If you let Him…

Can I be any different? Can I live a life of purity? Will I be able to stop drinking? Will I have another affair? If you are a part of the human race and have had an affair or struggled with another addiction you have asked these questions. It is only natural. After all most of us think we have tried and tried to defeat this crushing sin in our lives. Yet we found ourselves broken, confused and continually failing.

I am coming up on the first anniversary of confessing to my wife about the affairs and those questions still haunt me at times. They don’t haunt me because my actions have shown that I am going to do it again. They haunt me because I want to remain faithful, I want to pure. I want my wife and I to be together till we die. So with out a doubt the enemy attacks. He wants me to live in fear. He wants me to begin to think I am no different. But I am.

I am surrendered. I am learning to rest in my savior, Jesus Christ. I am learning to let go and trust Him, the good Father of my life. Then this verse came along today in my reading of the Psalms. It teaches us that God preserves us. As we live surrendered, turning to Him each hour, each day. He then cares for us. He then keeps us. He then protects us.

You may ask, why? God loves you and displayed it in His son on the cross. If He gave up His Son to pursue you, to redeem you and to restore you then you better know that He is also not going to let you go. Take comfort as you read this. Then stop and pray to the Lord, renewing your letting go of control and trusting Him.

He will keep you. He will protect you. He loves you!

The Fog

I didn’t even realize until a couple weeks after the confession of the affairs that I had been in a fog. Over the course of the last year I had become completely deceived, I had become a different person. I couldn’t think clearly and the things that were important to me had been forgotten.

Gollum from Lord of the Rings was the one character I began to identify with. I had been a guy who was “normal” and sought after the Lord. Then the ring got a hold of me and I slipped away to live in the deep dark places. The ring for me was comfort, that comfort was found in seeking out women and pornography. This deception and acceptance of lies in my life turned me into a thing that was no longer recognizable.  My wife would even say that before I confessed she didn’t know who I was anymore. The crazy thing is that I thought I was still the same guy. I was so blinded I didn’t realize that I had become someone else.

By the grace of God I now see that I was actually blessed to be Frodo. The Lord brought conviction and confession in my life and has graciously allowed healing in my life. God is so good. When the Bible talks about the deceptive nature of sin and that the devil is crafty and seeking to destroy it is completely true. The devil is great at taking half truths to convince us that our sinful behavior is acceptable. We become so deceived and begin to think that crazy things are okay. For a while I had come to believe that I could talk to all these women, make-out with some and that it was okay. That I really didn’t have to confess. That is insane! That is just one of the lies I had used to convince myself that my behavior was acceptable.

If you recently confessed to major sin in your life you may be feeling the same way. Here are a few of the things that I remember from those initial weeks:

• You are in a fog of sin and it will take some time to come back to normal.

• Don’t trust your thoughts, desires and emotions. They are all messed up because of the effects of sin in your life.

• Be honest with your spouse and others that you are in a fog and that you don’t even trust yourself. Don’t worry, you will be able to trust yourself again. I remember being so scared that I couldn’t trust myself.

• As you heal you will eventually look back and be blown away by the crazy things you did and came to believe. Be thankful that God in His love pulled you back to reality.

The night I confessed I probably did one of the craziest things. My job (I would be terminated later that week) required that I travel a significant amount. On Wednesday of that week I was supposed to go to Alanta for work. My wife and I were in our room talking that night and she said something about doing something later in the week. I don’t even remember what she said. I replied and said I couldn’t because I would be out of town for work. She got pissed (rightly so) and stormed out of the room. She went outside into the cold all alone and I sat there wondering what I did. Insane… I know! Not only was it insane because I just confessed to affairs while traveling, but I also worked at an institution that would immediately terminate me once they knew. (The institution treated me with such grace, love and truth. I will always love that place.) Sin had such a hold on me that I lost all grasp on reality.

Getting through the fog was a hard journey and took a number of days to get through. My heart also remained hard and calloused for a while. Over the course of a couple weeks the hardness and callouses were taken away.

When you are in this fog trust your spouse and a couple close friends to help you remember who you are!

Learning to Wait

“Indeed none who wait for you shall be put to shame…”

Psalm 25:3 has become a bit of a mantra over the last few months. As you can well imagine there were many times and situations where I had no idea what to do.

