Quiet and in Pain

Do you know what it means to wait on God? Or what it means to rest in God? When I write “know” I mean do you understand practically what it means to wait in Christ. I know now I never really did. With the best of you I could quote verses about waiting on God. I could tell you God would come through and yet practically I didn’t live it. As a result of not living it I hurt my wife and my family.

I developed a habit of running to things to find comfort. Rather than holding to the promises of Christ and waiting I would turn to porn and eventually online relationships and finally to Physical relationships to find release or Comfort. Honestly, these habits of comfort started at 12 and carried on until sin almost destroyed me.

Over the last 9 months I am learning what it means to wait in Christ despite discomfort, pain and agony. The only comfort I want in my life is that comfort which comes from the Holy Spirit. Any other comfort is less than and a substitute to the rest and peace that God gives. That also means that at times I must run into pain and fear to truly know the rest and peace of God. More on that later.

One night my spouse and I were in an extremely difficult conversation probably around midnight. We were both hurting and sharing about the pain from my affairs, my sin. We had talked a long time and we were getting no where. I even think we had turned from each and were struggling. We were stuck and going no where. I don’t think either of us knew why.

At that time the Spirit led me to turn a song on and play it on repeat. Over the last six months a number of songs from Christian artists have been used by the Lord in incredible ways in our life. This particular song was, “Be still My Soul (In You I Rest)” by Kari Jobe. I have listened to this song hundreds of times and the Lord has brought great comfort through it. So there we laid listening to this song on repeat. Probably the third time around my heart began to be softened, it began to break and I surrendered to the Lord. By the fifth time my spouse and I laid there fully embraced me weeping as the Lord ministered to our soul.

This is what it means to wait on the Lord. Notice neither of our hurt was minimized and we shared honestly. In those moments we chose to give room to God and His spirit. We also actively waited. We didn’t just lay there in our hurt we let the Word of the Lord renew us through this song. Our waiting needs to be active focusing on Christ and truth revealed in the Bible.

The beautiful thing is that in the end we experienced rest given by the Spirit which led to worship. We waited in the pain rather than avoiding it or medicating it with a sinful habit. God loves each of us so much but we must learn to wait to experience His rest and peace.

One thing you must recognize about waiting in Christ is we never know how long we will have to wait. It can be minutes, hours, days, weeks and even years. By faith choose to hold to Christ and wait. This is really, really hard for me. Ask anyone who knows me well and they will tell you how impatient I can be. Friends, it is so worth it though. Even yesterday I was journaling about a sense that a season of waiting is just beginning in an area where I have been waiting a few months already. In this season of waiting I pray often when the discomfort & discontentment come that I will look to Jesus to be my biggest dream. I want to wait well so I might experience the love and beauty of Christ.

I am so thankful for how the Lord has used my wife to teach me how to wait better than ever. She has displayed well, the longsuffering of Christ in helping me grow. Thank you my Love!

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 Girl’s Dream

Most little girls dream about getting married someday and how wonderful life will be. I also dreamed of getting married, but around the age of twelve I started dreaming specifically about a Christian husband. Because I had never had a Christian dad who talked about Jesus or the Bible, I wanted that for my family. I wanted to marry someone who would pray with me and our kids. I wanted someone that loved talking about things that were good and positive, someone that encouraged me with my walk with God. I wanted someone to love me unconditionally, and faithfully. I wanted to marry someone who truly loved Jesus and was trying to live for Him each day.

I married that person. From the beginning we both unknowingly bought each other a Bible as a wedding gift. I wanted that to be central to our marriage and he did too. We prayed together and walked with God.  We were not perfect at it, but we were both trying to love God first and love each other next. We said divorce was not an option we would always work through it.

Flash forward about seventeen years when my dream was crushed. How could this happen? My husband walked away from God and me. I kept asking him if he secretly hated me. I would say over and over, why did you do this to us? I was so hurt and broken inside because I thought I just wasn’t good enough for him. I thought he really didn’t like me and wanted to get away from me. I thought I wasn’t beautiful to him anymore.  I think I even said that I cannot compare to the things these women do in pornography, and I would not want to, so if that’s what you want…I am not that.  I took the affairs so personally. I was so confused because we had a great marriage, not perfect, but great. I was totally blind-sided that he would actually break our marriage vows and actually have sex with other women. I couldn’t get over the fact that my ideal marriage was crushed. If we made it to our 50th anniversary, we wouldn’t be able to say we were always committed to one another, I was so broken and damaged.  He said it was not because of me, or our marriage, it was his fault.  He wasn’t dealing with hurts and disappointments in life properly and was trying to escape and make himself feel better. It was all so self-centered, I was so shocked. How did he get this far from God.  I couldn’t trust him now and that felt so horrible. How can you be in a relationship and not trust? I had no idea, so I had to trust Jesus and His promises for me.

I realized months later that the reason I was taking it so personally was because I had elevated our marriage up on a pedestal. People constantly told us that they looked up to our marriage, so it was built up even more. I was finding my significance in a great marriage. I found significance in being married to a Christian guy who was seeking the Lord.  So when all of the sin was unleashed it was broken, I felt completely frazzled and lost. I blamed myself. The wounds were deep and painful. Then the words of Psalms and the counselor’s words began to settle in my mind. I started hearing God’s voice louder than Satan’s lies.  When you feel like you are not good enough and Satan tells you that your husband wants someone else, go to your Father and be still. Listen to how much He loves you and that is all that matters. You need to heal and the only person that can do that is Jesus. I realized that I needed to love God with all of my heart, mind, soul and strength before I could heal and forgive completely. I needed to believe the Bible and to continue filling my mind with truth.  I needed to believe that I was the daughter of a King!

