reconciliation

Better to be a Whore in Church, than a Christian who has Committed Moral Failure?

I grew up hearing a crude expression as a little girl. 

“I was more nervous than a whore in church!”

Believe me. I’ve been the whore in church before. And I find that it is far better to be in that highly celebrated position than it is to be part of a Christian marriage which has been disqualified from ministry because of moral failure.

“I was more nervous than a Christian who committed moral failure in church.”  Yep. Far more nerve wrecking and scandalous.

Let me explain.

You see, when a person like me got saved in my mid twenties, I had “sold” my body for things like cheap dinners on dates with men who never even acknowledged my soul. I was living with a man who had zero intention to commit to me outside of my keeping him from being lonely cold in his bed at night. When Jesus wooed my heart to Himself, I gave up that life and ran far away from it, without ease. I didn’t know what my life was going to look like as a follower of Jesus, but I was all in. 

Thats the kind of story that is (rightly) celebrated by the church. 

As I sit here and write, I recall being baptized and the congregation cheering after I shared what God did to radically change my heart and life completely. I felt loved, welcomed, accepted among the people.

No more hiding. No more secretly using drugs or my body to get me the fulfillment I so badly desired. 

In addition to my new life, I had met and married a godly man who was the complete opposite of the ones before him. He was intentional about giving me his last name from the moment we met, committed to serving the Lord and me. It really was, and is, an incredible story about how God plucks people from the pit and places them in the story created by His design for those who love him. (Romans 8:28)

What does it feel like to be a Christian exposed as a moral failure in the church? 

Oh. I would rather be the whore in church any day than feel the weight of that shame we carried as we walked back into that same church for the first time since our marriage came tumbling down.  

Hand in hand, we walked to the pew on the opposite side of where we used to sit, unable to even entertain the idea of being in the same spot, because we were no longer the same couple who used to sit there. 

Limping at best, we parked in the pew, holding hands for dear life.

Though I was angry with my husband, there was no one else who felt more safe in that moment than he did. Its as if the war in our marriage was put aside in order to celebrate a sacred holiday. I “put down my gun”, so to speak, clinging to him and our bloodied marriage.

It was difficult to look anyone in the eye.

This was a church who loved us well, allowed us to serve in worship, cared for our children, poured out time and resources on our behalf. Talk about massive weight in shame to come back, knowing that from a biblical perspective, we were disqualified from serving at any capacity in the church. 

All the trust and status we had going for us, no longer served as any form of comfort. 

Most friends didn’t know what to say to us. I can understand that. I didn’t know what to say either. My husband and I could only cling to one another and the gospel, relying on the power of Christ and his ability to turn our disaster of a story into sweet redemption. 

Which is Jesus’s thing, by the way.

I take this lesson as a great gift. The gift of empathy for those who are lifting their hands high in worship of Jesus, who are so deep in their secret sin it take God’s exposure to set them free.  Once they are exposed, they are in need of the utmost care! 

Instead of running away in fear of christians who are found in their mess, let us run toward them, offering them the hopeful assurance that it was God’s mercy on their lives for Him to expose them, reminding them that the gospel is ever as powerful for the newly converted whore in church as it is for the saint who has utterly rebelled against the God he loves.

For this is true;

“Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Ashley Madison and The Gospel

Just as divorce lawyers are foaming at the mouth for massive profit from those being exposed on Ashley Madison, a website founded on its slogan, “Life is short, have an affair”, I too, find myself standing in that line, offering the same people to save their money and become rich themselves.

Betrayal as painful as adultery has a way of wakening the soul with a type of despair that is unlike no other.

I would know. It has been nearly one year since I found out that my husband was pursuing another woman outside of our Christian marriage. My once apathetic soul, was awakened by agony.

Anyone who is made in the image of God, watching the desolation of their marriage via unfaithful spouse, will endure a despair that the heart of God knows personally. This pain reveals an inner groaning in the core of our soul, no matter who you are.

