Today’s Real. Hard. Love. story is another anonymous one. It wasn’t going to be. My friend told me weeks ago that she’d been preparing to share the whole story on her blog at the end of January. On the one-year anniversary of her husband’s third affair.
His third affair.
She had his permission and his blessing. I had been praying for them both, knowing this wouldn’t be easy.
And then the anniversary came and went. And no blog post. I asked her if she (or her husband) had had a change of heart. No, they hadn’t. But someone related to her husband by blood (and very protective of his reputation) had. This person accused my friend of being narcissistic, of selfishly sharing the story just to get attention. This person said my friend’s entire blog is about her, her, her all the time.
“Do you think that’s true??” my friend asked me.
I told her of course not. Blogging, by nature, is narcissistic. I blog about myself. That’s who I know. That’s whose life I’m living, whose contact lenses I see things through. I told her I love her blog, and that her heart for Jesus and others shines through it.
Then I said, “Let me extend you an offer. If you want to, you can tell your story on my blog anonymously. Then God can use it to help people heal–like you want him to–but no one can accuse you of narcissism.”
She sent me a message at 4:00 a.m. the next day. She was up praying, agonizing over what to do. And it hit her. If her motives were truly pure, she should take me up on my offer. So she is.
And for the next three days, she’s going to share her story. One affair per day. In three short blog posts, we’ll experience what, for her, has been five-plus years of heartache and grief, restoration and healing. Real. Hard. Love.
May God get much glory through her words.
Here’s my friend:
I am lying in the physical therapist’s office. A car accident weeks earlier had left me stiff and twisted. While waiting, I try to text my husband, but the text won’t go through. We don’t have unlimited texting, but we’ve never reached the limit.
I call him; something is off. Vague answers and a nervous tone make my stomach drop.
Deep down I’ve felt weirdness from him for a few months. Since our return from a missions trip, I have sensed he’s not fully there. If I am honest, I have thought for a while he’s too close to our children’s pastor – a young, single gal who is with us much.
I remember wondering why he’d taken up running. Why he was often late. Why his workload had increased. Why our texts were over the limit. Why he was more interested in church than ever before.
Deep down, I knew. Why I didn’t admit it to myself or simply ask, I have no idea. Perhaps the truth was simply too hard to face…
My husband was having an affair with my good friend and our children’s pastor.
I go home to confront him. He lies. I persist. The truth is revealed. I yell, kick, scream, and throw books from the nearby shelf. There’s nothing I can do with all the rage inside me. He said, “We’ve already broken off the relationship because the pastor told us to.”
What? Others know? Yes. Two pastors know. Another suspects and has already confronted her.
I can’t breathe.
My husband is cheating. Those charged with protecting their sheep from wolves have hidden the truth.
My five-year-old and two-year-old are in the next room. I can’t register what they’ve heard or seen. I want to protect them, but I can’t. I have failed as a wife; I am failing as a mom.
I call her…our children’s pastor, my friend. I warn her that I am on my way to the church. I know this warning is only to protect her from me. She’s crying and begging, saying she’s sorry. She’s broken it off. I wasn’t supposed to know. That was the plan.
Too bad. I know.
As we walk into church, the secretary takes our children to play. The senior pastor directs my husband and I to a room. She’s there. I want to beat her up. I know that’s not right or appropriate, but if I can get near to her, I know I will hit her.
I sit by husband on the right side of the table. She sits across from us, sobbing. Her hands on her face, head between her knees. My pastor sits at the head of the table.
I hate them all. I hate my husband and friend for ruining my life and marriage. I hate my pastor for hiding it from me. I feel the Holy Spirit praying on my behalf. Prayers are flowing up and out of my heart, but they’re not of me. I want to shut them off.
I want to scream at her, “you’re not allowed to cry, so stop acting as if you give a crap. You did this!”
I may have actually verbalized this. I am not sure. We all talked. I asked our pastor, “How do we tell our children? How do we tell our parents? How do I tell my friends? What happens now? How does one get a divorce?” It’s too much. I don’t know how to do this.
And these words changed my life – for better or worse – forever. My pastor says, “I encourage you to tell no one. Why tell? How will that help? “
Okay. That sounds easier in this moment. No one will know.
We walk out, gather our kids, and begin the long road to healing. Someone at the church – I still don’t know whom – makes a plan. We’re scheduled to leave for the beach in four days. We will go the beach. The children’s pastor will clean out her desk and read a letter to the church on Sunday morning, which details her decision to return to seminary. She’ll leave quietly – not even the deacons will know.
No one will know. We won’t divorce. We will seek counseling and pray. I will sit and listen to my friends lament the leaving of the sweet, kind children’s pastor.
“She was so loving…she beamed Jesus…my little girl just loved her…I hope she comes to visit…I’ve never known anyone sweeter or more in love with Jesus,” they’d say.
I’d sit and smile, praying, begging God for help – for peace. My heart was shattered, and just when it couldn’t break into smaller pieces, well-meaning friends would unknowingly bust it up more.
Time passed. Counseling helped. Praying never ceased. Healing occurred.
That was August of 2007. In December of the same year, my dad suddenly became ill. In January of 2008, he passed away. While that’s another story entirely, this daddy’s girl was barely able to keep going.
I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome; I had no idea.
But God never relented. He pursued and refined me in the brokenness, growing my faith and relationship with Him. He was my only hope when all worldly hope was gone. He redeemed my marriage, my husband, the children’s pastor, and me.
In fact, the children’s pastor is now my friend again.
As much as I like cliff-hangers, I desperately wish my friend’s story of infidelity ended right there. It doesn’t. Part 2 tomorrow.
If you can relate to my friend’s pain and would like to talk to her, e-mail me, and I’ll put you in touch with her.
And can I add one more thing I think is really important? If you’ve been through the hell that is infidelity, and your road led to divorce not reconciliation, please know that there is no condemnation here. Not for one single minute. You are not less-than or a failure. You cannot force another person to change, and too much is too much. If you need a (virtual) hug and some prayers today, please let me know.