to the betrayed

Posted: April 18th, 2012 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , | 21 Comments »

I don’t get tons of emails, don’t let me make you think I’m cool, but I do get to hear from people from all over the world. A few are a little surreal. These are the ones from the betrayed.

A recently betrayed wanted to know how she can show grace and God’s love to her husband and her children, even though she knows her marriage may not survive.

I think this is a little sample of what redemption looks like: The betrayed are writing a betrayer to find out how to show grace.

I wiped this response clean of fingerprints and am sharing it because I think that many people have the same questions.

To The Betrayed:

I can tell you how my ex-husband handled me because he was a good example. 

I can’t tell you what he was thinking, but I can tell you that he never made me feel like I couldn’t be forgiven, that he couldn’t forgive me, or that I was a lost cause. 

He filed for divorce because I didn’t give him any hope for our marriage at all. My behavior back then is not something I am proud of, that I am happy with, or that I can even recognize in the woman I have become as a result of all of this. It’s only because of grace that I am not wracked with shame.

Forgiveness takes time. Don’t push yourself to have something that God has not given you. It’s pure freedom and compassion when it comes, but for some, it takes a very long time. It’s worse to claim that you’ve forgiven when you cannot. People claim forgiveness because “it’s the right thing to do”, but that only leaves a vast emptiness that breeds the weeds of resentment and bitterness. I have seen that in people and they don’t know why it’s happening. It’s like claiming freedom while still dragging shackles. It’s having cleared land with no new seeds of redemption to scatter. 

The best thing you can do is to recognize that your husband is a broken human being, working through his own demons in a very destructive way. But, when God sees him, He sees a broken little boy who will come home one day and He’s keeping his place at the table until then. God loves him, no matter what. You can’t fix him, you can’t fix your marriage, and you can’t control what will come of this. 

My ex-husband was very adamant about being different than the rest of my old friends. They told me that I couldn’t be forgiven and if I tried, I would be seen as faking it. To them, I will always be lost. I have letters to prove it. This angered my ex-husband because, even though I hurt him deeply, he still knew that something good would come out of it. And it has. He knew that God would take care of me and him as we worked together to get through the mess I made. We’re seven years after the fact, and we’re better people, spouses, parents, Christians, because of it. 

I don’t know how your husband feels about his choices. Some people can justify their way out of feeling the full brunt of their mistakes. They can blame others and they can blame circumstances, but none of it will set them free.

I can tell you that I hated what I did. I couldn’t believe I was capable of it and had to face the fact that I was. I had to face my worst and then feel the doubt of God’s forgiveness and the terror that comes with that. 

Satan is not finished trying to destroy your husband and he’ll try to destroy you, too. If your husband cares about God at all, Satan is all over him, trying to make him feel like God could never forgive him, that he can never come back to right, that he’ll never be whole again. Betrayed, Satan is trying to get everyone to believe that what Jesus did was not enough and he jumps all over fallen Christians, especially when they think their salvation depends on their actions. Legalism enslaves people and when they fall, it destroys them. It’s from the father of lies. Steal, kill, and destroy.

The best thing you can do for this entire situation is to fight for the truth. I’m not talking about the truth that adultery is horribly wrong. Nobody needs convincing of that, even your husband. Fight for the truth that Jesus died for us. He died to keep our worst sins from separating us from God and it worked!!! 

Your marriage may not ever be restored, but your husband can be. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It doesn’t have to have the ending that everybody would like to see. God does what He needs to do to get us to REALLY see Him, what He has done for us, and He doesn’t play by our rules. 

Grace is challenging. You’re figuring that out now. 

Make sure that your children know that everybody makes bad choices. If they didn’t, then Jesus would not have had to come. Make sure they know that He loves them, He loves your husband, and He’ll take care of all of you. Love him through this, even if it’s just the kind of love that recognizes that he is still alive and God’s arms are not too short for him. Stand up for what you believe Jesus did…even when it costs you. 

And please know that this isn’t your fault. It says nothing about you as a wife or a mother. You’re going to make it through this and you don’t have to question yourself or beat yourself up. God lets our damage surface so He can redeem it, not so He can punish us. When the damage surfaces, it’s horribly ugly, so don’t be fooled by it. Keep your focus on the cross, not on the sin and the damage. No truth or life can come from looking at the sin. 

I hope I helped. It was good to hear from you, although I wish it was under less painful circumstances.

Serena

ttb


21 Comments »


21 Comments on “to the betrayed”

  1. 1 You Know Who said at 7:59 am on April 18th, 2012:

    ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!

