Below is the full transcript of my interview with Meg S. Miller, award winning author of the new book Benefit of the Debt: How My Husband’s Porn Problem Saved Our Marriage

You can listen to the full interview at https://letsparentonpurpose.com/2018/10/21/how-a-pornograph…ith-meg-s-miller/

Jay Holland:

I have never recorded a Let’s Parent on Purpose podcast quite like this one. Now, if you normally listen with your toddlers to elementary aged children in the room, I would encourage you to save this one for a time when they’re not around. Your middle school and high schoolers actually have to deal with a lot of these issues, so let them go ahead and hear it if you want. But I cannot think of any episode I’ve ever had more important for wives and husbands to listen to. And you can see from the title that we’re going to be talking about pornography today, but this podcast is not about pornography.

Jay Holland:

It’s about something much deeper than that and how one lady, one sister of ours in Jesus found healing in her marriage and in Christ through the discovery of pornography in her home. Stick around as I introduced you to Meg S. Miller here on Let’s Parent on Purpose.

Jay Holland:

Hey, I’m Jay Holland this is Let’s Parent on Purpose. It’s a podcast to help you thrive and not just survive these parenting years. Each week, I’ll bring you an insight or an interview that will help with one aspect of your walk with Jesus, your marriage, or your parenting skills as we seek to build families that will build the Kingdom of God. If this is your first time joining me on Let’s Parent on Purpose, I want to welcome you. You’re in for a real treat today. And if you are coming back, you’re in for an equally great treat, but a little bit different format than normal.

Jay Holland:

First off, like I said, I would encourage you to not have your elementary or toddler kids in the room. This discussion is clean, but still on topics maybe a little bit beyond what you want them to hear at this moment, and it’s a little longer than normal. You should really consider this bonus. I have today an incredible conversation with speaker and multiple award-winning author, Meg S. Miller, who recently has a new book out, Benefit of the Debt: How My Husband’s Porn Problem Saved Our Marriage. We’re going to talk about that. I encourage you to stick around whether there is a pornography problem in your home or not.

Jay Holland:

First off, it’s a pervasive issue in our culture. It is cancerous, not just in our culture but in our church and in our homes. And number two, it’s not the only problem. And so today’s conversation is not primarily about pornography. Today’s conversation is redemptive and healing and challenging. Meg says some things that a lot of wives are going to feel really challenged to hear, and she says some things that many husbands wish they would be able to say, but either haven’t been able to articulate the words or even if they can articulate the words, don’t feel the freedom to say it.

Jay Holland:

And so these are discoveries that the Lord gave her that brought profound healing in her home. And I just encourage you, soak this up and enjoy it. In the show notes, you can find a link to Meg’s website. I encourage you to get her book. And also stick around at the end of this, I have one free book to give away and I’m going to tell you how you might have a chance to win that, as I tell you a little bit more about Let’s Parent on Purpose as well. So without any further ado, here’s my interview with Meg S. Miller.

Jay Holland:

Meg S. Miller, it is good to finally … It’s not good to finally talk to you, I’ve been talking to you for some time. It’s good to get all of this stupid technology working. Nobody else is interested in how frustrating it was to get this going, but so good to actually have you on here today. How are you?

Meg Miller:

I’m good. Thanks for being willing to tackle this topic and for your determination to get me on the program.

Jay Holland:

Yeah, it was just one of those like, “We’re in this far. We got to keep going.” But technology is not my first seven skills. So Meg, you have recently written a book that has a pretty provocative title, Benefit of the Debt: How My Husband’s Porn Problem Saved Our Marriage, which has got to be one of the most intriguing book titles I’ve ever had. Now, I’ve read the book, we talked last week, and I got the book and read the entire thing over the weekend, so I got to be careful to not want to talk about the end of the book yet. Will you start and just tell me why did you write this book and what led you to get into wanting to write this book? That’s probably the more important question.

Meg Miller:

Yeah. My story, it’s a funny thing because it starts out like so many comm … it’s the most common story in the beginning. In fact, there might be no story more common than mine in the very beginning. I discovered my husband’s pornography habit, and I was devastated. And unfortunately, that’s one of the most common things happening today. As we speak, there’s somebody discovering and going through the uncovering process right now, and somebody somewhere right now considering confessing. And there’s somebody right now somewhere in the world who is just broken hearted by their husband’s pornography use.

Meg Miller:

It’s just way too common. A husband feels, in the weirdest sense, the husband feels grateful that the habit is being exposed and that there’s no need for secrecy anymore. And a husband might feel excited and hopeful for the future when his habit is discovered or his consumption of this explicit material is exposed. He feels almost like connected to his wife for the first time in a long time where he isn’t leading a double life. Even if it’s ugly, he’s thankful that it’s not secret anymore.

Meg Miller:

There’s a certain freedom in a husband’s exposure when it all comes out. Now, the wife is the opposite, it feels like death, feels like something really good that we had is gone. And it feels like there’s fear because how much more am I going to expose? How big does this thing get? How huge is this problem? Is it just a small coping mechanism right now that we can nip in the bud or has it overcome … ? Have there been many more boundaries crossed that I don’t know about that I’m about to find out about?

Meg Miller:

So in that respect, that’s happening all over the world right now. Women are finding out that their husbands are addicted to pornography, or their sons. And it’s so heartbreaking for the woman and so freeing for the man. And so, that’s what led me to write the story. I have three young children and two jobs, and I don’t feel like writing this my story, but it’s so good because it doesn’t end there. My story changes, it takes a dramatic turn, and it ends up very unlike any other story I’ve ever heard, so I was compelled to get it out there. Also, I got the sense, we all have a purpose on earth, and I believe my purpose is to enjoy God and to tell others about my enjoyment of him.

Meg Miller:

And my enjoyment of God stems back to this experience of mine. So sharing that with others is almost a … I can’t imagine not doing it.

Jay Holland:

I’m just thinking as I’m listening to you talk of all of the books I’ve read, this book sounds like you’re just talking to whoever … It’s really easy to read because it just sounds like a conversation. It sounds like a conversation that I’m either in on, or I’m like, “I shouldn’t be in the room when this conversation’s happened, but I’m here and I’m engrossed and I got to keep going.” Like you said, it’s sadly in sickeningly common. And I know from a female standpoint, it’s got to be this wrecking of, “It must be me, it must be me,” and I can tell you from a male perspective, it’s like, “God made every man visual,” and so some element of this battle, whether a man’s in pornography or not, he’s got eyeballs.

