The Kozak's Upstream Love Story
I'm honored to welcome my friend, Chelsea, to the blog today to share her story. She has bravely tied in several life stories to share her and her husband's love story. The world would certainly have given up on them and told them to call it quits, but the Lord never does. Chelsea weaves the goodness of God and His pursuit of their hearts as she shares her story. My prayer is that you would see His love and the power of His restoration and redemption. What He does for one, He will do for another.
Our story began 14 years ago when Jesse and I first met. We fell in love hard and fast. It was as if we had been searching for each other and once we found each other, life started making sense. There was an immediate depth to our relationship and we both knew that we had found the loves of our lives. Yet there is a specific time in our story when God began to speak louder.
After three years of being separated, Jesse and I decided to reunite and spend a week in Santa Rosa, CA. After coming home from that trip, Jesse and I agreed, once and for all, we were going to move on in our lives without one another. God had different plans! Six weeks later, I called Jesse to tell him that we were pregnant. I was devastated, Jesse was terrified. We were 3,000 miles apart and were supposed to be moving on. After a couple weeks of conversation about what to do, I told Jesse I wanted to get an abortion. He supported me and told me that either way would be fine with him. I scheduled my appointment.
I watched videos on the actual process of abortion and told myself, ‘If I could watch and still decide to move forward, then it must be the right thing to do.’ I felt so unworthy and scared to be given such a precious thing~a life. I had people from California to Pennsylvania praying for my baby’s life. I went to my appointment and there were people rallied around the clinic shouting things and praying for life. Out of all the chatter I heard one thing, ‘You may not feel worthy, but they are!’ This is where I knew God was beginning to speak louder and clearer to me. He was using others to allow me to hear His voice.
I got into the clinic and waited for about 30 minutes or so and just felt so uneasy, felt feelings of regret~it just didn’t feel right. The nurse called my name and we went back to the room. She gave me Tylenol and said we would be checking the ultrasound before the procedure would start. I asked the nurse if I could see the monitor and she told me that it wouldn’t be a good idea. I confidently stated that I wanted to see the monitor. She turned the monitor and I lost it. I saw my baby’s heart beat and for the first time, I felt the courage to stand up and get off of that table. I knew that my baby was not supposed to die that day. God walked me through this process and showed up for me, met me where I was, in an abortion clinic. That day, He not only saved my baby’s life, He saved mine.
Jesse moved to Pennsylvania and we were going to co-parent, per my request. I had my walls up and was convinced that because we were pregnant, it did not make it mandatory for us to be together. We began spending time together and when we went to our gender reveal appointment and found out that we were having a boy, something switched inside of me. God was giving me fresh eyes and a desire to be with Jesse~the love of my life and the father of our son. We were married two weeks before Liam was born. The most miraculous thing to me was how God changed my heart. I am stubborn and can get set in my ways, yet he pursued after me hard and softened my heart to the plans He had for my life. God is so good!
Jesse and I both battled with addiction, mostly with alcohol and marijuana, Once Liam was born, we began to drink and smoke quite a bit. We had our beautiful daughter, Cora, three years later and life seemed good, right? The thing is, life wasn’t so good. We were not walking with Christ and we were still knee deep in our functioning addictions. I began to attend a women’s group and church and once again, I could feel the Holy Spirit begin to speak louder to me. I was beginning to lead a double life.
Jesse was not interested in church or God at all. In fact, he had claimed that he was now an atheist. I was dealing with guilt and convictions about my double life and Jesse was beginning to feel the disconnect and it scared him. Instead of talking about it though, we chose to drink and smoke together and numb out reality. I would take the kids to women’s group and church and the disconnect began to grow.
Jesse accepted a general manager position at a brewery/restaurant which was a second shift position. We both decided that it would financially be good for our family. He was a substitute teacher at the time, and we couldn’t catch our break for a full-time position. The addictions became stronger and our disconnect was at an all-time high. We saw each other very little and it was creating distance. Jesse was drinking more because of his job and the hours. In the meantime, I am feeling the disconnect and began to place my walls up. There were a lot of times, it felt like I was a single mother and I grew cold to our marriage. Jesse and I decided we would separate for awhile. Jesse had reached a point in his addiction that rehab was his only choice. He checked into a 30-day rehabilitation center.
During this time, there was a man that I had met and we began talking (We'll call him "John" for the sake of privacy). Without going into great detail, I made a choice to be intimate with him one night, while Jesse was in a rehabilitation center. This decision would be one of my greatest regrets and yet when I called Jesse to tell him what I had done, his response left me speechless. ‘I forgive you.’ Jesse told me the night before, around 4AM, he walked outside and dropped to his knees and told God that if you are real, I need to know now. He felt peace. He woke up the next morning and took my call, and after I told him what I had done, he said, ‘I forgive you and we will work through this together and with God.’
I was witnessing yet again, another real-life miracle.
My atheist husband wants God in our marriage, and he forgave me~just like that? My heart still had walls up because of the guilt and shame I was carrying; I was still being cold to Jesse. Jesse was discharged on a Saturday morning and didn’t tell me that he was going to surprise me and the kids. That Friday night (the night before Jesse was discharged) I could not sleep and I felt like I had to see him. I planned to get up early and go visit him, but I had to write down all that was going through my mind. God, once again, was giving me fresh eyes and the desire of my heart was to reconcile our marriage. The kids and I woke up early Saturday morning to go visit Jesse and when we got there, he was gone. We were both trying to get to one another at the same time.
Weeks go by and Jesse and I are working hard on our marriage and allowing God to restore the brokenness. One day, Jesse came home and said, ‘I am going to meet with John for a meeting and offer forgiveness.' Jesse met with John and offered forgiveness. This was bold, obedient, and a HUGE step in our healing. God was instilling Jesse with holy confidence and he was hungry for what God had for his life. We went to a prayer and impartation night at our church and Jesse was baptized in the Holy Spirit. His feet felt like they were on fire and he was crying uncontrollably. He said it felt like it was just him and Jesus in a room full of people. After the main service, Jesse and I were up at the altar and we had 4 to 5 people surround us and pray over our marriage and speak into our lives. We had people fighting the good fight with us, praying against division and proclaiming the victory that was taking place in our marriage.
These are very specific events that occurred throughout this period in our lives, but believe me when I say, the minute we put our hands up and got on our knees~our lives changed forever. It has not been easy by any means, but through our suffering we were able to also experience the joy of God’s goodness. We were able to see our marriage was worth fighting for and will always be worth fighting for. We were able to see the lessons God was teaching us. We were able to see each other through God’s eyes. We were able to fall in love all over again, with Jesus leading this time.
Over the last 14 months, Jesse and I have experienced a wide range of emotions that could have sent us to calling it quits, pre-Jesus. Now that we both are actively pursuing Jesus together, we are more aware of old habits, complacency, emotions in the flesh~we realize how much we not only need Jesus, we WANT Him. This season in our lives has taught us a tremendous amount and we are humbled, grateful and eager to share the goodness of God. Our story is only a story because of God’s grace.