We don't often hear someone's real story when it comes to pornography and Christian marriage. Yet did you know...
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#52 Can God Heal A Marriage Touched By Pornography?
god, marriage, struggling, ben, life, pornography, addiction, kim, relationship, counseling, share, feel, people, church, parents, pornography addiction, scales, married, identity, husband
Valerie McMahon, Kim Parrish, Ben Parrish, Denisha Workizer
Denisha Workizer 00:01
Welcome to Living the Reclaim life Podcast. I'm Tanisha We're glad you're here for conversations that revive hope, inspire healing and encourage you to live a vibrant life with Christ. So grab a cup of coffee as we chat with today's guest.
Valerie McMahon 00:16
This is Valerie again, I'm so happy to be back on the podcast with you. And today I have some very special friends with me, Kim and Ben Parrish. We go to the same church. And Kim is on staff at New Life Bible Fellowship. And she's joined by Mr. Ben, who also is pretty cool around our church. All the kids love him. And so thank you guys. Thank you for saying yes to me coming to coming here and being on the podcast. So welcome. Thank you. Yes. So Kim and Ben, why don't you tell us a little bit about your family, because I know your family has a unique story too. But just tell us a little bit about your pride and joy.
Kim Parrish 00:58
Yeah, so we have been married this July 25 years. And we are excited. We have four kiddos, we've got a daughter that's at college in Tennessee, and a son that's in the Navy and a son that is graduating this right yeah, he's about to graduate in May. And then we couldn't have any more kids. So we went through a long adoption process from international and that didn't work out. And so after we were out of money, we decided that we would become foster parents. Oh, wonderful. His goodness gave us our son. We got him at five days old, and were able to adopt him. And so we have a seven year old about to be eight. So big gap there. Great kid for our almost empty nesting phase of life.
Valerie McMahon 01:41
Yeah, keeps you on your toes keeps you young, right.
Kim Parrish 01:43
Yeah, exactly. Or makes me realize how old I am so
Valerie McMahon 01:49
well, you're always surrounded by children, right? Because you're our children's ministry director at New Life and you're on the executive leadership team. So tell us a little bit about just your passion for for ministry and for serving God in the church.
Kim Parrish 02:02
Yeah, I would say Ben and I both like he's been my right arm and everything. Just as the children's ministry director and family ministry director, like, we want to see children come to know Christ. But more than that, we want families like we want the church to not be the place they learned about Christ. But we want the church to echo the home. Yes. So that's why I love children's ministry just because I get to work with kids and parents, and I want to help equip parents to feel confident that it is their testimony that God will often use most in the life of their children. Yeah, yeah, just helping them feel like it's okay, and where to share their testimony and how to share who God is to them with their children, and make that organic from them. And then just even just echoing that in the church, and I just have a real passion and a heart for that. And just even letting them know, like just even their honesty and who they are. And what God has done in their life has a profound effect on their children. So yeah, that's my excited part about that. What would you add to that?
Ben Parrish 02:56
No, it's very similar. I just, I just love being able to be a part of God's family and those who are just trying to walk this life, you know, just like I am. And whether it's with the kids and just bringing excitement to they're there every week, whenever they come in the doors to like men's groups, and being able just to be real about what we're walking through in life, what we're trying to deal with in our daily lives. Like, I feel like so many times, we hide a lot of stuff. And so yeah, I just like to try to be as open as possible in those moments and just be able to say, hey, look, this is real, like the things through a real, we don't need to hide them. Yeah. And the more we can walk alongside each other, the better it'd be so
Valerie McMahon 03:34
yeah, amen. Well, and that's a great segue to what we're going to be talking about today about what do we do when we're struggling with some just real, real hard issues, and we may feel ashamed. And we may feel like we need to hide them, especially when we're in the church. And as you guys know, we've been talking about this theme this last month of distorted love, and how how does our love get distorted, and how how our view of God can affect sometimes how we view love. And even as we talked about last week, how our upbringing, our family dynamics, and how we grew up, and maybe how we saw our parents relate and whether we had a healthy home or an unhealthy home or dysfunctional marriage or not, you know, how that can be viewed, how that can change our view of love. And so, part of the reason I invited you guys was because you have a pretty incredible story, a reclaimed story in your marriage. And I know the two of you have been just such a blessing to my husband and I and have helped us walk through struggles in our marriage. And so So I want you guys to first share individually share how your upbringing how the marriage you saw in your home, how that affected your view of love and what you brought into your marriage with each other.
