I hope you enjoy this article I found about forgiveness and deciding to stay in a marriage where there has been infidelity. I hope it encourages you… to make the right choice.
By: Davida Brown
Romantic Comedy is my favorite genre. Romance films make me feel warm and tingly, as they pull on all my heart strings: love, commitment, faith and unity.
I happened to watch “the Vow” a few days ago, and there was a scene in that movie that made my heart stop, a line that captured the essence of what I say day in and day out to my clients. If you’re not familiar with this movie, it’s about a young married couple, Leo and Paige, who are in a car accident, resulting in Paige losing a chunk of her memory. To Leo’s chagrin, she has no memory of him, their relationship or marriage. The movie chronicles their journey back to each other.
During the movie, we learn that Paige and her parents were estranged for a number of years. Paige can’t remember why and no one in her family will tell her what caused the fallout. Eventually, Paige discovers that her father had an affair with one of her friends. Paige is distraught and angry. She confronts her mother, spewing contempt. She doesn’t understand how she could stay after what he did. Her mother responds, “I couldn’t leave. I made a choice. I chose to stay with him for all the things he’s done right; not leave for the one thing he did wrong. I chose to forgive him.”
Her words hit me like a mack truck. YEEEESSSSSS, I screamed inwardly. Marriage is a choice. Choosing to stay married when your spouse violates your trust is a choice. Choosing to acknowledge and appreciate all the things your spouse does right, despite the breach in trust, is a choice. Forgiveness is a choice.
When the movie ended, I reflected on this scene for quite some time. Years ago, I too made the choice to stay after the love of my life cheated on me. I chose not to end our relationship because of his mistake. I chose to forgive and trust again.
It wasn’t easy folks. NOT AT ALL. I was angry, hurt, disappointed, embarrassed and on and on. How dare he step out on me? We had a great relationship, or so I thought. Why would he do this to me, to us? I eventually had to come to grips with the fact that I would never understand why he cheated. We often think that if we know why he or she did it, it’ll help us get over it. It doesn’t and in my opinion is a waste of time and energy. Did I ask why he cheated? Of course. But at the end of the day none of the reasons made any difference in how I felt. Cheating is a choice and my husband made that choice. It was inexcusable and no explanation would change that. So instead of trying to “understand” why he made that choice, I directed my energy to figuring out what I wanted. Did I want my relationship? Yes or No? I grappled with this question for months. I thought about all the good things about him, about us. Was his mistake bigger than us?
Ultimately I decided that I wanted my relationship. Making that decision was the biggest hurdle. Once I did, my actions from that day forward were in alignment with that choice. That meant I had to forgive and had to figure out a way to trust him again. It didn’t happen overnight, but with a lot of effort, together, we found a way to rebuild the trust. While I certainly wish the infidelity never happened, I can honestly say that we are now in a great place, and I am so glad that I made the choice to give him another chance.
There are many of you reading this article that believe that infidelity is unforgivable, that once the trust is broken it simply can’t be restored, that if you choose to save your marriage you are weak or insecure. If that’s you, you certainly are entitled to feel that way. Only you know what’s best for you and only you are equipped to make that decision. But, if you are committed to trying to save your marriage, if your spouse is committed to trying to save your marriage, I want you to know that moving past the infidelity can be done. We did it and so have many couples we coach. I want you to know that choosing to give your spouse and marriage another chance does not mean you are weak, insecure or lacking in self-respect. Only you know the value of your marriage. Only you know if your marriage is worth fighting for. Take the time to consider everything before making a choice. I did. Take the time to pray for discernment and to listen for that voice inside you. And if you decide that you want your marriage (spouse must want it too), take the necessary steps together to implement that choice.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates
One definition of insanity is “doing the same things and expecting different results.” Haven’t we all done that – been insane at times, I mean? How many times have you wished and begged and pleaded with God to just take away your lustful desires? I know I did… over and over… and over again.
Many years and many petitions later, I realized why He never just “took away” my problem [my porn addiction]. It was not because God was unable to do so. It had more to do with me and my choices. When I begged for my “lustful desires” to be taken away, what I really was asking for [this is what I realized] was for Him to remove the guilt. In the worst part of my addiction, I wanted to keep looking at all the pornography I could, but I didn’t like the guilty feelings it brought. The guilt and the shame were so “heavy” on my heart that it was hard to breathe at times. At that time, I did not want healing… I wanted to “have my cake and eat it too.”
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. (James 1:13-14)
I am so thankful that God did not answer my prayers back then. I am so grateful that He did what I needed, and not what I wanted. What I needed was to grow up, and take responsibility for my life, my choices, and my behaviors. I needed to make amends and CHOOSE to change and CHOOSE to live differently.
Where are you on the road to recovery? Are you still looking for an “easy out?” Are you still “mad” at God because He won’t take away your “lust?”
God will heal you and restore you; but you must first CHOOSE to give up your addiction. Just as the man at the pool of Bethesda was asked by Jesus, “Do you want to be healed” you too, must decide that you want to be healed. Once that decision is made, you must commit to the process it will take to get you to recovery. I highly recommend a very structured recovery program combined with individual counseling. You need help getting over your addiction, and if you could have done it on you own… you would not be reading this. Reach out to godly men and ask for accountability; sustained sobriety depends on this! Rise up, take hold of your recovery, and begin your journey today:
Decide to Change
Commit to the Process
Great post that I read recently.. had to share:
I spend a fair amount of time on Reddit and other online communities interacting with people who are trying to find freedom from porn. One thing I’ve noticed, though, is there seems to be a tendency for folks to come down hard on themselves when they relapse.
“I looked at porn again after 30 days clean. God must be so mad at me.”
“I screwed up and masturbated last night, why am I such a horrible person?”
“Why can’t I fix myself? I suck at being a Christian.”
You get the idea.
I wish I had the time to respond to every one of these posts and let them know that God isn’t mad at them. Seriously. In fact, this whole idea that God becomes angry with us when we fall is likely one of the major factors in their ongoing struggle to find freedom from porn.
It’s easy for us to see all the crap in our lives as a huge pile of trash, with us on one side and God on the other. We think we need to clean it up before we can get anywhere close to the Father. But the more we try to shovel it down, the more we realize we’re just adding more to it every day.
If you look closer at the Gospels, though, you’ll realize that’s not a very good description of how God actually views you. The truth is He sent Jesus to walk around that pile of trash, put His arm on your shoulder, and offer to clean it up for you. Better yet, Jesus promises to stand with you at all times to make sure any additional trash that gets dumped on the pile is immediately removed as well—which includes those times you still look at porn.
That’s what Jesus meant when He said “It is Finished.”
Not “It was finished, but now you went and screwed it up by looking at porn again.”
“It is finished.”
All your sin, past, present, and even future sin, has been paid for on the cross. Your entire pile of junk was removed giving you a clear path to the Father. (Think about it, how much of your sin was future sin when Jesus was on the cross? All of it!)
So instead of feeling like you need to hide from God, clean up your life, or worse yet, beat yourself up when you look at porn, I’d encourage you to run back to God, knowing that He is a loving and approachable Father.
In the same way the father of the prodigal son looked to the horizon daily hoping for his boy to return (knowing full well what he had done), your Father in heaven is eagerly waiting for you to come back to His embrace as well.
He doesn’t want you to “work off your debt.”
He doesn’t need to hear your well-thought-out excuses.
He won’t require you to earn your place back starting as a hired servant.
He doesn’t think you suck, or that you’re a horrible person.
He loves you, and all He wants to do is throw a party to celebrate your return, because there is always a place for you at His table, regardless of what you’ve done.
Author: Stephen Kuhn on July 1st, 2016