Out of the Dust: One Couple’s Journey Through Heartache to Redemption
Chris and Stephanie Teague seemed to have it all together. High school sweethearts, they married young and had a bright future ahead. No one knew that Chris was living a double life. And when his double life was exposed, their marriage ended. But their story doesn’t end there. In an interview with The Stream, they explained that God’s redemptive hand was already at work — and brought them back to healing and wholeness. Now they share their story through music born out of their journey.
Chris and Stephanie attended the same college. Their lives were busy and full with budding careers in the music industry. As a young man, Chris was interested in science and apologetics. But that quickly led to his embracing a materialistic worldview. He began having doubts about his faith. He began using drugs and drinking alcohol in secret. Even he knew he couldn’t hide it forever.
One day in January, 2010 he sat Stephanie down and told her he didn’t believe in God anymore and didn’t want to be married. Blindsided by his revelation, Stephanie could barely process what he’d said. She still wanted to work through the problem and save the marriage.
“He was hiding all of that,” Stephanie said. “I had an idea about the doubts he was having. But blindsided is not a strong enough word. I’m a planner. I like security in knowing what’s coming next. I didn’t process what was happening. I was fighting for our marriage.”
Chris was done. “I’d made up my mind. A lot of what I was doing was a smokescreen. A shield and a sword to do what I wanted to do and not be held accountable.” So he went through with the divorce.
Stephanie went through the stages of grief. The divorce was finalized quickly. “It wasn’t fair,” said Stephanie. “But God is so good at using everything for good. God used that to show me that my sin was internal. He stripped me of some of my need to control.” Stephanie went on a mission trip to Nigeria that summer and spent time helping others and praying. “My identity was in Him. That summer was a beautiful time with Him.”
Chris said he tried to believe he’d done the right thing. But it didn’t matter. “I wanted what I wanted. … I got to do what I wanted to do and it was fun.” He was finally able to be himself and stop living a double life. He felt that he was finally being authentic.
‘The Only Thing That Satisfies Us is Him’
“It was great for a while, then it faded,” he recalled. “The idols that we replace God with — even if they satisfy us for a while — the only thing that satisfies us is Him.” He’d gotten into relationships too soon. But God used a relationship that turned sour, as well as prayers of those around him, to break him down. “I was completely devastated. I was waking up in cold sweats and anxious. For the first time I had to look myself in the face and admit my selfishness. A lot of the things I wanted to believe about myself were completely false. I saw a really scared, selfish child.”
He began to see how his selfishness hurt those around him. Although he left the marriage on the pretense of intellectualism, it was through his heart that God brought him back. “He began using that heartbreak of my own doing to begin a relationship with me again.”
Chris had to work through his doubts and pride, but God was with him the whole way. “Through all of that, God started telling me this crazy idea that I should pursue Stephanie again.”
‘God is a God of Redemption’
Late summer of 2010 Chris contacted Stephanie. He asked if they could talk. They walked her neighborhood. “It was a beautiful time,” said Stephanie. “At the end of the conversation he said God was telling him that we should be together. I didn’t get the same message. I needed to know the Jesus I could see in him was a true heart change.” So she asked people to pray and the two of them sought counseling. After a time, with the go-ahead from friends and the pastor, they decided that they would date. “God is a God of redemption,” said Stephanie.
Stephanie forgave Chris but needed time to build trust. The counseling helped tremendously.
“Stephanie gets medals of honor and grace,” said Chris. “To see the fruit of what God was able to do … we were excited to see what would happen — what God would do with us together.”
They remarried February, 2011.
The second marriage feels much different than the first. “There’s safety,” explained Stephanie. “We didn’t feel safe emotionally in the first marriage. There’s a humility and transparency. There’s so much intimacy. We’ve been remarried six years now.” But it hasn’t been all roses. “As incredible as it’s been, we’ve had to work through things with our pastor.” One thing has changed, however. “We’ve been intentional about our honesty with each other.”
The couple now writes and sings songs that reflect their story of downfall, heartache and redemption. They placed second in a Gospel Music Association conference competition in 2012 where they sang and told their story. Afterwards, people approached them with similar stories and let Chris and Stephanie know how much hearing their story helped them. The affirmation and stories they were told is what inspired them to continue on and helped them recognize God’s calling on their lives to pursue music and ministry together.
Chris and Stephanie also speak at marriage conferences and have the opportunity to minister to and pray with other couples. “We know what God has done in our lives,” said Stephanie. “God has given us the story and it’s giving others hope.”