Let me explain. First, I committed affairs against my wife, but this didn’t just happen one day. It took months and years of the enemy working and me agreeing with him to get to that place. By the time I confessed I was so deceived and broken that I didn’t know what to think. Second, I thought I was following Christ for years and perhaps to some extent I was. However, doing it my way simply led to despair and destruction. So I didn’t know what to trust or think. Finally, wanting reconciliation and healing was a tough road to walk. I didn’t know what to do other than cling to Jesus and be close to Amy. Over the days, weeks and months there have been many moments of not being sure what to do or how to proceed.

At some point I came across Psalm 25, verse 3. Essentially when in doubt wait. Wait on the Lord to reveal what is next. If this verse is true, we will never go wrong when we choose to wait on God.

I quickly learned that this doesn’t mean we go play golf hours on end while we wait or watch countless sports (I know, very male focused. Women please insert your time wasters). That’s a waste and dishonoring to God. While we wait on God there are two things we should be doing. First, you need to be seeking fellowship with Jesus,  and you need to be actively seeking His Kingdom.  Another way to say it is…you are to love God and love people while you wait.

As you wait for the Lord, seek to be in fellowship with Jesus. Make knowing Him your passion. Look for His beauty all around. Read the Word and contemplate His holiness. Think about His amazing love and your position in Him. Take time to rest in His presence. All of this will not feel natural, but over time it will make sense. Slowly you will understand how to rest in the Lord.

Next, as you wait be active. There are so many things you know to do without a special word from God. Love your wife. Pray for her. Take her out. Engage your kids, and enjoy them if they are still around.  Go spend time with others, pray for them and encourage them. Get things done around the house you’ve been avoiding. In this God will bless and train you. He will start to show you the way to go.

This is how you wait. You will not be put to shame when you wait on the Lord. In that waiting He will refine and train you. In the end you will love and enjoy Him so much more. As a matter of fact you will enjoy your wife more, your kids more and all of life more. When we rest in the Lord while we wait we get to enjoy all the good things in our lives!

Start Today…

We never thought that an affair would be a part of our story. The truth is that none of you reading this who’ve had an affair as a part of your story thought that you would have it be a part of your story. When I confessed to my spouse and those closest to us, they were shocked that it happened. They would have never thought that I was capable of an affair. One thing I have learned very clearly is that I am far worse than I would have ever imagined and capable of very hurtful actions.

I destroyed a dream of my wife, her marriage would include faithfulness for a lifetime. I hurt her so deeply. That betrayal was magnified as a “Christian” man who proclaimed faithfulness to his marriage and yet lived the opposite. However, a couple months into our healing journey I came to realize that my wife and I did have a great marriage, we do have a great marriage and by the grace of God we will continue to have a great marriage. Sure, I lost my way and fell into terrible sin leaving our marriage for a time, but the greatness of it has allowed us to have the path for healing in Christ.

Work today towards something worth fighting for. 

Over fifteen plus years we created a marriage worth fighting for. There is no way what we have/had was worth giving up for cheap thrills and cheap sex.

In the days and weeks immediately following my confession of cheating, my wife often reminded me of those fifteen plus years we had together and that she was my best friend. She would ask me is that really worth giving up on?  At the end of the day there is no way I wanted to throw all of it away. I am so thankful today that she didn’t let me forget.

I wish I was this incredible man who fought for our marriage because God told me to, but that wasn’t the main reason. My wife and kids were what was worth fighting for. They are so amazing and we have so many incredible memories of our life together. It is so sad to think that I endangered all of that for cheap thrills and cheap sex.

Spouses: Never stop fighting, and start today building a great marriage.

A Growing Light 

He is the light of the world. -John 8:12

I never use to see the light. I thought I trusted Christ. I taught a lot of people a boat Christ. I did a lot of activities that were about Christ. However I don’t know if the light could ever be seen in my heart. Looking into my heart was like looking into a cave. The cave was pitch black. I was told there was light in there but I never saw it. I learned to talk like there was a light. I would celebrate with others that we could see the flicker of light in our own caves but because of my pride I learned to say I saw the light.

Through self-righteousness I became really good at living like I saw the light. I was so good that I didn’t even realize that I didn’t see the light. When I saw the warning signs that there may be no light I blamed it on God. If He wanted the sin gone he’d do more. I’d pray and when I fell I’d blame it on God and believe He didn’t really love me.

All the while unforgiven ess, hurt, anger, disappoint and sin pulled me farther from the cave and even helped me build a wall into the cave so I couldn’t see in. Fortunately before the wall was completed Love broke through the wall. God reached down and touched me through my bride e Her love broke the walls down and I finally admitted that I couldn’t see the light in my cave.