I am beautiful.

I am victorious.

I am chosen.

I am accepted just as I am.

I am blessed everyday I rise.

I am loved unconditionally.

I am the apple of my Father’s eye.

I am never forsaken.

I am not average. I am not ordinary.

I AM A MASTERPIECE!

…and you are too!

 

 

 

 

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.

The first date…after

After my husband confessed on Sunday, I took the week off of work because I was in shock and broken inside. Surprisingly, my husband and I ended up spending a lot of time together those first few days. We met with our pastor and his wife, but we also went to breakfast, took a hike and saw a movie. We cried a lot, talked a ton and spent time alone with God as well. During our hike, I let out a lot of anger. I expressed that I felt like I wanted to kill those women. He said then you’d have to kill me too because I did it too. It was so hard feeling that much anger towards him and others because I’ve never had those kinds of feeling before, it scared me. He actually let me say whatever came to my mind and told me it was okay. He continued to say sorry throughout those days, which is always good.  The weekend came and he asked me if I wanted to go on a date, and I said yes.

The whole process before the date was so upsetting and stressful because I had Satan telling me that “he doesn’t even want to be with you, he’s thinking about the other woman”.  I had to combat those lies with truth just to be able to go on the date. I had been nauseous every day since the confession and I still felt sick.  So we went to dinner, and it was awkward, I think I heard crickets a few times!  I had actually looked up questions to ask on a first date on Pinterest because it literally felt like I was going out with a stranger.  I didn’t know what had happened to my husband, and I was very scared.  This was going to be harder than I thought.  So I did actually use those question to get us talking some. There were still moments of awkwardness, but we survived dinner. After, he had asked me if I wanted to go get some things at a craft store and make something together. He knows I like to do this, so that was thoughtful, and we were off to the store. We walked around the store and I still felt nauseous. I not only felt like I was with a stranger, but I felt like I wouldn’t be with this type of stranger. The pain and hurt that he put upon me for self-centered pleasure was so hard for me to understand.  It was so hard! Can I say that again? It was so hard! I didn’t understand how my best friend could do this to me. He kept suggesting things to make and I knew inside I couldn’t make a craft with him at this point.   Finally, I said I don’t feel like making anything tonight, let’s just go home and watch a movie. The car ride home was quiet and painful. I was praying the whole time, God please help us. I know you want to see marriages restored, God please.  We watched “Christmas with the Kranks” something light-hearted and funny, then the night actually ended okay. Praise the Lord we survived our first date!

So please don’t throw in the towel because the restoration process is hard.  I am telling you it will be! If you have kids, it will be even harder.  Because we wanted to protect our young kids from knowing anything, we could really only “talk” when they were in bed. This can be difficult if one of you isn’t a night person and gets tired, because emotions are less controllable when you’re tired.   It will be hard for days and days in row, but you know what? If you stick with it you will start to see little miracles here and there. You will start to see God putting your heart back together little by little. The other cool thing is that you will start to see your dates get better and better the more you go on.

I’m glad I remember how awful that first date was eight months ago because now I can see the progress that has happened in our marriage.

Don’t give up!

The day that will live in infamy?

The day my husband confessed to the affairs changed my life forever…

It was a Sunday afternoon, I remember he seemed down so I was trying to goof around with him, and he got serious and said he needed to tell me something. As I sat and listened, I went from holding his hand to wanting to throw up. I went into shock.  I was crying, I was asking why, and I went in the bathroom and threw up. It didn’t help, I would have this nauseous feeling for the next few weeks.  I came out and I was scared, (whenever I am afraid I will trust in You).  I began to ask him some questions and as he answered, the pain increased inside my body. I literally felt like my heart fell out of my body and crashed onto the floor.  But I started praying…”God, help me. I don’t know what to do.” Then I asked him to call a couple of important men in his life because I needed help, and he did. Unfortunately, I knew a couple of friends who had gone through a similar situation in their past, and I texted them to get some prayers as well.  We met with our pastor and wife that day, and I felt a whole gamet of emotions. I would go from hurt, to sad, to angry, to scared, and even one time the Holy Spirit came upon me and I felt peace, and I actually reached out and laid my hand on my husband. It was seriously an outer body experience; I watched myself go from one side of a couch to another as my husband started crying. I was so mad at him in that moment, I couldn’t have done that, it was the Holy Spirit in me. Despite the enormous and horrific pain, God was working inside of me. 
When your spouse confesses to having an affair, you need to ask for help immediately. Even pausing in the bathroom between throwing up and crying, stop and ask Your Daddy, Jesus to help. He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds. Then you need to ask for some godly help through pastors, mentors and friends that you trust to walk through this moment with you. Don’t wait until the next day to call, call immediately.  I cannot imagine how the first week would have played out if I had waited. Get another couple involved, a husband and wife, that you can both talk to at the same time. You cannot do this on your own.

So the title, “The day that will live in infamy” ends in a question mark for a reason. The word infamy means being well known for something bad, but I often question myself as to if the day should be remembered for something bad or something very, very good. The day of confession…the Holy Spirit bringing him to the point where he confessed. God had planned for this particular day to be when his redemption began.  So even though my heart was broken on this day, my husband returned to God.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9  Because Christ has forgiven me through His death on the cross, I will forgive even the unthinkable.

Remember to ask for help immediately!

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!