It’s been said that change is the only constant in life.
That’s much more challenging when the change catches you off guard.
“I didn’t see the divorce coming,” said Chris Johnson. “I knew something had to change for my family and me. We couldn’t continue to do what we were doing. We were deep in debt. Where I was in life and what I was doing, it was like I was living in the moment, but I was barely living. I was meandering about without any aim, direction or goals. I was very comfortable. It shook me.”
Johnson, a Southeast Christian Church member, moved to Louisville in January 2011 to try to save his marriage.
“I was married, had two kids and my wife moved to Louisville with my kids,” he said. “I moved down here to reconcile the marriage, family and everything. It didn’t happen. Within a year, we were divorced.”
It was a wakeup call for someone who grew up in church.
“When I left Cincinnati, I felt like everything was taken from me,” said Johnson, 37. “My family wasn’t the same. I led worship at my church for 11 years. I played in a band, and I couldn’t do that anymore. I didn’t know a single person. The job that I was working at, I had to quit, and I really enjoyed it and worked with my best friend.”
Starting from scratch
Johnson was forced to go back to the drawing board.
“I was uprooted from everything, really scared and nervous,” Johnson said. “At the same time, I was a little excited and never lived anywhere else before.”
After coming to Louisville, Johnson quickly connected to Southeast and never felt shamed or labeled.
“I never felt the stigma in church or that anybody was like, ‘Shame on you for going through this situation,’” Johnson added. “When I got to church, the first five or six people I met and got invested with were all divorced. They saw me as a person, not as a divorced person.”
Day after day, with the help of a handful of friends and mentors, Johnson simply took one step at a time.
“The one thing my mentor Ken Martin kept telling me was, ‘Keep doing the next right thing,’” Johnson said. “There were days I got it right and days I didn’t get it right, but I couldn’t do anything else.”
When change takes place and touches every part of your life, the season isn’t always short, but God is still steadfast.
“I never really got mad at God, but I was asking, ‘Why?’” he added. “I knew there was a purpose in it, but I was just like, ‘Tell me now and everything will be fine.’ Through that, it was like, ‘You’ll find out.’ The two things I held onto, ‘Is God real?’ Which is ‘yes.’ And, ‘Is God good?’ ‘Yes.’ Then, I have to trust whatever happens now will come to pass.”
It came to pass
The phrase, “it came to pass” shows up in Scripture in almost 500 verses, and it signifies our story isn’t over.
“One of my favorite Bible verses is, ‘and it came to pass,’” Johnson said. “I know that whatever I’m going through is temporary, it’s not going to be forever and the struggle today isn’t going to last. It may be for a long time, but eventually it’s going to come to an end.”
Piece by piece, God restored what Johnson initially felt was ripped from his hands.
“After about three years being here, I kind of started to see some things come full circle,” Johnson added.
He is spiritually restored.
At the Blankenbaker Campus, Johnson plays bass for the worship band, serves at various special events and is involved in a small group.
He is relationally restored.
“(On my own) I couldn’t have built the network of people and friends around me that God surrounded me with,” Johnson said.
His career is restored.
In 2014, Johnson received a call from his previous employer in Cincinnati and was asked to open an office in Louisville. He is now vice president of sales and operations at Spectra Contract Flooring.
Throughout his transition time, Johnson also met his new wife, Veronica, and they married in 2015.
“You go through a divorce and you start wondering, ‘How are you ever going to love again? Is anyone going to love my kids the way I do? Am I going to love their kids? What does a blended family look like?’” he said. “I never thought I’d be there. I prayed for two things: Someone who would love God and love my girls. I eventually met my wife.”
Together, they have three daughters, a son and three dogs.
One of the ways Johnson saw God work in his life was through the wisdom of others.
Right away, Johnson reached out to Southeast’s Men’s Mentoring program.
“If I didn’t have somebody I knew I could call, I have no idea where I would be or what I would be doing right now,” Johnson said. “I definitely wouldn’t have the direction I got. Those guys kept me from veering off course and said this is where you want to go.”
Men’s Mentoring is a one-on-one discipleship program designed for those experiencing a season of struggle who would like help becoming a spiritual leader. Mentors provide guidance in a variety of areas—from marriage, parenting and career changes to finances, anxiety and addictions—with the ultimate purpose of connecting to Jesus.
For info on Men’s Mentoring, call (502) 253-8400 or visit www.southeastchristian.org/connect/care/mentoring.