own and it was pretty peaceful and I kind of had—
Kim: —a system.
Vicki: —not had it down but I had systems and things that were working. Like just a silly for instance: kids never had sugar cereal except on one designated morning—maybe a week—and Billy came home, and he bought every kind of box of sugared cereal he could, and they could have it whenever they wanted. I had no tv during the week but then Billy came home and there’s sports on tv during the week.
We had to really wade through—and those are just some of the more minor issues that—you know it was challenging. It was very challenging. But I think we were both committed to wanting to make it work in some ways.
Although, down the road—maybe a year or two—we were driving to pick up Douglas and Courtney at summer camp and we had a huge fight. I was definitely in the wrong.
It’s a long story but to make a long story short, we were in the car and he said “I don’t think things are going to really work. I don’t think that this is going to work out.”
I took the steering wheel of the car and I swerved over to the shoulder of the road and I said, “When you came home, I made a commitment in the Lord that as long as we’re both alive, I’m committed100 percent to this marriage until death do us part.”
I said, “But I don’t think you’ve made that commitment—that no matter what we face, I’m in it ‘til the duration.” I said, “It’s time for you to make that decision and I would appreciate it if you’d make it right now. You can choose either way but make the decision either to be in it no matter what, or not.”
Kim: My goodness; I think you found your voice. [Laughter]
Vicki: There you go. And he said, “I want to be in.” That was a good starting place as we built our marriage.
Where did that come from? Was it just a sudden thing? Had you been using your voice more and more slowly or did you just get fed up and say “No! I’m committed to this and I just need you to be also”?
Kim: Was it just that emotion—that raw emotion?
Vicki: It was emotion, but it was very truth based on what the scriptures teach about marriage. I felt like I was fighting for it and he wasn’t really committed to it. And he wasn’t, but he became committed. He’s the most committed husband—such an amazing husband today.
Kim: One of the ways you say that you have persevered in your marriage was through prayer and you talk about praying God’s Word over your husband and how important that is. How much do you think that played into where you all are today?
Vicki: Oh, so much. Prayer is—I don’t’ know, the most important—prayer and the Word. And together, when you combine them, they’re powerful.
Prayer sets my heart right in the mornings. As I pray God’s Word for my husband, I am encouraged because I’m reading God’s Word out loud and it encourages my spirit. And God answers prayer according to His will. If you’re praying His Word, you’re praying according to His will.
For any woman in a marriage, whether it’s a great marriage or the hardest marriage there is, prayer changes things. It changes me. It changes my view of marriage. It changes my perspective of my husband.
Like not just praying for him, but Lord help me to see my husband as you see him. Help me to love my husband as you love him. Help me to give grace to my husband as you’ve given so much grace to me Lord. Your grace, Lord, is my sufficiency.
Help me pray that for my husband today so that he is on the right track. Father, I pray you shine favor over Billy in his work and in every way. It just helps us became teammates in a sense. If I’m praying for my husband in the positive—instead of “oh, don’t let him have another drink” or “don’t let him do this”—if I’m praying for what God wants for him, I’m praying according to God’s will.
Then I leave the details up to the Lord. One of my favorite verses is Exodus 14:14 God says “I will fight for you, says the Lord. You need only to be still.”
Vicki: That has helped me over and over and over not try to run the show.
Kim: We do that sometimes, don’t we as women? We want our husbands so badly to be the godly men that we know God wants them to be. We kind of step in and do some things that we think will help it move along more quickly.
Vicki: When I am doing that—wanting Billy to be something—that’s a red flag because is that going to be my sufficiency? If Billy is x, or y, or z? If he’s godly in leading us to church, let’s say; or if he’s godly in praying over us, is that my sufficiency? Why am I praying that? Because will that make me feel more secure and happy? No! God is my security. God is my sufficiency. I have to release my husband from the things that belong to the Lord and not him.
