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A Re-fresh

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
February 14, 2022 9:00 pm

A Re-fresh

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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February 14, 2022 9:00 pm

Ron and Jody Zappia might have looked like a couple that had it all together, but their marriage was falling apart. After Ron's infidelity, Jody sought comfort at a local church, and instead of finding a reason to leave the marriage, she found a reason to live, with Christ's help. The Zappias talk about the day they surrendered their lives and marriage to the Lord, and how He gave their marriage a fresh start.

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The following program is a Family Life Today Classic. I was making decisions that were stupid, foolish. You know, I wasn't a follower of Christ.

I wasn't a believer. I got involved in a relationship, an unhealthy relationship at work, which led to infidelity, which led to Jody walking in. And the next thing you know, that was it. Like, you know, our relationship was over.

And I just bought into a lot of things that I think a lot of people still do today that can damage and wreck the greatest treasure that you have. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson.

And I'm Dave Wilson. And you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today.

Always fun to have friends who drop by to be on Family Life Today. And you've known this couple for how long? You're thinking they're our friends. Is that what you're saying?

It has seemed that way since they arrived. You acted like you guys know each other and like each other. There is a real comradity between us, and it's been fun. And the guys you're talking about are Ron and Jody Zappia, who join us on Family Life Today. Welcome, guys. Yes, great to be here.

Ron and Jody live in the western suburbs of Chicago, where Ron is the pastor at High Point Church, a multi-site church out in the western burbs. And the Zappias have been married since 1989, have three, can we call them all adult children now? Yes. Three children, two married, and one who is in college.

Yes. And your own story, I asked you, when did you get married? And you said, well, we got married in 89, but we don't count the first year. That's true.

Why is that? You know, sometimes the story is this, it was crash and burn for us. And so first year of marriage wasn't just difficult for us.

We literally had to crash and burn to look up. So Jody and I both, you know, grew up in non-Christian homes. Our basis for marriage was good ethical behavior, and we saw our parents had great marriages, but they weren't faith-based at all in that kind of situation. And for us, we had known each other for years. I mean, we went to the same high school, all that kind of stuff.

But, you know, year number one was a trial. What do you remember about the first year of marriage? First of all, it took us a little while to even get into the same state. Yeah, how did you guys meet? Yeah, we've known each other since we were kids. We met technically in junior high when I borrowed 20 cents from the guy, and I've been paying him back for the rest of my life.

He wouldn't take the money the next day. That was the most costly phone call of your life. Yes, yes. I was the new kid. I was the new kid in eighth grade.

She was seventh grade, and, you know, it was good. Anyhow, so we dated through high school, pretty much, and then went to different colleges, but dated most of the way through college. So we had dated probably eight to ten years before we got married. So you knew each other?

Yeah, we did. Very well, yeah. And honestly, with what we had gone through, which I know we'll get into a little bit, the reality of it is we had a really deep friendship, and I think that was the thing that really enabled us to continue to move forward, even to this day. So I've got my best friend here. Eight-plus years, though, of dating. Was it off and on dating, or was it we're pretty much together the whole time?

Let me take this one, Bob. Basketball season basically was this. My head couldn't fit through the door, and so I would be stupid, and then Jodie would break up with me, and then I'd come, you know, go around. She was crawling back. She did track, crawling back at track, and it was just like, you know, spring season, and, you know, with my tail between my legs. So you dated basketball in the winter, and you dated Jodie the rest of the year. Is that how it worked? That's how it worked. And Jodie, you kept taking him back.

You must have seen something you liked. Yeah, he was definitely a diamond in the rough, I'll say that. But no, we, yeah, it was kind of on again, off again. So in that respect, I guess it shouldn't have been such a surprise that that first year was rough because of all that kind of going back and forth. So you get married, but you both had careers. Talk about that. You took off on a pretty fast pace.

Well, and I think that's one of the things that led to the breakdown, and even for those listening today, or maybe, you know, couples that where your long distance relationship is one thing. But then for us, you know, Jodie scored the big job coming out of school, the better opportunity, let's just be honest and say that. And so I was following her, which was a shot to the ego, I mean, in a lot of respects. So I was in the business world in Cleveland. Jodie was working out of a company from Michigan, actually. And she was in getting trained in Connecticut.

