Melody, my wife, had run to the grocery store and I was home alone, having just logged into an instant messenger service that I used often. The woman on the other end of that post lived somewhere in Kentucky. I had recently made contact with her in an online chat room.
An adult chat room.
I stared at the words on my screen. My heartbeat sped up…palms began to sweat.
How easy it would have been to ignore her post. How easy it would have been to simply have told her that I was not available to meet her later.
It was the moment of decision. I had recently started chatting again after a ten month hiatus. I started back innocently enough with sports chat, but quickly migrated back to the seedy and titillating adult rooms full of other bored, lonely, checked-out people looking to connect with someone…anyone.
I had taken a break from chat rooms because ten months earlier I had done the unthinkable. I actually agreed to meet a woman face-to-face that I had met in a local chat room. My private, virtual life and my flesh-and-blood “real” life intersected. Nothing happened that day, but as I sat across the table from her at a local restaurant, I realized I had crossed lines that I had vowed I would NEVER cross. I came home that day and took Yahoo Messenger off of my computer and stopped cold-turkey.
For ten months…
“I can be in Birmingham tonight if you want me to be.”
Ten months later, I sat staring at those words on my screen…watching the cursor blink…knowing she was waiting for a response.
I typed “Ok” and, after what seemed like forever, finally hit “send”.
At that moment, paralyzing fear and intense excitement rushed through me simultaneously.
Terrifying fear because I knew what she was coming for and I knew that I would cross that final line and go there, if for no other reason than because she had driven all the way from Kentucky and I felt some twisted sense of obligation.
The excitement flowed from playing with the forbidden. I think a needy and desperate part of me also relished the fact that someone was willing to drive over 350 miles to meet me.
I crossed the line that night and never even got her last name. Today I can’t even remember her first name. I never spoke to her again, but the damage had been done. I had added physical adultery to my secret life of pornography and chat rooms. I crossed a line that I never imagined crossing. The lies I had fed myself for years about pornography being innocent and “something men do” and “not a big deal” mocked me as I drove home that fateful Saturday night.
One word consumed my thoughts. Adulterer.
The shame I felt and the contempt I had for myself was suffocating. Oh how far I had drifted. What I thought was innocent and “not a big deal” had been literally sucking the life out of me. I was a shell of a man completely checked out…thinking only about the next alone opportunity I would have for my fix.
And then I thought about my precious wife and my kids. Telling Melody what I had done was not even remotely on my radar. I vowed this was the last time and was successful in white-knuckling it for another nine months. Nine months later it happened again.
By the time my secrets came out, it had happened seven times. Seven times over a three year period.
Secrets. Lies. Cover-up.
I was a desperate, conflicted, empty shell.
And then my two worlds collided and I was exposed. It was a beautiful undoing. Pain and relief rushed into my empty soul at the same time. Witnessing the heartache and anguish that Melody went through was unbearable. Melody’s deep, anguishing wail from behind our locked bedroom door will forever haunt me.
I went to an intensive in Minnesota and began to understand sexual addiction and my own woundedness and started the journey of recovery. It took much more pain before I finally reached my bottom in 2002. I knew that recovery was worth it so that I would not hurt Melody and the kids, but that was not enough. I had to get to the place where I believed in the core of my being that Tray Lovvorn was worth recovery.
Early one morning as I was reading through the Gospels, this thought occurred to me:
“God knew all about my sexual addiction and my seven affairs when he saved me.”
That was the day I began to understand just how amazing and scandalous and wonderful God’s grace is. I began to uncover layers of unbelief that skewed my view of God and His tender mercies toward me. I ran to promises like Zephaniah 3:17:
“The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.”
I chose to believe that God saved me because He loved me and because He delighted in me and not because of anything I could offer Him. I spent years delicately managing my personal reputation and He showed me His love and favor when I doubted it the most.
No matter what you have done or how far you have strayed, God is right now singing over you. You can surrender…and stop…and rest…and listen to the beautiful song or you can choose not to believe it and go on with your efforts of self-righteousness.
My prayer is that you will stop and listen sooner than I did. That it won’t take as much pain and heartache in your life.
He is singing over me…
He is singing over you…
Do you believe it?
Traylor, thank you for breaking your heart open again so we can see how deeply you have been healed. It’s an honor to host your story. -Serena