LaDale: Hi. My name is LaDale Buggs and this is my bride, Cynthia. We have been married for 14 years and we have two sweet little girls that love to talk and they have interesting personalities. Gabriela is 10 and Isabella is 6. And we have a little boy on the way! I was born in a small town in east Texas named Huntington in a Christian home with my single mother and my little sister. We went to church every single day and twice on Sunday. Most of the time, I would fall sleep in church probably because I was tired from being at the church every single day.
My biological father was never around and that really left a void in the beginning part of my life of not having a father figure to guide me. What was important to him was drinking alcohol and extramarital affairs. If you look back into the Buggs family tree, you would see that the lack of presence of a father figure and extramarital affairs were common.
We then moved to Dallas Texas and when I turned 6 years old, my mother remarried and I finally had the father figure that I had so yearned for. We began to continue going to church not every day, but often.
The funny thing about going to the local church is that I begin to learn about this man named Jesus. My new father would take me to men's Bible studies on Wednesday nights at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship. We prayed together, he coached my basketball team and the Lord used him to lead me to salvation in Christ. A small voice in my ear began to tell me, “have something great for you.”
Cynthia: I grew up with my parents and two younger brothers in a border town of Texas called Del Rio. I was a straight A-student, semi-athletic, had a solid group of friends and very close extended family; overall a pretty good girl. Growing up my parents had a very Mexican cultural marriage. My mom served with a kind heart and had breakfast, lunch and dinner made. She would tend to work, kids, and home never complaining. We understood that what my dad said was it. We were not to question him or his decisions or be disrespectful. We grew up in a Catholic household. We attended church every Sunday and on specials holidays. We would go to church functions and have rosaries monthly. I grew up listening about Christ and His life but never knew what it meant to have a relationship with Him. I saw my family struggle at home with family issues, pregnancies, money and disagreements, but wouldn’t share with others about what was going on. I learned early on that what happened at home was not to be shared.
LaDale: As a growing young man, I began to feel the effects of not having that father figure in my life constantly so I turned to R&B music and movies to shape my worldview. Usher, Jagged Edge, Chris Brown, just to name a few, became my favorite artists to listen to.
One night I was awakened to screams coming from my mother and father's bedroom. That was the first time that I learned that my new father had been physically abusing my mother. During my middle school and high school years, this new reality became very common in our household. My father being escorted out of our home by the police because of domestic abuse of my mother was not surprising to me. During those times I would turn to two things to help me cope with these realities, my R&B music and movie worldview and Christ Jesus. Most of time, the R&B music and movies would be the preferred method of coping. This worldview taught me how to find a woman, how to treat a woman and about sex. But that small voice in my ear continued telling me, “I have something great for you.”
Cynthia: As a teenager my family continued the same pattern of attending church with no relationship with Christ being cultivated. One night, I was up late watching a movie by myself. The movie ended and an adult movie began. Before I knew it, I was watching pornography. I can remember not being able to sleep that night and being uneasy the rest of the week, it was a horrible feeling but it was too late. Pornography had been introduced into my life.
I turned 15 and did what the rest of my cousins did when they turn 15. We would go to the clubs in Mexico to drink and dance. By 16, I was a regular at the clubs and started having inappropriate relations with guys. I began having a very promiscuous way of thinking, “I won’t have boyfriends only inappropriate relations with them so they can’t hurt me”. My thinking was so off. As I had promiscuous dates with guys, I would get hurt and so my appetite for porn grew with it. I was able to watch porn from my room, since my parents trusted me so much, and I became so numb to it that no one knew what I was doing. I remember one time my cousin came to fix my computer and he let me know that he could see what was on the history and I simply left the room. He didn’t tell my parents and I learned to erase the history. I didn’t notice then but the Lord was providing a way out. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” But my sin pattern continued.