And then we finally made our way to Chicago the first year. And what it was probably- We were five months into our marriage before we were even in the same city. Wow.

Yeah. And then it took six months, you know, not even to crash and burn as Ron described it. We'd gotten very good at the weekend relationship. And even in college, you know, that was kind of- we kind of lost track of what it was like day to day. So in those five months, what happened besides being apart?

Yeah, you know, I'll just jump right in. I mean, the reality of it was I was making decisions that were stupid, foolish. As we said, I wasn't a follower of Christ, I wasn't a believer. I got involved in a relationship, an unhealthy relationship at work, which led to infidelity, which led to Jodie walking in when she was supposed to be gone on a business trip. And, you know, I was doing something stupid. And she came in and discovered this. And the next thing you know, that was it. Like, you know, our relationship was over. And that was the crisis. That was the rock bottom. As I said, I wasn't going to church, wasn't built on a biblical foundation, you know, doing things that were living a college behavior and lifestyle. And I just bought into a lot of things that I think a lot of people still do today that can damage and really wreck the greatest treasure that you have.

Jodie, how hard was that? Well, you know, it's one of those things that's kind of indicative of my contribution to our marriage failing. Ron had been out of town and he was just getting back that night. And of course, I was leaving, you know, to go on a business call.

Now, who does that, right? We're in our first year of marriage. It's supposed to be this honeymoon. And my career and my job was, I guess I was a very driven person, but that's how I got the job. And that's what I thought I was supposed to be doing. And that's how I did well at everything else up to that point in college and everything else.

But just no regard for the concept of, you know, even just being there to greet him after being gone for a while. So it turns out I just didn't. I was working on a presentation and it took me longer than I thought. And I thought, well, I'll surprise him and I'll just, you know, I'll stay tonight and I'll leave real early in the morning instead.

I was going to be driving to Michigan. And so the surprise, unfortunately, was on me. So I walked in and, you know, I kind of thankfully, you know, I just saw I saw wine glasses and things. And it took me a while to even put together what was going on.

So that was kind of how that night went down. And so what did you do? Well, did you just leave? Did you get mad? Did you yell?

I could hardly speak. And I just remember thinking, shouldn't they go to jail for this? Like, I just really there was this feeling of like, they're allowed to just kind of go to bed tonight and be fine. And I'm supposed to he's supposed to stay here with me. And it was just so confusing.

I just remember. Yeah, it was not not a good night at all. And I think he took the gal away. And then I remember just kind of sleeping in the living room floor, you know, because that's that was we didn't really have any family around us. You know, and it was a hard thing. But in hindsight, I can say it was probably in a way a good thing because it did leave me nowhere.

But to look to God. Did you think it was over? Yeah, I really did think like, well, I guess my next step is to just get a divorce. You know, that's just what I thought, because I remember you think about things. And because, like, you know, our dating history, we'd had some things that I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised that this could happen.

But I had always said, you know, that's the one thing I would not put up with. And boy, here it was. It was right in front of me. Ron, was your involvement with somebody else because of dissatisfaction in your early marriage? Or were you just did you not have guardrails? Yeah, well, I think it was I think it's both of those things.

And, you know, certainly there was no guardrails. And, you know, as I said, I was making decisions like I had been made in the past and living a life, you know, with doing things and drinking things and getting to the place where, you know, the boundaries weren't there at all. You know, Jody was, you know, working and doing things and moving along the career path. And I thought that that was going to bring me satisfaction. You know, that was going to bring the happiness. That was what was missing.

And, you know, I think a lot of people fall into these kinds of traps. But, you know, the reality of it is Jody had prayed a month or a few days before. A few days before she had prayed to God.

And we weren't Christians and we weren't praying people. And she prayed, God, if you show me what's wrong, I'll do my part to fix it. She had this. She had a feeling. I don't speak for you, but I want to say it might have been the evening prior. Wow. And I was not really a praying.

I only prayed when I was in kind of deep trouble. But maybe I was sensing. I was sensing something was wrong.

Something was wrong. I mean, that is amazing. And I'm just hearing that you asked God to show you and you walk in. And he showed you.