Jay Holland:

And so in the culture we’re living in, it’s a daily constant … the wear and tear on purity. And then like if purity’s a standard, so many men go into this, “Well, I’ve failed on purity, so since I’m not pure, why even try?” There’s so much that goes into it that it is a chronic condition, not in our culture, but in our church and in our families and homes. And as a student pastor, I can tell you there’s not a young man that I, if I talked to a hundred, 95 of them are wrestling with it to some degree or another.

Jay Holland:

And so, that’s far, far before a wife ever comes into a picture, this is the battle that men have to battle. So this is one that you were married for a few years and then all of a sudden … Was this like a slow discovery? Was it like I have an inkling or a hint, or was this your husband comes to you because you talked about the relief that men feel when it’s exposed. Did your husband come to you or was it a shocking discovery? What happened?

Meg Miller:

He might have wanted to get found out. I get a sense that he … He didn’t cover his browsing history. He didn’t do the things that normal guys do when they’re desperate to keep it secret. So I got the sense he wanted to find out. And the reason I say that is because it was just keystroke history, it was so silly. It was so easy to find. I’m surprised I didn’t find it sooner. So in that regard, I was blessed to not have a lot of … Well, okay. I was blessed to not have to look hard.

Meg Miller:

Now, as soon as I did find it though, I stopped looking because the temptation to snoop into see for myself how far does this go, it was a self serving thing. It sounds very noble for me to say I stopped snooping right away, I resisted that temptation. It sounds noble but it was self serving because I knew that if I brought what I had found to him, he would be more tempted to keep what I didn’t find secret. So if I came to him yelling and pointing my finger in his face with and holding up what I had found, he would be thinking, “Well, it does not behoove me to confess more because look at this raving wild woman who’s just so angry and she’s right, why would I want to subject myself to more of that?”

Meg Miller:

So instead I said, “Okay, stop, stop, Meg. Stop looking for material and let him come forward.” So I left his browsing history on the computer and I got out of the house because I felt gross. I felt like what was a beautiful home five minutes ago is now messed up and weird. And so I didn’t know how bad it was. So I wanted to get out of the house. And I didn’t want to see him because I didn’t trust myself not to be really mean. And so I left, and I got on a bus and I took the bus to a train and I got on a train and started going as far as I could get because I wanted to go as far away.

Meg Miller:

Now, this is that afternoon, this is there that very day. We did not have children involved. There were no kids at the time. So I was able to do that. A lot of women don’t have that luxury of just leaving without having to think. I had a pepper spray in my purse, I knew I’d be safe if I just got away from there. But a lot of women are thinking, “Well, I have children involved, I can’t just … They have soccer practice this afternoon. Am I supposed to just get on a train and leave? That would be so freeing and wonderful to allow me to think. But right now, little kids are saying, I’m thirsty, I’m hungry. He bit me.”

Meg Miller:

I was very blessed to have the ability to sort my feelings out on that train. And he called, he got home and he saw what I had found and he called and he said, “Let’s talk about this. Let’s talk about this.” He was ready to move on, and he was ready to confess everything. He was the picture of repentance, which is a gift to me, which was very, very … If there are any men listening, the best gift that you can give your wife is the confession and eagerness to repent. Even if it’s the third time, even if it’s the 100th time, that’s the best thing you can do for the relationship.

Meg Miller:

And even if you fear her backlash, bring it out, get it out there because fearing something is a man’s biggest opportunity. Get in there, that’s your chance to shine, is to take that courage and say, “I’m afraid of your words, because they’re going to be true. Everything you spit at me, wife, angry wife, they’re going to be true words and I’m ready for it.” Please steal yourself and go to your wife, I’m begging you. And then get her a copy of my book so that she has the next steps, or at least a perspective of what’s possible. Because I bet you’re about to ask me about what happened next.

Jay Holland:

What happened next? First off, I think that what I would naturally think would happen because you’re somebody who’s been in the Lord a long time, so you’ve heard all of the Bible verses and everything. You know that you have the Holy Spirit inside you. You sincerely want to follow Jesus. You were sincere in your vows to this man, and you know that he’s really screwed up. But like you said, he really seems to be the picture of repentance. And so what I would think is like, it’s really, really devastating and hard at first, but then you start getting on the path to healing and you’re going to tell me a happy story that, “Okay, we were healed and reconciled.”

Jay Holland:

Is that what happened?

Meg Miller:

I wish that was the case. He healed, he got into a men’s support group and he even started helping other men. It was disgusting to me. I couldn’t believe it, and I was jealous of his healing. I wanted to struggle with something fun and then be healed of it.

Jay Holland:

What do you mean it was disgusting to you?

Meg Miller:

I was just so jealous that he was better having gone through this terrible … having incurred a debt in our marriage, I was disgusted that he incurred a debt, didn’t have to pay it back, I’m the one paying on it by living with the pain. He hurt me and he gets to live a free and exciting lifestyle. And the way he hurt me, this is a lie that I was believing to. The way that he hurt me was by getting his kicks elsewhere, by enjoying things that he shouldn’t be enjoying. The truth is I don’t think he was enjoying it, and at least not the way I thought he was.

Meg Miller:

I think that he was escaping and tormented by the knowledge that he was escaping the pressures of daily life by doing something he wasn’t supposed to. I don’t think he was enjoying it now that I look back on it. No, we didn’t just heal and move on. A lot of women do that. They think that that’s the way to move on, is to say “I forgive you, and then I will live with the hurt for the rest of my life.” And I can spot a woman like that a mile away, and I want to tell you that’s not the only option, it’s not the only choice.

Meg Miller:

So no, we didn’t just heal. A year later, I was still hurting and still begging God. I was getting angry with God that he wouldn’t answer me … That he would heal my husband and turn my husband into a certain like Captain America of the faith.I was so bad and now I’m good. I was just disgusted by it because I was jealous that I didn’t have any kind of similar experience. I was still so injured, and so injured that I started looking at myself like, “What’s wrong with me?”