Kim Parrish 04:55
Yeah, so I'll go first. My dad and mom divorced when I was two I have one sibling that's five years older and one sibling that's like 12 years older. We had kind of different labs because when my family, my parents were married, they were in the rodeo, and they did all these kind of family RV kind of stuff. Well, then they got divorced. When I was two, my older brother went to live with my dad and my middle brother. And I stayed with my mom, that my dad then was married for other times, and my mom was married to other times. So five marriages for my dad and three for my mom, and my parents were good people, my parents were home every night, they provided they were there, on and off, they would take us to church, we had family outings and everything. But the impact of all the relationships was really hard. Because I think just as a child, when I was craving their attention, they were in new relationships yourselves. And it just made me feel at times like unseen. And I am a huge study Enneagram at all, I am an Enneagram three, like my picture should be in the dictionary. And so I'm constantly trying to come up with like, what's my rubric for success here. So for me, as I came to know, Christ, like God was so gracious to me and revealing Himself to me when I was like 12 years old, and coming to know him as as my Redeemer and my father and protector. And that was so good. But then I morphed that into thinking that oh, now it's my job to teach my family who Christ is. And because I'm that achiever, it was out of my perfection, I wanted them to know Christ, like God was going to use that in me to teach him that which was unattainable, right? Sure. And so but um, so I had a goal that I was going to go to college, and when I first went to college, I wanted to be an attorney. But whatever it was, I needed to be successful at it, to reveal God to them. And then it became I wanted to get married, so that I should could show them how to do marriage, right? And well, in God's way. Sure. And so I had just picked up a lot of that, but it was fun. When I was nine, my neighbor had asked me to watch their church nursery. So I kind of laughed that I've been in children's marriages, I was not, I would never allow a nine year old to watch her now. But I got God all the time through the nursery, like I would hear it, and then just being in that church, so I heard God, and I knew God, but my personality, definitely more to that and what I was looking for in life. So that's kind of me. Yeah. How about you? Yeah, so
Ben Parrish 07:27
I, I grew up in a pretty, you know, a Christian home that that was, you know, my parents were had a good relationship. And they've been married for over 50 years now. But it was very much a home where there were things going on in the background, but we put on kind of that, that face to the rest of the world that everything was doing, okay. And as a part of that, I, you know, we talk about Enneagram I'm a nine and so I'm very much a people pleaser, my oldest sister was trying to spread her wings. And, you know, they would argue my parents a lot inside the house, my middle sister, little at the time that I know, but was struggling starting to struggle with an alcohol addiction and things like that. And so I was their source of joy, and happiness. And so therefore, I had to do that for my parents and a lot of ways. Yeah, so at least, that's what I took on internally, myself, well, I took that on also with my relationship with God, like I, I came very, you know, I grew up in the church, I was baptized at a very young age seven years old. And I just I, you know, I knew God, but I started developing this, just this kind of dance with God of okay, I've got to please you. And so I've got to do certain things to please you. And I know I've got other things that I'm dealing with, but but I can kind of hide those and please you with the things that I know, like, you know, whether it was serving or camps, or whether it was, you know, seeing whatever being, you know, big part of youth group, or whatever the case may be, and so that people pleasing, and that kind of hiding the things that I knew wasn't going well would kind of follow me as I got out of high school got into a relationship with Tim, and then kind of moved on from there. So
Valerie McMahon 09:05
yeah, and I just want to I think I didn't say at the beginning, but if you're listening to this as an adult, and if you have kids around, you might want to what a wait and listen to it. We are going to be talking about some some adult topics. So just wanted to give that little disclaimer first so So Ben, as you talk about just like we talked about that distorted view of love and how, you know, you viewed God as as you know, I need to please God, did you feel like as long as you were pleasing God, then you felt loved by God? Would you say there was a connection there? Yeah,
Ben Parrish 09:38
I felt like I was acceptable to be loved by God at that time, right. So I had to be able to do a certain amount of things or be worthy of the love he gave me. I understood it was a sacrifice that Jesus did for me that I could never do. But for some reason, I always felt like there was kind of this scales in my brain of, okay, I've done enough to kind of be worthy of that almost you And so, you know, you're really kind of struggle with with that, you know, as I have other pieces of my, my testimony.
