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Fractured Family Restored and “Indivisible”

Darren: Army Chaplain Graduate: Regent University

Heather: ESL Teacher

3 children

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Both Heather and Darren grew up in Georgia and met in 1999 when Darren was working in campus ministry at the University of Georgia.  They married that same year and served another six years in campus ministry.  When a friend of Darren’s told him about opportunities for military chaplains, Darren wanted in.  He completed seminary in 2006, was commissioned in the Army and deployed to Iraq almost immediately. After he returned after 15 months at war, Darren says he was angry and distant.  “for 15 months, you think of no one but yourself.  You come home and now there is a family who needs you,” he says.  Heather clamored for his attention.  “I did not take his coming home well at all,” she says.  “I tried to get him to open up and check back into our marriage.”  This just pushed Darren further away and made things worse.  “He withdrew, and I pursued more,” says Heather.  “He was fully checked into his guys needing him, but he wouldn’t acknowledge that we needed help.”  

Darren was consumed with his career.  “He had no interest in going to church because people at church weren’t ‘his guys,’” says Heather. Darren lost so many of his fellow soldiers in the war and had a hard time once he got back.  “The things that were going on in my heart were pain, grief, trying to remember the guys I had lost.  It was a hard time, knowing that I was going to see their families and their children.”  Instead of getting help for his feelings, Darren began taking it out on his wife.  “I began to snap at little things.  It didn’t matter if she was right or wrong.  It was an opportunity to let some of my anger and frustration out.”  Heather remembers how it affected their marriage.  “We were not at all being intentional about our relationship,” she says.  “We were not fighting together for our relationship.  I was fighting against him for our marriage and he was just running away.”

In 2009, Darren went to airborne school for 3 weeks and both Heather and Darren decided to make it a little separation.  “In my mind, I was done,” says Heather who says Darren became emotionally abusive and controlling.  “He was becoming that way with the kids.”  They were separated for six months and Darren was still serving as a chaplain.  Heather began looking for another home in Atlanta and began opening separate checking accounts.  One day, while Darren and Heather were switching off the kids, Heather says the Lord used that moment to open Darren’s eyes.  He realized what he had done to contribute to the downfall of the marriage.  “I wasn’t onboard yet for reconciling,” says Heather.  The next week, she was alone with the Lord.  “I was taking inventory of what my life would look like for my kids,” she says.  They stayed connected with the body of Christ including talking with family.  “My sister and brother in law told us we were making a mistake to separate,” she says.  “What you think would be better for you and your kids is outside of God’s will,” they told her.  Heather decided it would be better to be in a difficult marriage and be in God’s will than to pursue greener grass and be out of God’s will.  “If the Lord is for us, then He will equip me with what I need,” Heather said.  “I willfully chose to work it out.”  

Slowly they reconciled over the next month.  “I was still scared and doubtful,” says Heather.  Darren resigned his commission and got out of the military.  (He is serving again today.)  It took a year for Heather to fully trust and feel loved again.  

While Darren was deployed, the Atlanta Journal wanted to do a story on a soldier from Georgia. After the reporter got a list from the Army, they thought it would be interesting to follow a chaplain.  After the reporter followed him around in Iraq, she reported her experiences in the paper.  The reporter who wrote the articles transferred to CNN and reposted the story on their website in 2012.  David Evans, producer of Indivisible, saw the article and contacted the Turners because he had already had a movie in mind.  “It never occurred to us that it would go anywhere,” says Heather.  “Two years ago, he called us and said, ‘We’re filming.’”  

The movie, which stars Grey’s Anatomy’s Sarah Drew and Justin Bruening, opens in theaters October 26.  Though Darren does not have PTSD, his character in the movie portrays that.  For more information, please visit www.IndivisibleMovie.com.

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