Jay Holland:

Now, you said that he immediately got into support groups and recovery groups and began finding recovery, finding some meaning and accountability in that. Were you not pursuing some kind of similar paths? Did you not have a group of women around you? Knowing how common this experience is, I would think you would find some ladies who’ve been through … who probably have been through a lot worse than even what you’ve experienced. Were you not healing because you weren’t pursuing that kind of path?

Meg Miller:

I was pursuing that. I did join my own recovery group. And in fact, since then, I’ve found many online because I’m stuck at home with little children now. I don’t have the luxury of going to the group anymore, so I found some online. You’re right, there’s actually a lot of recovery groups for healing for a wounded woman who has done nothing wrong. That’s where we go, that’s where we miss the healing though, is that we sit around a table and talk about how our husbands are doing with their behavior change, and we talk about how we’re doing with our coping of that wound.

Meg Miller:

And I think in that, we may be missing something pretty big because we are comforting each other with a cup of tea and this is a lot bigger than that.

Jay Holland:

You know, years ago when the Promise Keeper Movement was sweeping, during that time, I was active in the church and we went to a number of Promise Keeper things. And at the same time, the ladies at our church, we were going to Women of Faith. And we used to joke, at least in the office, it’s like, “Yeah, the men go to Promise Keepers to talk about what terrible husbands they are, and the women go to Women of Faith to talk about what terrible husbands they have and how to cope in the Lord for it.

Jay Holland:

I don’t want to disparage Women of Faith. I know it was a great, great movement, and they were pushing people in the Lord. But it often felt like, “Yeah, the biggest struggle in my life is that my husband is a dirt bag.” And you’d go to a Promise Keepers and men would say, “Yeah, the biggest struggle of my life is that I’m a dirt bag.”

Meg Miller:

Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. Just look at every headline that comes out. Society, women are understandably angry. Men have messed up, men have messed up so much, and women are so angry. But at least men don’t have … At least men know it. My fear is that women don’t realize what damage we’ve done as well. And I almost envy the men, like on a grand scale. I envied my husband who’s healing. I get a sense that these big groups of women studying the Bible and studying how to be more pious, look at men and almost envy that healing and the deliverance of those huge damaging sins that they’ve committed

Jay Holland:

In the beginning of your book, it’s actually in the foreword. You talk about being in a spiritual growth class where people listed sins that Christians face today, and the big four were internet pornography, pride, lust and anger. And you said the questions has to go, “Okay, for each sin, decide whether men or women are more inclined to this sin.” And everybody agreed for all of them, that it was men, that men are more inclined towards internet porn. Men are more inclined towards pride. Men are more inclined towards lust, and men are more inclined towards anger.

Jay Holland:                  And so then, you’re postulating like, what’s the equivalent sin of a woman that they struggle with? And I love you pointed out, we are both made in the image of God and biblically, it seems like we are both equally fallen. So it would be curious if men are the only ones that struggle with the sense that God’s really mad at or God’s really displeased with.

Meg Miller:

It doesn’t add up, does it?

Jay Holland:

No.

Meg Miller:

Something’s missing. What are we missing? We’re missing something pretty big. The world tells me everyday, “Meg, as a woman, you have the capacity for just as much achievement, accomplishment. Go get them. You could do everything a man can do.” But the world is, and the church, is neglecting to tell me, “You have the capacity for the same damage, you have the capacity for the same hurt, you have the capacity for sinning just as much.” And the world and the church are doing me a great disservice by leaving that part out. “Thank you for the empowerment. Thank you for all that, but do not let me live an unexamined life.”

Jay Holland:

That’s really good. That’s really, really good. In your book, I keep wanting to jump to the spoiler. Like I just watched the Avengers and nobody else has, I’m going to tell everybody, But in the narrative of your book, you’re hinting towards that aha moment that you had. Would you tell us how you drove into it?

Meg Miller:

Yes, I did … I was starting to lose faith as I was praying for healing, praying for healing, praying for healing. I was starting to lose faith that God had a nugget of information that would save me and that would heal me. I got especially frantic when I felt that hurt starting to harden and turn into resentment and bitterness, because that’s a permanent stone in my heart, that’s a permanent thing. Hurt is temporary, it comes and goes, and there are options to help, but there’s nothing to help you cope with bitterness and resentment. And I look around and although many of the women in my life, older women, and they’re walking with this permanent stone, hard permanent stone in their hearts, I see it on their faces, and you do too.

Meg Miller:

And it was scary, it was so scary. It’s scarier than being betrayed, is realizing that you might be come a perpetual victim who’s angry and suspicious and on defense constantly and believing-

Jay Holland:

And Meg, I think of how Hebrews talks about bitterness as, the root of bitterness that defiles many, and how with the root, you don’t see most of the root. You have no idea how far that goes. And with bitterness, there’s nobody that I’ve ever met that’s able to channel their bitterness into the original source of their bitterness. And so that’s something that it sounds like you were struggling with there.

Meg Miller:

Yeah, I hadn’t thought of that before. That can come out in many ways. In many ways. It’s scary to even go back. I’m more afraid when I go back in my mind of that moment then as the discovery of the pornography, I’m more afraid of that permanency of hurt. So I’m begging God. I’m driving on the Beltway, on the capital Beltway here in Washington DC. I was getting angry with God. I’m like, “You are about to lose another believer to bitterness. Are you kidding me? Is this your witness? Is this what you want to show the world is another hurt, angry woman. Come on, you got to be kidding me.”

Meg Miller:

I was getting so angry. And finally … Depends on whether you believe God speak directly to people. You hear my story and you’re like, “Well, if there is a God, he’s got to answer for his own reputation at this point because this woman, she’s going to be, oh, yikes.” And he did. It was a little bit of a back and forth. Anybody who’s listening who has really, really suffered knows, knows what it’s like to hear from God because he is very close to the ones who have suffered.

Meg Miller:

If you’re listening and you’re like,” I’ve never heard from God, I don’t believe God talks to people, I don’t believe he does this.” I would wonder if you have really sought him in the hurt. And if you have, it took me a year. I was really seeking him for a year. If you have, how long have you been seeking him in the heart? If you continue to go back to him and you turn it right back on him, like, “For your own reputation, for your own glory, for your own name, do something, you’ve got to do something.” I stopped asking God for my husband’s behavior change and started saying, “Okay, change me. You’ve got to make me less hurt by this.”