Valerie McMahon 10:07
Yeah. So what what, as you're sharing today about like I said the, the the distorted view of love and how like you said as long as I was pleasing God I felt acceptable but what what part of your life did you feel like you couldn't you couldn't share or else you would feel unacceptable
Ben Parrish 10:28
biggest piece for me was as I was a kid and as I was growing up, I had several, some some pretty key exposures to pornography early on. One of them was, you know, just with a babysitter who would watch back then satellite was pretty new, right? You know, they had the big dishes in the back of the yard. And we were able to afford that. And but nothing was like, it was not subscription base, it was just anything that was on air, you could watch. Sure, so the, there was definitely pornography on the air with Playboy channel and things of that. And so I, my female babysitter, and I would watch that she was much older than I was. And so just kind of starting off with that. I just, I knew in my spirit that was wrong, but but there was a piece of my flesh, I was like, Ooh, I enjoy this. And so I you know, that that kind of would start to follow and start a pattern of just addiction and pornography that lasted for, you know, 25 plus years. 30 years, probably. So I had to hide that. And and work even more hard to be able to see the scales in my mind. Sure I was acceptable to God.
Valerie McMahon 11:35
Sure, sure. And as you look at how, when you met Kim, and you're starting to talk about marriage, what what was in your mind as far as that struggle and how you viewed? You know, your love relationship with Kim, how did you view like, Did you view that that was gonna somehow fix it? Or, you know, be the, the cure? Or the answer? So tell us a bit about that. Great
Ben Parrish 12:00
question. So as I you know, I totally was like, as soon as I get married, this will be done, will not have this struggle anymore, right? Because it's all just a total physical thing. And that's all that mattered. I didn't have that understanding of this, where I was trying to balance out my good and bad and with God and playing that dance that would just basically come into our marriage relationship, and be something that I would try to do the same with Kim. Right. And so I thought, when we got married, we'd be able to have sex and all that would be go away. And it was very much the opposite. So I now had two people that I was trying to balance the scales with, and deal with, and I dealt with the emotions of my wife. And as she started to learn about my addiction, and things like that, and so now I was even trying to just keep peace there, right? And people pleaser Chase, I'm trying to keep the peace and balancing this, you know, the secret world of me and the pornography that I was pursuing, along with, trying to keep my wife happy and trying to keep our relationship with God that was healthy. And just,
Valerie McMahon 13:01
yeah, work. Yeah. So what how did you expect her to love you? And what way did you expect her to? To meet your needs? And to love you? Well, yeah,
Ben Parrish 13:14
I mean, I would think the first piece was just that, you know, just, you know, a physical relationship that would that would be, you know, her being open, and we both being able to be in that. And that, you know, I almost felt like just having that relationship with her and being physical with her would would take care of things. And then also, because I was struggling with where I was with everything, there was this piece of just a wonderful to love me where I was at, I almost wanted to be able to explain or like just kind of divulge everything and be like, just let me where I'm at helped me, you know, almost wanted her to rescue me in some ways. Yeah. Because I'm like, I need help. And I don't know how to get out of this. I've been struggling with this for, you know, six or seven years and just not sure how to get beyond that. And so,
Valerie McMahon 13:58
sure, yeah. So Kim, as you entered marriage, like you said, you you kind of had this this responsibility, really that you were carrying that, you know, I did not have a good model of what you know, a long term marriage Healthy Marriage Christian marriage look like so I have to prove that I could make that happen. Right. So so as you developed a love relationship with Ben and started even before you knew about his struggle, how did you love him? Like how how did you you know, as his wife, how did you communicate love? How did you expect him to love you? Like, what were your expectations?
