She told our pastors.
On January 4, 2004 Chad and I were invited into a room at our church. My pastor and his wife and our associate pastor and his wife were there with us.
One of them said directly to me, “Sarah, we know that there is something that you need to tell Chad.”
And there it was, a choice. I could lie. I was so skilled at it that no one would know I was lying. I could say that I was drunk when I confessed. Or I could tell the truth and it would all be over. Everything I’d been trying to hold together for so long would be done. I hated myself so much and what I was doing to my marriage that I was willing to accept whatever consequences would fall.
I was tired, to be honest. I was tired of hiding, of lying, of hating myself.
I asked them all to leave so I could address my husband by myself. They agreed and waited in an adjacent room.
So I told the truth. Finally.
Only by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, still waiting on the fringes of my life, did I have the strength to do this. I never claimed that I did this through my own power, and even at the time I recognized the way I was drawn to confess.
I told him everything. How long. With whom. And he raged. And yelled and threw things and said things even he doesn’t remember now.
And I broke in half.
I began to realize what I had actually done. How much I’d ruined.
He left and told me to leave. He told me to go to my parent’s house and tell them what I did.
The next hours are a blank in my memory. There are things I remember and things I don’t.
I know I was suicidal. I know that my sister drove with me. I know that I was without hope. I know that I might be losing my daughter who wasn’t two yet and my husband who I’d never stopped loving.
Before I went to my mother and father’s I found myself on the living room floor of my associate pastor and his wife. I wept and didn’t know anything else but that I wanted to be different. I didn’t want to live this life anymore, duality reigning and never knowing who I was. I wanted to love Jesus. I wanted to love my husband the way he deserved to be loved. The way I had promised to love him.
She held me and prayed with me. She told me who I was in Christ. She helped me to the feet of Jesus and carried me like the man who had to be lowered in through the roof to be healed. She bore my stretcher and I broke a second time.
And then I left. There were things I had to do.
I drove to my parent’s house and as I crossed the threshold of the home I’d known since I was 3 years old I told them what I’d done. The only word I associate with that night is harbor. For so long I had been without an anchor, but now God’s people were beginning to point me to safety. My parents took me in and loved me. She told me to take a shower and eat something and made up their bed for me. Before I slept, I picked up the Bible for the first time in several years.
I didn’t know if Chad would ask me for a divorce. I didn’t know if I was going to be forgiven. I didn’t know if he would let me see my beautiful baby anymore. All I knew was that I was finished with my old life. I didn’t know what my new life would look like but I was quickly becoming prepared to accept the consequences. I knew that Jesus had forgiven me but I didn’t know if my husband would.
And somehow, miraculously, I was immediately sorrowful. From the beginning I glimpsed the horror and the devastation I had caused. And although this was so difficult, it is what saved me.
I was ready to do anything it took to save my family and to try to revive what I’d killed.
My new names were
[PART FIVE: FOUNDATION and the conclusion of this story will be posted tomorrow.]