I grew up on the Church pew. By all accounts, I was a good girl, spending most all of my time in Church rather than at home. My parents were devoted to raising me up in the house of God and, because of their great commitment to this, somewhere between the hymnals and the Bible coloring books I heard the redemptive story of God’s love and grace. I was only five when I turned to my mom and emphatically exclaimed, “Don’t you understand? I HAVE to be saved!” And saved I was, at a tender age when life was simple and easy. Little did I know that the foundation on which my life was built would prove to be the bedrock of a grace-filled story I never would have written for myself.
My husband, Max, was also young when he was first introduced to Christ. However, unlike me, he saw the gospel through a dirty, stained glass window. Mingled with compromise and willful ignorance, he understood Jesus to be more of a good spiritual being in the sky to learn about instead of the all-powerful, saving Redeemer of mankind. I will always marvel at the amazing providence of God in making our paths cross. When we married, I had a vision of what I thought marriage would look like. I think most all of us go into marriage assuming we can make it look glorious, only to be hit in our naïve faces with the reality of how little we know. I remember walking into our little home as a newly married couple and gazing around as my handsome husband carried our bags into the little house that was now my new home. Never would I have dreamed that just a few short years later, the unthinkable would happen.
That January morning began with me rising early, making a cup of coffee, and settling down with my devotional and my Bible in the living room recliner. I remember the pull towards my husband's phone when I saw him climb out of bed and head toward the shower. I had been concerned for a long time that he was involved in some kind of sin. Assuming it to be porn I got up and, like a magnet, walked into the bedroom, picked up his phone, and entered the passcode I had covertly seen him enter in days before. I searched his history looking for pornography websites and I saw nothing. Relieved, I pulled up his photos, assuming I would see the smiling faces of our children but, to my shock, I was met with selfies and pictures of a young woman whom I had never seen before. As time both slowed and sped up, I saw a picture that made the ground move beneath my feet. I put the phone down and ran into the bathroom and stared at my husband, feeling icy cold all over my body and paralyzed with shock.
When he saw my ghostly white face staring at him, he asked with concern, “What is it?! What’s wrong?!” I stared back at him, afraid to speak.
If I say it, I thought, it will be real. Our lives will never be the same again.I struggled to find the words to confront him. Finally, with all the strength I could muster up, I quietly said, “I know about her.”
Max stared at me and challenged, “Who??” I looked into the eyes of the man I loved, the man I had trusted, and described the girls’ appearance. Realization filled his face and he dropped his gaze and hung his head.
I asked him quietly, “Did you cheat on me?”
“Yes,” he said.
I never thought that one word could alter my life. I never imagined that one small, three-letter word could challenge my identity, change my future, and shake the very foundations of everything I had ever believed. But as my husband affirmed what I already knew, everything changed.
I leaned against the bathtub as my stomach churned and the room began to spin. I felt physically ill. But just as suddenly, I felt bold defiance rise in my soul. Maybe it was a survival mechanism. Or maybe it was the supernatural strength of the God I would later challenge.
What do I say? I asked myself. What do I do?? As I watched my husband get ready for work, I knew what I had to say; the only thing there was to say. I turned to Max and said, “I forgive you. I forgive her too.” He stayed quiet as he finished dressing and left for work.
How I managed to get through the day is still a mystery to me. I cried a lot. But I was also numb with shock. I immediately told myself I would fast and pray and when my husband agreed to talk later that night, I spent the day thinking about the conversation that would inevitably come. Unfortunately, rehearsing various apologies and barters all day proved to be in vain. He calmly told me that he had already been to a divorce attorney and that our covenant marriage would soon be over.
I didn't think of myself as very smart in business matters, so I did the only thing I could think of. I seduced him. And he let me. But he left for the night directly after.
Before he walked out of the door, I looked at him in the eyes and told him we would not be getting divorced. The look on his face was one of strain and exhaustion as he wordlessly walked out of the door and climbed into his truck.
It was probably then that I decided to make a battle plan to win my husband's heart back. However, nothing could have prepared me for the battle I was going in to.