My Bride saw the light in her cave like a roaring fire and she told me to keep looking for the light in my care. She said it was there. Other friends told me it was there and they started holding my hand and pointing me in the direction to see the light.

I started longing to see the light so I spent a lot of time looking for it. As though I was a hunter waiting for the prey long before sunset. This time I didn’t accept the opportunities to pretend to see the light.

In the waiting I started cleaning away the rubble from the wall that had been broken down. I removed the hurt from the past and I understood that on my own I would only build walls. Through Christ all the rubble could be removed. I could be forgiven and forgive myselfee

Slowly I began to know the light was there and I’d see glimpses. The more I let go and actually let Christ clear the rubble the more often I’d catch a glimpse. After a time I kept being fearful the light would disappear. I was also fearful because I only saw it every once in a while. I was blessed my bride kept pointing me to the light and she kept loving me, friends also kept telling me they saw the light in my care.

A couple weeks ago I noticed the light was bigger and I saw it constantly. I was thrilled but not satisfied. I want the light to be bigger and stronger. I want it to be a roaring bonfire that I feel the heat of Joy through. Not only that I want the light in me to be a light for others. I want it to give them the heat of joy and comfort so that they will look for the flicker of light in their cave.

I do have to tend my cave entrance though but Jesus now helps. Hurt and temptation want to begin closing it off again. I have to bring others into my cave to help me keep the rubble away. I’m finding as the fire and light grow bigger and brighter that it becomes easier to clear the rubble away. I am so thankful. I am confident my fire will spread to others. I wait in expectation for how that will look.

Friends be honest if you can’t see the light. It’s okay because if you keep looking you will eventually see the flicker of light in your cave. God will also bring others along to help you see it!

I hope this encourages you. Now I’m off to enjoy the fire in my cave. 

Be Strong and Broken

This has always been tough For me. The concept of being strong and confident, while at the same time being broken and humble. My strength and confidence always came across as arrogance and pride. Often times it was harsh. Notice I said “my strength… That was the problem, I thought it was about my strength and me pushing things along. Ephesians 6 tells us “to be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might.” I’m learning to be strong in Him and because of Him. This breeds humility because it will only happen if I recognize moment by moment my dependence on Christ. 

When you betray your wife, you believe and the devil tries to tell you that she wants no comfort from you. The devil tries to tell you more lies. That if you are truly sad you will be broken and sad, constantly beating yourself up. The enemy wants to heap burning coals of shame on your head.

The truth is your wife actually needs you to be broken in Christ and at the same time strong in Christ. For some of you, your wife won’t want to look at you. She won’t even want to be around you. Forgiveness will be a process for her, but if you are to get her back, strength and brokenness in Christ will be a given. This will be hard for you as well. However, as you accept the forgiveness of Christ and as you forgive yourself you will begin to find both strength and brokenness.

The first few weeks after confessing, the only way I could lift my eyes and look my wife in her eyes was because of Christ in me. In all honestly this process was only made possible through the friends in my life and our counselor. They had to keep bringing me back to the love and forgiveness of Christ. I honestly would have wallowed in self-pity. Destroying myself over and over again, sinfully agreeing with the enemy.

I want to explore more closely this simultaneous strength and brokenness in Christ. Then I’ll finish explaining why your wife needs this from you. Let’s start with true godly brokenness. In the gospel we come to understand our complete bankruptcy and need for Christ. If you have come to a place of confessing affairs or some grievous sin against your wife, then you probably get how broken and weak you are. I highly doubt you just ran to the affairs. My guess is it was more of a slow walk where at times you felt powerless. That’s because we are broken and depraved. Remember how broken you are and how disgusting you can become. Then ask for life, ask for confession and repetance that leads to life. When we are granted true repentance it bears life and hope because we recognize the grace of God in it. You must never forget where you came from and where you will end up again a part from Christ.

Now, you have the ability to be strong as you work through all the mess and pain with your wife. Remember Ephesians 6 tells us, to be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might. So rise up not because of you, but because of Christ in you. Be there for your wife. Be what she needs you to be because Christ is in you. This is the power of Christ in you.

