Merriam-Webster defines gunk as “filthy, sticky, or greasy matter” and glory as “praise, honor, or distinction extended by common consent.” In essence this is the story of the gospel, and of our lives.
Psalm 40:2 says:
“He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.”
We are Hayes and Elizabeth Howell. Married for almost 12 years. Recovering from addiction for 11. Praising the Lord that he pulled us out of the “gunk” or “miry bog”.
Ready to tell our story….
I had a great childhood. One that a lot of people would love to have. It was nothing fancy but I was loved and cared for and enjoyed being the naive “baby” of the family. We were involved in church, which was where I gave my life to Christ one Friday night during a youth retreat. I was baptized that Sunday and started the 8th grade the next day. There was definite life change for me. Not that I was labeled as a bad kid, just a life change in my heart. I wanted to know more about Jesus and share with others.
In the 9th grade, a really cute guy asked me to be his Homecoming date and I said yes. We had a great time. That date blossomed into something beautiful. Something that was definitely the Lord’s plan. Just in case you aren’t tracking…the cute guy was Hayes.
Our relationship went through some gunk in the midst of some beautiful though. Actually, a lot of gunk. This gunk came after we had graduated high school and entered the college world. Many bad decisions were made during those years, the worst being that I stopped seeking the Lord. I forgot that He had a plan for my life. A holy plan.
Hayes asked me to marry him in the midst of this and we planned a wedding and got married. This time of planning a wedding and getting married was very dark. For both of us. I was addicted. But not in the same way Hayes was. I was addicted to co-dependency. I was addicted to trying to “fix” him. This in my gunk. Through Hayes asking the Lord to come into his life, I was able to let go and remember promises the Lord had made me all those years ago. And I began to let go. I began to let the Lord fill me again. Heal me. Restore me. Restore my marriage to Hayes. I allowed Him to come in, pull me out of the muck and mire, and set my feet on solid ground. To make my steps secure.
We have a story to share. A story of hope. We pray you will join us as we share the great things the Lord has done. He is faithful.
I had a wonderful childhood as well. My mom was a school teacher and my dad was in law enforcement. They adopted me when I was 2 days old and loved me as their own. I grew up attending a small church and when I was in the 4th grade I went forward, prayed a prayer, and was baptized. I thought I was saved, but in reality I just didn’t want to go to hell. I do believe this was God beginning to draw me to himself.
As Elizabeth said, when we were in the 9th grade I asked her to a dance, and then to be my girlfriend. She said yes and we began doing everything together. But I came into the relationship with a truck bed full of gunk. When I was in 3rd grade someone made fun of me for crying, and I vowed to never cry again. It was at that point in my life that I became addicted to the approval of other people.
By the time Elizabeth and I started dating sports had taken over my source of approval, and became the source of my value and identity. However, in the midst of this high school romance there was so much gunk. I felt like I was living two different lives, the one to help me stay approved by Elizabeth and the other to help me stayed approved by my teammates. Sometimes they lined up, sometimes they didn’t.
When we graduated this gunk took on a whole shape, with us beginning to party and make a lot of really bad decisions. And then the opiates came, man did they come. The summer between our sophomore and junior year of college I began abusing opiates. They took control. My life was no longer centered on approval (I realized that the sources of my approval would never be sufficient) so I tried my best to say intoxicated so that I didn’t have to think about it. Gunk became all I knew.
Then we got married, and to say we got off to a rocky start was an understatement. Somewhere deep down Elizabeth knew (I think) that she was marrying an active addict, and I knew deep down that I was an addict. As we were wrapping up our first Christmas (see what I did there?), I was spiraling out of control. I crashed into rock bottom. I knew life had to change, but didn’t know how.
I decided to quit, quit opiates. In the midst of the chaos of detox in January of 2006 I remembered a story. A story I had heard growing up in the church. A story I had heard Elizabeth share. Not a specific bible story, but THE STORY. I was laying on the couch in total agony when I was reminded of the gospel. I realized in that moment that I needed to let Jesus take control of my life. I prayed simply for Jesus to do that, because I was royally screwing it up. That night was January 25th, 2006, and that was the night I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ and he set me free from my addiction to opiates.
Life hasn’t been perfect, but God moved us from gunk to glory on that day. He restored life. Life to me, life to us, and now we want to share the hope that he can restore your life. Regardless of where you may be. He can move you from Gunk to Glory!
Our prayer is simply that you would take a journey with us. A journey to a solid foundation in whatever relationship you may be in, or may hope to be in. I will be the first to say we are not experts, nor are we the source of all the concepts that we will discuss. We simply want to share the experiences God has given us in our relationship, and are obeying and trusting that He will use it as He sees fit.
Over the next 6 weeks we will go through 6 Foundations to a relationship. We believe that whether you are single, dating, engaged, married, or divorced that these 6 Foundations can help you to develop Christ centered relationships.