Yeah. And so he had my full attention, you know, at that point. I can remember just sitting there looking up and saying, okay, what do you want? You know, like there was that fear of God really kicked in. I mean, Ron, what were you thinking?

You've heard the other side, but you have now just been caught. Yeah. Well, that's the thing.

I mean, you know, Dave, I think, you know, part of it is just even to come out today and just it's been so long ago. But the reality of it is the emotions and to admit your deepest, darkest, you know, sinful past and the decisions and choices that you made. I was pretty raw and I was pretty foolish. And I, you know, I didn't know what to do. I didn't know where to go. I was lonely.

I thought I could do these things. And, you know, I didn't want to do this. This was my best friend. This is the relationship that I cared about. And what I did was I threw it away like it was a piece of trash, a piece of garbage.

And, you know, to this day, I mean, that's really, really difficult. We had built a relationship. We had built a friendship. I didn't want to hurt her, but I was so self-centered and, you know, so doing what the things of what seemed right and best for me that, you know, I got off the rails pretty, pretty fast. What do you remember about your first conversation together after this happened? Well, I had contacted my sister that night, I think, just to say, hey, what do I do? Because I knew I could trust her. And she's the one that actually said, she said, well, you know, that's a really big decision, getting divorce.

That's not just something you do. And she said, I think you should get counseling first. And then she said, but make sure it's Christian counseling. And I remember even her saying that wouldn't have been a normal thing for us to say, but it didn't even matter. I was just so desperate that I was just like, I knew I could trust her. I knew she would always have my best interest at heart. And she was telling me I need to get, I'm like, well, where do you get that?

And I remember her saying, oh, that's right. You guys don't go to church. And I said, no. And I said, well, there's one across the street. So I literally the next morning got all dressed up and waited for the cars to be leaving the church parking lot. So I had no intention of going to church, but I was going to go there and just try to find out about where I would get this Christian counseling. And so the next conversation I really remember after I showed up at this church and a complete stranger, just a sweet woman who I thought was just kind of cleaning up at the church. The pastor's office was empty and she's the one that told me to go to a marriage ministry that was in town. I was at another church, which is kind of interesting. Their church didn't have it, but she had the foresight to say to get me to where I needed to be, to get the help I needed. And she told me to go to this church, go to this workshop. And the most important thing she said was, but don't go there with half your heart, go there with your whole heart. And those words I know were directly from God because it would come back to me as I listened.

Great advice. Yeah. And so I planned to go to this thing and somehow the conversation came up and Ron wanted to go also. And I was like, well, OK. I didn't really, you know, sure, whatever. Ron, were you instantly repentant, like sorry for what had happened?

Well, you know, I mean, the sorry was there, you know, but I don't know if, you know, we wouldn't even know what repentance was, you know, as far as we didn't have a biblical turn. Yeah, I think I was just broken. And, you know, I knew what I did was wrong. I knew what I did wasn't right. You know, how did I trip and fall in this area again? You know, I had a background where, you know, selfishness and pride. And so I didn't have anywhere to turn. I'm telling all these people on the, you know, on this road, like I wouldn't tell anyone.

I didn't know having a return. That's where our story is unique in that we were in Chicago alone. No friends.

Nobody didn't have any friend base. So that is actually what God used to help us because I got cut down at the knees. I didn't have anywhere to turn. And I just said, I'll go, I'll go to this workshop.

So you weren't thinking, I want to keep this relationship with this other woman going. No. We're done. I think I just, I just failed. I just, I just failed at life.

You know, everything was crashing in. It wasn't about a relationship to keep. It was about, you know what, you just, you blew it.

You blew the best thing you had. Was there a negotiation between the two of you? Was there begging? Were you angry? Were you, were you crying? What was going on between the two of you?

Yeah, there's a lot of tears. I mean, you know, I think we weren't as verbal as we are even now. So I think just even, you know, walking into this marriage and, you know, to be able to share feelings like I didn't do any of that.

Like we didn't do it and we just didn't have that kind of opportunity. You know, Jody was a business woman who got her, you know, this is back in the day where you had the Franklin planner and she had the Franklin planner and she just basically put open the Franklin planner and said, okay, I'll give this this much time. Two weeks.

Circle date on the calendar. You gave it two weeks. Yeah. And then I'm going to divorce him.

