Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Spoonful of Poison

Today I am going to share a heavy burden on my heart. There is a source of great shame that's weighed on me continuously and I'm trying my best to shake it. Before my affair, I was very active in our community. I lead worship, played in bands, wrote faith-centered songs... I was a good Christian, by superficial terms. Inside, I was decaying, and now I leave a legacy of sorrow in my wake. I am going to share a pointedly specific part of our journey with you, and then I will demonstrate how it applies to so many other struggling marriages.

I was in a band during my affair. A christian band. Now, the group was practically broken up during my affair -- we had one practice and one, final farewell show during my unfaithfulness, and yet seeing the band's name or hearing our old albums brings us a great deal of grief. Why is that, exactly? Certainly, our pre-affair life was lackluster, but we face other things from our former days regularly. We still live in the same house, we still have the same friends, and we still frequent the same places in the same town. We can't just start over.  Why, then, does my old band haunt us?

It's because of the overlap. No matter how small the time period was, my affair has soured the legacy of that band.  The group was together for two years, singing songs about God and trying to lead others to Jesus, and yet that brief overlap has tainted it all. I say this with a sober spirit, knowing that this experience is Biblical. In Galatians 5:9 and 1 Corinthians 5:6, we are told that "a little yeast leavens the whole lump of dough". In other words, the presence of sin, no matter how small it may seem, can totally alter certain things in your life. I know this; I feel it in my heart and see it in my life. A spoonful of poison has turned our past into something truly toxic.

After an affair comes to light, navigating through the details of the recovery process can be extremely difficult. I am convinced of one thing -- during your healing journey, some things should be salvaged and other things should be surrendered. There are things in your life worth redeeming for the sake of your marriage, and there will be things you must relinquish for your spouse's benefit. If you had an affair, one of your greatest battles is determining what to salvage, what to surrender, and how to do this gracefully.

If your affair happened at work, perhaps your job should be surrendered. It's a reasonable price to pay for your errors. If you met your mistress at the gym, then it's time to cancel your membership.  There will be things that must be cast aside for the sake of your marriage. On the other hand, there will also be battles to fight. Do not simply surrender everything -- fight to redeem things for your spouse's benefit. Your sex life is worth redeeming, for example. The city you live in, the world that surrounds you, is worth redeeming. Your friendship with your spouse is worth redeeming. The rest is up to you and your partner.

I'm slowly in the process of wiping my old band's name from memory, because I have no doubt that it must be surrendered. I cannot redeem it -- I must forsake it instead. As I continue to clear the group's name from our lives, I feel a sense of peace in my soul. This project was poisoned by my actions, and my marriage needs for it to be sacrificed.

Today, I encourage you to search the world around you. If your marriage has faced great turmoil, analyze your life all over again. Determine what must be redeemed and what must be forsaken, because the presence of something poisonous can totally change the tone of your married life. As always, we are praying for you, and we encourage you to contact us via email if you need to talk.

You are reading The Meaning of Repentance, a blog about the Hartsfields and their road to recovery after unfaithfulness. We encourage you to follow us on Facebook, and we urge you to contact us if you need help with the recovery process. We offer support services in-person and via Skype/Facetime.


  1. Thanks for sharing this. I read this when you first posted it and it didn't quite make sense to me. But today as my husband and I talked about some plans we were making I had a horrible reaction to the idea that we might have to go back to a place where he carried out part of his affair, among other bad decisions. We've gone to other places where it occurred and I didn't have this reaction, but to this particular place I felt like I could see the bigger picture, but I couldn't remove it from the feelings of fear and mistrust and pain and danger. When I tried to explain the feelings all I could say was, "do you remember Ray's last post? About having his band soured by just one part of his affair touching it? That's how I feel. Like the whole place has to be surrendered for the safety and security of our marriage." And my husband, who had not been happy that I felt so strongly about not going back, said, "yeah, I see that now." And we agreed that leaving it well alone was the best solution for us. So thanks for sharing your experience and helping us to make sense of ours. Healing and restoration is amazing, but it is so good to feel like others are going through the same pains and triumphs that we are.

    1. I'm always a little nervous about mentioning music or ministry in my writing, because truthfully, most people can't relate to those things. I feel like my involvement with music makes me a weirdo. Nonetheless, the idea is the same everywhere. Whether it's a band, or a restaurant, or your local gym, things can be powerfully affected by the shadow of an affair.

      Giving those things up can feel like a defeat, but sometimes it's just the right thing for your partner. Thank you for sharing your own experience with this. Hopefully readers will see this comment and relate as well.