We never rejoice over sin, but we rejoice at the exposure of it, as sin is our one contribution and requirement for salvation.

People. Matter.

We never, ever, EVER, rejoice over evil. Marriage is under a special kind of assault, as it is a tangible expression of the relationship of the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). I know first hand that God exposes sin in order to save us, as sin is the only requirement on our behalf to receive salvation. People matter so much to God, that sometimes on this side of heaven, he exposes personal sin in order to draw people unto himself. 

A sort of wake up call. (Lord, revive your people)

God is always poised to pour out his mercy upon those who repent.

Many of my friends are not Christians. I love all people deeply. If you are reading this and are walking through this painful time, you are not alone. I meant what I said about saving your money for the divorce lawyer and making you rich. It doesn't mean that you won't end up divorced, it doesn't mean that you will end up divorced. It means that regardless of what happens in this time, you will have a hope to cling to. 

You are never out of reach to receive mercy.

What can Christians do?

Position yourself. Remember that, according to God's standard, every spouse has committed adultery. That is not explicit to sexual lust in the physical sense, but includes lusting over the imaginary spouse you have made up in your head, that you wish they would be. Any thought that doesn't honor them, at all times, is lusting. Wanting something in place of them. 

Yes. That is harsh. But I say that in order to strip you from thinking you are above this (or any) sin. God has truly stripped us from the ability to judge sin; we are all in the same boat, having received a mercy that none of us deserves. The moment a believer places himself above any other person, they become non-effective in the advancement of God's kingdom. The Enemy wants you to to see yourself as a better person, keeping us from preaching the gospel.

Remembering why Christ died for you, positions you to be compassionate.

Position others. You may haze zero experience in this area, to the degree that hurting people in the wake of the AM exposure are, but there are believers who can help, like myself, who are walking through this dark time in the light of Christ. Send them to people and resources who will be a giver of hope.

Pray. I love this teaching by John Piper;

God Has Preserved All the Prayers of All the Saints

Look at Revelation 8:3: "And another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne."

Notice: it is the prayers of "all the saints" that have been piling up on the altar. If you wonder where your prayers go and what God does with them, here is one of the answers. They go onto an altar before his throne. If mere human beings can invent a microchip that holds millions of bytes of communication, it is not difficult to imagine that God has no trouble at all devising a way to preserve on his altar every prayer that has ever been prayed in the name of Jesus.

Your prayers matter and are being stored up by God himself.

It is no surprise that people are cheating on their spouse, what is surprising is how powerful sin exposure can be, and how God is always poised to pour out his mercy upon those who repent. Today if you hear his voice...

The harvest is plenty, but the laborers are few. Lord, strengthen the laborers.

Support Group

When our counselor told me that his wife ran a bi-weekly support group for women dealing with sexual betrayal, I cringed. I have only had a handful of close female friends to begin with, and the idea of sitting in a circle with a bunch of crying women sharing their story sounded like a special torture that I wasn’t game for.

So I signed up.

I needed to see that I was not alone.

On one hand I was relieved to get around this group of ladies for the sheer fact that they might understand how shunned I was feeling. As Christians, they too, were not only navigating pain at home, but enduring the embarrassment of sharing with the church (another post for another day).  On the other hand, I wasn’t as privy with the feelings wheel that I raved about last week, and its scary to wade through them with others watching.

Being vulnerable is hard.

These five women, whom I continue see every other week, have shown a side of bravery that I had not witnessed first hand prior to all this mess. They are easily a few of the most fantastic women I have ever met. My preconceived ideas of women sitting around in a circle crying, was a horrible assessment of them, therefore I repent. All have a different story, but all have in common the agony that deception carries, and while we do tend to sit in a circle, crying is only one expression of emotion, but being vulnerable is center stage.  

A safe place to grieve is nourishment to the soul.

