November 2015 – Tray Lovvorn, a natural leader, started preaching while in high school and planted a church by age 20. He found his ideal match in Melody, a beautiful young woman who looked for godly qualities in a potential husband.
The two attended Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, while working tirelessly to lead the small church plant.
They were the perfect duo who exuded confidence and displayed a remarkably wide range of talents. “We were all things to all people,” Melody told AFA Journal. “I was leading worship and working with children, doing the bulletin, and everything.”
“In our view,” Tray explained, “God was very happy to have us on His team because of all the great and wonderful things we were going to do.”
Within just two years, however, their efforts were exhausted. They were thoroughly burned out.
Nonetheless, their shared desire to work in Christian ministry was soon reignited, and Tray landed an internship position with a congregation on its way to megachurch status, and he was later hired at a Christian design firm. But all the while, he was hiding a deplorable secret. He had convinced himself that his lustful desires would dissipate on his wedding day. But they didn’t. He was addicted to pornography.
During a routine computer check, Tray’s indiscretion was discovered by his supervisor. Although he was quickly released from his job, no confessions were made, and no counseling was offered or sought. The reason for Tray’s dismissal was added to his growing list of secrets. Melody remained in the dark. And so did Tray.
It was in those dark shadows that Tray’s sin became full-blown. Over the years, pornography sites led to chat rooms, and chat rooms to one-night stands.
The couple had four small children, ranging in age from six months to six years, by the time the dreadful truth finally surfaced. Melody was completely blindsided. Everything she knew to be true was challenged. Her entire world came crashing down, and divorce soon followed.
Tray was experiencing a collapse of his own. The façade he had worked so hard to create crumbled into a pile of rubble at his feet. Stripped of his pride, he found himself in one of the few churches in the area that believed in church discipline and exercised it from a position of grace.
Meanwhile, Tray’s theology was shifting. He had always thought grace was a little extra provision that God would reluctantly make available to fill the gaps. “In that paradigm, I had to minimize my sin – I had to pretend,” Tray explained. “I couldn’t let God into my struggle because I thought God was mad at me because of my struggle. And that created shame. I had to work harder to put it to death in secret, so that nobody would ever have to know.
“It was like I was on the athletic field, and God was in the press box watching, frustrated by my performance while I was stumbling and doing a bunch of bonehead stuff – I couldn’t do the simple thing of carrying out the playbook that He had given me. He washed the slate clean – that was the part of the gospel I got. But I thought it was my job to keep it clean, and so I had to put to death the sin to make God happy. I knew the saving power of grace, but somehow I missed the transforming power of grace.”
Tray finally came to terms with his own weakness. He didn’t have much of a choice. “I am not as good as I thought I was,” he said. “But grace is much more amazing than I ever imagined. I began to understand that God had come to my side of the playing field, and He’s doing for me what I cannot do by myself. And now I’m free to be honest with God and others about my brokenness.”
Meanwhile, Melody was undergoing still more wreckage. She had always believed that good choices plus the pursuit of godliness equaled a fully blessed and pain-free life. “This was not supposed to happen!” she exclaimed. “I mean this happened to women who didn’t take care of their husbands. I prided myself in taking care of my husband.”
“When Tray and I divorced, I was still up on my holy mountain,” she explained. So, she moved into another marriage, but in less than a year’s time, she and her children were abandoned. “That was definitely a turning point for me,” she said. “I was brought to a place of humility.”
In her pain and confusion, Melody started honestly asking, “Who is God and who does He say that I am?” She began to relax in her identity in Christ. “And that’s a game-changer,” she explained. “I’m no longer working to make Him smile. He’s smiling because of the finished work of Christ.”
The two experienced what they now call “a grace awakening.”
“When grace really becomes amazing, it allows us to go to deeper places with the Lord than ever before,” Melody explained. “Either grace is amazing and I’m in awe of God, what He has done, and that He has a relationship with me – or it’s not awesome, and I’m really awesome.”
Six years after their divorce, the couple remarried. “Remarrying Tray wasn’t on my to-do list,” said Melody. “It was really an individual walk with the Father, of Him undoing a lot of my thinking – and the same with Tray. And then we intersected.”
Since their 2008 remarriage, they have used their experiences in brokenness and restoration to minister to others, offering counseling for individuals and families, and biblical resources for restoration through their nonprofit undoneredone ministry.
In hindsight, they see themselves clearly in the parable of the two sons. The younger brother, the prodigal, rebelled through bad behavior. The older brother rebelled through good behavior.
Tray had always believed and taught that the lost brother was repentant at the pig pen. But his view has changed. He explained, “I think he was hungry, and he had devised a practical plan to take care of his problem – to be reinstated as a worker.”
“All the way home, he’s rehearsing his speech,” envisioned Tray, “because he doesn’t know how he is going to be received. He doesn’t know if the father will want to have him killed because of the shame he has brought the family. But, the father tackles him, kisses him, puts a robe on his back and throws a party. I believe that is what changed his life. It is clear in Romans 2:4 that the riches of God’s kindness, forbearance, and patience lead us to repentance.”
Contact the Lovvorns undoneredone.com – Click “Get help!“ for resources for ministry leaders and friends of both the betrayed and the betrayers.
The Lovvorns also minister through Route1520.com – Gospel-centered recovery courses and support groups for sexually broken people and their spouses. Resources focus on creating an environment that allows people to rediscover the love and grace of the Father.
130 Inverness Plaza #190
Birmingham, AL 35242