Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Reflections Of The Past

I read an article over on Intentionally Yours today called "I Ruined Valentine's Day."  It is written by a man named David who made some bad choices in his life.  It is his reflection on how confessing his sin to his wife on Valentine's Day tarnished the implied joy the day should bring.  We all know that Valentine's Day is a day for love, for couples to celebrate that love.  So for David, it was devastating to his relationship that this bomb was dropped on that particular day.  And yet, at the same time, David found hope that day.  In the eyes and heart of his wife, he found forgiveness and it was just the beginning of a fresh start for his marriage.

What is it about Valentine's Day and confessing sin?  As I sit here and reflect on my own life, I find that today marks two years since my husband found out about my affair.  Two years since I turned my back on my marriage and was ready to give up and bring out the word we had always refused to allow into our vocabulary:  divorce.

I was done.

It wasn't just because he found out about the affair.  It was because of his addiction, because I was unhappy, because I wasn't content.  But most of all, it was because my heart was so far from God.  It was because of the shame and guilt that weighed me down, making it impossible for me to see (that day, in that moment) that my marriage could be restored.

I had destroyed it.  Yes, Kris and his addiction played a part in the destruction.  But the night that Kris confronted me and the truth about how I had spent the last seven years came into the light, I took all the blame.  I knew that my actions alone had wreaked havoc on our marriage, on our relationship, on my soul.  I could see it and I saw the pain in Kris' eyes as I was cold towards him, even in the midst of it all.

I used anger that he finally knew the truth as a wall to protect myself from the shame that tried to suffocate me.  

For several days, I watched life pass me by, as Kris and I were in this holding pattern.  

Honestly, I don't remember much of what transpired in those first few days after he found out.  Valentine's Day came and went and I have no memory at all of what we did.  I'm sure that we didn't go to dinner together without the kids and pretend that everything was okay.  I felt like the walls were closing in on me.  The tension was too great, and I didn't want to be with my husband in those days.  I wanted to see my boyfriend.  I wanted him to reassure me that it would all be okay.

But the truth is, I knew deep in my heart that another man would not be able to use words anymore to make me feel better about my sin.  

The curtain had been drawn back, exposing my sin and the darkness in my heart, and that was all I could see.  And yet, I still yearned for him.  Not for my husband.  Feeling surrounded by things I could not understand and a husband who hovered around me trying to force me to love him (that's how it felt at the time), I fled.  I had to get away.

Over the next four days, I spent any moment I could with the other man.  I think we both knew things were drawing to a close.  That our years of running and hiding were about to end.  It's really difficult, ending an affair.  Especially such a prolonged one.  I know that me saying that may upset some who have been on the receiving end of this kind of pain - it isn't my intention to hurt you and I am not trying to make light of anything.  But I think it is important for those who have not been trapped in this particular sin to understand how warped our minds and emotions can become.  It wasn't just some one night stand.  I had invested all of my free time, all of my energy, and all of my heart into my relationship with this man.  I set my husband aside, convinced that I felt absolutely nothing but bitterness towards him.  Sure, I loved him.  You know, the way that you will always love someone that you have spent much of your life with.  But I certainly felt no feelings of affection or romance towards him, and didn't want to.

I think back to February 11, 2012.  And I remember the pain.  I remember how difficult it was to know Kris was looking at me.  I was convinced all he could see was my sin and shame.  I'm still not sure that he saw anything beyond that in the beginning.  I know that he quickly put his hurt aside and attempted to reassure us both that it would work out-that we could work it out.  But I didn't believe him.  I knew what I saw.  I knew the sin and the shame and the darkness that was still inside my heart, and nothing Kris said or did would have convinced me that he saw anything different.

I still cry thinking back.  What I did, sometimes I can't make any sense of it.  I can't look at my life and my heart now and understand why I made the choices I did.  I know that I bought into lie upon lie upon lie, and slowly allowed my heart to turn from God, and from my husband.  But sometimes I look back to that Jamie, to the adulterer, to the liar, to the prodigal, and I am astounded.

And I think, "Who is that person?"  

And I wonder how I ever let myself get that far from God, that far from the truth.

I can't reconcile the person I am today with the person I was then.  I don't think I'll ever be able to.  Because the things of God do not always make sense to man, do they?  I could sit and wallow in despair over the person I became and the choices I made.  I could dwell upon the guilt and shame that came from the pain that my sin inflicted on so many.  So many people were hurt.

I disappointed some.

I angered others.

And I devastated those that I was closest to, Kris included.  I was not a woman that any parent could be proud of.

I was so lost.  

So broken.  

So confused.