Meg Miller:

And he answered my prayer. And instead of answering by changing me, he answered by changing my perspective, and he gave me an image like, “Okay, consider this image.” It was the picture of my husband’s heart just as hurt as mine. Every measure, every inch, every ounce of pain that I had from his behavior, terrible behavior was now applied, all the pain was now applied to him, and he was that hurt. And instantly, my heart softened because I don’t like … Women are great at nurturing, and we see pain and we want to fix it, and we’re ready to fix it.

Meg Miller:

In fact, we are good at preempting pain. We’ll help people before they get into trouble. Innocence is very much associated with hurt, so we feel like … I instantly saw him as more innocent as he was wounded. So I felt like, “Who did this to him?” And it was just like silence. Like, “I don’t know who did it. Who did this? Who did this? Who did this to my husband? His boss? Did he do it to himself? Who could possibly … ” and since it’s hypothetical, I was safe to say, “Okay, maybe it’s me. Let’s say I did it. How would I have done it? What do I do? What dO I ever do to this guy that would cause that much pain?”

Meg Miller:

“I just talk to him about daily household administration. Could that have hurt him? Could my constantly asking him like if he dropped off the car to get breaks fixed, if he fed the dog, why aren’t the chicken fed? When will we get a new water heater? Did you make it to the lunch with your boss on time? All these things, is that hurtful to my husband? Because that’s all I do.” I don’t really say, “Yeah, you don’t do anything right.” I don’t usually say, “Why can’t you ever feed the dog?” I say, “Please read the dog on time today.” I just say it in a way that hints that he hasn’t done it in the past.

Meg Miller:

I don’t really beat him down. I just suggest things that he should pick up on, that he should do better. I just want him to be on time for once, I just want him to stay sober. I just want him to roll down the window when he farts in the car. I just don’t want him to be this lax kind of self-indulgent version of himself. I just want him to be the best that I know he can be. I’m not asking for a prince charming. I just would like him to shape up just a little bit. And so as I go through these things and I’m bartering with God, like, “You can’t be serious. I’m not asking for him to be a Superman. I just want them to be a good version of himself.”

Meg Miller:

Why can’t he pay a bill on time for once? Why can’t he avoid a speeding ticket? Yeah, just every once in a while? Just be cool. Why does he have to do this, that or the other? And I got the sense that all these questions were damaging that heart that was on display that I saw in my husband. Every little thing I said was another chink, chink, chink, chink until his heart looked as bludgeoned and as bloody and as wounded, and barely beating anymore. And I realized, “No way, no way, no way. These little things over time could hurt him that much. He’s got to be able to recover, right? He’s got to be able to recover between each one. What if he can’t? What if he can’t? If this is true, if I have done this, then a lot of things would suddenly come into focus.

Meg Miller:

I had to come to grips with it. It would explain a lot of things that had confused me in the past. Why does he do this? Why didn’t you do that? Maybe it’s because he’s hurt. And so that changed everything for me.

Jay Holland:

Wow. Meg, when you’re talking about this, I just reflect back on some things in my life. We don’t know a ton about each each other or get to know each other on these, on a couple of different interactions we’ve had. I don’t know that I’ve told you that I actually, I’ve been married twice, and my first wife passed away about 12 years ago, and it’s been more of by now. We got married young, and I think I was a pretty good husband and I screwed up a lot too, just like every husband does. And I did a lot of things very consciously to express my love, like things that I felt were very important and protective, and they were like the things that I can think ahead on.

Jay Holland:

Like, “I’m faithful in my job. You’ve never worried about whether I’m going to go to my job and there’s going to be a paycheck. I don’t even look at the Victoria Secret commercials when they come on TV.” And this was pre internet, there was thing, after thing, after thing. In the last year of her life, in some sickness, and there was some medicines involved and stuff like that, but we started getting into these fights, doubting whether I really loved her or not. And it was like, “You must not really love me because of this.” And it was like, there were areas that would pop up, like, “Well, I didn’t feel protected in this area,” like it would be an argument with somebody that I should have stepped in or something like that.

Jay Holland:

And on my side, like I’m kind of peacemaker by nature. I’m not necessarily afraid of stuff, but I just don’t react quickly, which generally works well unless your wife feels like she needs to be protected. But I remember just this feeling of absolute deflation as a husband when we got into this. That it’s like, everything that I can think ahead and do that I’m really good at, it’s like you’ve just taken it up and thrown it in the trash, and the only thing that matters to you is the thing that I’m not good at. And I remember in my dating of my wife, Emily …

Jay Holland:

And my wife, Christy was amazing. Loved Jesus. We had a great marriage, the Lord really used it, but we were young and I remember that hurt from the marriage, and I remember getting into the next one and still having some unresolved hurt when she passed away. And in one of my conversations with Emily when she said like, “What’s the most important thing for you?” At that time, I know my answer scared her, but my answer was something like, “I need for when I love you and I’m doing my very best that it’s enough.” And like really, it confused her at the time because she hadn’t been married, and it was as plain as day to me.

Jay Holland:

And in my mind, it wasn’t saying, “You should allow me to just have to do things. Let me skate by, let me be apathetic.” That’s not what I was saying. I was saying, “If I’m married, I’m going to go all in. I’m going to try my hardest. And I know there’s things that I’m not going to do well and not going to do right. But I need for me to be enough for you. I need you to understand that I love you even when I’m failing on things that you decide all of a sudden are the most important things.”

Jay Holland:

Man, that was a deep wound that there’s no way in that time, especially as a man, in emotions, our communication skills just shut down. So there was no way ever at the appropriate time that I could have ever brought that up. And then as a man, when things are going well, the last thing on earth I’m ever going to do is say, “Hey, let me bring up something that’s deeply painful to me so that we can go into a big argument in here, that I know that I’m going to lose.” So I hear what you’re saying, and whether there’s pornography involved or not, this chinking, and that’s what it is. It’s like a little chink in the armor, a little chink at the armor, and a little chink in the armor.

Jay Holland:

And oftentimes, no one thing that you say, it’s not that. It’s not that you asked to walk the dog or something like that. Those things actually need to happen. But at some point, that tide turns, and it feels like, “Oh, it’s never enough. It doesn’t matter if I walk the dog and got there on time with my boss, and this and that,” because there would be 27 other things behind there. I can’t win. And it sounds you had this revelation that your husband, Joe, hit that point.

