Marriages are under attack.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that our society’s view on marriage has drastically shifted the last twenty or so years. When I decided to take the Google plunge and look up statistics from repairable institutions and universities that surveyed how the marriage today looks in regards to infidelity, the numbers were staggering. The increase in percentages of marriages with an unfaithful spouse since early 90’s blew me away.
We are in a crisis.
The marriage was one of the first institutions given by God. Adam and Eve were literally made for one another and God told them they were now one. Two beings joined together to be one being to work together to enhance the kingdom of God.
Now couples are being ripped apart by a world that calls for all to live for their own happiness. Husband and wife must constantly struggle through busy work schedules, stress, and constant temptation on every corner, and in every pocket and purse.
Social media has allowed for old flames to reunite and reminisce. The world-wide web has pornography at your very fingertips with the convenience of seeing it all in the privacy of your own home.
It’s really no surprise that cheating is rampant.
The distorted views of romance, body image, lifestyles, and joy in a marriage is slapped in our faces on a daily basis. How can we compete with the latest Danielle Steele novel or playboy cover? We can’t. Because it’s just not real.
Now before you get all testy and wag your finger at me and say, “Well, you just don’t understand. You are not married to my husband. You don’t know my wife. Our lives are anything but picture perfect.” Can I just have you step back for a moment and bring you into my reality which has been neither perfect or easy?
Military life has not always been the romantic escapade that I thought it would be. Particularly deployments do their toll on a couple. We are currently in one. And though I am in a very different place than I was in the earlier years, I am still brought back to the last time we were apart and how close infidelity was in our marriage.
Peter was on a mission that meant very limited communication. There were days I didn’t know where he was, what he was doing, or when I would hear from him.
I had three little ones at home and on a daily basis I felt so lost. I doubted who we were as a couple. I didn’t know if his love would last and still be there when he returned. I began to swirl lie upon lie in my head and allow my walls to slowly break down and leave me vulnerable. That’s when HE showed up. He was charming and handsome. He listened and laughed with me. He was there at a moment’s notice if I needed him. And he filled a void that he had no place filling.
Desperately close to making the most awful mistake of my life, God spared me. He literally crushed my soul in order to save it. He trampled me down and broke me, only so that he could rebuild me.
Trust me when I say, this is not easy to share.
But I remember the night it all came out. Tears were shed until I couldn’t cry any longer. I begged forgiveness for allowing my heart to lead me instead of allowing my vows to lead me. I was so sorry that I forgot who Peter was, what he was doing, and how he too had promised to love and honor me forever. But once the waters calmed and I stood back to observe, two realizations came to my mind.
One was that I was so wholly blessed to have Peter stand by me when I was at my worst. He forgave me with no effort and I couldn’t help but love him the more. Secondly, I knew that from mistakes, there are lessons learned. And when I had the opportunity, I would share what I learned from my false steps to help any and all avoid the pain that it caused.
So this is what I learned.
1. You can’t put your hand over a flame and not get burned.
When dealing with temptation, know that there is no good outcome when you move closer to the flame. There were so many times that I would rationalize with myself that it was just one more text, one more minute of talking, one more thought, and then I would put an end to it. It’s never one more. Until we decide to put an end to it, it will continue to sweep us away like a raging river headed towards a waterfall. Lust is powerful and intense. Loneliness heavy and cumbersome. Doubt will lead you to a place that you never, ever intended to go.
James simply says in James 4:2, “Ye lust, and have not…”
When temptation comes, it will bring us nothing but a temporary fix and then a cataclysmic mess. No good ever comes from reaching out to touch the flame.
2. When in doubt, don’t.
We had set up guidelines as a couple before Peter had left. One thing I was determined to do is never let another male in the house unless someone else was there. This was to protect myself, the other male, and the eyes of those watching. I never wanted to let peeping eyes get a false idea of what was going on. In the end though, I blew that rule out the window the second my wants became stronger than my convictions. I rationalized it, especially when it was a gray area. Now I wish I would have lived by this notion of staying far away from anything that was even questionable. It won’t hurt you to not do something, but it can very much hurt you if you do it and things turn out bad. My gut (really, it’s the Holy Spirit talking) has always lead me in the right direction. I know when I am being honest about a situation or when I am excusing my behavior. Deep down, we all know what will get us into trouble.
3.Accountability is absolute key.
If I would have only grabbed my girlfriend and shared with her from the start my stirring within for this man, I would have saved myself so much trouble. Nothing beats a godly friend who will listen without judging, but then speak the truth and help you out of a dark place.
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye ma be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”~James 5:16
It wasn’t possible at the time for me to share my heart with Peter. We had limited contact. But the reality was, it was my little secret. I wanted to hold on to it in fear that no one would understand, they would judge, and that I would be left alone to do the rest of this deployment in misery. Of course, these are all lies.
A true sister or brother in Christ lifts you up, sharpens you, and carries you when you are in a bad way. If only we, as Christians, would put aside our preconceived notions of what sins we should and should not be struggling with, and start loving one another the way Christ does, then perhaps I wouldn’t have been so scared to phone a friend.
I wish to break down the walls of shame and fear. Here I am. A reformed, struggling wife who has been forgiven and has moved past that. But do not doubt that I think I have it all under control now. Not even by a long shot. If anything, I see my depravity that much more. I know that I am constantly on the edge of being someone who God has not designed me to be. We all are. So it’s because of that, I know number 4.
4. Saturate yourself in the Truth.
Because my world was churning and swirling with deception and confusion, I wasn’t capable to use what I knew was true to do right. I wasn’t on solid ground. I could have blamed it on having three kids and being up at night with little ones. This makes it hard to rise early to read God’s Word. I could barely go to the bathroom by myself, let alone spare a minute to read a chapter or two. But the fact is, I just didn’t want to. Not realizing how much I needed God, I didn’t desire to seek Him. And here is where my utmost downfall was.
I don’t know where your marriage is at. Perhaps you have never had this sort of temptation or perhaps you are just beginning to flirt with it. To you I say, there is no thing on this earth that is worth breaking a vow that you made to God. There is no compliment, no smile across the room, or no kiss that will ever be worth it.
To those that have taken the temptation to what seems an irreversible level, I implore you to consider that thought. Nothing is impossible with God. And there is no sin too great that can not be forgiven. Seek His face now and know that you are not alone. If anything, you have me. I won’t judge. I can pray. And I so desire your marriage to be glorious again.
To you who have been the recipient of this great rejection and hurt, I say, I am so very sorry. I can’t make it any better for you. But I know that God always can make beauty from ashes when we allow him to.
Posted November 10, 2016