“It was sort of a culmination of things in the middle of the night. My marriage. My father. My friend who had sort of betrayed me. All my addictions. My children. I don’t know exactly what it was, but I knew I couldn’t do it anymore… I remember waking up in the middle of the night… and literally giving up.”
Stuart Cayer seemed like he had it all. The job. The house. The wife. The kids. The money. The esteem. By nearly every measure, his life was a success.
But the outward appearance of his identity was just a front—a crude covering for the heart of a broken man.
“I was probably addicted to every false idol there is out there, from pornography, to greed, to respect,” Stuart said. “You know, all of them… I was just deeply troubled.”
Stuart and his wife Sharon were trying to figure out how to be parents to two teenagers, maintain their ever-demanding careers as healthcare executives, and find time to enjoy their marriage. But they quickly found that balancing their arduous jobs with busy schedules and the needs of their children was beyond challenging, and their marriage took the brunt of it.
“There was a time shortly after that, quite frankly, that my wife and I barely liked each other,” Stuart said. “Well, I don’t even think we liked each other. I know we didn’t. Maybe deep down we loved each other, but we didn’t get along at all. Both of us thought about divorce and talked about it a few times, but never went through with it.”
Years earlier, they met working at the MD Anderson Cancer Center shortly after Stuart finished his Master’s degree.
“I knew that she was agnostic or somewhere between agnostic and atheist,” Stuart says. “Anyway, I loved her. I didn’t care. I wasn’t following Jesus Christ at that point in time anyway. I had a lot of other gods that I was chasing. So, we got married.”
As the years rolled along, Stuart and Sharon established themselves in their careers and as parents, and to the outside world, looked as if they had everything anyone ever wanted. But the talk behind closed doors tended towards all of their unhappiness rather than all of their successes.
In addition, health issues were catching up to Stuart’s father, and so Stuart spent much of his free time with his dad, unsure how much longer they would have together.
The mental and emotional toll of it all was crushing.
“Things were just a mess inside the home,” Stuart recounts. “There were a number of different times where, really, I thought about just not being here anymore, to the point that I can remember being on vacation in Colorado on a summer trip, on a ski lift, just thinking about how easy it would be to slip off into a deep crevasse. You know, I sat on that bench just white-knuckled, afraid to even touch anything for fear that I would do it. I didn’t get back up on that ski lift again. I’m sure my wife was wondering why I didn’t, but I just did not. And I can remember a number of different times where, you know, I thought about how easy it would be to just drift my car underneath an 18-wheeler, and do it that way. To be honest with you, I was too afraid to live and too afraid to die.”
Stuart grew up believing in God. He was baptized at a young age, but attributes his decision to fear more than love.
It was in college that he departed from the church.
“I always believed in Jesus Christ,” Stuart says. “I never stopped believing. From the time I walked away in college, I was just busy off chasing my own dreams. He did not fit into my plans. I grew up believing that you had to be perfect, and you know, I walked away knowing that I couldn’t be perfect. I just couldn’t live the life they wanted to me live, and I knew so many people that I thought to be hypocrites, and I just didn’t understand that. Nobody ever really taught me about grace, or I just wasn’t really listening.”
In the midst of some of Stuart’s greatest struggles, he and his son began to attend a father-son small group at the request of their neighbor, Bobby Vichich. Originally intending to use the group for the benefit of his son, Stuart began to feel a sense of connection.
Eventually, the father-son group blossomed into a couple’s group and a separate men’s group, and Stuart continued to attend both. It was there he began to learn the importance of community, and he even softened to the idea of returning to church.
But despite his effort to find peace and comfort, his internal turmoil kept him dejected and hopeless.
Until one night.
“I remember waking up in the middle of the night… and literally giving up,” Stuart remembers. “I had given up on myself… and I just cried out to God. And it was probably the most pure, unadulterated feeling of love I’ve ever felt in my entire life. It was as if he put his arms around me, and just told me, ‘Welcome to the club.’ You know, he never said, ‘What took you so long?’ or anything like that.”
Stuart laid there in bed in the dark and cried.
Later that night, Stuart wrote a letter to the men in his small group, thanking them for their prayers and support and explaining all that he had been dealing with (some of which they knew, and a lot they didn’t) and the details of him committing his life to Christ.
Stuart couldn’t sleep much after that, but he still had to get up and go to work the next morning. He got up, got dressed, and started driving to work, still raw with emotion.
“I cried all the way to work, so much to the point that I thought, I have to get it together or I’m going to get in an accident,” Stuart says with a laugh. “I walked into a friend of mine’s office, a doctor, and someone who I deeply respect for their faith, and explained to them what happened. And the interesting thing was that all the problems that I had were all still there, but none of them at that point in time, were a burden to me.
“And so that that was the day I was born again. I had been baptized earlier in my life, because I feared God. But I never really understood God’s grace, and that I didn’t have to be perfect, and that he accepted me for who I was. He called me to try to do his will. I think the most difficult thing was, What do I do now? What do I tell my wife and kids? I remember thinking, Well, I’m just going to be the father and the husband I should have been all along.”
Within a week, people started asking what was different about Stuart. And those people included his wife and kids. So, he explained how the love and hope of Jesus Christ had radically transformed his heart and freed him to live life in a new way. A better way.
The better way has marked his story ever since.
Stuart started serving on the Parking Team, directing traffic at CCCC’s Egret Bay Campus, and volunteering on the Prayer Team to pray with people after church services.
Stuart and Sharon started attending marriage classes at Clear Creek Community Church and credit those leaders and those lessons as the biggest influence in restoring their marriage.
In March of 2017, Sharon made the decision to be baptized. One of the things she included in her baptism story read:
Over this past year, I’ve been reading the Bible more and novels less, and have committed to a year-long plan to read the Bible in its entirety. I’ve taken CCCC classes that I’ve enjoyed and I’m signing up for more. I now love doing these things, no longer worry myself sick, take action by praying, and feel much more settled and functional as a person. My marriage is wonderful and this May we will celebrate our twenty-eighth anniversary. Work has been reprioritized and life is good.
Thank you Stuart for bringing Jesus into our home. This is the number one reason I’m here today.
During the summer of 2017, the Cayers went on their third mission trip to Honduras.
“Now, [Sharon’s] at the front of the pack, trying to do all that she can,” Stuart said. “And she’s not trying to check all the boxes, she just generally loves serving. She’ll tell you that she kept hearing these sermons about putting your faith in God, and just put your faith in Jesus Christ and finally she just decided one day, ‘You know what? I’m going to try this.’ And she loves it. And we love it. And everything around us seems to be changing for the better.”