Greg and Emily Goodin

Greg My name is Greg Goodin and this is my sweet bride Emily. We have been married for 10 years and have one 6-year-old son named Graham {I think we have some pictures}. My story begins in Amarillo TX where I grew up in a typical household with a hard-working father, a nurturing stay-at-home mother, and an older brother. We attended church regularly but lived our day to day lives void of the gospel. While I knew of God, I lacked the life-informing relationship with God that would unfortunately play itself out in destructive ways well into my early 20’s. Specifically, my greatest rebellious behavior came in the form of both physical and verbal conflict, and what I would later come to understand to be just as damaging, the lack of conflict resolution.

This inability to resolve conflict through communications at home, created division within my parents' relationship to the point of divorce, distance between my brother and I, and lead me into years of unhealthy relationships with other friends and family.

Emily I was born in Richardson and I have a sister who is 13 months older than me. My parents divorced when I was 5 and my mom remarried shorty after that. My sense of refuge and stability at home was shaken so early in my childhood with the divorce, a quick re-marriage, and blending of families, it created a sense of anxiety and desire to try to manage towards some consistency in life.

The gospel of being saved by faith in Jesus Christ was presented to me at summer camp in about the 5th grade and I accepted Christ as my savior. However, we never went to church as a family or talked about our faith so I was mainly focused on what the world had to offer. I desperately wanted to fit in, so managing people's perception of me became my main goal.

Greg The simple truth is the sum of so many years walking apart from God navigating through academics, athletics, professions and relationships alone, allowed me to experience the gambit of all this world has to offer. Those years of satisfying my self-centeredness, and relying on my own abilities and understandings naturally began shaping my heart. I formed my own inaccurate beliefs about God and people, defined what the purpose of love and life were about, shaped perspectives about relationships and how each one would serve me, and even expectations for what my life was going to be about with no regard for others or the possible consequences of my confrontational actions. I decided who I would spend my time with, when and how I would spend it, and simply fed my flesh. When relationships or situations before marriage would become tough, I would simply move on.

Without remorse and zero resolution, this created a pattern that blossomed into a critical spirit and allowed me to devalue communication within conflict for years to come. Somehow not having to talk about it meant you could just escape it. I continued to develop a distorted identity one broken experience after another, a perverted understanding of what leadership and love are in relationships where I remained at the center of them all, and many unhealthy expectations and focuses on others that prevented me from addressing my own sin.

Emily After high school I went through a series of bad relationship choices including allowing a boyfriend to cheat on me for many years and then later having an inappropriate relationship with a married man. I thought I was so good at managing my life by this point and so good at controlling everything around me, that this felt like a complete shock. I knew I was not seeking God’s will for my life and I cared far more about what people thought of me than how I was using my life to honor God.

In early 2005 I started coming to Watermark and very quickly realized this place was filled with people who wanted to be known. Later that fall, my whole life changed when my relationship with the married guy came to the light and I decided to go all in with following the Lord. I learned that the more I shared my struggles and sins with other women, the more I felt truly loved and understood. The enemy wants us to believe that we need to hide our weaknesses, but Christ proclaims the opposite. 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that His power is made perfect in weakness.

Greg While the Lord allowed me to get to this place, He did not abandon me nor forsake me. He was merely waiting for me to turn to Him and flee the “Greg as King” lifestyle. Through His sovereignty, He brought men into my life that surrounded me while I was still single and lost in my selfish ways and loved me regardless. For the first time in my life I was being discipled, and found true purpose. During this time, I was constantly being pointed back to Christ with truths from God’s word. My ways did not line up with His ways and it was the beginning of a refining process that continues to this day. It was clear how I deviated, and the Lord began to remove my self-made definitions, and reshaped my beliefs, and how those beliefs informed my behavior. I was a sinner in need of a Savior. Not once and done years ago, but daily devoting and depending on Him forevermore.

Years later Emily and I met at Watermark, dated for 2.5 years, and married, beginning an eye-opening adventure. Once married, it didn’t take long to establish bad habits and realize I was terrible at being married. My selfishness and justifications would dominate my decisions and contribute to much divisiveness. I was only hearing Emily as someone who wanted to change me to make her life easier so any point made was dismissed (my pride). I was viewing her as one who found great value and self-righteousness through knowing God’s word but did not live it out (critical spirit/judgmental).

When conflict would arise, my poor communication tactics filled with self-righteousness and defense mechanisms would consume any chances of resolve. Rather than seeking to understand her, the pride-based “you’re the problem not me”, kept me in my blinded state and unable to see what the Lord was revealing to me. I was angry all the time and felt accused and attacked at the drop of the hat. I was the fool in Proverbs 29:11 giving full vent to his anger. Verbally there were no limits to the hurtful things I would say, no escalation too high, or volume too loud to get my point across or win the argument. I was harshly direct, inconsiderately rude, and our unhealthy communication style turned into much unresolved conflict.

