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Divorce Didn't Last for Couple Who Chased Healing

When Tommy and Michele met in 2008 they were both new Christians healing from troubled pasts. Growing up, they’d both been victims of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, leading them to lives of anger, brokenness and violence.  “My mom was a single mom. She dated a few guys who were extremely physically abusive and I specifically remember one time a guy coming in the house and beating my mom up. I mean, I must’ve been 3 years old, I think, at the time. And I remember taking a plastic machine gun and beating him over the back, trying to get him off of her and him throwing me across the room,” said Tommy. “You know, what I was trying to figure out for 40 years was, why was I so mad, why was I so dysfunctional and why things around me always seem to fall apart.”

Michele said, “Most of my life I was just—I was involved in drugs and guns and, you know, I worked with Hell’s Angels and Mexican mafia. I just really was very purposeful at going the opposite direction from God. And when I was 30, everything pretty much caught up with me and I was looking at a very long prison sentence and God rescued me out of all of that miraculously. When I was let out of jail and didn’t have to spend 20-something years in prison, I made a decision that I needed to change my life.”

After four months of dating they married but after only two weeks the honeymoon was over and the reality of their unresolved pain was revealed.  “The physical and verbal abuse that I experienced, created a mindset that women were good for two things: one for sex; two for abuse,” said Tommy.

“Tommy would get mad, his rage and anger would just overtake him.  And he was all about intimidating. And so there was a lot of screaming and yelling and shaking his fists at me. One of his signature things that he would always do would be like pretending like he’s going to head butt me. So he’d get real close and just like roar in my face,” said Michele.

Michele turned to prescription drugs to cope with her husband’s rage. “I felt like if I was really numb, I could keep from myself from being really upset and I could stay in control of myself, meaning I couldn't lash out at him, I wouldn’t start crying. I would just be like don’t care,” she said.

Meanwhile, the couple managed to mask the tension at home while serving as trusted ministry leaders at their church. “It was a perception in our church, I think when people looked at us, that we were, you know, this great couple But that was not the life that we lived at home. We would go to church and we would play church. And then we would go home and it would be very destructive,” Michele said.

As the years went by the arguments escalated. One evening after dinner and drinks, the violence became physical.  “What happened in the car was, because of the language that I was using, Michele reached over and just started punching on me,” said Tommy.

“There was such chaos and craziness happening in our car, when he actually reached over and punched me in the face, of course I was just—I was hysterical,” said Michele.

Police arrested Tommy and he was taken to jail. Once released, he reunited with Michele. A month later, she found out she was expecting and gave up prescription drugs. Five months into her pregnancy she caught tommy cheating, filed for a separation and moved from California to Arizona.  Without Tommy by her side, Michele gave birth to a stillborn baby. Now divorced, distraught, and desperate for a better life Michele cried out to God.  “I’d been through so much in my life before. I considered myself to be such a strong person that nothing that ever happened to me would break me but I was really broken,” said Michele. “I got a hold of some teachings about the love of God and I started really pressing into like my identity, like Who am I? Like, I’m not just a wife or a mother. Like, who is Michele? Who am I? And I started really like chasing intensely after the love of God.  It was like I was resting and relaxing in just His presence. So it wasn’t a show anymore. It wasn’t going to church and doing the Christian thing. It was about being a Christian alone in my room with Him.”

Now divorced, as Michele allowed God to heal her heart, Tommy was finally dealing with his anger.  “I really broke down I Corinthians 13 and so many other scriptures about love, that this was what I had been desperately searching for my entire life. Because He was so patient and because He was so kind. It was then, I knew that He was for me and that He had my back. And that He wasn’t mad at me and He wasn’t disappointed in me. He just saw me as His son and He loved me so much and He had such a great journey for me ahead of me. And there was a true repentance that came in that moment or in that time frame,” said Tommy.

“The love of God filled me with compassion, understanding that my husband was very broken. That it wasn’t that he was an awful, horrible man. It was that he was just as broken as I was broken, just in different ways. And it looked different. and I just knew that, no matter what, I was going to believe for restoration of my marriage,” said Michele.

Michele reached out to Tommy committed to showing him the love, God had shown her.  As god healed them both they longed to be reconciled with each other. When Tommy asked Michele to marry him, again, she said yes.

Tommy and Michele vowed to never engage in physical abuse again. Today they find freedom in healing and wholeness as they share their testimony around the world. Together they lead marriage ministry and are pastors of His Place church in Long Beach, California.

“Today my marriage is the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. I’m married to a big teddy bear who just loves God and who loves me and loves himself,” said Michele.

“Because, you know, you can’t give away something you don’t have and for the first time I really have love. And so I’m able to give it to her and everybody else.  I see Jesus in our marriage today as the center of our marriage. when we wake up in the morning, our goal is to be Jesus to each other. It’s to love like He loved,” said Tommy.

“Today, I just can’t imagine life being any better,” said Michele.

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