Kim: That’s good. Let’s talk about Ephesians 5:33. It says “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Vicki: Yes. That’s our marching orders and if you remember that God works everything for good and He is for marriage and that He doesn’t’ write these things to be mean, but that He knows—that God knows that if this is the order of business that it works well. Respect is such an important thing—both for a husband and wife to have for each other.
But wives automatically—and Emerson Eggerichs is the author of all these things I’m saying—but wives automatically love, that comes naturally to us, but respect not so much. Our culture, especially today, is so prone to tearing men down. Oh, he’s just a man. Oh, he can’t do that. He can’t’ even put out the garbage. I mean I hear people complaining about their husbands like that. He doesn’t’ know where his shoes are. Our culture condemns men.
Vicki: A lot of that has grown out of—probably all of it—the root is the feminist movement of women have to have all the power and that’s not God’s way. Our power is in the Lord and it works so beautifully when we walk in the order that God intended marriage to be, and God made man the head of the household. He made the wife as the under head, so to speak, and it just works so well. I know for us when we’re walking in that, it just works so beautifully.
I love to be able to say from my heart encouraging things to my husband about himself. He now to me as well. So, submission is not becoming a doormat. Submission is not I have to do everything you say. Submission is just an attitude of respect. That’s really what it is.
Kim: I love that description because the s word / submission is hard to swallow for many of us.
Vicki: If we’re submitting first to the Lord, if we’re following the Lord, walking in His Word, doing what it says, doing that with my husband comes naturally—does not come naturally, but when I do it it’s a beautiful thing. It gives me peace. It gives him peace. It just works and that’s how God’s Word is.
Kim: Let me push a little bit and ask you about that woman who is listening right now whose husband is making a lot of poor choices and she’s thinking my husband has not done anything that garners respect. How am I supposed to respect a man who is doing so many unrespectable things?
Vicki: It’s very hard, but God doesn’t say respect your husbands if they’re doing x, y, z. He just says to respect them because of the office of headship. It’s the same way you know if you’re on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and it’s sinking. The captain of the boat is captain of the boat and he’s responsible for it. He’s responsible to show the passengers what to do if there’s an emergency and that’s the role our husbands have.
He’s captain of the boat. He’s captain of the ship of our marriages and he has that responsibility, so I want to look up to him. A lot of husbands who are not deserving of respect so to speak, they haven’t heard a respectful word come out of their wife’s mouth in years.
Kim: Well I think you’re stepping on some toes.
Vicki: And that’s not always the case. It’s really not always the case but it can be the case. I have to pray and ask God to teach me how to respect my husband. I have to pray and ask God to forgive me when I don’t because that’s what’s going to change me. It doesn’t come naturally. I didn’t automatically start respecting him. I’ve asked the Lord to show me things to respect in him.
Kim: Oh, that’s good!
Vicki: And God has truly changed my heart for my husband in a really beautiful way.
Kim: I like that, show me things that I can respect in him.
Vicki: Yes. One of the things that really helped is a ministry called Revive Our Hearts has a 30-day husband encouragement trial. It’s in my book and you can look it up through Revive Our Hearts or vickirosenyc.com and it’ll show you how to do that. But it’s a great 30-day way of learning how to encourage your husband and it’s changed my heart. I’ve done it twice in the process.
One of the things it says is if you can’t find 30 different things that you want to encourage your husband about, then say the same thing every day for 30 days. But a lot of it is our thinking. We start thinking negatively and we have a choice again.
Am I going to look at the negative in my husband or am I going to look at the positive? I have to ask myself what do I want him to do for me? Do I want him to look at all my negatives? Or do I want him to look at and encourage me?
Kim: That takes us back to praying God’s Word over your husband. Because I wonder, Vicki, if it’s even possible for us to have these negative attitudes towards our husband if we’re praying God’s Word over him. Does that do something to us internally?
Vicki: Absolutely, and I think also having a sober view of myself helps me to not be so critical. I’m going to be judged the way I judge others and if I start to realize that disrespecting my husband is a form of judging him then it really makes me fear for myself. I mean it’s almost selfish, but it makes me want to start encouraging him instead of judging him.