Kim Parrish 14:36
Yeah, so I think part of it is just understanding even that without achiever part of me, I felt like I knew God loved me. But I felt like it was my duty to return to him at the end of the day and achievement, like gets what and so for me, like, as much like God wants to walk in a daily, hourly, second relationship with me. I would like wake up and in my mind, get my marching orders. Let me go achieve for God and come back and give it a sheet right. And so I had created, like I said, this rubric. And so for me, I knew what I wanted in order to have a godly marriage, I had to have a godly man. And what attracted me to Ben was I saw this young college guy running after God with all in his heart. Little did I know, he was running after God, because he had an addiction that was killing me. Yeah. And so he was desperate for God to take this away. And so I solve fruit and evidence of a relationship with God. But the motivation behind it, I didn't understand. Sure. And so checklists, though I got running after God evolve as hard, right? So this has been someone saw me and met me the first day of school or freshman year in college and went home and told his roommates, I was the girl who was going to marry. So the fact that a man that loved God, like that saw me like, world to me. And so that was such a sweet thing. So here I was, I had my first checklist and like, let's go, here's my right. It was hard for me, though, because we get married. And Ben didn't tell me about his addiction. Sure, after our honeymoon, like he had in his mind that sex was going to fix it in sex didn't fix it, because his pornography problem wasn't a sex addiction. It was just just like anyone would use food or ice cream or whatever they wound, right? Safety place for sure. He began to withdraw from me. And so nothing was going the way I had planned, like, God honored you SATA guy with this, like, I thought we had an agreement here that this is the way it was gonna go. And it didn't go that way. And then I began to try to figure out like, Well, what do I need to do? And it took us a couple of years before I even discovered your addiction. And then quickly, though, in my own personality was like, oh, that's why God put me here, so that I could fix Ben. And so as much as I thought it was for me to show my family how to have a great marriage. Sure. I'm gonna get to fix Ben and then show my family what a great marriage is like, it was all totally, you know, yeah. You know, God was just like, as much as Ben was trying to make himself worthy. I was also trying to make myself worthy. And I was trying to earn it about achievement. Sure, no, it was kind of a crazy recipe that we started our life with. Sure.
Valerie McMahon 17:23
So share a little bit about about that about as, as you made that discovery, that confession and hear you're both coming, once pleasing ones, you know, achieving, how did that blow up? How did how did that, you know, how did that crash come together? And what what did you start to see in your relationship, in your marriage, that you realize, wow, there's something there's something wrong here?
Ben Parrish 17:50
What's it for me as as you know, I don't even remember, like the moment when you realize that I had an addiction. I
Kim Parrish 17:57
found it on the computer. When I was born a member she was said she was going to the doctor, and you were kind of you were just slowly fading away on me. I really was kind of like, God sent me down at the computer and say, and click this, this and I found it. Yeah.
Ben Parrish 18:11
But as as that started as she found it, and was we were kind of starting to just even just discover what was going on there. It was, I would say, I get very defensive when I'm kind of when I'm getting found out. Right. Sure. So sure. I think it started to kind of clash that way that I was getting defensive. And I was like, you know, and then I started making excuses for myself as well, this is natural for guys to want to look, we're just visual, and that should be okay. And like all those kinds of things. And, and so and then, you know, she was like, Well, this is not what it supposed to be like we're supposed to, you know, and so with her side of trying to kind of present this, you know, doing this achiever and having this right marriage and me being like, defensive, because I'm like, I know, I'm not living up to what I'm supposed to. Right. And so, um, my scales are, I mean, they're the tip. So yeah, I can't even get get there. Right, sir. But I'm still trying. And so I'm trying to now make excuses of why it's okay. And therefore, maybe that'll allow the scales to kind of come back around. So
Kim Parrish 19:06
yeah, it was it was hard, because like, I go into achiever mode, of course. And so like I in the early days of Google, research, Balt and studied every book out there. Oh, wow. Wow, I came home excited. Like you want to read this book with me? No, I'm not reading your book. And I'm gonna highlight if you'll just read the high low art. Yeah, remember the highlight? And then I was like, okay, you know what, only God can do this. So I would make little scripture cards and put it on his odometer. And like, I was like, I'm giving you all the tools like take the tools and do this, you know, but it just buried him more and more Wow, as it was had being the focus and feeling like he was someone who needed to be fixed. But then it was really my identity was so wrapped up in that and his identity, like I were just totally misplaced. And we did a dance for years and when we saw counselors, there were Things to the years that I thought that we did learn that was good. And what we began to learn that was really helped us just even to realize that I became very codependent and that my happiness became like when he looked like he was better. I was better. And then when he would struggle, I would struggle and it was just aren't even realizing like you didn't you definitely go to that place of like, Is there something wrong with me like sure while to realize like, his addiction really had nothing to do with me or even in any ineptness in my own way. But it was a hard raising three young kids being in the military away from family. There was some really hard years and there's but there were lots of beautiful ups and downs in the middle of it, too.