LaDale: During my high school and college years, this is when I would become very promiscuous in my relationships with women. I started to ignore the small voice in my ear. I began to date a young lady and things began to get very serious and marriage was on the table. This lady fit the worldview that was taught to me at a young age. Suddenly, the relationship ended and I was heartbroken but even the heartbrokenness fit the worldview that I was taught.
During the latter part of my college years, that's when I began to become serious with my relationship with Christ. That’s also when I first met Cynthia. Ok, let me paint a picture of how we met. She was walking into the student union at UT Dallas. Her hair was blowing in the wind, everything around her had stopped moving and there was a spotlight only on her. I said to myself, who is that and one of those R&B songs came to mind. But, I kind of insulted her by telling her that she was too wild for me to date.
The first time we had a discussion, I actually shared the gospel with her. As soon as I got done, I ran outside and called the pastor who had begun to disciple me and told him that I shared the gospel with her. He asked me “what did she say?” I replied, “I don’t know. But I shared the Gospel with her. He said, “son it would probably be wise for you to follow up with her to see if she accepted Christ.” Little did I know, that little voice began to talk to her in her ear also. At Christmas time, Cynthia called me to inform me that she had accepted Christ as her Savior. I had no clue what Christ was doing behind the scenes but she became the first person that Christ used me to lead to him. We immediately went into courtship and three years later we were married.
Cynthia: I graduated high school, came to Dallas to attend UTD. Being the first one in my family and second in my extended family to go to college, my dad did not want me to stay in a dorm alone. Since we didn’t question what was said, I came to live with my aunt and uncle and her three kids. This living arrangement saved me from getting too wild. I continued to have inappropriate relationships but would always come back home. I continued to get my heart broken and kept watching pornography. Then one day I walked into the student union and met a quiet guy named LaDale Buggs. Not much was said but there was something different about him. He asked me a very important question “Do you know Christ?” and I said “I’m Catholic” he responded with that’s not what I asked. He continued by sharing the gospel and planted a seed. I went home to Del Rio for Christmas break, accepted Christ and called LaDale to let him know my joy.
After that Christmas break and a few months of spending lots of time together discussing Christ, learning how to read the Bible, and attending church with LaDale, we had an important conversation. He said, “I am not looking for a girlfriend I’m looking for a wife” and I responded with “I’m looking for a husband” and we went into courtship. We had an agreement in place that kept us from having premarital sex. We were in courtship for three years and kept our agreement. I kept using porn sporadically, feeling guiltier but not letting LaDale know anything about my struggle.
LaDale: But two days before our wedding day, my old friend the R&B music and movies worldview showed up. The young lady that I had a serious relationship with years before I met Cynthia called me to ask if I was going through with marrying Cynthia. Of course I said yes, but a terrible seed had been planted.
After saying I do, that seed would often pop into my head and I began to ask the question, have I married the right person. Four years into our marriage, the young lady contacted me again to see if I would leave my wife for her. I told her no but I did not inform my wife of our conversation. A couple years later, she reached out to me again and we began to have an emotional affair. My wife had no clue of what I was doing. That little voice in my ear would tell me don't continue to do this but I ignored it.
Cynthia: We got married and I was thinking, this is it. LaDale is going to fix my porn issue and we are set for life. I was wrong again. Our first year married was rocky especially since I got pregnant about six months in. We became task oriented and soon became roommates. I stayed away from porn for the first year but after that all bets were off. We continued to attend church on Sundays and always with a smile on our faces. I attended women’s Bible studies but the relationships never went beyond the four walls. We were doing what my family used to practice - what happens at home, stays at home.
LaDale: My wife found out about the affair while we were watching the movie Temptation. I had to come clean to her about the affair but I conveniently left out some details. She was heartbroken about the entire thing and I thought she would never look at me the same.
