He told me that Jesus screws up everything.
My husband had been on his own journey during those 24 hours and when I met up with him the next day in the presence of our associate pastor and his wife, Chad said he had to forgive me.
Because Christ had forgiven him of so much. He wasn’t that different than I was, in his words, and that we all equally were in need of forgiveness. In his opinion, he didn’t want to forgive me but he had to. For the love of Christ, he forgave me. And he did so fully. And he still loved me even though I’d hurt him and ruined everything so desperately. Jesus in the mix screwed up his desire to hate me, to hold a grudge, to be bitter.
Each day that passed I realized my own sinfulness more, understood God’s grace more and embarked on a campaign to clean my own mind of images that used to comfort but now haunted me. I never defended my own actions. From the beginning I understood how my own poor choices and pride had resulted in this affair.
I was done with my old self. I removed phone numbers from my phone, took pages out of my address book and deleted emails and voicemail messages. I began to try to erase all that had gone before. And God softened the hard places of my heart and brought me close.
And together as a couple we made some serious choices. Our marriage had been diseased from the start and we were beginning to realize the gravity of that. We poured out all of our alcohol and threw out all of the questionable movies we owned. We cut off our cable and went without television for the next two years. We existed in an almost monk-like state for as long as it took to heal the relationship that I/we had destroyed.
The foundation that our family-house was built upon wasn’t solid. It never had been. So metaphorically speaking, we had to tear down the walls and start over.
We immediately began attending crisis marriage counseling.
And then I fell in absolute, head-over, crazy love with this man, my husband. Different and deeper than when I was 18. It was a love that had been matured, beaten, broken and mended and it was better than it had ever been before.
I started to let my husband lead and he rose happily to meet that. I backed off and practiced God-designed submission in the marriage relationship. I started letting him make decisions and gave my own opinion when he asked for it. And he asked for it a lot.
And it was so freeing.
I read through the Bible that first year. Cover to cover, Genesis through Revelation. Knowledge and spiritual gifts, that I’d suppressed for years, began to flood back to me. God hadn’t left me, he’d just let me walk away or a long time. But he hadn’t abandoned me.
We created boundaries in our relationship where we’d never had them before. I am never alone with men. Ever. And I tell him everything not because he asks but because I want to.
There were times when he wanted to know details of the actual affair. And I told him all he wanted to know. That eventually subsided because anything he asked and anything I told him tortured the both of us. Him because any more details just hurt him more during a time he was trying to heal, and me because I was trying to forget it all. Trying to remember details just brought up everything I was attempting to forget.
The next months and years were hard, excruciatingly so at times.
But I was still a wife, his wife. And he still wanted me, amazingly. I was still a mother. My daughter still loved me. And I was still willing to do anything with my whole heart to fight for my family.
** ** **
I’m writing my book about this. There’s more. SO MUCH MORE.
Miracles. Healings. Protection. Intimacy. Love. Renewal.
But I can say that it has been more than 5 ½ years since January 4, 2004. It has been 5 ½ years of restoration, God’s provision, hard work, tears.
Chad has never thrown it back in my face during an argument.
He’s never brought it up again. And I have remained absolutely faithful.
We rarely talk about it. But when we do, it’s with forgiveness and grace and amazement about the power of God.
Know that I am the same woman who had an affair, and at the same time I am completely new. I am the living proof of the grace of God.
I am the woman in the dust who was caught in adultery. I was given grace when Jesus spoke directly to me and told me to go and be different. So I did.
He called me
And these are my new names.
Maybe you hate me. I understand if you do.
But maybe you don’t. Maybe you see yourself in me. Maybe you recognize warning signs in your own marriage. Maybe you are here reading this for a reason. Maybe you love knowing that one more person is new in Christ. Maybe this is you and you can’t stop. Maybe you need to stop what you are doing and get help. Maybe you need to confess.
Maybe you understand God’s grace just a little more.
Photo by Misty Matz