I still haven’t cried in front of them (its coming, I know it), but I would not be as far along in the recovery process without them. In addition to meeting in person, we exchange email, group text, and they are always a phone call away. The group thrives because its heavy on encouragement and validation, slow to judgement. The group brings about healing in a kindness that feels like balm to an open wound. Jesus resides in that place, a safe haven, when much of the time in-between the visits is spent in denial of pain, self loathing, what ifs, and the like.

What does this support group look like?


"She went to the disciples, who were grieving and weeping, and told them what had happened." Mark 16:10

If you are in need of a support group, please fill out the contact form on my page and I can help get you connected. 

You are not alone.


In the Counselor's Office - Part 7 - How to Handle Triggers

With boundaries and expectations up and running at home, and my feeling a little safer with them in place, it was time to get a handle on triggers. It was around our fourth or fifth visit with our counselor, when it was evident that I needed some help coping.

“I just don’t understand, one minute I am talking to my wife, who is sad but functional, then out of no where it seems like I am talking to a completely different person. She begins to panic and asks me to re-answer all the questions about the affair. We end up fighting, a lot. I feel hopeless because of it.” my husband told our counselor.

We had reached the point in our recovery that I was having a few “good days”, but those good days would quickly turn into terror when I was triggered.

I explained to the counselor that, one day, earlier that week, I remembered feeling hopeful most of the morning, when prepping lunch for my children triggered me so badly that I called my husband and asked him for the details of the affair all over again (I found out about the affair around the same time of the day, while feeding the kids).

Triggers, though extremely painful, began to lessen over time as we worked through them.

The counselor, in patience and kindness, reminded us that triggers are common in light of sexual betrayal, and using this five step process (that can be found in his wife’s brilliant workbook on amazon), may be the helpful tool we needed for working through triggers in a healthy manner.

(The following are cited from the book ‘Rescued’)

  • Step one - Identify potential or past triggers. What situations remind you of your spouse’s hurtful behavior?
  • Step two - Identify how this trigger makes you feel and why. The why is important here. Does it connect to something from your past?
  • Step three - identify what you need in order to feel safe. Anything goes. If you are having a hard time coming up with what you need, you aren’t alone. This is one of the harder steps.
  • Step Four - First, identify what assistance, if any, your spouse can give you in working through the trigger.
  • Step five - Allow God’s truth to speak into the trigger. What would He say?

I walked out of the counselor’s office that day, with these tools in order to gain a sense of control when panic flooded my thoughts. My husband walked out with an understanding of how a trigger works. However…

Tools are helpful, but the power to change a person's heart is a result of God alone.

The days and weeks to come, with this list in our possession, proved that we were powerless in our feat to conquer triggers, unless we ran to the One who made us and reconciled us to Himself. I never thought that something as powerful as a trigger, could actually be the thing that would drive me closer to God, allowing me to rely on him during my deepest feelings of hopelessness. 

As we continued to face the difficulties that triggers bring, God was softening each of our hearts toward one another, producing within in us a patience that only His Spirit can produce in us. It would take months, but eventually the triggers became less frightening. And strangely, somewhere along the way, they went from having the power to cripple me, to being a key component in rebuilding trust with my husband. 

 

"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18)

  

 

Triggers, Triggers, Everywhere Triggers - Part 1 - Death By Carwash

I winced when I saw all the bugs that had collected on the front of my black Honda Odyssey. It didn’t come as a shock, since traveling 1300 miles from CO to MI will do that, but having to wash my car doesn’t come easy for me these days.

I remember 10 years past when cleaning my Plymouth Neon brought me great joy. There really is nothing like driving a freshly washed and detailed vehicle. Holding the pressure washer without falling, racing the clock with the shampoo brush, and even better is the automatic car wash that allows you sit back and relax. I have fond memories of the days when I was hopeful for the future, cruising around in my little car.

Now when I wash my car, all I think about is how my husband cheated.

