Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Healing Comes

A spirited conversation  debate with a group of strangers on Facebook has prompted me to blow the dust off my blog! Whew!

A few days ago a popular Marriage site posted a reader question on Facebook. The reader, married for 14 years, had discovered her husband had been unfaithful. She asked, “What should I do?”

Now I started to keep scrolling right on past the question. Altho I have the Infidelity T-shirt and have been very free and vocal about sharing our experience (with the blessing of my precious husband), sometimes I just don’t really have the energy for it, ya know?
But something wouldn’t let me scroll past. I hit the “comment” button and briefly shared my/our journey thru infidelity.

Soon after I posted, several women began to question (more like challenge) my decision to reconcile with my husband. One of them kept writing about how women are *expected* to accept cheating. She repeatedly called me and women *like me* a “doormat.” Another one took issue with my saying that infidelity is way more common than we want to believe. She wrote about the (8 year) relationship she is in with her *fiancé* and how she KNOWS they will NEVER experience any unfaithfulness. You should have seen the rocks that went flying when I told her that unless she is with her man 24/7/365 she doesn’t know *for sure* what he has or hasn’t done. But that is the hard reality of relationships. We cannot control others. We do well to control ourselves.

It has taken me a few days to process the intensity of the discussion. Why did my personal story upset these women so much? I have some ideas about why but what I really want to do here is give an update, a sort of FINAL WORD from my own infidelity journal now that we are just about six years out from discovery and reconciliation. I can write this because I have no bone to pick with anyone. I’m not mad at anyone, not my husband or the two ladies he was briefly involved with. In fact, not only am I not mad, but I actually feel LOVE in places within my heart where there was once only intense PAIN.  

Now here are two truths I have learned about infidelity. Two freeing truths.

Infidelity is a spiritual suicide attempt.

Especially for those who profess a faith in God. It is what can happen when a person reaches a state of emotional/spiritual bankruptcy. It is the decision of a soul that is severely emotionally and spiritually compromised.  We can't commit physical adultery until we have first committed spiritual adultery. We have to walk away from the truth of our faith. Infidelity is the enemy's answer to the deluded heart.

“For from out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.” (Matthew 15:19)
As wonderful as a spouse can be, husbands and wives make AWFUL gods, ya'll. Infidelity is what happens when a person expects a mate to do for them what only GOD can do. When the mate fails to be God  for them (i.e., their Perfect Need-Meeter), they jump off the proverbial cliff into outside dalliances. A popular Marriage & Sex author/blogger sought to examine the causes of infidelity. She wanted to address the (false) assumption that infidelity only happens in “unhappy marriages,” in marriages where one or both of the spouses is somehow unsatisfied. Many people have spent a lot of time searching for the place to lay blame, often in an attempt to try to ensure that it won’t ever happen to them. I get that. Because indeed “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The problem is that apart from Christ there are no foolproof guarantees. And even if we have a firm grasp of Jesus, we still have to FLEE sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 16:18). It’s just not something we can play with! I am the poster child for Marriage Education and Marital Security but it is truly naïve to believe that you or your spouse is incapable of infidelity. We had to learn that! My husband will tell you that cheating is something he believed he would never, ever do. For 18 long years, he didn’t! I myself – in all my Christian piety- briefly entertained the idea of getting into an illicit relationship with a guy on Facebook back in 2010.  (Revenge affairs are the ultimate of bad ideas!) As unsettling as this truth is, our hearts are fickle and we are ALL at risk.

Infidelity is less about the marriage and most about the condition of the heart of the infidel. 

Which of King David’s seven (7) wives and ten (10) concubines wasn’t on her job the night David took Bathsheba? Which one(s) weren’t *meeting* David’s *needs?* How many outside women was it that Tiger Woods *entertained*? There are all kinds of names and excuses (lust, high libido, sexual addiction etc) for it but the simple truth is David and Tiger and you and I are all subject to be tempted to use sex as a substitute for the real love and unconditional acceptance our hearts crave. David couldn't (and didn't) find it in the beds of 18 women. Neither did Tiger.  And neither can we.  Infidelity is not about love. People in infidelity are using, not loving, one another. It’s not about faulty marriages. All marriages made up of faulty people(that's all of us) will and do have struggles. Yes, there are gaps in our marriages. Every marriage has them. The bigger issue is the gaps in our souls. The infidel is disillusioned with the life partner *they* chose. The infidel is disillusioned with life itself. Instead of turning to the Person of the Lord Jesus, the infidel turns to another person.

As I’ve said, I can write this because it’s not personal. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone and if I was they’d be pointing at most of us, including myself. The hard truth is, fidelity begins BEFORE marriage and most of us come into marriage as infidels. Unless we go into marriage as a virgin marrying a virgin, if we have had any type of consensual sexual involvement, (I’m not speaking of situations where a person has been raped or molested) we have already become infidels. We have given away to another(s) something that belonged only to our spouse!  Even if we only had sex with the person we eventually marry, we’ve still put the cart before the horse and *used* them to meet our emotional/sexual needs. Sex was designed to be the COVENANT SEALER. It was created to be the emotional/spiritual equivalent of signing on the dotted line. In the sex act we sign our lives over to the person with whom we are joining ourselves. I read a quote just yesterday that stopped me in my tracks. It said:

“God invented safe sex. He calls it marriage.”

Five months after our reconciliation in 2009 my husband and I rededicated our vows to one another during church service. One of the things I said publically to him was, “I’m sorry I didn’t wait for you.” Oh, how I wish I'd known how precious and valuable I am when I was a teen and young adult! How I wish I'd understood -- and accepted-- GOD'S thoughts about love, sex and relationships. I would not have traded myself for the attention and empty words and promises of guys who were mere *randoms*..

It has taken me a few days to try to understand the beef one of my Facebook strangers had with what I was saying. From my vantage point I was trying to share that infidelity is a vicious and common threat to every marriage.  But I think this woman only heard me saying, "'All men cheat' so we should just accept it." Perish the thought! Of course I wasn't saying that at all. I was merely attempting to do what I often do: warn people of its potential. I wasn't saying that infidelity WILL happen.  I was simply saying that infidelity CAN happen. And we all need to be on guard!

A third commenter took issue with my saying that the pain I felt after my husband’s infidelity was WORSE than the pain of our son Bryant's death. She thought it was awful that my husband was “more important” to me than my son. It is probably a silly thing to try to *rate* pain but when I tell people my husband's betrayal was even more painful than my son's death (it was), I do so to exemplify just how devastatingly awful infidelity really is.  Suppose I was in an accident that broke both of my legs. If I said that my right leg hurt worse than my left leg, would that mean my right leg was *more important* to me than my left? No, of course not. Not at all. I was only trying to describe the level and depth of the pain I felt from the infidelity. Up to this point in my life it is the worst pain I have ever endured. But my heart just leaped as I wrote that last line and a little tune rings in my ears saying, "I can see clearly now, the pain it GONE!" Healing comes my Beloveds!

Glory Jesus, Healing comes!

Writing has been like free therapy to me for most of my life. In late 2012 I got to add cancer to my resume of experiences and since then I have felt a bit scatterbrained. I don’t feel like the words come to me as easily as before. My prayer is that this update will help somebody, even if the ideas here are a bit paradigm shaking. I just want to give people HOPE. Hope that there IS LIFE after the most horrific of life experiences. I wouldn’t wish infidelity on my worst enemy. But we’ve come thru it. Better for the journey. There is peace and rest and freedom and joy on the other side when we let the Lord bring us out. I can promise you that... Healing Comes.

 “But for you who fear My Name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” Malachi 4:2  

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