Is Adultery Forgivable?
- Saturday, May 17, 2008
We both began to cry and our tears mixed with the river of divine love that flowed through the room. Our hearts were knit together as we began again -- with a solid marriage foundation.
However, my personal foundation was still unstable. My lies had been so tangled with truth that I wasn't sure which was which. I slowly began to untie the knots of my life. I was relieved to be done with deceit, but because its shadows, exaggerations, and half-truths had been my companions for months, the light of the whole truth seemed harsh -- like walking out into full sunlight after watching an afternoon matinee in a dark theater. It took some time for my heart to adjust.
I was full of self-doubt and couldn't believe how easily I'd been swept away by my feelings. I began to understand Proverbs 4:23: "Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do" (nlt). I had been unguarded. I didn't plunge into sin -- I drifted in, like floating on an air mattress and falling asleep only to wake up a half mile from the beach. I had to swim with all my strength to pull my heart back to shore
Jesus' words to the woman who was caught in adultery gave me comfort and direction: "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more," (John 8:11 nkjv). Jesus' command was simple -- but its execution was hard. I struggled.
Ron forgave me -- miraculously. He let go of the pain and moved into freedom. I, however, got stuck in the sorrow of regret. Receiving and believing in my forgiveness was tedious, treacherous. One step forward; two steps back. The memories kept haunting me, surprising me -- triggered by the scent of a stranger's cologne or the melody of a song. The shame of past pleasures followed me.
One day, several months after our reconciliation, I asked Ron, "Do you still think about it?"
"No. Hardly ever. You have never given me cause to worry about it happening again. You always call when you're going to be late or have a change in your plans. You don't flirt with other men the way you used to. You really have changed, making it easy for me to trust you again."
If only I could trust myself.
It was a wearisome journey. Eventually though, I came to see that I would have to surrender to the forgiveness in order to free myself from the prison. God and my husband had already given me the keys, but I had refused to use them. Finally, one day, I did.
I found victory through surrender as I prayed, "Lord, I give up. I cannot carry this anymore. I know that You have forgiven me and so has Ron, and today I choose to receive that forgiveness. Now I ask You for strength as I let go of the guilt, the shame, the sorrow, and I choose to walk toward Your light. You have set free, so I am free indeed." (John 8:36.)
I refused to entertain the stray thoughts anymore. Instead, I replaced them with images of the new life that Ron and I were building. I also discovered that encouraging others with our story of restoration gave a purpose to our pain. This summer, we will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary and I'm thrilled to tell you that our marriage is strong, loving, and healed.
Adapted from Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome: How to Grow Affair Proof Hedges Around Your Marriage (Kregel Publications, 2004).
Nancy C Anderson is an author and speaker who encourages couples to "fall in like" with each other. Nancy and Ron (her husband of 29 years) often speak at couples' banquets and retreats. They share their marriage testimony "The Death and Resurrection of our Marriage" and the Biblical principles of guarding our hearts and protecting our marriages. Visit their web site at www.RonAndNancyAnderson.com.
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