Meg Miller:

It would have to be a revelation, right? Emily was confused because that doesn’t make sense for a man to say, “This, let it be enough.” I don’t even know what that means. “Okay, I still need you to get there on time and try to stay sober.” And so that’s difficult for a woman to really see, like, “Okay, let that be enough. Okay, let that be enough. Okay, let me try to figure out.” Like you said, the revelation, it had to be divine because men can’t say it and women don’t see it.

Jay Holland:

And Meg, it took me like a year of not talking, a year of not having a wife to process, and after a year, I could formulate these three sentences and I’m pretty good at comm … I communicate for a living, and it took me a long time to be able to get out what was inside. And so, you’re not going to hear that from your husband.

Meg Miller:

No. No woman listening is going to hear that. No woman listening is going to be able to articulate that and no man is going to be able to ask for it. In good times, like you said, you don’t want to mess up the good times, and in the bad times, it comes out all wrong and it doesn’t even make sense to her. We have a huge Catch-22 in 90% of the homes. Some of the really, really old people I’ve met have figured this out, right around age 95 and they figure it out. But for the rest of us trying to navigate flu season with kids and with jobs, we’re doomed. We’re doomed unless there’s a supernatural answer.

Jay Holland:

Yeah. One of the insights that I’ve had in life is that spiritual warfare never looks like a big scary demon at your front door, because if a big scary demon comes knocking at your front door, you realize you’re in spiritual warfare, you grab the armor of God and you’re locked in. Spiritual warfare looks like that person beside you who just is rubbing you raw and who, for reasons that you don’t understand, is disproportionately tanking your spirit and making you nasty. And spiritual warfare is most of the time, in the people that you would say I love the most in my life.

Meg Miller:

That’s right. And it’s your perspective of them, and it’s your perception of what’s happening. You never have the whole story.

Jay Holland:

This image, I love this rabbit trail. I hope this whole day is rabbit trails, but I’m bringing it back around, this little revelation that you had that maybe your method of administration of your house was causing a wound, that was really a first step. Was it a first step or did the whole light bulb come on at once and then where did it go from there?

Meg Miller:

That’s a good question because it took time to explore it. If you’re saying I’m guilty, no. If you’re saying I’m guilty of the same amount of hurt, no, not that I caused my husband to sin, we have to clarify that right away. Not that I caused any escapism or any bad behavior on his behalf. I’m not saying that at all, and I’m also not saying that the hurt is made up. That might hurt was an illusion. No, it’s very real, it’s like someone died when you find pornography. And I’m not saying that he’s okay to continue in his behavior. I’m not condoning it, but what I’m saying is, if he’s just as hurt, we’re for a bunch of like roadkill together just trying to drag ourselves to some medical attention, what would the implications be?

Meg Miller:

And so it took me the rest of that day to just consider all the light bulbs that would be coming on in the next few months as we started living together again, and all the light bulbs continued to come on. One of them, having been a child of God, adopted into his family, through the blood of Jesus Christ who paid for my sins, my bad things when I did as a teenager. The things I did when I was lazy, when I was feeling selfish, the mean things I said to my parents when I was a kid. Those kinds of things. Jesus saved me from those things. So when I realized all of a sudden that I might be culpable and might have the blood of this guy’s hurt on my hands.

Meg Miller:

I knew exactly what to do because I’ve been taught my whole life what you do when you’ve done something wrong. You go to the cross because Jesus has made it right, he’s made it okay for you. The feeling of guilt was instantly replaced by compassion, love and concern for my husband, and that was instantly replaced by joy that I don’t have to make this right, someone has already made this right, so I don’t have to. I was a mess with excitement that day and I have not … That was eight years ago, and I haven’t stopped, every hour, I think about how free I am of this huge pile of debt. Can I share a Bible story with you?

Jay Holland:

Yeah.

Meg Miller:

Let me share this scripture with you. I don’t have it right in front of me. In Luke …

Jay Holland:

Tell me the story. I bet you know the story.

Meg Miller:

In my own words? Yeah, I do. I know it. Jesus is in the house, he’s the guest of a Pharisee, and he’s sitting there reclining and just hanging out with this religious leader. And a woman of ill repute comes in and she starts weeping by Jesus. We think could be anything at this point, it could be joy, pain, sorrow, regret, guilt, excitement, shame, overwhelm, or all the above. She’s weeping and weeping and this Pharisee is like, “Oh, lady’s in my house, if only Jesus knew her reputation and what she’s done.” And he said, “Hey, you know what, let me answer your unspoken thoughts.” Jesus says to this Pharisee.

Meg Miller:

“Let me answer those thoughts.” And no one ever says … “Wow. He just read my mind,” because he goes on. He says, “There were two … ” He goes, “Let me tell you a story to illustrate this. There were two people who owed a guy, let’s call him the guy, money. One person owed the guy a certain amount, the other person owed him quadruple that amount. The guys was feeling benevolence so he said, “You’re both forgiven go. Go have a good day.” And both leave pretty happy.” And Jesus said to the Pharisee, to the religious leader who is pretty much done a good job his whole life, “Who loves the guy? Who loves the guy more?”

Meg Miller:

And the Pharisee says, his words, I guess, I suppose. He really says, “Oh, like I have to do this, like I have to play your game. I suppose, it’s the one who had the greater debt.” And he said, “You are right. Do you see this woman? Do you see your husband, wife you just discovered. Do you see him the way I see him? Do you see him? Do you see him? Look again, do you see this woman? Do you see this man caught in a terrible situation that he got himself into, not tragedy, it’s sin? Do you see this simple, simple man?” “Yes.” “She has treated me with love and joy and respect and discarded all thought of decorum in favor of an expression of love.”

Meg Miller:

“She is showing that she has been forgiven much.” And so you’re like, “For the rest of my life, I might be the raving lunatic in the religious person’s house. I can’t stop talking about it. The joy is so great, the excitement of being forgiven a huge debt.” If I have really hurt my husband’s so much and I’ve been forgiven of it, I got to dance around. The sky is blue and the birds are sweeter, the lunch tastes better, everything’s better when you’ve just been forgiven a million dollars. And I have, I’ve just been forgiven so much. My husband, he’s still sinful, so he still hurts me, and he’s still racks up debt, but it looks like chump change now. I don’t know how to explain it, but I was blind, and now I see.

