Friday, May 30, 2014

Happy Birthday, TMOR! [Big Announcements...]

As of May 31st, this blog will be one year old. I can hardly believe it. It has been such a blessing to share our story with the world, and we've received so much support and encouragement in return. Seriously, we value all of our readers deeply, and we look forward to every comment and message. Even the feisty ones. Thank you for sticking with us and becoming a vital part of our journey.

As the one year mark began to approach, Hannah and I contemplated what direction to take next. As we've mentioned before, we have an undeniable burden on our hearts to do more. With this in mind, it seems only fitting to announce a few of our upcoming endeavors on this occasion. Here's a few things on our horizon...

We're writing a book.

There is still so much left to unravel about our journey and so many ideas to expand on. This summer, we will begin the creation of a book that elaborates on many of the themes and concepts outlined in this blog. Our prayer is that this daunting project will open new doors for our message of hope, reaching more couples than ever. We are still in the planning phase of this book, but we will post updates on this blog as they arise. We also want to hear from you -- what would you like to see us explore or expand on? Comment and tell us! But that's not all...

Our online presence is growing. Big time.

Spreading hope through the digital realm is really a unique (and challenging) experience. The internet is a frontier, and it can be a place of endless wisdom or a vessel for deception.  We want to connect with our readers in new ways, so we have established various social media platforms to adapt our message to the medium that best suits you. Check the resources page for links to our various social media pages, and don't worry, this blog isn't going anywhere.  We will be updating this regularly as we pursue these new channels of communication as a complement to the blog. In fact, we are more dedicated to the cause of healthy couples than ever. That's why we are starting this...

We are launching a non-profit organization committed to the betterment of marriages.

The public response to this blog has convinced us of one thing: marriage is desperately in need of support throughout our community. Marriages are the foundation of our society, and this institution's cornerstone has tragically fallen into disrepair. We cannot deny the calling in our hearts, so we are taking the plunge in efforts to impact, influence, and fortify more couples than ever. I encourage you to check out our new website, to learn more. The Meaning of Repentance will become one of many planks that make up the platform of our cause.

Whether you are a new visitor or a long-time reader of this blog, we encourage you to visit The Marriage Mission's website and browse the services we offer. Feel free to contact us through the site or by email, and let us know how we can best serve you. We are sold out to the cause of creating better marriages. Thanks again for reading, and stay tuned for more updates!

You are reading The Meaning of Repentance, a blog about the Hartsfields and their road to recovery from infidelity. Click here for a brief introduction and make sure to subscribe for updates via email.

PS: You can find us on Facebook here!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Beyond Redemption

In our society, there is a collection of phrases that have somehow been canonized as empirical truths. They cite no sources and often have no observable evidence to back them up.  They are the proverbs of a disbelieving and cynical generation, and I find most of them to be utterly absurd, to be honest with you (like "following your heart", for example).

In the past few weeks, we've received a handful of comments and emails insisting that Hannah is wasting her time by giving me another chance, because of one such saying:

Once a cheater, always a cheater.  

Well, this little mantra may sound wise at face value, but the response I always want to blurt out to our critics is this: If you think cheaters can't change and shouldn't be forgiven, I sincerely hope you don't think you're a Christian.

Now, it may seem audacious of me to assume that our naysayers are Christians, but an enormous percentage of the US population claims to believe in this faith.   For many, religion is merely a social construct. It is the way you're raised and the values you inherited. Nonetheless, the masses overwhelmingly claim to believe in forgiveness in one breath and cast a stone of condemnation at the same time.

This doesn't mean that infidelity is not unbelievably painful or that a person should subject themselves to further wrongdoing. It also doesn't mean that forgiveness is owed to me -- it's not. Grace is a gift by definition, and it often comes at great cost to the one who dispenses it.

If you do not claim any ownership of the Christian faith (or a multitude of others that allow penitence), then by all means, let loose with your graceless catch phrases. But if you even call yourself a believer on a superficial level, you must realize the absurdity of placing hope in the cross while damning your fellow man.   In fact, Jesus acknowledged the nonsensical nature of this contradiction Himself in Matthew 18:21-35. Read it for yourself.

Calling someone irredeemable is literally the opposite of Christ. Christ's love shows us that there is a path to absolution, and that He has paid the price of redemption for us despite how massive the debt may have been. To say that there is no forgiveness for cheating (which someone told me just last week) is to say that Christ's sacrifice wasn't enough to cover that. His suffering wasn't sufficient to truly restore us. Your emotional trauma supersedes His divinity. Now that is audacious.

Again, if you place no faith in the blood of Jesus, the popular phrase "once a cheater, always a cheater" is totally logical. Unfaithfulness is heinous and totally despicable. But if you believe in the gospel of love and yet find yourself repeating societal proverbs that preach the opposite of salvation, you are profoundly at odds with yourself.

It must be said that, although this post is boldly stated, I do not think I deserve forgiveness for my wretched actions. I cannot stress this enough, and I hope that my previous posts show you this as well. I deserve solitude, sorrow, and damnation. My boldness comes from my faith and understanding of scripture, which expects believers to forgive radically in the same way that God has done for us.   The gospels are not about getting what you deserve. Without a doubt, forgiving someone for such a tremendous transgression must be unspeakably difficult, but God's word shows us that it is possible. In my state of absolute and soul-piercing guilt, this is where I find hope.