Kim: That’s a good way to look at it, for sure. Well Vicki, you’ve written a book called Every Reason to Leave and the subtitle is And Why We Chose to Stay Together. Who is your book written for?
Vicki: It’s written for women—really, truly, it’s written for women who are struggling in difficult marriages. It’s written to reveal that God’s power can change everything and create—not even just restore but create a beautiful marriage even when there’s been addiction and dishonesty and unfaithfulness.
God can change hearts and restore a marriage to something new and beautiful with His power. That’s what He’s done for us and I so urgently want other women to know that. Because walking away from marriage doesn’t solve everything. I do want to say though, I’m not talking about where there’s physical abuse. In that situation—
Kim: Okay. I’m glad you mentioned that.
Vicki: —a woman should not stay in the situation. I’m not saying divorce immediately but get to safety and get help to work through the issues and maybe it’s repairable and maybe it’s not.
It’s always God’s desire and His best for the two to stay married. But if there’s physical abuse of any kind, get out of that situation and seek safety.
Kim: I want to know how you were able to build trust in your relationship. After each of you had gone through so much, how were you able to build that trust so that you can stay together?
Vicki: Right. It’s a good question. Trust is ultimately in the Lord and there are no guarantees in life or anything. Like I don’t know if I’ll be alive tomorrow. I don’t know if Billy will be alive tomorrow. A lot of prayer, a lot of counseling together, real honesty which finally I have arrived at in my marriage. Like flat out honesty. Like this no longer works for me and I’m not going to do this anymore.
Vicki: I think at the end of it, it’s a choice. What am I going to focus on? Am I going to focus on what you did wrong and worry about that you are going to do it again? Or am I going to focus on the Lord and trust Him for whatever lies ahead to be my sufficiency?
I want to say if there’s a situation where a husband or a wife is continually unfaithful or if there’s no change in a person / the other person, then yes, I’m not going to put my trust in you. But if there’s real evidence of change, of maturing in their faith, of no longer doing whatever it is—using cocaine, drinking alcohol, whatever the situation might be—having an affair—if there’s no change, then I’m not going to trust you.
Kim: Right. Because that trust has to be earned.
Vicki: Right. If there’s real change, then at some point I have to acknowledge that—I want to acknowledge not I have to acknowledge that there’s change and that I have a choice to make. Am I going to focus on what happened in the past in the negative or am I going to look forward?
Kim: That’s good.
Vicki: Press on Paul says—forgetting what lies behind, and so we have to apply these things not blindly, these verses, and really be in step with the Lord. Listening, Holy Spirit, what are you saying to me? Is this person trustworthy? Show me if there’s anything I need to know. God does that.
I could tell you story after story where I prayed that. Like show me if there’s anything I need to know. God showed me a couple of very painful things that revealed things that were going on that I didn’t think were. It’s just more and more and more relying on the Lord is key.
Kim: I love how you emphasize the fact that we don’t just take these words blindly and say “okay, this is what I have to do,” but God allows us to pray and use common sense and His wisdom as He shows it to us to know how to handle every situation.
Because I think sometimes, we’ll take scripture and we won’t look at the situation and maybe get ourselves into some dangerous situations and say “Hey, I’m not supposed to get to safety in a situation where I’m supposed to be of use. I’m supposed to stay there because this is what scripture says and—”
Vicki: Right. It’s applying the right scripture at the right time.
Kim: At the right time.
Vicki: But there’s a wonderful book that was so helpful to me in recent years called Beyond Boundaries by John Townsend. I highly recommend it if somebody’s struggling in a situation of do I trust? Do I go back? Do I not? Whereas addiction is concerned or any other issue.
Kim: So, Beyond Boundaries. That’s a great book I’m sure. I’ve read other boundaries books by him.
Vicki: Boundaries is also a great book to read by John Townsend and Henry Cloud together. But Beyond Boundaries is just by John Townsend and it’s also a powerfully good helpful book.
