Monday, September 23, 2013

Reclaiming Lost Ground

                 I am a coward by nature. I acknowledge this.

     For so long, I wanted to flee from the sight of any reminder that would hearken back to my failures.  It seemed only natural to avoid those painful parts of town, to move on (whatever that means) and to just not bring it up. Under this policy, the healing process stagnated. Needless to say, this strategy of avoidance and aversion was utterly useless.  We have lost ground to this terrible incident, and I have come to realize that we must aggressively attempt to take it back.

    Music and ministry is one area where strife has arisen after my affair.  After all, my actions caused Hannah to rightfully question my character and my ability to stand upright in the face of temptation. It would be natural to consider leaving it all behind in the light of our experiences.  It has been painful, but Hannah has been enormously gracious with me and she accepts my desires and callings despite what I've done.  In this part of our lives,we have decided to stand our ground, and this point of contention has now become a major mechanism for our healing.

     Similarly, Valentine's Day is a particularly difficult time of the year for us.  This is the season when my affair took place, and any mention of that holiday comes with a certain darkness.  Heading into the first Valentine's Day after my unfaithfulness, I can honestly say I was terrified. Should we just write off this occasion and try to bury it in our memory?  Somehow, I knew that this would not suffice.

     Instead, we celebrated our love in a special way last February. We escaped this town, where all of my indiscretions took place, and we reclaimed that holiday as a time for us.  At certain moments, the sting of the past was tangible, but we stood strong against the quiet voice of accusation all around us. 

    I could unravel so many specifics about our journey, but this is the point:

   I refuse to forfeit entire segments of my marriage up to my own mistakes. I will not offer up anything I love as a sacrifice. When you surrender in this way, you build a memorial to the trauma of the past. My former self does not have ownership of anything.

    When offense comes into a marriage, there may be a time when you need to insulate your spouse from painful reminders and emotionally compromising situations.  But there is also a time to stand, forging ahead in hopes of a better future.  If your marriage is facing any kind of turmoil, whether it's infidelity or anything else, I implore you to aggressively defend your territory.  Do not forsake parts of your life, large or small, for the sake of a coward's sense of "peace".  Be specific, make a plan, and see it through. There must be more to life than being a victim.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

(Hearts aren't really our guides.)

 Sometimes I survey my surroundings and the damage that I've done, standing baffled and wordless like a man observing the tremendous carnage left in a hurricane's wake.  I  reflect on what my eyes have seen -- all of the sleepless, tear-soaked nights and the dreadful recollections of my actions. In this moment, I pause to wonder how I could ever do such wicked deeds. How did I descend to that point?

    Maybe the answer is simple:  I followed my heart.

    You see, our culture chants a mantra every now and then, in the lyrics of pop songs and the forlorn gazes of romantic comedies. "Listen to your heart", they say, as if it were something worth obeying.  In the light of my experiences, I know one thing without a doubt.

       My heart is like a broken compass, ignorantly spinning without regard for truth or virtue.

     The bible tells us that a man's heart is not to be held in any esteem.  Jeremiah 17:9 says  that  “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. "  I can attest with bitter certainty that this is true. 

       Furthermore, what a man understands as his conscience can even become blunted under the long-term influence of sin.  As a person continually ignores the voice of righteousness within them, it withers into a shell of it's former state. Even worse, it may become warped and perverted into something truly morbid.   Soon, it parrots back to us the very words we want to hear, imprisoning us in a cycle of destructive behavior.

      God's word shows us that our notions of "doing the right thing" can often be terribly askew. For the past year, this has been one of my favorite verses, imprinted on my memory as if it were branded to my spirit with a hot iron:

     There is a way that seems right to a man,
        but its end is the way to death.[a]  - Proverbs 14:12

    This is where I was trapped, and this is where Christ rescued me.  I was lost in the haze of my own failures, unable to guide myself to safety.  As you read this, I urge you to search yourself and your allegiances.  Align yourself with something greater than the broken compass buried in your chest. It will always fail you.

   You are reading a post on The Meaning of Repentance, a blog about the Hartsfields and their journey to recovery from unfaithfulness. Click here for a brief introduction and make sure to subscribe by email(on the right side) for regular updates.