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 first year of firsts…

I have read that it takes at least a year to heal from the betrayal of an affair.  If the affair lasted longer than a year, it may take longer, and also depending on if the betrayer was caught or confessed to the affair, the timeline may look different as well.  During the first year, events and dates will trigger more pain. Be aware that this pain is normal and part of the process. Don’t stuff your emotions down, but be willing to honestly share your pain.

I am very time oriented person, so this has made the first nine and a half months of healing very difficult.  I look back at events we were at together and wonder what was he thinking, how was he just going through the motions with his family.  It makes sense why he wasn’t very engaged at this event or why he was so protective of his phone.  It hurts.  I see pictures from the year during the affair and wonder if he was thinking about someone else or waiting for a text from them.  It makes me sad. I remember things I went to alone when he was out of town, feeling stressed and overwhelmed with all of the children, and I wonder if these were times when he was seeing “her.” It would bring up anger and pain from feeling alone and abandoned.  Then I remember God loves me unconditionally, that I am blessed, I am victorious, I am never forsaken and I am a Masterpiece!

Please don’t look back at phone records during the affair times. I did this, and it caused even more pain during those “special” times of the year like, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Fourth of July, anniversaries and birthdays.  I would see texts on OUR days, and be crushed all over again.  I would have to give my heart back to God again and again and ask Him to start the process.  So I beg of you, please don’t do this, and if you have already, don’t keep looking back. Ask your phone company to get rid of them if you need to. It just brings back the pain that you are trying to work through, and Satan will use this to tell you lies again.

You will have difficult emotions come up, it is normal to feel pain, but how you choose to respond to that pain will determine how your healing will occur.  Do you hold onto the painful moments and later throw them at your spouse as retaliation? Or do you take the thoughts to the Lord and ask Him to give you new grace and mercy? Sometimes you’ll need to talk through those moments with your spouse, but sometimes you just need to talk to the Lord about the hurt you are feeling.

We just celebrated our anniversary this weekend, it was a great time being together and celebrating the healing that has occurred.  We focused on the great memories we have had together and made new special ones.  We went to a bed and breakfast, that I hope will become an annual visit some time each year.  It was relaxing and wonderful because we have allowed God to work on our hearts.  Our healing is still a work in progress, and our marriage will never be perfect, but by God’s grace we will continue to make progress.

I cannot say this enough, but if both of you are willing to work towards the healing process and do whatever it takes to repair your marriage, the healing will come.  It will take different lengths of time for each individual, but don’t give up on the process, it is a journey. For some it may take a year, others two, or maybe five, still for others it may take a lifetime of earning that trust back, but if you are committed to your spouse then you should be willing to keep going ’till death do you part.

With God All Things Are Possible

One thing that really shook me and made me question if I could stay, and make this marriage work was on the night of the confession. We had been talking and crying, and all of our kids were at church except our oldest. The month of the confession was in November, and it was two days after my dad had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor two years prior, so for me crying this much in November wouldn’t seem strange. Our daughter did come in and ask if I was okay, I think I lied and said I was sad about my dad dying, and her daddy and I were just having a rough time right now.

So we were talking and he said he had one more trip scheduled for work (he traveled- opportunity, access & time for affairs) at the end of the week. I think I said, what?! Then I ran out of the room, down the stairs and out onto the sidewalk. It was cold, about thirty-five degrees and I had no socks or shoes on and no coat.  I sat outside for an hour weeping and heartbroken. I don’t even remember feeling cold at the time because I was in such shock, I felt numb. He just confessed to having affairs in other states and he said he has a trip scheduled this week!!! I sat there thinking through how the kids and I were going to go to my parent’s house until he moved everything out. I thought through my job situation and how to tell my boss. For those two minutes I thought we are going to end up getting divorced.  I was even in disbelief that I was thinking this way.  I was so confused and hurt, that my mind was all over the place.  Then I just started asking God for help, saying I can’t do this, I can’t do this. I need You,  I don’t know what to do, help me. Then I felt a strange calmness that told me I needed to try to reconcile with my husband and pursue restoration. The night continued to be painful, but I knew I was supposed to endure the pain for God’s glory someday.

God gave me the verse in Matthew 19:26, “With God All Things Are Possible.” I just started saying it to myself all the time whenever the pain would increase and a terrible thought came to mind.  Throughout the weeks talking to my husband, I would just say over and over seventeen years of marriage…you want to waste all of that for some strange women on the internet. Seventeen good years of marriage and four amazing kids for living a life of sin, really? Then I started saying that God was going to heal us because with God all things are possible. I would ask him if he believed it and I would even ask myself sometimes when I felt like things were going backwards. But God was so faithful in continuing to give us both the desire to make it work despite the many nights of crying and hurt.  Ultimately, deep down we both wanted to see God heal and restore our marriage, that was an answer to prayer because in the first few days he just kept saying he didn’t know what he wanted to do.

Some nights were so horrific when I would ask a question and hear such a painful response. I couldn’t bear how hurt I felt inside. I literally felt crushed under the reality that my husband had done this. I felt like an elephant was laying on my chest and I couldn’t breath.  Everything had been taken away from me. The life I knew was gone.  My wedding vows were broken.  My heart had been ripped out and thrown out the window on the way to a hotel, then picked up, stomped on and driven home like nothing happened.  I felt like I wasn’t going to survive,  I wanted to hear all of the details at once instead of a little bit more here and there, but knowing so much was unbearable. I couldn’t understand how he got to such a terrible place of sin.  I couldn’t comprehend what he had done to our family and life.  It was devastating.  

But then God became my breath and my life a little more each day.

I had to go to His word all day and night, I was reading and praying to God like breathing. I had to do it to survive this incomprehensible situation. There were so many times that I would just hear God saying, “With Me anything is possible, just believe.” I could not trust my husband anymore, but I could trust God. So little by little, hour by hour, God began to heal my soul for His glory.

So today, I am still walking this journey after 32 weeks, which is 259 days.  God has sustained me and walked with me the entire way, and thankfully after my husband came out of his fog and entanglement of sin, he joined me on the journey.  Some days are still rough at times, but I know that with God all things are possible, and that is how I survive those terrible moments.  If you are struggling now because it seems impossible, please start reciting this verse and ask your husband too as well. God is so good and faithful. He wants to fight for you, you just need to be still in His loving arms.

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37

 

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!