Meg Miller:

It’s got to be good enough for some people. And the day he hurts me so much that I have to hurt him back or that I feel compelled to make him pay, the day he hurts me so much that I’m like, “No, he must make this right because the cross isn’t good enough,” I’ll come back and tell you about that, but for now, the freedom is fantastic, and so I’m going to tell about it.

Jay Holland:

That’s great. I think one more story that Jesus told that goes along with this, and it’s wild because it’s a story, it’s been one of my favorite Bible stories my whole life, and a few years ago, I read a book by Timothy Keller that just put an entirely different twist on it now. And it’s Luke 15, the parable of the prodigal son. And so the parable, there’s a man that has two sons and one of his son basically says, “Father, I wish you were dead. I want my inheritance now.” And so he gives the son his inheritance, which means really he gave him … Let’s say, he was the second born, he gave him a third of all of his possessions, cashed them out and gave it to him.

Jay Holland:

This man goes off, spends wildly and squanders it on wild women, loose living, party in Vegas and South Beach until it’s all gone. And then he’s destitute and the son ends up being in the pigsty, feeding the pigs, longing to be fed with the pod of the pigs, realizes he’s like, “The servants in my father’s house have it better than me, I’m going to go back and beg my father, just let me be a servant in your house, not a son again, but let me even just be a servant. Let me just hang around the fringes of your house.” And so it says, when he comes the father sees him from a distance and runs to meet him and puts the robe on him and gives him the fatted calf and celebrates and said, “My son was lost and now he’s here.”

Jay Holland:

Now, that’s typically all we remember in the story, but that’s not the end of the story. The rest of the story is that there’s this other son, there’s this righteous son, at least in his own eyes who has stayed and always done what the father wanted, and he refuses to come into the party. And so the father goes out to him too. The father sees the rebellious son coming and runs to meet him as that son comes, the righteous son, really the self righteous son, doesn’t even go to the father with his complaint. The father comes out to him and says, “Come into the joy of the house, come into the joy of the house,” and instead he lashes, “You know, I have slaved for you in my life.”

Jay Holland:

Now, look at this. The prodigal son is asking, “Can I just be a slave in your house?” The righteous son, the self righteous son really has not been a slave, has been a rightful heir, has lived in the house and he’s saying, “I have slaved for you, I’ve done everything I could ever do for you. I can do everything right all the time and I don’t even get a small cow for my friends.” And the truth is, yeah, he did, he just never asked. He never asked for it. And so the father says, “Look, we have to celebrate, this brother of yours, my son who was lost is now back in the joy of the house, come in with us.” And the story ends. And it’s so powerful, Meg, because we don’t know whether the self righteous son ever came back into the joy of the father’s household.

Jay Holland:

And the truth is, there is no joy outside of the father’s household. It doesn’t matter if you’re squandering it on wild women and loose living or if you are doing everything right and everything perfect and dotting all your T’s and crossing all your I’s, there is no joy outside of the father’s household. And so when we look at a marriage, sometimes it’s so obvious when one side blows it, but the truth is, in every marriage there are two centers involved. And what we like to say is, the best way to get those, to heal a marriage, it’s for those centers to come back together. But the truth is you have to be going towards the father, you meet as you go towards the father and you both realize, like you said, you both realize the debt that you had and the forgiveness that’s offered to both of you.

Jay Holland:

The joy is in the father’s household, and that’s your commonality, not that, “Well, I sinned this way and you sinned in that way and your sins are away worse than my sins.” But how often is it true that the second child, the self righteous one, and sometimes that’s the man and sometimes is the woman, there are the ones standing outside of the joy of the father’s house refusing to come back in.

Meg Miller:

I can’t imagine the Lord begging me, I thought I was begging him the whole time. I wasn’t. I was saying, “Where’s my portion?” That’s what I was really saying. I didn’t realize it, and now I do. I am thankful that he didn’t leave me out there, he was reasoning with me. I could hear the music playing … he was even having a great time. My husband’s in there partying and so that’s what caused so much-

Jay Holland:

You’re saying that he was getting well and you were disgusted, and you were jealous of his healing. I thank God that he’s patient with us and he works on our own time, and again, it doesn’t mean that anything he did was … It’s funny, I was going to say forgivable because it’s all forgivable. Jesus forgave it, it doesn’t mean it’s excusable, he still owns the responsibility for his sin and it doesn’t matter what the circumstances were. I still own the responsibility for my sin no matter how disgusting my culture is, I know the truth. I have the Holy Spirit in me, I have the access and power to do what’s right. But there’s something that you get to towards somewhere in the book, where you talk about how in order for there to be shame …

Jay Holland:

There’s no shame when everybody owns up to their junk. For shame to be present, somebody has got to be holding the upper hand of righteousness.

Meg Miller:

If you can imagine, I’ve had a number of critics of my book, and one of them brought that up and said, “No, no, no, shame comes when we know we’ve done something wrong. It doesn’t come from another person around. That’s very wrong.” This was on Twitter. I’m like, “Oh.” And I’m like, “Okay.” So let’s say you were a fly on the wall in the men’s group, where they’re all seeking accountability to stay clean of the world’s influences. And they’re saying, “Man, my wife, she hurts me so bad. She doesn’t realize or maybe she does realize as she should. She wants me to change so bad that she criticizes me all the time and it hurts me and I feel like I have to escape this way by looking at things I shouldn’t be looking at.”

Meg Miller:

He can say that there and he can’t say that in his house because of the company. And I wonder about the guests in that party when the father representing the heavenly father is saying, “Son, please come party, please, it’s your favorite song.” I just imagine all the guests, the children in the story, we don’t get to … But I have children watching this whole thing play out and they’re asking important questions and I’m answering them differently than I would have, because before, sin separated me from God and Jesus made the way for the payment of my sins.

Meg Miller:

And now, my goodness was separating me from God, my own self righteousness, my own rule keeping, “I was recycling. So I should be going to heaven or I shouldn’t be hurting like this.” I was on time to have a PTO meeting, I was exemplary, I shouldn’t be hurting this way. That’s what my reasoning was. And it’s not the truth.

Jay Holland:

Where are you now?