Cynthia: Then late one evening, everything came crashing down. We were watching a movie about infidelity and LaDale kept asking me every five minutes, “are you ok?”, and I replied with “yes…let me watch the movie”. Soon after, he got up and went to the bathroom. About a minute later, his phone got a message, I checked it and it was his ex-girlfriend. I opened up the thread and read that this was not something new. He came out and told me everything. I was so hurt and could not understand how he could do this or why. But I went to the Lord and asked for wisdom. I talked with a good friend and her words of wisdom left a single word on my mind, hope. I remember waking up and making him breakfast the next morning because I understood that if I allow my heart to start building walls, they would be harder to break down. We both knew we wanted to stay married we just didn’t know what to do or where to start.
LaDale: I went back to the one thing that I knew would never let me down and that was Christ Jesus himself. I confessed the affair to some guys that I had been walking with. They encouraged me and referred me to Scott Kedersha from Watermark. Scott informed me about a great ministry called re| engage and told me to watch Raeul and Susan Cox's story. After watching their story I concluded that if the Lord could resurrect their marriage, He would do wonders on ours.
Cynthia: LaDale looked for classes, guidance, counseling, something to help us with our marriage-we were directed to Watermark and the rest is history…or the beginning of a new chapter.
LaDale was sold, but I was hurt. He showed me the re|engage clip, I thought the couple was strange, but we went. First Wednesday, we were greeted with open arms and I was embarrassed that this was happening to me. I heard the testimony and was hooked, “I’m not the only one in this situation.” We came back the following week and I heard, “come clean to your spouse to get the most out of this journey”. We went home and I told LaDale that I had been watching porn for years. He was deeply hurt but we got into a small group and dove head-first. We were all in. Joel 2:25, “Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust…”
LaDale: We dove right into open groups and immediately saw Christ’s hand in our marriage. After the second meeting we had, my wife told me she had to confess something to me. She had been watching porn all through our marriage and had been hiding it from me. She hid it so well I began to think she worked for the CIA. I became very angry at her because while she was wounded because of my indiscretions, she continued to hide hers from me. I thank the Lord for Reid Griffin. Reid shared with me that my wife and I have been blessed with an opportunity to help each other walk in areas that we are both weak in. That little voice in my ear, named The Holy Spirit, began to show me the greater things HE had in store for us.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know what I have planned for you says the Lord. I have plans to prosper you not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.”
Cynthia: After re|engage we went back to attending our previous church home and got back into our old routine. Business, work, two children, and upkeep took a toll on our marriage as we were not in a community where we could be held accountable to using the tools we had learned at re|engage. Time passed and LaDale let me know that he had reached out to his ex-girlfriend again, and I let him know that I had watched pornography again. Remembering the tools from re|engage we were able to listen to each other and reach out for guidance. Since we didn’t have community, we called our old re|engage group and they admonished us and advised us to get a community together. We tried, but there were no takers.
After God showed us the need for community, we migrated back to Watermark and here we are now. We became members, got into a community group, and began serving as greeters at re|engage and now leaders. We are not perfect but we really try to use the Bible as the filter when speaking with each other and dealing with our issues. Each year we have seen improvements in our marriage. We continue to use the wisdom and practices that we have learned here. John 10:10 says, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
LaDale: My wife and I began to become more vulnerable and transparent with one another by drawing the circle around ourselves. We began to master the art of asking thought provoking questions to solve the core of our issues. We began to experience the true freedom Kingdom-culture that Christ spoke about in the Bible. John 8:32 says, “…and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” Our minds began to be transformed. We began to grow into oneness spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally. We began to walk in the authority that Christ had given us. Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you."
In conclusion, we would like to leave you with three points that remind us daily on how we should pursue one another.
V - stands for Vulnerability. Being vulnerable is where we found our most powerful position. We continue to share with each other our flaws and failures.
O - stands for Others-Centered. We have learned to enjoy serving one another. We continue to seek to study one another on a daily basis and it does not feel like a chore.
W - stands for Worship. The first letters have led to our authentic worship every day, in every area of our relationship.
Those letters stand for “vow”. And we really hold fast to our vows and we really hold fast to being vulnerable. Thank you for letting us share our story.