I don’t have a picture of him. But I can see his face in my mind so clearly. The way he perspired in the heat. The kindness of bringing our favorite Italian meal to our home to seal the deal. I remember the salesmanship, the promises, the desperation we were in.
Oh how I remember.
Oh how I regret trusting him.
Our house hadn’t sold in Texas, and we would fly to France to be church planters in a few weeks. We let panic rule us. And we welcomed the “help” we received from someone in a global prayer group who recommended we talk to this man–a man from our church who helped people like us.
Except that his help ruined us.
But we didn’t know that at the time.
We signed papers. A notary legitimized them. Our house, where we lived and dreamed, was blessedly sold. We’d spent four good years in that home. We met amazing people in our neighborhood. Made lifelong friends. My husband started and completed seminary in that house. We found our dear church. Such sweet memories.
The semi truck parked in front. We sold all our appliances, lent our piano, and packed the rest for France. It would be a month before we saw our stuff again, and when we did, it reminded us of the home we left behind.
We arrived in France in July of 2004. And right before Christmas of that year, we got the phone call that ultimately ruined our credit. From our bank. “Why haven’t you been making your payments” the stern caller asked.
“Um, because it’s not our house, and we sold it.”
Except that we hadn’t sold it. Not truly. This man we trusted had created a fraud. He owned the title of our home, but we owned the loan, and we were defaulting. The man lived in our home, squatting, ruining our carpets. Because of the nature of the paperwork, we couldn’t simply evict him, continue paying our mortgage, and try again because he owned the title. This forced us into foreclosure.
We lost our home.
We lost our credit.
All thousands of miles away.
Yes, we took legal action. Yes, we won a hefty settlement. Except that we received ZERO dollars because he and his sham company conveniently declared bankruptcy the day before the judge ruled in our favor.
The man no longer walks this earth. He died a few years after this fraud. And I’ve learned to forgive.
But here’s the wild thing: When I think back on France, this foreclosure story seems tiny. It’s small. It pales in comparison to the relational fallout we experienced there. It cannot compare to the trauma our family experienced at the hands of others. Truly, foreclosure was a blip. The relational heartache lingers today.
And today two brave souls of the DeMuth family are on French soil, facing those memories. And I’m left to ask God again to please, please heal my heart from the heartache.
I wrote The Wall Around Your Heart because of the injury I experienced in France. And the injury I still encounter at the hands of others. And the injury I’ve inflicted on others. There HAD to be a way through relational heartache. I’ve learned so much. Yes, I embittered. Yes, I erected a big, fat wall. Yes, I retreated.
But eventually, Jesus opened me back up, where I began to step back into life. That journey became the book that released Tuesday.
I pray it blesses you. I pray my heartache can be a doorway to healing for you. Because the worse thing that happened to us wasn’t the conman who stole our house. It came when other Christian leaders hurt us.
Have you been there?