You see, when you buy into the lies that the devil so expertly crafts and whispers in your ear, you don't realize the confusion that is being woven into your heart and life.  Web after web of deceit is built, by Satan's design.  So intricate a pattern that you could never really unravel it all.  You can never free yourself from the trap he uses to ensnare you.  On your own, you have no choice but to submit to the will of your father.  Back then, my father was Satan.  You know, the Father of Lies?  That is who I followed.  That is who I listened to and that is who I strove to please.  I didn't see it that way in the moment, of course.  I knew I was sinning.  I could think about the decisions I was making and know they were wrong.  But when you have beleived the lies, who cares if you are doing something wrong.  It's all about making yourself happy.  Making yourself feel good.  Right?

And so I was left, trapped in this web of lies so powerful that on my own, I could do nothing.  I think I realized that two years ago.  When the truth was brought into the light, I saw the web I was in, and perhaps that is why I felt suffocated at home.  I couldn't move.  I could barely breathe.  The truth was flaunted in my face and all I could do was sit, trapped, and watch the story unfold.

And yet, in the midst of the pain of that night and the days that followed, God began to move and work.  It isn't enough to say that though.  I believe God was moving and working before that, and it was by his design that Kris found out the way that he did, when he did.  Timing is everything, as the old saying goes.  God had a plan.  There was good that he could bring out of the pain that I had brought into our marriage and into the lives of all those affected by the affair.  He even had a plan for me, down the road, to begin writing through my story, so that others could find hope and healing.

I wouldn't have known it at the time.

I was just this lost little girl, disappointed by life, by my husband, and by God.

I didn't have enough faith to wait for God to free my husband from his addiction, and so I allowed myself to be led astray, down a path that will never cease to remind me of how sinful and broken we descendants of Adam really are.

It is important for me to remember the pain of revelation that came that night.  It is vital to my heart that I never grow so distant again.  And I need to remember the weight of my sin that I felt back then because it gives me accountability and pushes me forward.  Because good did come out of the wounds I had inflicted.  Without the pain that my sin and exposing my darkness caused, I wouldn't be able to rejoice in all of the good God has brought to us.

Without February 11, 2012, I do not know where I would be.  I don't know if the affair would have ended.  I was perfectly content, until Kris found out, to continue in it forever.  Juggling my husband and my boyfriend, hoping that the two lives I believed I was living would never intersect.  But the truth always wins out.  The darkness cannot stay hidden for ever.  Lies will be found out.  It may take days, months, or in my case years.  But some day, when you least expect it, the light will shine in the dark and sin will be exposed.  And when that happens, if you are not ready to surrender your life to Christ and embrace the freedom that is offered, you will wither.  You will be faced with your sin and your shame, and without understanding the love of Christ, forgiveness and grace, you will find no hope in this life.

I like today.  I like to look back through tears, through the pain, and examine my heart.  I like that I have something to look back to and say, "I don't ever want to be that person again."  I do wish I hadn't hurt my husband and the others that were involved.  It was never my intention and it is not something I am proud of.  But I need to remember.  I need to be aware of the pain I caused.  I need to be close to it, because it is only in remembering that night that I see my deep, desperate need for God.  And understanding that need pushes me on toward excellence.  Toward making the right choices from this point on.  Toward never letting my heart get so far from God that I even consider looking at another man as more than a friend; and I choose to put up boundaries and know myself well enough to know whether or not my motives are pure.  I choose to live in the light with my husband and with God, and acknowledge mistakes when I make them.  Seek forgiveness and true repentance.  

I have to remember so that I never lose sight of God again.  So that I never forget just how much he has done in my heart, my life, and my marriage.  And while remembering that time in my life is not a celebration, it is also not a way of condemning myself over and over again.  I do not celebrate the choices that I made that led to the affair, and the decisions I continued to make for seven and a half years.

But there is something that I do celebrate.  

Freedom in Christ.  

No one can take that from me.

If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.
Psalm 66:18


  1. Not to split hairs, but the best word for what happened is the word adultery, not "affair". There's a unique pain known to those who have been victims of adultery. And an even more acute, indescribable pain for those who chose to stand for their marriage, even in the face of adultery. Calling it an "affair" does such injustice to the spouse on the receiving end.

    1. I think my husband would be the first to tell you that I, of all people, do not take lightly what I did. If I were to go and replace the word affair in this post with adultery it would be so far different from the way that I speak and write, thus it would not be me. I do not at all do injustice to what happened, to the choices I made. I think that if you read some of my other posts you will find that I understand the weight of this and the impact it had on my husband, and I feel that very deeply. But you're splitting hairs without understanding that my choice of the word affair had more to do with how I speak in day to day life and how I write than about my attitude towards adultery. I am in no way trying to avoid admitting the full weight of what I did, and if that is what you took from this post, then I apologize. It couldn't be farther from the truth.

    2. Call it affair or adultery, your journey and its redemption is POWERFUL. Don't change a thing. God gave you THESE words to speak to reach the hearts of men and women...trust Him, He knows what He's doing. And it is your story to tell...keep telling it.

      Love you and what God is doing!

    3. Thank you Sherry. I love you and still feel so blessed that our paths crossed, virtually anyway. Still waiting for that day they cross in the flesh. And if not then, one day in heaven my friend!

