All I ever wanted in life was to be Jamie's wife. We began dating when I was a sophomore in high school. Both of us had been born in the same little Florida town of Vero Beach. He was a year older, a high school athletic hero and class leader. We dated steadily through high school. On our third date, I knew he was the one I wanted to live with for the rest of my life.
Jamie's parents worked actively to keep us apart. They encouraged him to attend Mercer University, a Baptist college in Macon, Georgia, many miles from home. When he left for school he promised to write me every day. He also gave me an engagement ring. However, his father, fearing early marriage, convinced me to hold off wearing it until Jamie finished his freshman year.
I was finally able to follow him to Mercer. In time, his parents came to accept me but wisely encouraged us to hold off the wedding until Jamie graduated. We were married one week after the graduation ceremony. It was like a fairy tale for me as we drove off into the sunset to live happily ever after.
Those early years were tough-but wonderful. We moved to Ft. Worth so Jamie could enter Southwestern Baptist Seminary and I could finish my senior year in college at Texas Christian University. He had no specific goals. He knew he was called into "full-time" ministry but had no idea where that should be or in what capacity. I had already achieved my goal-to be Jamie's wife.
Jamie worked long hours-early morning and late night-driving a city bus. The rest of the time he was attending class or studying in the library. Jamie's future as a Southern Baptist pastor and leader seemed bright. My infatuation and love were all tied together in one package. My heart was full, my dreams fulfilled. I had no idea of the heartbreak I was about to go through.
Jamie was success-oriented-determined to reach the top of the ecclesiastical ladder. Everything seemed to fall into place. We left the seminary and moved to Greenwood, South Carolina, where Jamie was called to pastor the South Main Street Baptist Church, one of the larger churches in the state. At 26 years of age, he was moving toward the top-rapidly.
Those were busy days. By then we had four children, and a fifth on the way. Jamie was deeply involved in church activities. We both know now that it is impossible to do God's work without God's power. Then, however, it was a matter of "leaning on our own understanding." The result was tragic. Although the church was thriving, Jamie gradually grew away from me. A vacuum was created-a perfect setting for an affair.
It started when my closest friend, the wife of one of our church leaders, told Jamie she was "in love" with him. He couldn't handle it. Instead of confiding in me, he relished their "relationship" and let it grow. In a matter of weeks, it was a full-blown affair.
The sordid relationship lasted for more than two years. I knew something was wrong but was not sure what it was. I began to pick up on the signals being passed between my husband and the other woman. I tried to back off-no more dinners together with this family, no more socializing, no more vacations with her along. Jamie insisted we keep them as friends. Her husband seemed oblivious to any wrongdoing and I had no positive proof, but my woman's intuition was working overtime.
I pleaded with Jamie to tell me the truth. "I can handle it," I wept. Instead of leveling with me, however, he lied. He knew that the truth would end the affair. It's something Jamie has taught on many times since-that all adulterers are also liars. They lie to their wives, to their partners, to the world, to themselves and to God.
It was too much for Jamie. No man can ride three wild horses at once and retain his balance when they are all going in different directions. Jamie was being torn apart as he tried to ride marriage, ministry and mistress. He broke off one illicit relationship only to find himself sucked into another. He was as addicted as a man on drugs or alcohol. Our home was a battlefield. My heart was broken.
In the end Jamie was discovered. He was exposed because God wanted him exposed. The board of deacons, which was the controlling element in the church, demanded his resignation. We were given three months salary and three months' use of the parsonage. We were not welcome back in the church. As painful as it was, however, I somehow believed God was in this surgery. It was His way of amputating the cancer.
We moved back to Florida, just a few miles from home, and started all over. Things were tough. We had been on top. Now we were on the bottom. But healing had begun. Within a short period of time-on a trip to Washington, D.C., where he was researching his first book, Run Baby, Run - Jamie received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The night before he came home, he called me, weeping. He told me he loved me. For the first time in many years, I sensed he was telling the truth.
The following night we sat up until dawn, talking. Jamie opened his life to everything he had been planning to do. He told it all-the lies, the deception, the immorality. It hurt. It hurt deeply. But I had told him all along the lies were more hurtful than the action of his sin. All I wanted from him was the truth. I knew I could forgive-but not unless he confessed. When he did open up, the pain was intense for both of us. But it was the hurt of a lanced boil. It was the hurt of healing.