In conclusion, I have one simple reminder for every believer who feels conflicted about their ability to forgive. Let us not lose sight of Matthew 18's core message, because it is of vital importance:

 Forgive radically, because you were forgiven for a much greater debt than the one owed to you.  

You are reading The Meaning of Repentance, a blog about The Hartsfields and their journey to recovery from infidelity. We encourage you to subscribe via e-mail for regular updates.  Please share your thoughts on this post by emailing us or commenting! 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Famous Last Words

There is a great deal of naivete surrounding the concept of marriage and it's inner workings, and honestly, it scares me. Recently, we outlined the pre-existing conditions which contributed to the dreadful affair that wounded our marriage a little more than two years ago. One of the elements listed, naivete, may seem surprising, but in today's entry, we will explore this further.

Far too often, couples expect to prop up their marriages on false ideals. If your relationship finds its footing on emotions, physical attraction, or other temporal notions, you may be setting yourself up for disaster. Since we began to share our story, we've heard other couples reflect naively on their own marriages by saying things like "he loves me too much to cheat" or "my spouse could never do that kind of thing".  More importantly, we know that other people are thinking this, even if it remains unsaid.

Yes, your spouse could do this too. In a moment of weakness, after years of frustration, when the bank account is empty and their soul is in turmoil. After the weight of life has crushed them, and they've surrendered in their own internal battle, they could do this too. When circumstances align in the most terrible way, it could happen. Do not deceive yourself for the sake of romance -- it benefits no one. If you believe in your spouse, ask yourself one important question: why?

This type of thinking is dangerous because it invests confidence in all the wrong places.  Denying your spouse's ability to hurt you is an audacious choice to ignore their human nature. They are capable of amazing acts of kindness and deplorable wickedness, as we all are. If you cannot admit your spouse's potential for wrongdoing, you have a very unrealistic view of them. How can you fight for your spouse if you cannot face the reality of who they are?

"Why does it matter?", you may ask. Why not let couples live in a fog of romantic illusion? Because what you build your marriage on is fundamentally important. Our culture is building marriages on shifting sand. We're leaning relationships on an illusion. For the most part, weddings have nothing to do with marriage, and pre-marital counseling is often a formality instead of a real examination of married life. We have to do better, because we are setting up young people for failure. We cannot be satisfied by finding solace in how much our spouse loves us (however that's measured) or what kind of person they are. There must be something greater to establish our marriages on.

I hope you have confidence in your marriage, but more importantly, I hope you are prepared to do battle for your spouse's sake. If idealism and naivete are handicapping your ability to be the spouse your partner needs, cast it all aside for their benefit. Do not embrace mindless optimism and look away from the task at hand. There's work to do, and naivete will only serve to distract us. Thanks for reading, and please feel free to share your opinions (signed or anonymously) in the comments below or via email.

You are reading The Meaning of Repentance, a blog about The Hartsfields and their journey to recovery from infidelity. We urge you to subscribe via e-mail and consider donating using the Paypal link so that more couples can hear this message of hope and wisdom.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Coming Clean

    This is a message to the transgressor in disguise. A few posts ago, I addressed the victims of infidelity with a plain and simple notion-- "you didn't deserve it." No bullet points, no ten tips for a better marriage, just a brief reminder that you didn't earn this betrayal. No one warrants this kind of sorrow, no matter how imperfect you may be. Today, I am turning to the ones who have strayed, and I am pleading for honesty if you haven't come clean.

      Hannah and I get a lot of feedback from this blog. The vast majority of our interactions are with women who have been wronged by their husband. This is no coincidence, I suppose. Does this mean that women never stray? Of course not, but the deafening silence of men must mean something. In any case, it's undeniable that there are some people reading this blog that have profoundly faltered, and it's time to face your true condition so that you can take the beginning steps to correcting your course.
    If you are reading this blog right now and you are concealing some kind of betrayal from your partner, now is the time for action.  If you've been waiting for a sign or some kind of inner voice to shake you from your sleepwalking, this is your wake-up call. Arise and do what's right to change your course, because you are on a path that leads to destruction.

   Confession is not the end of your life, it's the beginning of it.  It is empowerment through surrender. If you are hiding an affair or some other wrongdoing, you have become a captive to your own mistakes. Someone once told me a profound truth -- if you can't discuss the issue, it's become to big for you. When you lose your ability to face the problem, then it has become a burden that's too heavy for you to shoulder. I couldn't agree more.

   Holding onto your secrets is an illusion of control. In reality, the parasite is controlling you. Come clean, and you will gain your life back by losing it.  Confession is empowerment through surrender. Every moment that you waste before repenting is another instance of betrayal. 

   Real confession requires radical, comprehensive honesty. Do not withhold the details that your partner demands for fear of losing them. They have been wronged, and this healing process must begin on their terms.  Leave no question unanswered and be totally open, because the future of your marriage hangs in the balance.

   Do not delay in doing what is right -- come clean. There's no better time than now.

You are reading The Meaning of Repentance, a blog about The Hartsfields and their journey to recovery after an affair. Check out this brief introduction and make sure to get connected.