I’m a bit of a feminist. Not in an agro, “burn your bra” kind of way, but in the way that causes me to fiercely advocate for women and the injustices they face. Over the years that feminist spirit has led me to working with women in some of the most beautiful and unique ways. I’ve worked with rape survivors, addicts, domestic violence survivors, pregnant and birthing women, and more. I feel very connected to women and always find myself drawn to working with them in some way, shape, or form.
Being this “girl power” type woman, I’ve always had very strong views about infidelity. Many years ago I remember telling a friend that if my husband ever cheated on me I would leave him in an instant. No ifs, ands, or buts. There was no way in heck I was going to let him off the hook for something as severe as sleeping with another person.
My reasons for this way of thinking were logical: Why would I stay with someone who willingly wounds me? Why would I want to continue a relationship with a man who doesn’t value me enough to remain monogamous? Why should I let him get off scot-free? Our natural inclination when we are wounded is to retreat from the thing that wounded us. In the case of infidelity, my thinking was no different.
But God has been bringing infidelity into my line of site a lot lately.
First it was a gal who confessed to me that her husband had an emotional affair. Then a guest pastor sharing a story about a man who wouldn’t let his wife bail out of their marriage after she cheated on him. Then an old friend telling me that her husband had a fling with a coworker of his. All of these instances have involved believers. And there have been more, many more—including an ex who is currently separated from his wife and seeking solace in my arms.
Working with female sex addicts has brought me into a much greater awareness of how prevalent infidelity is in the Church, and it’s helped me to realize Christians are not immune.
So, here I am on the receiving end of all of this infidelity talk and it hits me: “Lauren, God is trying to teach you something here. LISTEN!” Reluctantly, I began listening. (I say “reluctantly” because infidelity is a touchy subject, and I want to blindly believe that I am one of those people it will never happen to. But that’s not a guarantee and it scares the dickens out of me. So I reluctantly and cautiously listen to what God is trying to bring into my heart space.)
What I hear him saying is that as a proponent of grace and second chances, I’m being a big fat hypocrite by swearing I’ll never forgive my future husband if he cheats.
Now that’s harsh, but oh so true.
You see, I preach grace a lot, and I try my hardest to extend grace to anyone and everyone. I’m not perfect in this quest and it definitely has its challenges. I constantly have to fight against what the world says versus what God says about people, love, and mercy. But despite that fact, there are still a few areas in my life that grace has not yet touched, and infidelity is one of them.
As I’ve heard messages on the subject, read books, and talked to friends I feel God softening my heart. I feel Him reminding me that we are all wounded and our wounds are what cause us to wound others. Most people who find themselves in the midst of an affair didn’t plan it, but somehow got there because there was a gaping hole somewhere else in their lives–a wound that never healed, a void that needed to be filled.
The walking wounded are the best inflictors of pain, and when we greet these people with shame, unforgiveness, and ridicule, we are only driving them further into their woundedness. I recognize that this is the human response; we even see examples of it in the Bible. The truth is: This is what Satan wants. In instances of infidelity, pain, and distrust, Satan wants us to give up and to give in to the very human reaction of saying, “Adios,” when the road gets too tough.
However, the most effective and Christ-like response is just the opposite. Instead of giving up or throwing stones, we need to lean into the knife and get to the nitty gritty of the situation. We need to fight for the covenant that God so graciously blessed us with. If we don’t try, if we don’t make every last attempt to clean out the wound, then we are just giving Satan what he wants.
This tough lesson that God is teaching me is just another reason why I am grateful for this season of singleness. He’s bringing so much to light about my own false perceptions of covenant, my personal pride, relationships, and faithfulness. He’s helping me to realize that marriage is not all rainbows and butterflies.
There are going to be rough patches, moments of miscommunication, arguments, the need to be right and more. There are going to be times when the passion wanes, the stress increases, wounds are ripped open, and when I may seriously begin to doubt what God was thinking in bringing the two of us together. But the fact that He’s teaching me this now makes me all the more hopeful that despite the messiness that may come, my husband and I will be in it for the long-haul.
Marriage is tough, but even as a single woman, I know it is all worth it.
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