Ben Parrish 20:42
Yeah, there was definitely, I would say from, from my perspective, as even, you know, even as my addiction started, just to continue to grow, because, you know, because I wasn't healing the right spot. I wasn't getting to the heart of reason really why I was doing it, right. Sure that so it just kind of became a shame cycle. For me, I'm a people pleaser, I'm doing these things, I'm not able to please Kim or God. So therefore, I'm gonna run back to it, because that's the only place I can kind of create a world for me, sir, where people are happy, right. And, and, and so I create a, you know, a fantasy world. And then I would stay in that, and then I come out of it and be like, and I'm just, I'm ashamed in dealing with Kim and whatever's going on. And even the kids is, you know, as I got older, and everything else, it was just really, really difficult. And there were times, you know, as we went through about every counselor that you probably ever heard of as, as pornography was really kind of becoming to be addressed. And sure, 2000s, early 2000s. And you know, that every counselor that was big in the world, we went through and spent a lot of money. And it was it was I mean, I think that there were a God definitely used pieces of that to help me out. Sure I met we never kind of got to the root for a very long time of why I was in it. And so therefore, even though I may have a few months of sobriety, I never, you know, always went back, because I never really addressed the root of it. So
Kim Parrish 22:05
I think one of the things that helped was once I Finally Quit trying to fix then once God began to set my identity right with him and helped me see through learning about codependency, sure, and like it, God didn't love me more like I wasn't put in Ben's life to fix Ben for God. Like we were in a marriage. And together our marriage was to glorify God. But that didn't come from me fixing Ben, that came from me surrendering to God and like, what do you have here and what, and then as I was able to sit in God's love for me, just being me, and nothing else, and no achievement, and that God loved me just the way I was, I didn't have to fix myself or fix anyone around me to have value to him. And as I began to walk in my own identity in Christ, and like, take that pressure off of Ben. And really, when I began to trust in the God, when I began to say, I am incapable of fixing my husband, but I trust you God with my husband, and I'm going to put my eyes on me and what Why are you calling me to be in one child of God? Are you calling me to be and I'm going to trust you to write Ben's story. And I'm just going to be here as you asked me to be. That is when there was space. Like he wasn't fighting me and God in that process. Yes.
Valerie McMahon 23:21
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that's, that's so beautiful. And I know, I know, You've helped me with that, personally, just being able to say, you know, whatever your spouse is going through that, you know, you have to trust the God in them. The God, you know, that God is working in them. You know, sometimes we I think, underestimate, it's like, what else can I do? But you know, like prayer and just being able to bring them and it's hard when you're hurt, you know, I mean, I've experienced that in relationships and marriages like it's hard when when there is a wound there is a hurt there. And even though you have forgiven that person, still being like, okay, but God but you know, it's like, but there's still this lack, there's still this void, there's still this, this need I have, you know, just how do I trust your timing? And even how do I trust that what they can give to me right now is enough. Why don't you come a little bit as you've started to share your healing journey of how, like you said, just just God speaking to you about your identity, and once you share with with the women who are listening, whose husband, may be struggling or has struggled may still be struggling? What was your time with God like or what, you know, maybe conversations with other people or resources, like what, you know, kind of describe that that journey when you started to, you know, see God working in your life with that, like, just share with the audience about that a little bit more?
