Manuela and David Acosta’s marriage was marked by fights and unfaithfulness. During a separation, they both individually started going to church and learning about God; but after more hardship and years of living between Dallas and Miami, they were ready to give up. The Lord used His people and Watermark’s marriage ministry, re|engage, to remind them of His never-ending, unconditional love for His children.
David: “Things were not healthy. Even though we were going to church and professing our faith as Christians, we were not truly living out the faith. After three reconciliation attempts, we found ourselves together once again in a rocky marriage. What we thought was great started collapsing because we didn’t have a solid foundation in Christ. We were on the verge of separating again, so we decided to move to Dallas together to make a change. Within months, things started to get completely out of hand. I decided I would buy a house for her and the kids, and then I would leave.
“That is when we were invited to Watermark and heard about re|engage. She dragged me to a Wednesday night meeting, and I was so reluctant. I was furious and angry; I didn’t want to be there at all. But for some reason, we kept coming.”
Manuela: “In re|engage, we started learning more about forgiveness in the Bible. I felt like the Holy Spirit was telling me, ‘You need to confess your unfaithfulness. You need to ask David for forgiveness.’ I couldn’t ignore it. The conviction just kept getting louder. I didn’t know what to expect in confessing, but from what I’d been learning, I knew I could trust the Lord. Confession was a step of obedience I needed to take.
“I confessed to David that it wasn’t just one time of unfaithfulness that he knew about, but several times. I knew I was opening a wound again. He barely spoke to me, and when he looked at me, I could only see hate in his eyes.”
D: “I was so angry. I was ready to grab my bags and go. But at that moment, I stopped in my tracks. It was almost as if the Lord Himself stood in front of me and said, ‘Who do you think you are? You are condemning her. But before she was unfaithful to you, she was unfaithful to me. I’ve forgiven her. You can, too.’
“I finally understood what Christ did for Manuela, for me, and for our marriage. We are constantly sinful and unfaithful to the Lord, and yet He continually forgives us of our sins and reconciles us to Him. I had so, so much anger, but I love God, and I want to obey and honor Him in the best way I can. I realized my biggest issue was the struggle between the Lord and me. I wouldn’t accept His will for my life.
“The next year was a continual struggle for me with the Lord. I allowed myself to pursue an emotional affair; however, with encouragement from the guys in my community group, I was convicted to confess to Manuela. When Manuela confessed, I rejected her in every way possible, but she responded to my confession with humility. She never fought me. She quietly responded with Bible verses and continued to serve me. Over time, her behavior and the Holy Spirit in her softened me. God, through Manuela, showed me that I needed to pursue reconciliation in our marriage. We’d forgiven each other, but reconciliation had not truly started.
“Now, it has been years of continuous work and growth in our right understanding of who we are in Christ. Working on our marriage is the right thing and a good thing for both of us, but ultimately, we have a higher duty, and that is to honor Christ in our marriage.
“God’s Word has been a tremendous part of our marriage transformation. I meditate often on Ephesians 5:25-28. It says, ‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.’ We (the church) are constantly sinful and unfaithful to Him, but He continually forgives us and reconciles us to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18). That is love.”
M: “Our time in the Word taught me what a biblical marriage is. It was a process, but the Lord softened my heart so much. I lived in shame for a while. It was hard for me in the past to share my testimony, but now understanding the message that God has forgiven me and made me new allows me to live in freedom from my past like Romans 6:6-7 reminds me.”
D: “We are no longer defined by our past. Conflict is still a part of our life. However, the Lord has renewed our strength and our understanding of who we are in Him. Today we walk under endless grace from our God and from each other. We continually confess and forgive. But what is most important is that God has loved us enough to restore our family and surround us with people who run alongside us, encourage us, and build us up.”