It drove a wedge between us, and our relationship began to grow shallow and fragile. Our disagreements and quarrels were seeds of bitterness that lead to hard hearted opinions like “Emily was my enemy”. While Emily and I are quite different from each other, we remained opposed more than we were in agreement. We struggled to get on the same page about anything because we couldn’t keep a conversation going long enough to understand where the other person was coming from without it turning into a fight. Another verse I failed to apply was 1 Peter 3:7 that clearly encourages us with, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

We were becoming roommates only because we both vowed to never divorce. Neither of us wanted to admit it nor did I really know why I was so confrontational, but we were acutely aware simply through the way we communicated that we were suffering. Our oneness was nonexistent. We simply could not communicate without being rude or impulsive. Everything seemed disrespectful due to my negatively interpreting much of what Emily said. My triggers were tripped and off I went on a verbal rampage.

Emily I thought that since Greg and I had gone through pre-marital counseling at Watermark, joined a foundation group, been involved in the church, etc. things would be just perfect. Well, they weren’t. Shortly after we got married, out of my own fear of fully trusting and struggle with control, I started to question everything about Greg. It was so slow and subtle that I didn’t even fully recognize my own perceptions and actions and how damaging they were. Instead of trusting him and believing that he was a great partner for me, I became very skeptical and began to doubt his competence in many areas. Part of my struggle is that when I see one little area that is not how I think it should be, my mind races to figure out how to control the situation to prevent the worst possible outcome. This lead me to try to control Greg - everything from purchases, to people’s perception of me and our marriage, to even what Greg did on a daily basis. I probably don’t have to tell you that that is an exhausting and fruitless way to live. Not to mention, I don’t think Greg liked it very much.

My attempts at control lead to so many conflicts, it’s hard to even pinpoint some of the worst. I can tell you that conflicts at our house used to be filled with a lot of yelling, cussing, harsh words, controlling tones, and many days without speaking. Somewhere among all the crazy poor communication and conflict, we decided to have a baby. We welcomed our son Graham in February of 2013. Graham has been a huge blessing for us and parenting him has been a tangible expression of how much the Lord loves us. However, Greg and I fully recognized that in order to be the best parents and all that God intended, we need to first focus on our own relationships with Christ and a strong, healthy marriage.

Greg After five years of marriage and years in community, we agreed to give re|engage a try. First, the heart churning curriculum revealed much about who I was as a husband. It was the only safe place I could be honest about how I was feeling, and acknowledge the lies I had bought into that were directly affecting our oneness. Embarrassingly enough, we were finally able to hear what the other was sharing, and that brought about incredible opportunity for restored oneness. We would leave united and filled with hope due to the clarity and humility we experienced, and could then continue a conversation with a different outcome elsewhere as a result. We were beginning a much-needed reconciliation path towards one another all because we could gently communicate. The idea “it’s not what I said, but what you heard” still rings true for us. Each chapter challenged us to re-evaluate how we are to treat one another and collectively reminded me of 1 Corinthians 13 and what the true definition of love is. We realized our poor communication methods were preventing us from extending grace, forgiveness in action, intimacy, and more.

Emily God used our time in reengage to radically change our marriage. The biggest ah ha for me as we went through the curriculum was the lesson on Grace. Specifically, the question that asks us to “tell about a time when your spouse has shown you grace.” Greg’s page was blank. BLANK. He could not think of one single answer to that question. That was a low. I had not shown him even a glimpse of the overwhelming grace I myself have been shown by the Lord and so many others? That was the beginning me drawing the circle around myself and working on changing everything in it. God showed me that I was more concerned about being right and having things my way than loving and serving Greg. More concerned about protecting my (our) reputation than really seeking what God has for us.

I wanted to quit every week in re|engage because I thought nothing was happening. It wasn’t until almost the very end that I realized a big truth. I was always looking for one big event to point to that could explain why our marriage was so bad. But God revealed me that it wasn’t one event or one thing. It was a series of small choices I had made over time to move away from what God intended in marriage. And the way to move towards a marriage that God intended is by making small choices over time to love and trust God and Greg. We had to start with changing the way we communicate and changing the way we resolve conflict. Some of the steps in the re|engage book on these topics felt very forced at first, but the more we practiced them, the more the Lord showed us how to really love each other and resolve conflict in a healthy way.

Greg We had a choice to make after learning so much about how to have a God-honoring marriage and no longer willing to live in denial about any part of it. It was time to walk in His ways, to taste and see that the Lord is good. To lean on the Lord for guidance and strength, and believe that He is capable of handling our problems. Finally, this freed me from trying to fix Emily and focus on Christ. I could practice patience with Emily and trust the Lord that He is still at work and His timing is perfect. I only need to yield to the Spirit and let the Love I’ve come to know, be extended to my bride as Christ calls me to. I can admit my faults and failures and I’m not met with condemnation or conflict. We are learning to embrace each other as Christ himself would regardless of our imperfections.

Emily We have recently been through a couple of trials, and it has been fun to celebrate just how much our communication and conflict resolution has changed in the last few years. I feel closer to Greg than I ever have and I’m learning to trust him more and more each day. Praise the Lord that the way things have always been don’t have to be the way they are going forward.

Greg We stand here today grateful for the Lord’s love and kindness that lead us both to repentance. Humbled by the hands of our Mighty Healer who to this day is still redeeming His children and taking ground in the hearts of those who believe in Him.

Emily My encouragement to you who are here working on your marriage is to just take the next small step in moving towards your spouse. Don’t underestimate the day to day interactions that build trust and build a great marriage. Don’t underestimate what the Lord can do with 2 willing hearts who love him.

Greg Thank you for letting us share!

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