  2. 2 serenawoods said at 8:28 pm on April 18th, 2012:

    Thanks, love. 🙂

  3. 3 Jeremy Walker said at 8:13 am on April 18th, 2012:

    Hi Serena,

    I just wanted to let you know that I think your response was amazingly insightful and honest. I've lived out both sides of an affair in my short life…for me, there were differences in both experiences as far as hurt, pain, disappointment, and most importantly restoration. But I realize more and more everyday how much God has made each of us so connected…that connection is what allows us to be there for each other…even if in the worlds eyes it doesn't make sense for someone betrayed to be seeking wisdom from the betrayers. But that's what is so beautiful about our God…He sees every one of us just as we are…not the way the world likes to define us….and He uses us for His glory, just as we are…past and all.

    Thank you for sharing this letter, it meant a lot to me.

    Stay strong….
    My recent post Within

  4. 4 serenawoods said at 8:29 pm on April 18th, 2012:

    Thank you, Jeremy. Great thoughts. 🙂

  5. 5 Wendy C. Wood said at 8:32 am on April 18th, 2012:

    "God lets our damage surface so He can redeem it, not so He can punish us. When the damage surfaces, its horribly ugly, so dont be fooled by it. Keep your focus on the cross, not on the sin and the damage. No truth or life can come from looking at the sin."

    love it!
    My recent post Wordless Wednesday

  6. 6 serenawoods said at 8:30 pm on April 18th, 2012:

    Thanks, beautiful. 🙂

  7. 7 Sharon said at 9:03 am on April 18th, 2012:

    Thank you so much for sharing this letter. With God's help it is amazing what we can heal from and what can be forgiven. That is what makes Him so awesome. My ex is still very much a victim of the work of evil and tries desperately to cover it up in arrogance. I love how you wrote, "when God sees him, He sees a broken little boy who will come home one day and He’s keeping his place at the table until then." It is also so important to help the children see this point of view. Although we will never be together as a family the same, our prayer is that the new family and children will also be impacted for eternity when the father of now 5 realizes his eternal Father is waiting for the return of his prodigal. I know it will be a day of rejoicing in my home.

  8. 8 serenawoods said at 8:31 pm on April 18th, 2012:

    I see this as the perfect opportunity to show the children what happens when we mess up. There are consequences: broken marriages, broken trust, rebuilding to do… But Jesus and what He accomplished on the cross must shine through. What better way to say…"Even with this, He still wins."

  9. 9 Heather said at 10:27 am on April 18th, 2012:

    So much hope and beauty. I love how kind you are when someone is on their face broken. Thanks for sharing this.

  10. 10 serenawoods said at 8:32 pm on April 18th, 2012:

    Thanks, Heather. 🙂

  11. 11 Jason Wert said at 11:42 am on April 18th, 2012:

    "The best thing you can do for this entire situation is to fight for the truth."

    It amazes me how many times that's one of the last things we tell someone going through the valley your friend is in right now. We need to cling to the truth because it's the foundation of our lives.
    My recent post Look around for the whole of the blessing

  12. 12 @Jacque_Watkins said at 12:04 am on April 19th, 2012:

    Profound, insightful, and full of grace! And the most beautiful of all…how God can and has redeemed and restored and used you…"I think this is a little sample of what redemption looks like: The betrayed are writing a betrayer to find out how to show grace."…Him using you, because you're longing for Him to. I want that too. Many blessings to you, and how you point us to Him in it all!__

  13. 13 serenawoods said at 11:20 pm on April 21st, 2012:

    Thanks, Jacque. It's moments like these that pour warm grace, like anointing oil, over my head.

  14. 14 Kimberly said at 9:14 am on April 19th, 2012:

    Thanks, Serena. Sometimes your posts are so beautiful they hurt. You are a blessing.

  15. 15 serenawoods said at 11:20 pm on April 21st, 2012:

    I'll take that as a huge compliment. 🙂

  16. 16 dawn said at 11:15 am on April 19th, 2012:

    I'm so glad you shared this. I can hear your voice and God uses it for me. I needed this reminder today. I often fall on the truths God made alive to me that I read in your book. This is just another one. thx sis.

  17. 17 serenawoods said at 11:21 pm on April 21st, 2012:

    Grace always wins.

  18. 18 exegete77 said at 8:52 am on April 20th, 2012:

    Powerful post about the reality of sin, but even more the reality and power of forgiveness. Thank you for this!
    My recent post Review: The Names of God Bible (GW)

  19. 19 serenawoods said at 11:22 pm on April 21st, 2012:

    We, as broken human beings, can go to such depths in redemption.

  20. 20 Pammie said at 7:17 am on April 21st, 2012:

    I stumbled on your blog…some how.
    I found an answer in this post. An answer that I already knew but needed to see it written.
    Thank you for being willing to allow God to use you.

  21. 21 serenawoods said at 11:23 pm on April 21st, 2012:

    I don't believe in coinincidence, Pammie. I'm so glad you stumbled in.


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