Meg Miller:

I’m in Little Rock, Arkansas, FamilyLife Today, a program that many people have heard on the radio and probably will be hearing it later today on the radio, has asked me to come and share my story. It’s great because I’m not a therapist, I’m not a marriage ministry expert. I’m just a gal who was blind, and so they’re dragging me to like, “Tell your story right here, tell it in this way and over here.” Because they want to teach the world what I’ve seen and the basic lecturing and instruction isn’t working, because we’ve seen, “Respect your husband. Here’s another way to do it. Here’s a formula. You got to do this, women, to improve your life, it’ll benefit you.”

Meg Miller:

Or there’s just a lot of ways to say that it’s important, but no one has ever treated it as seriously as they’ve treated pornography in the church. And that scares me because now I have … Remember those feelings that my husband had in the beginning of my story when I was exposed. He was excited and he was free and he felt thankful and he felt connected to me. I have all those feelings now. I don’t feel hurt and scared and angry and repulsed anymore, I feel connected and excited and hopeful and I feel like it’s all been exposed and now I can move on and now I can praise God like I mean it, because I do. I finally do.

Jay Holland:

One of the things I really appreciate about my interactions with you, even though people, if you’re listening, obviously, you can hear that this is through a phone call, but we’re Skyping right now. It’s just the Skype audio, I’m not smart enough to get it to work. But what I love, and this has happened, we’ve done a couple of different video chats together. You are still processing things, and so this is what I love. It’s like you wrote this book, you’re doing this stuff and I appreciate you saying, “I’m not a therapist and expert.”

Jay Holland:

But what I see as like you are still a believer in active process that got us teaching and learning where you’re not coming in and saying, “Hey look, I have figured out the answer, and this is again, the formulaic solution and if you just get this, you’ll be exactly where I am.” Because it’s cool how we’ll talk about things. I see like your eyeballs go to a certain spot and you’re like, “Oh wow, this is also something I need to hear. This is something good.” And we all need to be like that. We all need to be like that. The world is changing so fast, so fast.

Jay Holland:

I tell the students, I’m a student pastor and I tell them, “Look, I know that you guys are struggling with your phones and I know that you guys get frustrated with your moms and dads, with their super arbitrary rules and stuff, but you got to understand my parents never had rules about my cell phone, because I didn’t get a cell phone until I was 27. So your entire generation has no idea, like your moms and dads have no idea what to do with this stuff, we’re just trying to figure it out. And so you got to give us grace just like we need to give you grace and you got to help police each other because you’re like five steps ahead technologically.

Jay Holland:

But if any of us feel like we’ve arrived and we’ve figured this out and we got it to go, man, he who stands take heed lest he fall. What if Jesus actually means it when he says, “That if you don’t forgive others their sins, neither will my father forgive you.” What if Jesus just actually means what he says right there. Like how would that wreck your world? How many weeks of church would it take if the whole sermon was just a different person got up, read that, and then we just sat in silence, contemplating, “Am I really doing this in my life?” This is good. Well, hey, I have loved this and I’m excited to see what God does in your life. I’m excited to see how God uses this to encourage and challenge people.

Jay Holland:

So I want you to just take a minute, and those who have been fascinated right now listening like a fly on the wall, what do you want to say to them? First, personally, what do you want to say to them? And then next steps, what would you like to say to them? So first, a word of encouragement, just wherever they are. And then I’ll ask you again if you forget the next steps.

Meg Miller:

Oh, well, God is better. God si better than we’ve been taught and God is better than we know, and than we could possibly know, and suffering doesn’t have to be suffering. These are the three things that I think I’ve learned and finally, know for sure. It was just funny because they’re very abstract things to realize. But I know now that I can weather any storm and a small part of me looks forward to the next one, even though I know how counter-cultural encounter, even counter-human that can sound. Because I know God is going to do what he did for me last time, he’ll do it again.

Meg Miller:

I know that there’s a lot of hurting people out there that might be tempted to say, “Well, you don’t understand because my story is different.” And the truth is, “Yeah, it’s a different, but it’s also a small smidge and the most important part is exactly the same as mine.” And so I would encourage you to get a copy of the book please, Benefit of the Debt, and consider the claims. Actually, not the claims that I make, but the claims that I tear down by way of the revelation that God gave me. And men, it’s going to be okay, and women, it’s going to be okay if we continue seeking and knocking and asking God for that one little piece of information that would change everything.

Meg Miller:

My advice would be just look again to the Lord, don’t look at your spouse’s sin, don’t look at your own sin. Look straight to the Lord because that’s the only, it’s going to be the only hope. And then what was the other part of the question that you said you would remind me?

Jay Holland:

Next steps. If they’ve enjoyed this conversation, obviously they should definitely get the book. And I actually, you sent me a copy and I got impatient and while it was in the mail, I bought one on Kindle and started reading it. So I actually have a spare copy and I’m going to figure out a way to give it away to one of my listeners, I’ll figure that out and tag that on the end. So when I’m done with Meg here, don’t go away. I’ll tell you how you might get a free copy of her book, but also in the show notes here, there’ll be a link if you want to get a copy of her book. But also, if they’re fascinated by this conversation, you’re hitting up a lot of places right now, where else can they hear you discuss this or learn more?

Meg Miller:

Go to benefitofthedebt.com and there’s a page that says, As Seen On, and that’ll have all my interviews. I did an interview with a former host of the Howard Stern Show, there’s people who are not believers who are listening to this. There are people who don’t even know the basic gospel, let alone the older brother version of the gospel. The older brother is the one in the parable that Jay talked about with the older brother who had been righteous his whole life while the younger brother squandered his life. And so next step, there’s another next step is, for women who are like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, say no more. I don’t need to learn more, I need to do this. I need to stop hurting, I need to stop tearing down my family and call it. I need to call it what it is because I know that everything good I’m doing could be hurtful. And if that’s the case, I need help immediately.”

Meg Miller:

I know that what happens in the next few hours is going to matter. I have a community, an author’s community, just women who want to change, who want to stop hurting their families by way of their righteousness. And I would like to invite you. It’s on benefitofthedebt.com. Just on any of the pages on that website, scroll down and you’ll see join the author’s community, I’m there. Every two or three hours, I check in with the women there to say, “Hey, my husband just did this. I have five minutes to figure out how to address it nicely. I have five minutes to forgive.” Because there are still household administration things that we need to figure out how to say in the most affirming way. It’s not the hardest thing in the world, but boy, it’s certainly is not natural.