Despite the fact that we have betrayed our wives, on the deepest level they need our strength in Christ. That strength tells them or reassures them that Christ is at work. It lets them know that we are walking in Christ and finding hope and healing. This will aid your wife in the healing process and help her forgive you. This strength from Christ allows her to be fully open and express herself while you listen and hold her. Yes, you caused the deep hurt, but if she is still there then she wants your love and strength in Christ. This is truly a miracle of God that is beautiful to see.

Friends this is so incredibly difficult. The enemy is fighting hard to get you to a place of self-pity. Keep trusting Christ, apologize when you don’t bring this brokenness and strength. Ask Christ and your wife to help and encourage you. Remember, Christ has forgiven you and wants to make you strong. Now forgive yourself and step up in Christ. Never forget how much He loves you.

He does love you…

Over the years one of the lies that I have accepted from the devil is that God saved me, but now He is just waiting for me to mess up. God wants to point out my failures, and as a result I never really accepted that God is for me. Recently I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the truth that I am God’s son and that I am the apple of His eye. (Psalms 17:8) This is creating great peace and freedom in my life. 

This morning as I drove to meet a friend I was under attack from the devil. He was trying to get me to beat myself up and to agree with him that I wasn’t worth anything. This went on the whole drive and I prayed to God but it continued. When we sat down to coffe I immediately asked my friend how work was. He said, “no, that we needed to talk about something else.” He explained about a friend who believed that God wanted them to suffer and that God was against them. He then went on to share Romans 8 with me. 

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:31-39

My friend spoke into my life to remind me that God loves me and is for me. God is at work and worthy of my trust. I was super encouraged in my soul by his words. The devil wanted to destroy me and instead God spoke love and truth into my life through a friend. 

As I drove home I reflected on the love of God displayed in that divine moment over coffee. God loves us, my friend and He wants to encourage us. Do you believe it? Are you looking for Him to show up in unexpected places? He wants to care for you as you are His son or daughter, the apple of His eye. Confess now to Him and to a friend any lies or unbelief you are accepting about God. 

Unbelief like this led to my affairs and enslavement to sexual sin over the years. This unbelief led me to a life of trying to manipulate God. Eventually I was tired of it and let anger and rejection rule in my life. In those moments I found out I am more sinful than I ever realized but I also found out that God loves me more than I ever comprehended! As you move forward in the healing and hopefully reconciliation with your spouse accept that God loves you completely. Anything that comes against that belief, acknowledge it as a lie from the devil and renew your mind with the truth of the Word of God. You will heal and you will come to a deeper understanding of God’s love! 

Wait…

Indeed, none who wait for you (the Lord) shall be put to shame… – Psalm 25:3a

Over the last several months, as my wife and I are healing from my affairs this verse has become a bedrock for me. There are and will be days that just suck as you and your spouse heal. The enemy will attack and try to destroy the healing that is taking place. Not only will there be difficult days but at times you won’t know what to do or how to respond in certain situations. Then to top it all off you will be longing for the healing to come much quicker than what it is.

Within the first few weeks of my confessions my wife read through the Psalms a couple times and I read through portions of it. This verse over and over again has stuck with me, and has taken me back to a better place when things get difficult or I don’t know what to do. Through the course of all this mess I have learned that I just need to hold onto the Lord. I need to cling to Him and wait for Him.

This verse gives me assurance that if I don’t know how to act or move forward that I just need to be honest about it and wait for the Lord. He will come through, He will guide his children as they trust in Him. We must, however be willing to wait. That can be the hard thing. It takes faith to trust this verse to be so. As you take more time to wait instead of rushing forward it will become easier and easier to wait. In America we are taught all the time to be in control and to be people of action. In God’s economy we become a people who wait and let God take action for His glory. When we do that we truly learn to live and be filled with joy as He miraculously works.

God is in control of your healing process, so wait. He will turn the destruction of your affairs or the betrayal in your life into something beautiful as you wait. He will not let you be put to shame. Have confidence and wait. Let God come through for you…He will!

Wait…

You are Forgiven…Now rise up 

Yes, you had an affair. You hurt your spouse, that you promised to love for a lifetime,  more deeply than you can imagine. That can be hard to live with and it can be overwhelmingly painful. The pain is often unbearable for your spouse and their range of emotions is unknowable by us who committed the affair.

That’s the truth, but there is more truth.