Jamie kept asking me if I wanted details. I didn't need them. Not any more. All I had wanted was my husband. It was as though Jamie had given me the firing pin of a grenade and said, "You hold it. You can blow me up at any time if you want to, but you need to know everything about me. I know the risk I am running in telling you everything, but I will never again let anything come into our lives that I cannot share with you. Not anything." When he said it, I didn't need to hear more. My husband had come home.
I knew Jamie was a changed man. I wanted what he had. After all, the problem had not been all his. My reaction to his sin had been as bad as his sin. I was filled with resentment, bitterness, fear and a sense of unworthiness. I asked Jamie to lay hands on me that I might also receive the Holy Spirit. He said he didn't know how-that I would have to receive as he did, by asking God.
Day after day I got in the car and went to people in the community I knew to be Spirit-filled. Many of them prayed for me but nothing happened. I read the copies of Voice magazine Jamie had brought home from the Full Gospel Business Men's Convention he attended in Washington, but I couldn't identify with any of the testimonies. I got on my knees and begged Jesus to baptize me in His Holy Spirit. Nothing. Yet as I read the Bible, it was alive as never before. I had never noticed all those stories of miracles, deliverance from demons and the marvelous power those early Christians must have had to perform "signs and wonders." I knew it was for me, too.
One night as I was sleeping, I dreamed I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. I woke up feeling as though electricity were running through my body. I woke Jamie, but he was too sleepy to comprehend. I got up and spent the rest of the night wandering through the house praising the Lord in the dark, so great was the experience.
I shared the dream with those friends who had been praying for me. They said I had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Indeed, I had. I wanted to saturate myself in the Bible. Jesus became close and real. For the first time in my life I was not afraid to die because heaven seemed so glorious.
Several days later I made a special visit to see Woody (Mrs. Bob) Johnson, the wife of a local Southern Baptist pastor who had also been filled with the Holy Spirit. As we prayed, I received my prayer language, speaking in tongues for the first time in my life. That opened another door for healing to come in, allowing the Holy Spirit to pray through me, cleansing my mind and healing my broken heart.
There were several people who lived in our community who ministered to me during that time. I am grateful, in particular, for Elbert and Mary Jones, Kent and Diana Busing, Glenda Corley and several others who knew what I had been through and how deeply my self-esteem had been shattered. These friends spent countless hours praying with me, helping me through my feelings of guilt and rejection. I went through intense deliverance as they took authority over the demonic spirits which had tormented me, setting me free from the fear that had consumed me. For years it had seemed as if a cloud of darkness and heaviness had filled my head. As my friends prayed for me, in private and in the small prayer meetings I attended where they were teaching, I felt the cloud lift.
For the first time in years I felt worthy to take my place beside my husband. God had opened the door to a future far more wonderful than Jamie or I could have ever imagined-a door which keeps swinging wider each day.
Of course, there were a lot of lessons to be learned. I discovered that healing doesn't happen overnight. But it starts with truthfulness, as painful as that can be. And it does get better. Now, though, I focus on the happy experience of our recent years instead of on the bad memories of the dark past. When an echo of the past reappears, as it does ever so often-a memory triggered by a song, a smell or a chance encounter Jamie may have with some woman he used to know-we can face it together, with openness.
Because I believe marriage is forever, God enabled me to hang in there. Now He has blessed us beyond our imagination. Jamie and I have become one. Jamie and I are no longer two people living in the same house, two bodies sleeping in the same bed. Something has happened in our spirits which has made us one. This oneness of marriage necessitates that each partner have total access to everything going on in the mate. That does not mean constantly dredging up the past, and certainly not living in the fear it will repeat, but it does mean living in an "open now" relationship.
Adultery alone will not destroy a marriage. It is the lies which destroy the spiritual union. Therefore, all things must be done in the light. To allow a feeling-or a fact-to grow in darkness always breeds deception.
Some things I did wrong:
Some things I did right:
Failure is neither fatal nor final. God is a restoring God who picks us up where we are and gives us a new beginning. Jamie and I have walked through hell together. Our children accompanied us. That is part of the price we paid when we committed to love forever. But we stand as a testimony that regardless of how dark any marriage situation is right now, or how much of a cloud may hang over you because of past failure, God can forgive completely. When the locusts came they ate not only the grain, but the weeds as well. Now God has planted new seed, and our fields are wonderfully restored with beautiful crops.
Healing the Wounded Heart, Jackie Buckingham (excerpt from Help! I'm a Pastor's Wife by Michele Buckingham)
You have just read the wonderful and powerful testimony of Jackie Buckingham. Her situation was real and is experienced by many on a daily basis. If you are one of those who is in a crisis situation, please give us a call or email. There are times we just can't make it on our own. We must ask for help.