Kim Parrish 24:49
Yeah, I think it was just realizing that God loved me right where I was and trusting in Him and I think It was learning that it was okay to mourn. Learning that I had an unwritten contract with God that I, my parents didn't do it the way that you did. But if I do it that way, you're going to give me a good marriage. And I had to realize, like, that wasn't fair, that wasn't what God promised me. Yeah. And that, even if God is still good, and that everything that I had wanted in that fulfillment from a husband, was really all deep longing, longing that only God could fulfill Sure. And I had to learn that like, God is everything, I kind of use it sometimes it like God was my total ice cream sundae, like everything in it, and my husband just gets to be the cherry on top. And that even recognizing that my husband was a gift from God, and that if I had a struggle with my husband, I had to go to the gift giver. But I often say that I am so thankful for Ben's addiction. Because I wouldn't know God the way I do without it. had I gotten in an easy marriage, that I could have made an idol out of and just stayed on the surface? How would it know God the way I do? And so that's a huge gift. There's a lot of years there. Like, I wouldn't change him for anything, you know. And it's not like our marriage is perfect now and that, but it's when I am not going to him to fulfill my identity. And my identity only comes from God. And so that way, I'm not riding Binz roller coaster, but I'm on God's Lazy River, right? I'm just letting him and so get that way if either one of us are ever out of balance, because I can do it to him too. Right? Yeah, sure. I can throw him in a tailspin when I'm not my identity is not right. And so just that, that God is my everything, and the Ag do get to enjoy and share life with Ben. But he's not my everything. Yeah. And that makes life a whole lot easier. That's a lot of pressure for him. And not appropriate. He wasn't intended to be that way.
Valerie McMahon 27:05
Yeah, yeah. So good. So good. So Ben, how about you for, for men and women who may be listening who are maybe still in pornography addiction? Or maybe they have been, and they're kind of recovering, but they still haven't really felt safe to share? Or, you know, to confess? What, what was kind of your healing process? And and, you know, and even now, how do you? How do you keep that temptation? at bay?
Ben Parrish 27:37
Yeah, I would say I mean, as we went through all the counseling that we went through, they dealt a lot with the symptoms. And I think there was a, as they were dealing with the symptoms, it kind of gives them breathing space to kind of start dealing with the heart. But I just don't know that I felt seen by God in any of those moments. But when we came here, I mean, God knew exactly what he was doing. I mean, we moved to the middle of nowhere, Arizona, we're from the Georgia, Tennessee, we're like, why are we going all the way back out this way? Way so far away from family, but God knew what He was doing. And he knew what he was doing. Because one of the first weeks that we visited New Life, John, an angel, who you've had on here on this podcast, yeah, share their story. Yeah. And, and so I didn't know at the time, we were like, Okay, well, you know, hey, there's some people who kind of dealing with the same things. But I was still I'm still struggling a lot. I mean, my pornography addiction never really waned at all. I mean, I had moments like I said, of sobriety, but like, for the most part, I was always kind of constantly in it. But September 2017, Kim came to me one night, after being out and praying and stuff as we've been, as the relationship was still kind of in this, you know, struggling and everything else. And Dylan, my addiction came to me and asked for a divorce. And, like, it just, it just stopped me in my tracks. I didn't even like I didn't even know what to say. And I was like, Okay, no, no, this, this can't be happening. Like, you know, almost, that people pleaser in my heart was like, I'm, I'm definitely not going to be worthy of anything. Now, if I get a divorce, and I have a pornography addiction, like, you know what's going on. So I was like, I was just desperate. And I said, Okay, you know, can we try counseling one more time? And she was like, Yeah, that's fine. I said, I'll be the one to go figure it out. You know, I'm going to John you know, and and so that Sunday, I went to Pastor John and just broke down and we started counseling with with him an angel within like, a week or so. And really, we had no promise Kim was just like, I'll give it a month. But I'm, you know, at the end of that month, you know, I you know, probably have papers ready for you. And, and so anyway, but when we went into that counseling session, like God showed himself to