For those of us who cry out to Jesus to be forgiven, we are forgiven.  1 John 1:9 promises us,  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Read those words again. Have you asked Jesus to forgive you? If so, you are forgiven! That is a truth that cannot be taken away from you. Now if you are like me, you will have to read this truth 100 times a day until it sinks deep into your heart. The devil is going to attack. After all he is simply wanting to destroy you. Nothing would make him happier than for you to wallow in the misery of guilt and shame. But God loves you perfectly regardless of the affairs and He has forgiven you. Now He wants you to live in His strength and power.

As I look back over the initial months it was so hard to accept the Lord’s forgiveness and to accept my wife’s forgiveness. I did not feel like I deserved it at all. In fact I didn’t, but the true love of God provided the way to be forgiven despite myself.  My wife understands how deeply she has been forgiven, and as a result her love for God and for me compelled her to forgive me. (This is something I praise God for everyday!) Regardless of whether your spouse is willing to forgive you, God has. Take comfort in that and let go of the shame. Live free and forgiven, do not let the enemy tear you down with accusations of the things you are already forgiven for!

At the beginning I mentioned that your spouse is dealing with unbearable amounts of pain because of your betrayal. That is true, however they need you. You are forgiven and that forgiveness allows you to walk in freedom from your sin. That forgiveness also allows you to rise up and be strong for your spouse. They need you to acknowledge and not ignore the sin you committed, but they also need you to rise up in the confidence that your Savior has forgiven you. When you in the power of Christ do this, you are able to convey strength and victory to your spouse when they are just trying to survive the pain. Even as I write that it sounds so weird that your spouse wants strength from the one who betrayed them. Remember though that despite your betrayal they have stayed faithful because they love you and they want to be with you. Take the forgiveness and grace you have received from Christ to rise up in strength and love your spouse.

This will not be easy. The devil will attack and your spouse will need to share their pain with you. In those moments you will want to run in fear and shame. I did. Many times my wife would say, “I need you to be strong for me when I share my pain. Tell me you are sorry and that you regret what you did, but stay strong for me. Show me that you are confident in God and the work of Christ.”  See, when she would open up I wanted to run because I had so much shame and I hated myself for what I did. But if you believe you are forgiven and loved, then the shame and hatred melts away and you become strong for your spouse. Over time you will become stronger and stronger in the Lord as you continue to renew your mind day by day.

Have you forgiven yourself for your affairs? God has! Now rise up and fight for your spouse, love them, and be gentle and be strong for them! God will be there for you each step of the way! 

Never forget you are loved and forgiven completely by JESUS!

Simply Whatever. 

My wife had a rough past couple days. Those are to be expected. We are less than a year into our healing process. One of the things that attributed to the rough days was hearing about another couple that worked to save their marriage after an affair, but they have not been able to. It is ending in divorce. The devil used this to send arrows at her heart like, “if they couldn’t do it then how can you?” Those are dirty blows and they hurt. So we hugged, which is what we do when one of us is hurting. Speaking isn’t the best first thing. The best first thing is the hug. Then we talked.

I told my wife, that from what she shared there had been something that this couple was not willing to do. They were not willing to do whatever it takes. The day I confessed to the affair and my wife forgave me we made the decision to do whatever it would take to save our marriage. For us, this wasn’t simply about not getting a divorce this was about healing, and our marriage being better than ever. Remember with Jesus all things are possible.

When I write “whatever” I mean whatever. If it means no sports television because they objectify women in so many ways, if it means no smart phone, if it means tracking devices on your phone so your spouse knows where you are, if it means no longer going to the gym to protect your eyes, and if it means quitting your job then do it! As we pursue purity and wholeness God will honor those decisions and He will carry you through. He calls us to honor our spouses and to protect our marriages so do whatever it takes. Remember you have destroyed the trust in your marriage through your affair or addiction to pornography and now it will take a life-time to rebuild that trust.

If you are in the process of recovering from an affair, have you made the conscious choice that you will do whatever it takes to bring healing to your spouse and to your marriage?

If you have not then you will fail. In those little holes where you choose to leave openings the devil will squeeze on-going temptation and attacks. He knows that over time you will wear down and he will once again have you where he wants you.

Last night as I held my wife(and it is by the grace of God that I even get to anymore) I told here once again, “I will do whatever you need right now to help encourage you.”

I challenge you in the next 24 hours to ask your spouse, “Do you believe I am willing to do whatever it takes to see our marriage and love restored?” If they say “no” then ask  them what more they need from you. Then do it. Keeping asking that question of yourself and ask the Spirit to reveal to you where you are falling short.

Remember if your marriage is going to survive you must make the commitment that you will do whatever it takes!