Kim: For that person who is listening to your story: they’ve heard the beginning to the end—and they can find out further details in your book—but that person hears your story and they see you’ve now been married for almost 43 years and they’re saying “I don’t know if I can make it?” How do you encourage that person who’s ready to walk away / ready to give up?
Vicki: Yes. I encourage that person by saying, and I want to encourage that person by saying, take one day at a time. Don’t look at the whole future all at once. Because God says in His Word take each day as it comes. Each day is enough trouble of its own. I want to encourage that woman to seek first His kingdom / God’s kingdom and His righteousness.
Since Billy and I got back together back in 1991, we’ve had many issues / serious issues since and there have been some really, really hard times. But as I’ve studied God’s Word and been in His Word, I’ve realized that God is using it to train me to be more like the Lord and walking away from a marriage doesn’t solve much. You still take me into the next relationship.
I just encourage anyone who is in a difficult marriage to get counseling help. Even if your husband won’t go or your wife won’t go, go by yourself—work on your own issues.
Don’t look to your marriage to be your sufficiency and pray and have an accountability partner. A woman should have a woman. Someone who’s more mature than you. Someone who knows the Word. Someone who will pray with you weekly. I had and still have a prayer partner and if it weren’t for her, I don’t know if I would have made it, honestly.
Kim: So, it’s important to have someone walking with you through this?
Vicki: Yes—an older woman whether older by age or older by age of faith, if possible. And be in a Bible study, growing in God’s word, and cry out to the Lord. God is for marriage and He can make a terrible marriage into something beautiful which is what He’s done for us. He can do it for anyone.
We’re in awe of God. It’s by His grace that we are still married, and we are so excited to be married now. We’re in our later 60’s now and we’re so grateful that we are still married to each other. We have six grandchildren now and we get to share these special times. I can just say that it’s been worth every second of hardship to be where we are today.
Kim: Looking back at Vicki Rose’s story, I just have to say I’m in awe of the patience it took for her to remain in the marriage in obedience to God. All the while, her husband was living this single life and showing absolutely no interest in getting back together. I just think it takes a level of strength and absolute trust in God to do that. Think about it. How many times do we say we trust God, but when we’re put in a situation that requires us to do so in a big way, we falter? Or is that just me?
It boggles my mind that Vicki was able to take him back after all they’d been through. Ultimately, she got through it by trusting the Lord. And I get that she trusted the Lord, but I’m such a practical person that it was just hard for me to wrap my head around how she trusted Him. So, it was really nice for me to hear her share some of the steps she took that helped her to actively trust God.
She did more than just positive self-talk. She took things one day at a time—didn’t get ahead of herself. She sought the Lord and His will on a regular basis. She went to a counselor and she came to the realization that marriage was not her sufficiency, but God is. Now that’s a huge one.
And I can’t forget this one: most importantly, she prayed. You know there are times in our lives when we may wonder where God is. Can He see that we’re going through something difficult? Or has He just chosen not to step in and help us.
If this is where you are right now, maybe Isaiah 40, verses 28-31 will give you comfort. It’s a familiar verse. It says “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
God is able to help us endure until change comes. But whether that change we desire most comes or not my hope is that we’ll all get to a place where we can hold on to the fact that Jesus Christ has a plan for us / a good plan. Even if at first, the outcome doesn’t look like what we want.
If you want to find out more about Vicki Rose or her book, Every Reason to Leave & Why We Chose to Stay Together, check out today’s show notes. And if you enjoyed today’s conversation, I hope you consider subscribing to the podcast. You can search for Unfavorable Odds on Apple podcasts or Stitcher or wherever you go for podcasts.
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Next time on Unfavorable Odds.
Angela: I was holding her when her lungs collapsed. I really feel for parents that watch their children pass away. You feel like you’re helpless. That’s what I felt like that day—totally helpless.
Kim: That’s Angela Ray Rogers, next time.
I’m Kim Anthony. Thanks for listening to this episode of Unfavorable Odds.
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