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!

Psalms

Where do you turn when you feel scared and alone? Unfortunately, I would often turn to my husband first before God when I was scared or felt alone. (Another post in the future) But when you are so mad at your husband, where do you go? Thankfully, I turned to God and the Bible.  Some people in my life that knew what happened cautioned me about seeking comfort in other male friends.  There are many people who will have an affair after their spouse confesses because they think it will make them feel better. Some people turn to alcohol, drugs or food for comfort, which will all end up disappointing and leave you with a whole other set of problems.  The best place to turn is to God for comfort. I know it is easier said than done when you are mad that God allowed this sin?  

I remembered David’s situation and knew the Psalms fairly well, so that is where I turned. I immersed myself into the book of Psalms. I read at least a chapter a day, and I read it over and over throughout the day. Whenever a bad thought or image came to my mind I would read it. I wasn’t always perfect at this, sometimes I would believe the lies of the devil and that would take me to a very bad place. Those hard places were always difficult to get out of. I prayed and read verses in Psalms that I had written down on index cards or stored in my phone. This would go on and on, until I released the lies and hurt and found comfort in the Lord.

There are too many verses to list that encouraged me and brought me up out of the pit, but I want to give you some of my favorites and hopefully they will encourage you as well. Psalms 9:9, 56:11, 55:22, 119:71, 30:2, 31:24, 16:8, 100:5, 103:2-4, 46:10, 106:1, 107:19-21, 46:1-3, 118:14-16, 119:114-115, 119:25, 119:28, 119:50, 120:1, 3:2-6, 22:19, 28:7-8, 147:3.

God, used these words to bring me to a place of smiling, laughter and enjoying a few days in a row. That increased my hope in the restoration of our marriage.  The visions and images still came, but having somewhere to turn helped them to go away quicker. I prayed and read Psalms for months to combat the enemy throwing things in my face. It has been almost eight months since the confession, and random things will trigger thoughts and I go to Psalms. I have actually had a rough few days and haven’t been able to sleep, Satan has just been throwing arrows of doubt all over the place.

Satan wants to steal, kill and destroy. He wants you to quit because it is too hard. He wants your family torn apart with a divorce, but you have to decide that your marriage IS worth fighting for and fight for it. Trust me, it will be a battle for your mind and your spouses mind. Satan loves when people give up the fight. So often couples just quit when an affair enters the situation believing it is the un-healable pain. The world says divorce, find someone who won’t cheat, and unfortunately so many people in the church divorce after an affair because the Bible permits it for this one reason, or they give up the fight because it is too hard. Make the choice that you and your spouse won’t be another marriage casualty.

Whenever a negative thought or vision comes to your mind, I challenge you to take it to God and immerse yourself in the book of Psalms.  You will find comfort, strength and HOPE!

“When doubts filled my mind, Your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” Psalm 94:19

“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

“We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.” Psalm 33:20-21

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.

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! 

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!