When my husband and I were engaged, I spoke at two single moms’ events. At each of those events, my then-fiancé joined me for Q&A sessions at the end.
Needless to say, the women LOVED him. (As in, I could’ve left and gone shopping and question after question would’ve come barreling at him and he would’ve done just fine on his own. But whatever. I’m not bitter or anything. #choppedliver)
Anyway, it was in those moments that I realized that not only did Richard have a story to tell but that he would have a very eager audience.
For the past few years, I have built my ministry on “me too”. Meaning, I have been you.
I have walked in your hard-marriage shoes.
I have walked in your separated shoes.
I have walked in your divorcing shoes.
I have walked in your single-mom shoes.
I have walked in your figuring-out-who-you-are-now shoes.
I have walked in your dating shoes.
I have walked in your remarriage shoes.
I have walked in your stepmom shoes.
(For miles and miles and miles, girls.)
I have walked your same journey, and I have done it as best as I could with Jesus. And it has been both a mess and amazing all at the same time, for most of my adult life. (And I’m guessing, your life has been both a mess and amazing too, right?)
And so that’s why I believe my ministry, up to this point, has largely been “me too”.
But then I met Richard. And Richard admitted to also being broken (like I was). And to being at fault (like I had been). And to finding the healing of God along the way at his lowest points (like I had). And I realized I had found someone who had been through the fire (like I was), and had brought some of it on himself (like I had), and who knew what he’d done wrong (like I did), and who was sorry (like I was), and who was determined not to make the same mistakes again (like I was), and who was letting God change him (like I was).
Fast forward to this past Spring – to just a couple weeks ago – when we had the opportunity to share our story together at a women’s retreat in Washington.
Richard knocked it out of the park. He was sincere and vulnerable and even teared up a few times. And, again – as you might imagine – the women loved him.
This beautiful, gracious couple. Wow!!! Thank you so much for coming all the way here to share your journey, life testimony and love story with us. You are so special and you touched my heart with your open, honest, raw and real life experiences and testimonies. -retreat attender
I attended an amazing women’s retreat with Richard and Elisabeth Fisher as our speakers. They were very raw and genuine and in love with each other and Jesus. I was blessed by their story. -retreat attender
And here is why they loved him, because what Richard brings to the table is this:
He represents one, huge “I’m sorry” to every hurting woman;
he represents that God can heal and change people (i.e. yes, that totally includes men);
and his vulnerability reminds us that God can do beautiful things in and through our pain.
We’ve heard many requests for a little bit more of Richard’s story. And one sweet woman even asked it this way, “Did he used to be a mean monster to a previous spouse and now he is a wonderful man to you? Or has he always basically been a kind man?”
It was such a great question, I asked Richard to answer it himself. So, ladies, I’d like to introduce you to my husband, Richard.
“I cannot speak for other men. But this is my story: I was controlling, verbally abusive, jealous of other men, and acted childishly. I thought that I was treated unfairly and not respected by my ex-wife. I had in my mind that if I made the money, paid for food, clothes, shelter and other said duties, that I was being a great husband. We both had our faults, but she put up with this for over twenty years.
I fought moving out tooth and nail. When I did finally move out, my mindset was that I would find someone else who would love me for me. It took a few dates with other women, counseling, Bible study, being alone and searching my heart to realize I was the one that needed to change. I quit my medication, forgave my ex-wife, forgave myself, and owned my part of our failed marriage. I even read Elisabeth’s books.
I am a kind and gentle man. I used to have triggers that made me angry. I now try to harness these things and focus on the task at hand. I thank God that he has made me a new man. Men can change if they want to. I had to hit rock bottom for it to happen to me.”
He has more to say, of course, but this hopefully gives you some insight into his character and background and heart. You can see why the ladies — and I! — love him.
Let me add on a couple things here.
First of all, he describes how he used to be in his first marriage quite often, and it never sounds like the man he is today. He does not act now the way he claims to have acted in the past, and for that I am grateful, and to that, I can attest to the fact that God can change a willing, humble heart.
And secondly, this isn’t just a man-thing, ladies. I have said it many times before — I was not a good wife to my first husband. I am not bashing myself when I say this. I am not playing victim. I know what I did wrong. (A lot of things, actually.) But you know what? I am not the woman or wife today that I used to be that I describe to Richard.
Not only would the ‘old’ versions of us not have done well together in a marriage, we wouldn’t even recognize each other. (And again, I declare: God can change anyone!)
When we were finished speaking at the retreat and we were back in our room, I said outloud, “Jesus, please let us do that over and over and over again.”
We have more stories to share and we both want to help as many hurting men and women as possible by bringing them the hope and help of God. So, if you’d like to pass along our information to your Adult Ministry, Women’s Ministry, Men’s Ministry, or DivorceCare Directors, we’d be honored. Or even better still… The last four retreats I’ve spoken at all started because one woman had a vision to help women who were hurting. So, if you feel a nudge to do something like that in your area, pray about it and email me and I can get you started with some ideas.
To book Elisabeth or Richard & Elisabeth, contact her at www.elisabethklein.com/speaking.
I have a question, once Richard understood his anger and the verbal abuse towards his first wife, did he apologize to her and accept responsibility? Not of course to try and reconcile but to validate?
Richard asked me to respond to you that they have both apologized.
Reading this convicts me. I’ve been divorced 4 years now, and it hurts like madness to think that my ex is now being a good husband to someone else while I’m left to do life alone. But, he’s not married to the woman he is living with, and has shown no tangible signs of repentance toward me or my boys….so when I think about that, I’m reminded that perhaps this other lady just inherited a bigger mess. I’m so incredibly torn by all of this STILL. And that bugs me. A lot. Praying for complete deliverance from this entire mess once and for all! Thanks for your faithfullness!!
Best take away: God can change a willing, humble heart.
That is my new prayer. Change my willing humble heart. I can only control me.
So, did he and his wife decide divorce was the best for them, because I don’t understand why a “broken” man would change for his future wife and not the one he originally made vows to? My ex-husband chose the course for our marriage – separation and divorce. But if my ex suddenly had a repentant heart and put in a ton of work to change and become the husband God wanted him to be I would trust that God would soften my heart to His purpose in our relationship if that meant reconciliation. I don’t see it going that way at this point in time – so I’m happy to continue my journey with God as a single mom. It’s just I know how painful it is to have our families separated on all levels – parents, children, extended family – and I would think that the change God brings, if it was change in both parties, would result in reconciliation. I mean that’s what I would pray for from the outside and I know that’s what others pray for me. Yes, I’m happy to see a blended family thriving because I think that reflects God’s love for all, but at the same time I would think that reconciliation would be the ultimate reflection of God’s love and forgiveness as we reunite with our Creator – Jesus and His love for the church. Short version – if he changed why didn’t he reconcile and return to his wife and family?
His ex-wife initiated the separation and divorce and moved on. It was all of that that set my husband’s transformation truly in motion.