me and said, I see you've been, I see exactly where you're at. I know what you're going through. And I still love you. And it was really just an identity piece, that deep identity piece of who I, who I saw myself, like, that whole, I have to kind of keep the scales tip right and be worthy of His love. And to understand that he adopted me into His family, for who I was not for what I could be or for how I performed. Yeah. And he knew everything about me and to be able to, to just feel that and, and allow my spirit in my heart to accept that and just go, Okay, God. And then I mean, it is not that the temptations go away. But what drove me to to go to pornography all the other times, I'm like, No, there's not fulfillment in that. Yeah. And I now can understand, you know, am I my spirit, we just just that God loves me where I'm at, and that the relationship with Kim, and the relationship with him as just, I don't know, it, just it God just really did a moment through all that time with, with John an angel. And I don't know, if it was just a buildup of all the years kind of come into that. But
Valerie McMahon 31:18
well, you both you both have shared about being seen. And wow, I mean, just the the beauty of that. And I think of so many stories, in the Bible of when God just stopped and saw people, you know, like the bleeding woman and the woman at the well. And then, you know, just, you know, solid coming, Paul and just, you know, just God just saying, I see you, you know, and, and I love how you shared about adoption, because we've been talking about that with, you know, that God is love, you know, and if we're struggling with, with our view of love and our view of what is the right kind of marriage and and how should I love my spouse, or how should I love others. And if we, you know, really sometimes comes down to our belief of who God is right because of God is love. And we're not believing the right things about God that you know that he, he doesn't expect us to be all cleaned up when we come to Him right that he adopts us as we are. And then he you know, he cleanses us because of his adoption, because of his righteousness. I just love how God has used both of you know that your need to be seen your your need to feel like I belong to you, God, just as I am how, you know that that was that healing point for both of you. So that is just so so beautiful. So as we kind of come to the end of our podcasts, and you've already shared so many good, good things about you know, it's your identity in Christ has been a huge part of the healing process. Why don't you share with our audience to just, you know, where you're at now, and how you continue to maintain? If you want to say maintain that, to live in that truth. You know, like said, no, no, marriage is perfect. And even as we reclaim our stories that you know, we still have to trust God each and every day. So how are you trusting God right now in your marriage? And, and you know, I know you both have said, you know, your marriage is better than it ever has been. But how are you continuing to grow and trust God today in your marriage? Yeah,
Ben Parrish 33:29
I think our marriage starts with a good relationship, each one of us individually with God, that is not in line, then we can't come to our marriage with an appropriate mindset on how to love each other appropriately says, I'll try to do it in my own strength, I'll try to be a people pleaser to Kim I try to appease her so that she's happy. And as long as she's happy, then my worlds good. Right. So you know, our relationship with God have to be come first. And then after that, we just try to just make sure we're open with each other about the things that we're maybe struggling with, with each other, maybe just the world around us. And whatever. You know, I just feel like especially talking about when sim comes to light, it has no more power and so even on the small things to make sure that they don't start to build up and become big things because it's not like all of a sudden one day I woke up and I was integrating porn addiction. Sure it took time of exposures and wrong kind of just kind of, you know, just kind of reassuring the wrong behaviors by sharing things and so I just feel like the more we can talk and be open and walk through the things that we're struggling with, then that's just I think that's really huge for the both of us, and that's what God created marriage for is to help each other out with us. Yeah, created helpers. Yeah, why don't we let them help? Like we've got to have it all together, sir. I can't help there's actually a blessing and be able to help somebody else. And and it's a blessing for both of us if I'm not giving him the opportunity to help meal. I'm actually depriving her what God intended for her and
Valerie McMahon 35:05
from Yeah, yeah, amen.