  2. I wonder at your response to the comment about word choice.....Maybe your posts could be more beneficial for those that have been victims of adultery. I have read your posts in detail and yes I am in wonder at God's grace to you and your husband, and I would also so that your adultery is worse than pornography, since you committed the actual an act, not just the thoughts. I think that words matter, and I think that you agree or you wouldn't be using words to reach people with your story. If you really want to help others....maybe you would considered sacrificing your right to use a word over another word. What if that "person" above is a victim in need of hope that her/his spouse can change. Personally, hanging on to a lesser word to describe a very devastating act does not increase your humility, it diminishes your voice to really reach others with the truth......God uses the word adultery and it is what it is.....You were an adulterer, just call it what it is....Affair is still a word used that diminishes what you did. Words should be as accurate as possible when writing to help others. The word "affair" does not accurately describe your actions, but no one would argue against the word adultery.

    1. I don't understand why this is even an issue. If you look above in the post itself, I don't only use the word affair. Maybe you want me to say several times "I committed adultery." and that will make you feel better about something...but to me, saying "I had an affair" is more significant to me, and insinuates more pain and hurt to me because I feel that an affair is a despicable thing. What if the majority of those reading understand what an affair is far better than adultery? In our world and society, adultery isn't the common word choice, even if you want it to be. In my mind, they have the same impact and carry the same weight. Though when I speak of my affair, of my adultery, it hits me harder by referring to it as an affair. I am not minimizing it by calling it an affair instead of adultery and both comments about my word choice seem to come from a place of deep hurt from people who have been personally wounded by adultery. So maybe it's hard for you to see from your lens of pain that the two words can be interchangeable and have the same impact on others. If we're going to be technical, an affair is "an event or sequence of events of a specified kind or that has previously been referred to, or a love affair." Adultery is "voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not his or her spouse." So it sounds as if you are looking at the actual definition and judging my use of the word and implying that I think one is "not as bad" as the other. They are synonymous to me. I committed adultery by having and affair. Throughout my writing, I have used both words. In fact, if you re-read the post, you will see that I very clearly call myself an adulterer...not "just someone who had an affair." I take this very seriously and I do not think it is God's intention for me to go back and reword my posts and change all my use of the word affair to adultery. I use them interchangeable in several posts and they hold the same weight in my heart. In this very post where I am being told that I was trying to evade what I really was, what I really did, I wrote these exact words: "But sometimes I look back to that Jamie, to the adulterer, to the liar, to the prodigal, and I am astounded." How can you read that and still choose to pick at my word choice as if I am trying to minimize the fact that I committed adultery? You are speaking from a place of pain, being hurt, being the victim of adultery from what I can infer, and you are only hearing/reading what you choose to hear/read...otherwise you would have noticed that I blatantly did call it was it was; I called myself an adulterer.

    2. We may never agree on the semantics used here - my purpose and calling to write my story will continue to be led by God and I will use the word affair when I feel it is appropriate and adultery when it is necessary to what I am speaking to. In this post I actually did both, so I believe it is somewhat unfair for people to come down harshly on me for not calling what I did adultery, when in fact I took it a step farther and called myself what I was...an adulterer. I'm sorry for your pain, and I'm sorry that my word choice doesn't sit well with you. I do not feel that I was in the wrong though, and when I write, I write what God puts on my heart to write. If he prompts me to call it adultery in one post and an affair in the next...that's what I'll write. Maybe it doesn't hold the same weight for you, but for me it is far more difficult for me to say "I had an affair" than "I committed adultery." So from my perspective, calling it an affair is calling it like it is, and is not me trying to minimize my actions. Furthermore, your comment about adultery, in the physical form being worse than pornography, has no place here. We can go to the Bible and look at what Jesus said about lust. I beat myself up for YEARS over the fact that what I did was SO MUCH WORSE than what my husband did - that my physical act of being with another man was worse than all the times my husband was "with" other women in his mind and chose to act out sexually because of those thoughts and images. The end result, the physical release is exactly the same. So I won't argue the theology behind whether or not what I did was worse. Because the truth is, sin is sin in God's eyes. Lust and adultery are equally deplorable. Anger and murder as well. It is no one's place but God's to put a scorecard to my sin up against someone else's. Maybe it seems worse to you, and honestly when I am not as close to God and I allow the devil to fill my heart with despair, I would agree with you. But I have come to learn that God doesn't see me that way. He doesn't look at me and think, "Man what Jamie did was SO MUCH WORSE than what Kris did." The deep emotional and psychological toll Kris' addiction to pornography took on me is comparable to how the physical act of adultery against my husband affected him. Whether you agree with that or not doesn't change the truth of it. Both have deep painful consequences and both are equal in God's eyes. Unless you have been in my exact same scenario where you are the one guilty of physical adultery and your spouse of adultery in his mind, I don't think you can fairly speak to that.