Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Through the Valleys

Marriages are measured in seasons. Our lives continually change as time passes by, and with each new season, relationships transform into something utterly different. This summer has been a particularly trying time for us. I believe it's imperative that we share both our victories and our obstacles with you, because the road to recovery after an affair is not guaranteed to be smooth.

This entire blog is an exercise in honesty. Through this platform, we get to share our hearts on a global scale and our readers get to bear their burdens in return. Although it can often be quite tragic, I still appreciate the countless people who anonymously share their experiences through emails and comments. That's why I write to you today, to continue in this pattern of transparency. This season has been profoundly difficult and we've been struggling. We've faced some daunting challenges recently.

We have faced setbacks in virtually every foreseeable way -- spiritual, financial, physical, and more. This is our voyage through the valley. This summer has been a season of unrest and unpredictability for us and that's why things have been quiet here. Why do I bring this up? Not because I want to air the details of our daily life with you all -- I will spare you that much. Simply put, we need your prayer as we navigate the paths before us, and we want to expose our struggles to encourage you on your own travels.

One thing I've realized lately is this -- if two people are trapped in a pit, they cannot help each other out. Someone has to escape. I must admit that I've always seen serving your own interests and needs in marriage as selfish, and therefore antithetical to your relationship. However, sometimes caring for yourself and tending to your needs is the best thing for your marriage. After all, you've become one. This means that caring for yourself is a part of caring for your union. You are a pivotal part of this new creation! This is especially vital in the realm of spiritual well-being. How can I lead Hannah out of a spiritual rut when I am caught in one myself?

How we respond to trials and setbacks is so vital to the future of our marriage. I want to cling to my wife during times of frustration and disappointment. I want us to become a team, not bitter enemies that war against one another. I want to find us on the same side of an issue. Most of all, I want us to soberly face the facts of where we stand. It does our marriage no good to romanticize our journey, portraying it as something perfect and complete when it is most certainly not.

I encourage you, especially if you're dealing with matters of infidelity, to be honest about your own path. You will have victories and you will face moments of weakness -- be candid about both. This road to healing is tumultuous at times, but it can be beautiful and life-changing.  Our path hasn't been perfect and yours won't be either. But, as I've said before.... God doesn't want perfect marriages, He wants redeemed ones. Seek redemption, not perfection.

Our story isn't over. It continues to unravel before us, and we discover it one step at a time, as if we're walking through a heavy fog with only a lamp in hand. Walk with us and pray for us. For our regular readers, know that we care deeply about you all, and we treasure this community.  As always, you can reach us by email or in the comments below. Our story is an open book, and it chronicles our triumphs and our failures. Thank you for reading.

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 comment below if you have questions or thoughts!


  1. Ray, I typically don't respond to stuff and this reply is also directed at myself. Where I have found encouragement in your posts, I am not sure that I am on board with your analogy of the pit. I can understand the brokenness that you feel and how the feelings of the hurt and pain that you inflicted on someone that you love can be overwhelming to deal with. I believe that the pit is pretty deep and it seems like there is no way out at times... I'm there. When you analyze and realize just how deep the pit is and look to the other side of your pit, you will notice the pit within your pit... that is where your partner is. She needs help out of that pit to be where you are. To fight the good fight and be the man that she needs you to be, you need to lift her out. Empathy is sometimes hard to show when you are hurting inside yourself. I encourage you to stay strong because your partner is hurting worse than you and needs your help!! Find hope in the fact that you still have an opportunity to be the man that she needs and is begging for. Pray for strength because there really isn't room for weakness and pity!! God will heal... the molding and shaping along the way (although really tough) is part of the healing! Pray the big prayers...and always try to be the man that she needs!!

    1. I understand where you are coming from and I agree with what you're saying.. I just don't think it applies to Ray and I right now. It totally did a year ago. We learned through trial and error that I didn't have to strength to "be there" for Ray when he was struggling. I couldn't prop him up in times of need because I was too broken to help anyone but myself. By the grace of God, we have ventured past that part of our journey.

      To clarify: this summer hasn't been hard because of residual affair problems. This season has been tough for us for a variety of other reasons. My "pit" really has nothing to do with Ray's affair. I've been battling several health issues, some big and some small. Ray has had to miss a lot of work to take care of me and our kids, which has caused additional stress at his job. We've dealt with some pretty major disappointments and frustrations professionally. We've had several financial setbacks. And we've also been overextended and underfed spiritually. Ray and I are heavily involved in several areas of church and community based ministry. A close friend said it best "You pour out into others lives so much that you don't have time or many opportunities for others to pour back into your lives."

      My health issues have drained me through and through. Being sick all of the time drains every part of your being.. physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. When you add the other issues I've been juggling, it just has been very overwhelming. The theme of my summer has been "drained".

      We recognize that some of the things we've been dealing with are just problems that adults have to deal with because we're.. well.. adults. But others we recognize have been attacks and trials meant to refine us and strengthen us.

      I wanted to clarify because I want people to have the right understanding of where we are in our marriage. At this point in our journey, we are no longer fighting to overcome the obstacle that Ray's affair placed in our path. We are simply fighting to have a healthy, Godly marriage. The obstacles that we face now are still very real and require intentional work to deal with and overcome. However, we are very blessed to not be constantly dealing with the pain and hurt that the affair initially caused.