Those three simple words, “I don’t care,” harshly illustrating the depravity of my soul, my sin for all to see. And then, we are caught by my husband not long after it started; that lack of caring resulting in a selfish recklessness that did not bode well for hiding a secret such as this.
My husband is devastated; full of fury and hurt. Each and every minute spent in each other’s company is agonizing, painful, full of grief, and often anger.
Consequences for the affair come swiftly, and come hard. I feel my identity being ripped away; the separation violent and bloody. When I made my choice, I threw away the beauty of being a wife, a mother, a friend. Trying to put that skin back on in the aftermath feels uncomfortable, like I am trying to wear clothing meant for someone else, someone more worthy. Shame sets in, and I do what I have always done. I start wrapping layers of protection around me; trying to numb the pain.
But there is also love, has always been love between my husband and I. The only tenuous thread we have to hang on to in the middle of the storm raging between us. My first real glimpse of God occurs the morning after, when my husband says “I love you, I always have. I will never leave you, and I am sorry I did not protect you from this.”
That first new bond between us is made in an instant, a feeling of awe and the gentle sigh of hope that he (and He) could still love me, after what I’ve done. God is already moving, rushing in to take back what has been lost.
But the sad reality is that I am not ready to be found, and won’t be for a long time.
In my mind, I start to place blame, because it is easier to bear then the pain. There is no explanation, no reason I can give that will make who I have become any less horrifying, any less sickening. But I carry the damage of a childhood filled with sexual and emotional abuse that taught me that I was an object, to be used. A childhood filled with abandonment and neglect that taught me that I was unlovable, unwanted. And this man, this first experience with a “Christian,” taught me that God surely had judged me, and deemed me unworthy. Why else would He allow this man to walk in and destroy my life, allow this to happen to a desperate girl making her first attempts to really seek Him?
These thoughts batter the aching rawness of my heart, as I slide into a world of depression and self-pity that will not budge for almost a year. I go through the motions of attending counseling and recovery, try to use God as a band-aid over my gaping wounds instead of as the Healer, and say what everyone wants me to say. But inside I am screaming and fighting, wrestling with God and what He is asking of me.
I do not want to believe His love for me.
I do not want to obey His commands.
I do not want to let go of the control I think I have.
I do not want to let go of my crushing unbelief.
Our church continues to surround us, fills our lives with grace and stories of a merciful and loving God who abhors what has happened, who weeps with us, who is waiting for us. And then, an angel befriends me. A sweet and precious woman of God obeys His command. She patiently teaches me who God really is, what faith really means, what salvation is.
Only then, do I truly repent for my sin. I have been “sorry” for a long time. Sorry for the pain, sorry for the heartache, sorry for the consequences. But not until this moment, as she walks me through accepting Christ as my Savior, do I finally feel the weight of my sin, cry out in agony and beg forgiveness over what I have done against my Father. Only then, do I forgive myself.
Since then, this journey towards God has been rough; full of steps forward and back. Even so, I can so clearly see the devastation of my life without Christ, and have found such precious hope and beautiful peace in the promise of my life with Christ. It certainly has not been easy; this process of letting go of all that I was in order to claim all that God wants me to be. Learning how to receive grace and learning to accept that
I am forgiven,
I am loved,
I am free.
I am constantly reminded that I am a work in progress, our marriage is a work in progress, and always will be. We don’t have it all figured out and we still have trouble sometimes trusting and seeking God and honoring each other as we should. But He loves us anyway, understands our pain, and knows our hearts. And He has been so faithful, capturing our souls with Truth and showering us with gracious love in a million different ways each and every day.
My husband and I are on this journey together, our goal united. We live and breathe everyday to glorify God through our new life and love, our marriage, our painful past. Simply so that others may know Him and love Him too.
And now that you have read our story, I leave you with a question and a challenge.
Whatever you are doing, whatever you have done, whatever has been done to you…Are you willing to stop, willing to take a deep breath full of mercy and power and love, and allow your story to become His story?
He’s waiting for you, and He loves you right now, as you are. Even in the midst of your own abyss.
That’s what grace is.
That’s who God is.
All you have to do is cry out, and believe.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. -Psalm 40: 1-3