Faith, Hope, and Family (Cont.)

“God wants to turn your mistake into a miracle. He wants to reinstate your faith and elevate your life to the old heights — and even higher ones. He did it for David after a terrible cycle of sin, denial, scandal, and depression. He did it for Peter on a lonely seashore following a flat out betrayal. He did it for Joshua after a crushing loss to an inferior foe.” Steven Furtick. (2010). Sun Stand Still. Multinomah Books.

Looking back to June 2011, in the midst of devastation, Hanna McGee says she can see the  the miracle God was beginning to perform in the life of her family. Hanna says, “We have been married for 12 years; June 24th was our anniversary. When we met. I had been interested in politics for awhile and had done and internship with a Christian organization in Washington DC.  I had a heart for politics, I just didn’t know what it was going to look like. I came back to Boise and studied political science, but still just didn’t have a direction, and so someone suggested I volunteer on a campaign to get some experience. I was able to do that for a friend who was running for state legislature. John and I were running in to each other at political meetings and John ended up asking the friend that I was working with to introduce us. So he set us up on a coffee date that night and we hit it off really very quickly.

“I have to confess, I did throw a challenge at him right away. When he asked when we would go on our first official date, I told him he had to ask my dad like all my dates had done when I was in high school. John invited my parents to dinner the next week and asked my dad if he could officially date me.

“I remember my mom telling me that night, ‘you deserve someone like John.’ That really struck me because no one had ever said anything like that to me before.

“A year and a half after we started dating, John surprised me by proposing one night on the floor of the Senate. And that’s the thing, I was so happy for him, his campaign had gone so well, he had worked really hard for this and his dream, I was just totally being in his moment, and I was just so proud of him, so happy, and then he gets down on one knee and proposes.

“From there, it was a whirlwind. He was starting his career in the Senate, and I was helping him, and working in my own job in the political realm. Right away politics is what connected us. So that is what we had in common, and because I was such a newbie in a way, I was just eating it up and learning so much. It was just a perfect fit for both of us; that was our life and I really enjoyed it. Especially now, but even then, I think it is amazing how God was preparing my heart and my interests for our life together.

“But along with all of that, even before everything had happened in 2011, we also had some issues in our marriage. And, instead of dealing with the issues we had head on, I just started taking it on as pretty much my fault. I knew deep down that it wasn’t, but to me, it just felt that way.

“The nice thing, though, was that we had politics; we had our life that we knew we had been called to, so I could sweep everything under that rug. We had our cause, and you know, that rug was nice and bid and pretty and huge and it was easy to sweep anything under there.

“But we all know that sweeping things under the rug doesn’t make them actually go away. There was a point where I had to look at it all very honestly and when I finally did that, God gave me an entirely different perspective and allowed me to open my eyes. So I finally just prayed, ‘Alright God, here you go.’ I finally truly gave it all over to Him. In the past, I had given little parts of my hurt and disappointment to Him, but this time it was, ‘All right, here is all of it, because I need a miracle.

“I didn’t know it was going to happen in such a different way, but when all this started with John in June 2011, I  truly feel like it was our miracle. It was all just so out of character for John. He drank on occasion, but certainly not all the time. It all started out as a bad decision to drink too much on a hot day; he didn’t drink any water, so the alcohol hit him really hard and all that kind of just started the chain of events that followed. And it just kind of went haywire.

“Because of the, John started shutting down. He was ashamed and humilitated; he really felt like he had let so many people down; not just me and our family, but everyone. So John just began to close in on himself. As the stories and speculation in the media started to snowball, things just got worse and worse.

“I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know how to be there for him, or what to say. At the same time, our long time pastor was called to a new ministry in a different state, so John  lost that spiritual support. I didn’t know how to help him through it all, and I don’t think he knew who he could trust to talk to himself.

“From day one, it was horrible and I finally told John, ‘I need to go get some help. I don’t know how to deal with it and I need help.’ So I went to a professional counselor. And, I’ll be honest, I thought I was going to deal with our marital issues, just how to be, how to deal with this that was going on. But, of course, what really happened was that he helped me with my issues, we worked on me. And, in doing that, in working all of my stuff out, I could just let go and be encouraged, and my faith was renewed. You know, when you go through difficult time, you are weak, and you are tired and you just need to be built up a little bit. My counselor was able to help me deal what I needed to, so then I could be strong again.

“While God was doing that work in my life, He was also preparing John for the work He was going to do in his life. Our new pastor came and reached out to John and I think, because John was so broken, that he had nowhere to go but up, and having  our pastor, Dave, be there with him just kind of guiding him along the way, helped him to turn the corner and start to have hope again.

“When his final court date came up, and his sentence was not at all what we were expecting, it felt devastating. I was so frustrated because I wanted to defend him so badly, and I wanted to write my own article, because I knew the truth and had been living through all of it with him.

“But he went to jail and the truth is, I know now that it was the best thing that could have happened. Because, in all that time he was completely alone. So he had to deal with his own demons for the most part on his own, and really face himself, and forgive himself. And it was crazy the transformation that happened in John in those 30 days.

“John would tell you he used to be a person who would give God little pieces of his life, or his faith, but he would not open the door to completely expose himself or become vulnerable or anything like that. He is a very reserved person spiritually, and I think I always prayed that God would change him and transform him, but never did I ever really think that it would happen so quickly and in such and amazing way.

“I totally did not expect it that way, especially not while he was in jail. He was just suddenly very peaceful. When we would talk, just his voice was different. And suddenly he was no longer closed in and wanting to hide from the world.

“There is a tradition we have as a family; we all go to the Corn Maze together. So my mom was starting to plan that for right after he was possibly getting out of jail and I just assumed he would not want to go. But he said, yes, I want to go. He said,  ‘I can’t hide anymore. I’ve forgiven myself, God has forgiven me, what do I have to hide from?

“So yes, God definitely has done a work in John too. When he came out of jail, he was transformed into a new person. And that change has only increased over the past six years. He is so much more peaceful; he is compassionate; the empathy he has for people that have gone through difficult situations is unbelievable. He will reach out, he’ll see a news article or hear that someone is going through a hard time, and he will reach out to them with encouragement or an offer to go to coffee, or just to say, ‘you can do this, it’s okay.’ And those kinds of things, its like, that was never something he would have done before.

“From my perspective, his transformation was just phenomenal and the opportunity he has to work with people at the Rescue Mission is another expression of that.  I think he does particularly have a heart for people in jail and prison. And I think his biggest message to them is that, just because you have made some bad decisions doesn’t mean your life has ended.”