wife

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.

Speculation: Cause For Separation or a Tool for Glory?

5 a.m. I woke from a nightmare. 

I headed downstairs to boil water for french press, feeling insecure and furious. I hate dreams like this. They tend to set the tone for my day, rousing irrational anxiety, making it difficult work to find joy. I need grounding. I pull out my bible, open the Mac and begin documenting. I won’t go into detail, but the nightmare involved a woman I follow on Instagram, and a certain man I get to snuggle every night.

Yeah. One of those dreams.

Since we have been doing the hard work of reconciliation, there are some boundaries, that with lots of conversation, are becoming more flexible these days. When we lay in bed, Burris will grab my phone and scroll through my social media. We laugh at viral videos, read controversial blog posts, and talk about some of the crazy photos you all are posting. 

Ok, back to the dream. The girl is an old aquaintance who can be found snapping photos of herself in her bathing suit, mini skirts, high heals and the like. Which, whatever. I like the girl. She is obviously hurting and desires validation (what human doesn’t). We used to go to the same church. But in light of what happened nearly a year ago, recounting my REM caused my heart to thump a little faster.

I stop and begin to pray.

“Lord, I am feeling anxious and curious this morning because of that dream. Did my husband click on her profile and look through her photos? Is this a dream of warning or fear? Is this irrational thinking? I know he sees her posts when looking at my feed, because I see them. Please help.”

”Ask him.” replies the Familiar Whisper.

“Ask him!? But what if he did? How can I endure that kind of pain? What if he didn’t, and my asking rouses anger? It is 7am, this could ruin our morning and set a dark tone for our day.” I plead.

”I AM at hand.”  He reminds.

Speculation between spouses, or anyone for that matter, is cause for separation, and God is always about the work of reconciling people. When we are willing to engage with our fear and ask the person in question, it is another building block to the foundation of trust. Specifically, when two believers stand in conversation, any wall of offense has been removed because of the finished work of Christ; they can talk about ANYTHING. 

Isn’t that just like the Lord? Unwilling to waste an opportunity to restore a marriage, no matter what messy tools (even nightmares) we have to offer.

And the Whisper comes again;

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

My soul laid bare before them, I chose a road less traveled, facing the fear of inquiry. The three of us stood in that kitchen addressing the nightmare and turns out, he was feeling just as awkward about her photos as I was, uncertain how to process it himself. His eyes lingering with mine, speak apology, redressing again, my seeping wound.

We prayed, and kissed long. 

Moments of redemption like this mean everything.

 

The Waiting Room - An Update

Next month marks one year that our marriage, deemed dead, was made alive.

With Burris in his chair, and me in mine, Sunday morning was a familiar sight. Three children running around in diapers, coffee in hand, and a messy yet profound sense of gratitude in the room.

Yes, resurrection sure looks good, this side of heaven.

 

But it sure isn’t easy.

What has the True Physician been up to in our lives since our dead body of a marriage began miraculously breathing?

I looked at my husband sitting there and wondered where he thought our marriage was today in medical terms; Are we in the ER? Surgery? ICU? Physical therapy? Out patient care? Dare I say, hospice?

 

“the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together… 
He will feed his flock like a shepherd.
    He will carry the lambs in his arms,
holding them close to his heart.” 
                                        Isaiah 40: 5&11

“Les, if I were to gauge, we are in the waiting room, and our marriage is having open heart surgery.” He looked at me deeply. “This is a very risky procedure and we are not out of the woods, but thankfully this procedure has been done thousands of time before. God knows what he is doing, and His skilled hand is having his way on our heart. The center of our marriage.”

I looked away. 

Feeling disappointed, my assessment had us sitting up in bed, looking forward to physical therapy!

“We are doing well, but we are not out of the woods.” He replied.

“How will we know when the surgery is complete and successful?” I ask.

“When we stop checking out from one another, and engage.  We have been trying these tools out, but are not convinced yet. When we jump in fully, that will be a sign that the surgery is complete. The rest of our lives are spent in recovery. Of course, we will be finally healed when we are in eternity with the Lord, but there is a process on this side of heaven.” He grinned.

We will always be in recovery.

 

How freeing is that? We don’t have to arrive to this sort of marital bliss destination that is somewhere down the road in a few years. Instead, we get to share in these tangible redemptive moments together, where we know that God, the Perfect Surgeon, is opening up the blockages of our heart in order to see to it our earthly marriage thrives on what it was created to; rely on Christ alone.

Call it sanctification, if you dare, a holy recognition that this life, spent together as husband and wife, is but a mere dress rehearsal for a perfect marriage to come.  Sure, it is painful recovery, but after this year, I cannot imagine missing out on the milestones that derives from healing wounds.

“He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
 They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint.”
                                     Isaiah 40:28-31

So we sit, hand in hand in the waiting room, with strengthening knees, getting a taste of the hope to come. Knowing that our time in the ICU is coming, a beautiful gift this side of heaven.

Here’s to another year of seeing what is in store for our crazy clan.

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?