Thursday, July 10, 2014

Incineration

I have a memory that stands out so vividly in my mind. One day, as I was riding through a small town with a group of friends, I saw a house on fire. This dwelling was not simply burning, though, in the traditional sense. Usually, when we think of house fires, we imagine windows pouring smoke and the glow of a flame concealed somewhere within. Not this time. The building I saw was reduced to a mere skeleton, torched to the frame by the swirling fireball that overwhelmed it.
It wasn't burning; it was incinerated.


That's what I want to do with the memory of my affair.


I don't want to merely move past my wicked actions -- I want to utterly destroy them. If there was any price I could pay to right my wrongs, I'd pay it, but this is a debt I can't afford. How can anyone who has stumbled so profoundly overcome their past? Maybe we can't erase our mistakes, but we can certainly respond with urgency to the wounds we've caused. No one can truly take back their own deeds, but we can work endlessly to undo their unjust repercussions.

Over the past few years, Hannah and I have talked to a lot of couples who have struggled with the cumbersome weight of infidelity, and each marriage handles it differently.  One thing's for sure -- many couples don't survive this. I don't mean this as a condemnation, it's simply a statement of statistical fact. I believe that couples can overcome this tragedy, but it's a matter of how. Those who survive the initial trauma of an affair often lose traction in the following months and years. There must be a better way to move forward.

There's more to recovery than staying together. Once you withstand the initial fallout that comes with an affair, there is a great deal of work to be done, especially for the one who strayed. For the transgressor, this means toiling tirelessly to help heal the wounds you've created. Every person who cheats has a choice to either act with urgency or fall into stagnation. How a person responds to their affair can make all the difference in the journey to recovery.

Step back for a moment and take an earnest look at your past. What have you done to radically combat your mistakes? There's more that can be done. Do not settle for a life of silent, married misery. If your former lover is in your life, sever them from it completely. If your spouse feels disgusting and ugly because of your wayward affections, tell them that you adore them every. single. day. until they believe it. Examine the issue and torch it. Do not settle for hanging by a thread.

If your spouse has agreed to stay, do not stop in your efforts to make things right. Your spouse's grace is not the end -- you can do so much more. Honor the mercy of your partner by tearing down the idols and monuments that your affair has constructed.

For me, part of incinerating my affair is this blog. Through this website, Hannah and I get to make an effigy of my affair. Unfaithfulness was supposed to conquer us, but instead, we are using it to heal and encourage countless people. We are taking our trauma and turning it into a weapon instead. It's beautiful and ironic.  If you are the victim of infidelity, evaluate the state of your marriage and honestly tell your spouse what you need. More quality time? Alright. Do you need them to change jobs because the affair started there? That's a reasonable price to pay. Tell them what you need, as difficult and painful as it may be.

Finally, if you are the transgressor, examine your actions, your inner self, and your marriage.  Discover the places where your affair still stands tall, and find a way to burn it to the ground. As long as your spouse is still around, you have the beautiful opportunity to counteract this dreadful error. More than ever, we want to encourage you all to contact us if you need help -- we're here for you and we pray for you. There is hope.

You are reading 
The Meaning of Repentance
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2 comments:

  1. I have been married 20 years to my high school sweetheart and we have 2 beautiful girls 9, and 12. Eight years ago I had an affair . Me and my husband separated for 6 months and were able to work it out and we became stronger than ever. Recently after the loss of my dad in June last year and my best friend this January I feel back into the past looking for emotional support I was needing so desperately. I know it was wrong and I make no excuses for my actions. I do love my husband and want our marriage to be as God intended and will do anything to make it right, But my husband wants no part of it. He wants a divorce. He says he can never be romantic with me again. Is there anything I can do or is it best to let him go so he can find someone who he can be with that he can trust? I am so ashamed that I strayed again.

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    Replies
    1. As a person who's made some very grievous mistakes myself, I've pondered similar questions before. I have wondered whether Hannah would be better off without me, and if its in her best interest to stay away from me, considering how flawed I am. All you can do, I suppose, is show him the truly broken nature of how you feel, and your sincere efforts to change... because it's right. Not because you're trying to convince him to stay again. Make the changes needed because they're absolutely necessary, regardless of your future.

      Maybe you can change his heart.. or maybe he will stand firm in his decision to leave. You can't control him, but you can control yourself, and your response to what you've done. For me, I had to adopt a mindset like this: I will keep pursuing resolution with my wife as long as she lets me. As long as I can see her at my house, or make a call, or send a text, or anything, I will try. It's my job to TRY, it's her job to decide whether she stays or goes. That's not my call.

      So... try. All you can do is try your best to show your own repentant heart and your efforts for reconciliation. He may accept them or rebuff them, but that's beyond your control. I am praying for you, because I know the shame can be overwhelming. This does not have to defeat you.

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