Meg Miller:

And together, we do it really well. Just like men get together and say, “How do I bounce my eyes? I’m about to go to the beach. How do I … ” You know how men figure things out together. My husband had the most awesome text message from a brother this morning that said, “I know you’re in a new city and I know you’ve got a lot of temptations today. I’m just praying for you, here is a verse to encourage you, remember Jesus is on the throne, and my husband was so encouraged by that. And I was like, “Man, women need to do that for our version of the same hurtful things.” We need to be able to do that.

Meg Miller:

So I started an online community, it’s a standalone app. I’ll be sharing Bible verses that help with this different perspective that you won’t hear anywhere else because no one is saying this, no one is reminding us of the damage we can do. Please join the community and I’ll be happy to … I’ll work through things with you because as Jay said, I’m still working through it. I think that’s a privilege.

Jay Holland:

Yeah, absolutely. And hey, in case, you haven’t heard it yesterday, your husband is awesome. He really is. To walk through what you’ve walked through and to say, “Yep, I’ll let my wife do this.” However that sounds, but it’s a big deal. Without his story, there’s no story and it’s a really vulnerable story. I hope that if he forgets to roll down the window when he farts, you’ll remember how amazing he is at being supportive and letting God take one of the worst episodes of your all’s life and lifted up for the glory and benefit of many.

Meg Miller:

Yeah. I’ll tell him. He’ll be listening as soon as this airs, he’ll be listening. He’ll tune in.

Jay Holland:

All right. Hi, Joe, Meg, I want to pray for you before we get off here because there’s a lot going on in your life. Okay. Let’s pray.

Jay Holland:

Father, I thank you for this amazing sweet time. I thank you for this connection, God. I pray for those who are listening, Father, that you would challenge those that need to be challenged, both men and women, Lord, that none of us get to hold onto our pet secret sins. None of us get to look at our husbands or our wives or our brothers or sisters or just the person that lives down the street and think, “I thank God that I’m not them.” Lord, help us to turn the mirror back on ourselves and to see the truth, and then step out and receive the radical forgiveness of Jesus and then walk in the freedom of that debt.

Jay Holland:

And Lord, I pray for Meg, as she makes this circuit right now, sharing the story that you’ve given her and her husband, Lord, that you would guard her heart, Lord, that she would not replace the pride of self righteousness in task, in the house with the pride of attention that comes from being in the limelight. And Lord, I pray you protect her heart from praise and criticism on Twitter and in every other place, and that she find her security and rest in Jesus and in nothing else in.

Jay Holland:

And Lord, I do pray for this book to be a tool that your holy spirit uses to heal hearts and heal marriages. And God, help each one of us to realize that we’re in process and that we need you desperately, daily. And I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Meg Miller:

Amen. Thank you, Jay. And thank you for your ministry.

Jay Holland:

Yeah. Hey, you were awesome. Thank you so much.

Jay Holland:

Hey, I really benefited from my conversation with Meg, and I trust that you did as well. Wherever you are, whatever stage you’re going through, I encourage you to really think about what we talked about, think about what was said and just ask the Lord to search your heart and see what might be in there. And remember, those of us who’ve been forgiven of much, love much, and that’s the kind of person I want to be. Hey, at the beginning of the show, I said that, and in the middle of the show I mentioned that I have a book of Meg’s to give away and so this is how that’s going to happen.

Jay Holland:

I actually have another free resource to give you, if you haven’t already signed up for it on letsparentonpurpose.com, which is my website, I have a gift of a free fun family conversation guide for you. Now, I actually talk about this on Let’s Parent on Purpose 90, just a series of small investments that you can make in your family, in your morning routine, your drive times, your mealtimes, and your bedtimes, conversations from the silly to the serious that you can use to first off, just keep your kids from bickering and fighting and then second, to open their eyes and mind to what’s going on around them.

Jay Holland:

Anyway, if you sign up, basically, you’re subscribing to our newsletter, our email, sign up for that and you’ll get that free fun family conversation guide. I’m going to pick somebody one week from now to send a free copy of Meg’s book, Benefit of the Debt, How My Husband’s Porn Problem Saved Our Marriage. In the meantime, you can, from her website, benefitofthedebt.com and from the show notes, you can go straight to it and go ahead and buy it and then if you win the copy, give that to somebody else.

Jay Holland:

Two more things that I want to share with you. Number one, if this is any kind of encouragement or challenge to you, please share it with somebody else because you know that they’re going to benefit as well. And then number two, this is kind of a big change for us. We’ve recently are moving to a user’s supported version of Let’s Parent on Purpose. Our church has been covering it since its inception, but it’s grown far beyond our church and the help is far beyond our church. And basically, I would love to be able to outsource some of the things that I’m doing right now because I’m doing everything.

Jay Holland:

I’m recording, uploading, hosting, editing, graphics, all of that. And if this is something that’s a benefit to you and you would be able to, even for the price of a cup of coffee per episode, $2.50, whatever it is that you might be able to share. If this is a value to you or you want to invest in it being valuable and available to other people, I always want this podcast to be free, but I would love to be able to let somebody better than me do some of these tedious details. You can go to my website, letsparentonpurpose.com, and at the top bar there, there’ll be Become a Patreon button that you can pick.

Jay Holland:

And I’ll tell you more about that later, but you can go and look on there if you’re familiar with Patreon, and it’s a way for you to support the podcast, a way for you to support me being able to Patreon more time on quality content and shepherding parents instead of technical stuff. So with that, thanks so much for joining us. And here’s our sweet music.

Jay Holland:

Hey. Congratulations. You’ve made it to the end of the longest to date and one of the most helpful episodes of Let’s Parent on Purpose ever. This is now a user supported ministry. So if you want to be a part of that, you can go to letsparentonpurpose.com and click on the Be a Patreon button and help share the love, help share the load and make this available to as many people as possible. My name is Jay Holland. If you want to get in contact with me, you can email me at jay@let’sparentonpurpose.com. Or you can find us on Instagram @letsparentonpurpose, Facebook at Letsparentonpurpose, and Twitter, I think it’s JDHolland, I don’t know, I don’t really like Twitter. If you like Twitter, go on Twitter.

Jay Holland:

Hey, remember parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. God loves you. Don’t give up, it’s going to get better, keep with it. God is with you. We’ll talk to you soon.

 

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