And here’s my friend with Part 3:
I am about to lay his phone back down when I see a message scroll at the top of the screen. He’s an avid Words with Friends player. Someone he’s playing has sent him a message. As I once again begin to lay the phone down, I feel a pressure from within – a pulling.
Check the message.
“Are you coming today? What time? I understand you want to spend time with your wife. If you don’t come I will understand, but I really want you to come. I love you.”
I walk to the bathroom. I ask my husband calmly about his plans for the day. He’s going to work. I show him the message; he still lies. I hit him – not my proudest moment – but a fact.
“Yes, I am having an affair with her.” My friend. It has begun while we were at Passion.
I look heavenward. It’s really too much. Three affairs in four years. And this time the repercussions are greater. This woman is married. Our families – our children – are friends. The family is rooted in our community. No one’s moving this time.
My mind is racing. I call our pastor – not the same pastor as the first or second time, but the pastor who’s been walking with my husband. We’ve just been to Passion together.
He’s in disbelief too. We meet him at the church. My pastor’s anger rivals mine. He’s not easy on my husband. He asks hard questions. The looks of sympathy coming my way are unbearable. I am humiliated, embarrassed, crushed, and seething. I do NOT want sympathy.
My pastor asks what we want to do. Divorce? I am ready to say yes, but then I hear my husband say no. “No, I love her. I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t know why. I am a mess.”
I hear myself talking nonstop. All the counseling. All the books I have read. I have “laughed my way to a better marriage”; I know my husband’s “love language” and he knows mine; I know all 10-steps to a better marriage by heart; I am a “communicating in marriage” expert; we “love and respect” one another – in fact, we’ve been to the conference.
We’ve done it all. We followed the lists, read the books. We both have accountability groups. We are the poster children for how to affair-proof your marriage.
So, how did this happen? My pastor has no answers, but he says something that I will later deem “the heart issue.” When I ask him, “What next?” He responds, “Christ has to be the center. He can’t just be your center. He has to be his center too. Then, together, he has to be the center of your marriage. All you do and decide has to be filtered through the Gospel.”
Divorce would remain an option for the next few months. My heart was filled with a deep sadness that I couldn’t articulate. I truly wanted out.
Before leaving the house, I’d give myself a pep talk – a reminder of how to act, appear, and be. I couldn’t show any cracks in my armor. If I did, then people would know. And what would they think?
Our pastor thought it was time to share; my friend counseled me many times to tell.
But, I didn’t. I once again remained silent.
I knew my heart. My motive for telling would be nothing but revenge. I wouldn’t be telling to seek help and prayer. I wouldn’t be telling to free me and my husband of guilt and shame. I wouldn’t be telling to honor God. I’d be telling to make him pay. To make her pay. To ruin them both.
And, in that pain, God spoke again and again. He carried me. Each morning I would ask for grace and mercy for the day. And day after day, God would show up. He’d give me peace and understanding through His word.
He called me to remain in my marriage although I planned my divorce more than once. He gave me friends who knew just when to call, just what to text, and just when to remain silent.
He supplied my every need.
It’s been a year. My heart is healed, but I remain on a journey to trust again. My husband’s heart has been awakened to Christ and mine has been fully surrendered to Him. Christ is the center of our marriage. We still use techniques learned through counseling and books, but we know, understand, and live Christ as our center.
Each morning, we renew our minds through his word and prayer. We do the same before bed with our kiddos. Each day we compliment one another and send a note from our phone detailing our love. We also exercise and study together. Yes, it takes much time. But, extraordinary marriages take much time. A relationship with God and one another has to be intentional.
I often mourn the person I was prior to 2007. I laughed more then. I know I’ve changed and I often struggle with exactly who I am. But, the only “I Am” I know for sure is Jesus.
I am His. His daughter. I am loved unconditionally.
God saved me. He saved my husband. He saved our marriage. The only explanation for the life we have now is God. Forgiving one another, forgiving the other women, leaning into God’s promises, and trusting He is sovereign and working for our good – NONE of that is humanly possible.
I am incapable of forgiveness, unconditional love, and joy in the suffering. But, the Christ who lives within me is not. He died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sin before I was born.
He loves me unconditionally. He worked supernaturally in and through me to heal, restore, and redeem.
And, for that I am indescribably thankful.
Wow. Just wow. Makes you want to grab her and hug her hard, huh.
And friends, thank you so much for your kind responses and prayers. And thank you for those who have been courageous enough to e-mail me and ask me to put you in touch with my friend,
Can I just say one thing to address something that has come up a lot (fb messages, comments, in person, texts, e-mails) these past few days? So many of you have expressed fear and concern that this will happen to you. It’s filled you with a sense of dread, making you think there’s nothing you can do to stop it from becoming a part of your story as well.
I’m going to ask you to stop and take a deep breath. To ask God to calm your heart and to set your fears at rest. I want you to ask him to help you trust him. Then I want you to ask him what steps you can take to help both you and your spouse make Christ the center of your marriage.
I love you people, and I want God’s best for you.
And I want to say a big, big thank you to my sweet, brave friend for sharing hard stuff to help us all grow closer to God and each other.