Or I'll make the decision about this divorce. Wow. Right. And then, so that was the gap in the time for us to go to this church. And so we wound up going and I'll never forget. It was so this happens on the worst night of our lives, which is a Saturday. And you know, the Sunday she gets up, puts on the dress, goes to the church. And it's a kind of a interesting story because the woman, you know, Jody thought she was an angel or something. Maybe. Because it was a, it was a church that was being used by an Asian church. Yeah.

In the afternoon. So this lady was kind of cleaning up and she started the conversation by saying, my husband, he was a failure too. She had been through some things. She didn't talk, but the empathy that she showed to Jody is the thing that the tears and any of us involved in ministry now.

And you know, if the privilege of leading people, but the empathy we can show to people in their greatest point of difficulty and need. This woman was there. She was a godsend and a Jody actually went back.

We found her two years later after the marriage was restored. And you know, I wanted to, well, I wanted to see if maybe she was an angel, but she was there and she did remember me. And it turned out that she was actually the pastor's wife of the Asian church that met in the afternoons. And she was actually setting up, you know, to me, it looked like she was straightening things up or, and little did I know, I never, at that point, there was no hope, but I would ever become a pastor's wife.

But I just think it's so funny how full circle. And I remember one of the things too, she, there was something she said at one point where she was like, maybe this is my chance. You know, I felt like she'd almost prayed that she could help somebody sometime.

Use her pain from the past to help someone in the present. Yeah. Yeah. And I totally didn't get it, but I do remember, you know, the few things that I remember there was something going on there.

And I think in a lot of situations, we can think even the person who's going through great difficulties, we can't help someone else in the midst of our difficulty. And we certainly learned that you can, but we, you know, get back in on track here. We went to this, you know, after the worst night of our life, we went to this marriage workshop and basically, yeah, the spotlight was coming on. So they just, were they just doing these marriage workshops all the time, or they had one scheduled when we needed it? It had just started the week prior to our breakdown. And so we got in there and it was literally week two of like an eight week thing. And the way it worked there is they would do the first four weeks. You determined after the first four weeks, if you went for the second four weeks, you either went the marriage restoration route or the divorce recovery route. So some people were there or they were already divorced and they were just trying to learn how to under, you know, so it was a big church in Chicago. And they, this had been going, there was probably 500 people attended the thing.

We ended up in the overflow group, which again was a godsend, because that's how I got an appointment with the Pat. Like he wasn't meeting with people anymore because the ministry had gotten so big, but I had put this in my Franklin planner that I had to make a decision by this Thursday about my divorce and I'm in the overflow group and I'm not getting my questions answered. So I kind of was a little... What were the questions that you needed to have answered?

Can I get a divorce? Oh, you want to know, is it okay? I wanted the grounds.

Yeah. I just didn't know how anything worked. You know, our parents were not divorced.

It was not something we ever thought about, knew anything about. And I didn't know, how do you do this? Do I have grounds? Do I have grounds? And if so, then what do I do?

Like, do I have to have a pastor or someone say that it's okay? I just didn't know what to do. But I really did think that's what we were going there for. Were you sitting together in this overflow group?

And were you just furious with him? Well, that's where her words would kick in because I would be sitting there and at moments I would have a little, I would just kind of start doing a little pro-con list, you know, or like how I operated, making decisions. And then it would hit me that I wasn't listening with my whole heart. And I would drop my pencil. And I'm a note taker.

I don't drop my pencil. That whole heart thing, it was huge. It was the Holy Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit. And I didn't know the verse at the time, but Jeremiah 29, 13, seek me and you will find me, but when you seek me with your whole heart. And that's what was going on with me. And at the same time, Ron would describe, he was having those moments where you feel like the spotlight was on.

He was sitting there thinking. I'd never been to church. I told Jodie when she would ask me, you know, should we go, hey, should we go to church? Should we plug in a church? I was the, you know, prior to, you know, what do I need church for? I said, I got enough friends.

I don't even know. Maybe when we have kids. So you had never?

Growing up, never? Well, no, we grew up in a more traditional setting where, you know, you just went and, you know, they held the Bible up really big. And like, I didn't even know they were speaking from the Bible. Ron would go on Friday night and show up at mass. Right. And then he would, he would just take home the bulletin. So it looked like he went, you know, like he didn't even go sometimes.