Kim Parrish 35:07
I would say the other thing for us is counseling and community like number one we've been such as our relationship with God. But like, counseling is huge. And so many times when we recommend counseling to people, they're like, Oh, well, we're not there. Um, I know, you don't understand like, good marriages, passing something. Yes. And to recognize it, like counseling does not disqualify you like John and Angel, know, every nitty gritty thing about our lives. And after we had been on our healing journey for several months, approached me about coming back on staff, which I had been on staff for years as a children's ministry director, and I'm like, Are you kidding? Like, every ugly thing about us? And really, it was it was hiring both of us, in essence, because we're a team in this. Yeah. But there was a beauty of that, realizing that God did not we weren't disqualified from ministry, like, even all the more because it gives us an opportunity to just be open and share with families and that, like, it's easy for people in our position to put us on a pedestal. But then when we see family struggling, we can spot it because we know that we've been there. Yeah, hey, look, let's go to coffee. Let's have a conversation. And, and it's in that reality. And it's so funny like me, and my little achiever, I thought God would use me out of my perfection. It's out of my own self destruction that God has used. Yes, when he his glory, and his goodness has been able to shine because I was at my weakest, that he has been that and so just counseling and being open for that, like, like pursuing that, but then even just community because it's really easy to create yourself to isolate yourself. Because especially when you've come through something like recovery, you're still you're not perfect, right? Like, so we still start and it's easy to replace one addiction or one achievement with something else. But when you put yourself in community to where you're having to be humble and vulnerable, and let people see the inside, because it's a constant. We're never perfect, whenever totally healed. And even just walk in with couples that have gone through what we've gone through. Sometimes I'll be like, Hey, I met with this wife for breakfast today. And she said something that really like triggered me like, I need to talk about that with you. And and so even just that continual refining fire in our own life through God using us and community and allowing community to be used in our life, and my personality would say, we've got this all figured out. Let me go write a book. God, yeah. Wow, that Yeah, what a beautiful a god is used our story with so many couples, he's allowed us to walk one on one with, and it's not been from Let me teach you what we did. But let me just tell you what God did in us. Yeah. And it's been really cool to see and even for our children, like, age appropriately share. But our kids would say that they know God, because they've watched how he changed their parents. And well, heart was it they were going to know God because they saw his goodness through my perfection. And it was that they saw his goodness through my mess. Wow. And just what a beautiful thing. And so that's why I'm passionate about parents being honest with their kids about who God is and what he saved them from and what they struggle with and letting them see the goodness of God in their life through honesty, and an age appropriate, of course. And then when our kids have struggled as young adults, they don't feel afraid to come and share their sin struggles with us. We're honest and real. And they know that but they've seen that God is bigger than that.
Valerie McMahon 38:32
Yeah, yeah. Wow. Well, thank you guys so much. Oh, my goodness. I mean, even though I know your story, and I've had individual conversations with you, and I know, my husband's met with Ben, I mean, I just every time you guys share, I just continue to be blessed by just how God has worked in your life. And I, I just keep, like I said, I've seen this whole theme of being seen, you know, and that's, I know here at reclaims story, you know, that that is our desire, you know, as we help women heal from a painful past this is for them to know that they're seen, and that they're not alone. And so, we hope that as you've been listening today that you also feel seen, and we want you to know that if you are currently in a struggle like this, like pornography, or you're in a marriage that has that struggle, please reach out to us, you can contact us at connect at reclaim story.com. And, you know, and I'm sure even Kim and Ben, you know, we can put their email addresses, you know, if your local hair or even if you're not local, I'm sure even if you felt touched or moved by what they shared and you know, just want to encourage them but also want to reach out and be encouraged by them. Will will include their email addresses and their contact information. But Kim and Ben, thank you dear friends, thank you for being so vulnerable and honest as you already are. For sharing just really what God has done in your life and in your marriage, but most importantly, how God has shown you that He is love, and how by understanding God's love for us that that's what healed, healed your marriage and as heals you guys individually. So thank thank you again. So thank you again, listeners. And as always, you can find us on Facebook and Instagram and in our blog coming up, and even next month as we cache it's March already next month. Just be on the lookout for our next theme of unpacking your past and I think Kim and Ben did a beautiful job of showing the value of needing to go back to heal in order to move forward. So thank you again for joining us and we will see you again next week.