Hi Patty here! With Thanksgiving just a few days away; I thought it would be appropriate to share how grateful I am for the community of family, friends, neighbors, and many others who have helped me on my road to redemption. During these past several years, God has shown me incredible grace and mercy as He walked me out of my judicial mess. Through many people God provided me an array of “Good Samaritans.” People who saw me when I was deeply wounded and walked toward me rather than away from me, bringing spiritual, emotional, and financial first aid. I am grateful for each one of you. There are so many stories of gratitude to share of God’s goodness and the people He used in redeeming my life. I look forward to sharing many of those stories in future posts. However, this blog entry of gratitude is dedicated to my husband Gerry and my heavenly Father. The best two guys I know!
It has been six and a half years since I was fired from my employer for using the work credit card for personal expenses and two and a half years since I completed my twenty-seven month federal prison sentence for mail fraud. On May 27, 2014, I will have completed three years of probation, and will be “off paper.” Throughout this entire journey, my husband has faithfully stood alongside me every step of the way without ever shaming or making me feel bad about my poor decisions. In fact, he has walked in total forgiveness and love from the very moment I told him everything I had done to get myself into the biggest pit of my life. The following is an excerpt from a recent presentation I gave, summarizing Gerry’s response to hearing my confession for the first time:
Two days after I was fired, Father’s Day 2007, I found myself early in the morning reading my bible, a bible given to me 10 years earlier as a going away gift from a co-worker from Northwood Children’s Services where I worked for 11 years prior to First Witness. As my friend gave me my new bible she said, “I don’t know why, but I believe God gave me a scripture for you, that I feel will be significant in your life somewhere down the road.” She wrote that scripture on the inside cover of my bible in August of 1997. Little did I know then how significant those verses would be ten years later. As I was sitting in my pitiful mess two days after being fired; I said to God, “What should I do?” I reminded God that my husband had no idea why I was fired. Now keep in mind my husband Gerry and I had only been married for eleven months, less than a year, still newlyweds when my secret was about to come out. Again I asked God; “What should I do? What should I tell Gerry?” As tears fell on my bible I opened it up to the front cover and my eyes landed on the inscription from my friend. Staring at me was John 8:31-32, God’s answer to my questions. It reads: “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” I kept on saying over and over in my mind: “Ok Lord according to your word the truth will set me free, the truth will set me; the truth will set me free.” I was ready to tell Gerry everything. However, fear set in. Before I could say to God what my fears were. He said in a gentle voice, “You don’t need to worry about your marriage or your home.” God beat me to the punch. He knew my two biggest fears: losing my husband and our home. He replaced my fear with a promise. To this day, praise God I am married to the same sweet man, we have a blessed marriage, and we continue living in the same home all because of the grace and mercy of God.
Back to Father’s Day June 17, 2007, two days after being fired; when God made me those two promises it gave me the courage to tell Gerry everything. Remember, it’s Father’s Day and we have only been married eleven months. I went in to our dining room where Gerry was reading the Sunday paper. I said, “Gerry I need to talk to you.” I began to cry and tell him everything, every detail of how I had stolen over $100,000 from my employer. I was so filled with shame, but did not leave out a single detail. When I was done confessing to Gerry my secret; Gerry looked at me and said; “Have you told me everything? I said’ “yes”, and then he came and sat down beside me, looked into my eyes and said’ “We will get through this. I think we should go to church.”
Now I just told my husband of less than a year that I was fired for stealing over $100,000 from my employer, and He said, “I think we should go to church.” I was blown away. “I think we should go to church.” What no yelling, no shaming, no packing my bags and I am never coming back, instead “I think we should go to church.” God’s first promise to me a couple of hours earlier came to pass. “You don’t need to worry about your marriage.”
My husband has never once raised his voice to me over this, never shamed me. He has walked in forgiveness from the very start. One day much further into our judicial journey, I asked Gerry, “Aren’t you mad at me? Aren’t you angry with me? Did you think about leaving me or divorcing me?” His response was, “No. I guess I’m not wired to abandon a person at a time of great need. He also said. “The direction you run in a crisis speaks volumes as to whether you are a man or a coward.” Gerry than said; “I care about you and I love you, a lot. I am standing by you because you are worth it and frankly it is the right thing to do. Abandoning you Patty at such a time of incredible need and vulnerability would be shameful, cowardly, and pathetic.”
The divorce rate among couples where one spouse is incarcerated for one year or more is 80% for men and close to 100% for women. Keep in mind that today in the US, there are 2.5 million men and women imprisoned, a staggering number. That doesn’t leave many couples in this situation with much hope of making their marriage work. Gerry has quietly sacrificed in many ways for my mistakes, yet was quick to forgive. His love and support has been rock solid. That is the grace of God! I am thankful to God and Gerry for their forgiveness and unconditional love!
As you celebrate Thanksgiving, who are you thankful for? Who has been the “Good Samaritan” in your life bringing you grace, forgiveness, and mercy when you were in a pit? Have you ever thanked them? If not, I encourage you to thank them today. If you have thanked them…thank them again. For those of you who have an opportunity to help another out of their pit…Go ahead and take the risk. Be like the “Good Samaritan.” In doing so, you will be Jesus to that person in their time of need and in the process you may just save someone’s life!
God Bless you and Happy Thanksgiving!