That's what I found out. Wow. I'd go with my sister on Saturday night.

We'd bring the bullets and put it on the table. And that was it, you know, but in reality, this workshop, it was the spotlight was on me. I had never heard the things before the Bible was never real to me.

The Bible that was never presented to me in such a way where it was applicable to my life. And the reality was this, I was experiencing conviction. Now I know now, and I was sweating.

I mean, I was crying and the things that this man was saying from the front, I had never heard before. And I blew it. And I wanted to do over, man. I wanted to start over. I had this huge weight of guilt and shame that I didn't know what to do with. I didn't have anywhere to turn. So I needed the forgiveness that I know now that I see that I understand.

And, you know, I know so many people are walking around trying to do it on their own, do it in their own strength, carry that weight for themselves. Jody was on a mission to make a decision. I was shattered. My earth was shattered. My life was over. I had nowhere to turn at my job.

I had a relationship there that had gotten like, I was broken. You guys, Dave and Ann, in pastoral ministry have sat down with, you probably couldn't count the number of couples who have had this kind of an earthquake go off in their marriage. And they're wondering, can I get a divorce? Should I get a divorce? What do we do now? Can we ever trust one another again? I mean, all of these questions that are swirling around and to hear Jody say, go there with your whole heart to get that advice, but don't just react.

This is something you got to approach prayerfully and carefully and get some solid counsel before you decide what your next step's going to be. Yeah, as you've said, we've sat with many couples over 29 years of ministry, but the one that comes to my mind is one of my best friends who is in my men's group, still is for 20 years. And I was with John tonight. He discovered Betsy was having an affair.

Betsy is a really good friend of mine and she's in my women's group. And I remember thinking, something's wrong. And I remember saying to her, I think it was the night before she was caught. I don't even know why it came out of my mouth, but I said, I just want you to know that even if you were having an affair, I don't care what you would do. We would still love you.

We would still pursue you. We met with John and Betsy the next day and the next couple of days. And I remember getting in the car after one of our first meetings with John and Betsy.

I just listened to her. You felt so hopeless. There was no brokenness. She wasn't contrite. John was angry, betrayed. And I'm sitting here right now going, he raised this marriage from the dead. It was a beautiful, beautiful story.

And I'm looking at a couple. He's done the same thing. Different circumstances, but similar. And we haven't even heard that part of the story yet. I can't wait to keep talking to hear the rest of it. There are folks who have had this earthquake go off in their lives in the last 48 hours or in the last couple of weeks, they're listening to this. Maybe God is speaking to them through this and they're wondering, what should I do?

What should I be listening to? What do you say to them? I say, I would get on my knees and say, God, help me, help us. Give me wisdom and take your time. I think we can react so quickly on our emotion. And sometimes I think some of the best advice that you got was, hold on and go in with all of your heart. Like that sounds stupid.

Don't you guys think like, well, that's dumb. Why would I do that? He just shattered my heart. Yes, guard your heart, but to give your heart to God. And you didn't even know to do that. But I'm thinking of the women who have gone through this, to the men that have gone through this.

Why wouldn't you? Why wouldn't you offer God your heart and ask him to guard it, to shield it, but also to give you eyes to know and see what steps to take? You know, I love the verse in the Old Testament that talks about God bringing beauty from ashes. And we're sitting here with a couple. We've heard just a part of their story today. And they've got a book called The Marriage, Not Seven Choices That Keep Couples Together.

And I'm going, that's beauty from ashes right there. We've got copies of their book in our Family Life Today Resource Center. You can go online for more information on how to get a copy of the book. Again, Seven Choices That Keep Couples Together. The Marriage, Not by Ron and Jodi Zappia.

Go to familylifetoday.com to order your copy or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Now tomorrow we're going to hear how Ron and Jodi Zappia got from the destruction of their marriage to the resurrection of their marriage, and about the marriage counseling they got that was pretty direct. We'll hear that story tomorrow.

I hope you could be with us for that. I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Bob Lapine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most. The preceding program was from the Family Life Today Classic Archives.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-04 18:01:53 / 2023-06-04 18:13:57 / 12

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