You see, my husband was working as a manager at a local car wash when he began his affair. At first I figured managing a car wash seemed like it a silly job, but with all the technology these days, most of the equipment is controlled by computer. That being said, there always seemed to be an emergency happening at that place. Managing the car was was easily a 60+hr/week position.

This is how he met her. She was assigned as a tech specifically to him, in order that all things be documented in one place. What began as casual flirty comments, turned into full blown emotional work affair. And now I hate getting my car washed.

When I pulled Vanna Black (Yes, I named my car) into the bay to give her front-end a good pre scrub before parking her in the automatic wash, I became another person. Feelings of anger and insignificance began pouring over me, as I asked myself how and why they could do this to me. I wanted to vandalize that place!

It was as if I was finding out about the affair for the first time all over again.

This is the nature of the beast, also known as a trigger. Moments that remind us of our most painful event(s) in life and get us to face them all over again. While I have heard (from seasoned wives who have been in long time recovery from sexual betrayal) that triggers will ebb and flow in intensity depending on the season of life, I have also heard they may never go away.

I grieve the fact that a simple act, like washing my car, will forever make me wince and, for the time being, bring me a kind of rage that frightens me.

I can learn to deal with triggers in a healthy way, but riding them out authentically is a necessary start.

Over the next few posts I’m going to share some triggers that I regularly have and what I have learned through them. An important part of dealing with a trigger is being real about how it makes you feel. Authenticity and being honest with yourself is going to be difficult in the beginning, but denying your feelings and shoving them away will only make the healing process longer, and its a recipe for futility.

As someone who is in the thick of processing everything, I can tell you that my darkest hours of suffering through sexual betrayal have been the most honest with the Good Lord. As I talk about triggers, we must remember that we have hope. Hope in Christ who knows what is like to suffer greatly. You are not alone.

And PS. I didn’t end up vandalizing the car wash. In case you’re wondering...

How do you know when it is healthy to avoid something that triggers you, and when it is healthy to face it head on?


In The Counselor's Office - Part 6 - My Husband's Reaction

I began to well up with regret as I put down the list of boundaries and expectations. The consequences for my actions were not something I wanted to do.

“How could she be so strict”, I thought to myself.

I am not the kind of guy who likes rules and boundaries, but despite my irritation and frustration with my wife as she laid them before me, I knew I had no other option. This was not her fault.

Abusing my freedom to betray her, was most definitely my fault.

I wasn’t even sure that I could live up to these newly enforced standards, but worse than the doubt, was the anger I felt.

Everything was being stripped from me! She cut off my personal phone line and it felt like a limb was being torn from my body. All of my social media accounts were deleted, contacts were lost, and I now had zero privacy in my marriage. Surely she was on a mission to punish me and get her revenge! 

It only got worse.

I sat there listening to her read the phone records aloud, each one revealing all the minutes I had spoken to the other woman in totality (24,615 to be exact). Everything that I was hiding was being dragged into the light, and the “casual conversations” I told myself I was having, proved to be much more severe than I realized. 

Here she stood, exposing me for the man I was. 

Those beginning days after receiving the list were intensely hard for me.

She kept my phone and restored many texts and emails that I am ashamed of. It wasn’t pretty.

But there was also this other part of me that felt, hope. As nervous as I was about her having access to everything, I knew that safety laid in the boundaries. I sensed that true freedom would be had by being completely open and honest with her from here on forward. I wanted that opportunity, and she deserved that from me.

Looking back, I can see how enslaved I was to the things that were being taken away from me.

I was addicted to social media and addicted to privacy in my marriage (social media is not bad in and of itself). These boundaries exposed so much hurt within me, and today I am thankful I get to address it. 

Who knows how long these “rules” may be enforced, but as someone who has had a taste of what our marriage could be like someday, I’d be fine having them in place for the rest of our lives. 

”they are no longer two but one flesh.” (Mark 10:8)