|My Journey of Trust by Eve|
A few years back, a younger woman in our Bible Study group made a comment during a sharing time that made me smile, “Oh, I didn't think anyone in the church had made serious mistakes like me,” she shared. “I thought I was the only one, and there was no way God could ever love or forgive me like he does everyone else.” The rest of us smiled, and gave her reassurances that God most certainly did love and forgive all of us, and that many of us sitting in those church pews each Sabbath had encountered very difficult and life altering experiences that would have qualified us for “non-forgiveness,” if that were the type of God we serve. What is seen on the outside, as we sit neatly and properly in our pews, singing, bowing our heads at the appropriate times and smiling “all prim & proper” to guests and visitors, tells more a tale of how we “got” here, and not so much of our “perfection.” I'm not sure she believed or understood us at that point......she was still very new in her walk with the Lord. But over many years of attending our study time, and listening to experiences relayed from women she had grown to love and believe, we watched her grow in her understanding of God's grace, patience, and persistence in His molding of all of our lives.
Hopefully, my “tale” was one of those that gave her hope to endure, even though only bits and pieces of it were shared......since by all accounts, my marriage, AND my faith in God, by human standards, should have been condemned to fail. At the time of her comment, in my mid-40's, and leading our woman’s Bible Study group, my thoughts went back immediately over the past 15+ years......years of struggle, dependence on God's personal promises to me, that sustained and taught me. I was reminded, even then, of God's grace that allowed me to be in a position to serve and share my Faith and Hope.
At the age of 18, I married Adam (not his real name), whom I had known all my life as the older brother of one of my best friends in the church I grew up in. I was raised a Pastor's daughter, and he was the Grandson of a Preacher, as well. And, Adam was attending seminary at the time we married. In my mid-teens, during a time of intimate prayer with the Father, I felt God strongly impress on my heart, that I would marry a Minister of God, and become a Pastor's wife. One would think, that all of these components would be a great recipe for marital happiness AND a productive co-venture in serving God.
Around the 3rd year of our marriage, and after recently being assigned our first pastorate, my world started crumbling. This person that I had called not only lover, but friend from my youth, started taking on personality and character traits that were contra-Christian, and as a young pastor’s wife, I was at a loss as to understand why this was happening and/or what to do about it, other than to pray. I tried to talk to him about my concerns, only to have him turn a cold ear to me. I didn't feel like I could, or should, confide in someone in the church (or our families), because that felt like a betrayal of my husband.
Our marriage and family life struggled along this way for several years. Our family grew, we moved to a 2nd pastorate, and all the while I felt guilt for Adam, as well as for my own participation.....taking his sin on my shoulders, but feeling no way of escape....praying daily for help....feeling discouraged, wronged and defeated. Verses such as Psalm 55:22, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you,” and Psalm. 56:3, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You,” helped to sustain me, even through the guilt.
We continued to work as a team in church.....teaching, singing, going through all the expectations. Adam had relented to a certain degree on his “requirements” of me to do and say things during love making that I felt were not right. I continued to rely on God's promise/knowledge as a teen that I would be a pastor's wife, but not understanding why Adam still was not where it seemed he should be as a pastor. So, I continued to pray for wisdom, and stayed where God had told me to be, for whatever purpose, whatever lesson, I (we) still needed to learn.
At about the 10-year mark of our marriage, the unthinkable happened (and yet, in retrospect, not so unthinkable, since Adam had let his thoughts go in directions already that they should not). My husband began a sexual relationship with a young, troubled wife he was counseling. I knew immediately that something was wrong....his avoidance of intimate times with me....almost daily, evening “meetings” with no explanation of what he was doing, etc. I put 2 and 2 together several weeks before the church board did.....but those weeks seemed like ages. Once again, I felt trapped with knowledge that I felt I couldn't share with anyone. As soon as he knew that I had figured it out, he began to threaten that he would run off if I tried to share that information with anyone, before he figured out what he was going to do. He would leave me at home, alone, with our 4 children (2 were under 2 years old), and take our only car and even our phone with him, whenever he left the house. Virtually, I was trapped in the countryside, with our kids. Both of our families lived hundreds of miles away. I literally felt like I was dying inside.
At some point during those weeks, God came to me in an extraordinary way. Adam had left me alone again, after the children were all in bed for one of his rendezvous. As I sat on the floor in the middle of the room, feeding the baby, I rocked and cried, clutching the baby and crying out in despair. I felt like my mind was literally trying to escape, and I was at my wits end. The harder I wept, the more I felt like I was “losing” it. All of a sudden, I felt God's hand on my head....no words, no verbal reassurances .....just the warmth and pressure of His hand on my head, and a calm reassurance as a permeating warmth flowed from my head to my feet. Without a work spoken, God implanted immediately the knowledge in my mind that He would be with the children and I....that I should not worry, but should trust in Him.
Soon after that, a very loving, kind member of the church board helped us move to another city, where a pastor my husband knew, and respected, would be able to counsel him and help him walk through his nightmare of emotions and feelings. My husband had agreed to this move. Part of him wanted to break the illicit relationship, and rebuild our marriage and family. He didn’t want to disappoint either set of our parents, nor our life-long friends. But, at the same time, the addiction of the lustful relationship still had him in its grasp. This was NOT going to be an easy road.
God, in His mercy, honored our step of faith, and we both landed good jobs within a few weeks of making this move. Adam began his counseling sessions, and I did as well with the pastor's wife. We struggled along, in a new environment. But for every step forward that Adam made, it seemed like he went backwards two steps. With a new city, came new temptations, and before long He started “requiring” me to once again participate in activities I felt were not right......but with the added threat if I told, or didn't go along, he would just take off and leave the children in the new city, without help.....other than our new church family. He wanted me to go to nude beaches, or watch X-rated movies with him. I caved in for a while, but once again found the strength to say “no”. He was still going to counseling, throughout this time.
Eventually he contrived a way to put us in a compromising situation together, and make it obvious to this person that my husband had put us in that place together. As would be expected, our friend backed off, completely perplexed, with lots of questions.... but he called me at work that next week, and wanted to meet to talk about what this was all about. If I hadn't been so weak emotionally, I should have said that it wasn't a wise idea, but instead we met. This was the beginning of an extramarital affair for us. Because I was working, it was pretty easy to keep it secret for quite a while.
During this time, even though I was filling my bucket with affirmations of worth and “love,” I still knew that this wasn't right, and it flew in the face of the promises that God had given me. My mind was in constant turmoil, life was being lived on a precipice of “love,” excitement, and fear...and all the while I was praying for answers. One would think that when you were living in sin, that you couldn't pray.....but I did, in misery as well as sincerity. It was a very confusing time.....and looking back on it years later, it's like a dark hole in my life. I have a hard time remembering details of that period, because God, in Him mercy, erases thoughts and memories that are counterproductive to one’s Spiritual healing. I remember enough, though, to know I NEVER want to go or be in that position again!
Eventually, the shock and pain of the impending loss of me, made something click in Adam's mind. He realized that not only did he still love me, but our whole lives were so intertwined between family friendships, small church membership, as well as our children, that he did not want me to leave. He was finally willing to do anything possible to keep me. As he saw me pulling away, he allowed God to start working in his life. God used his fear of losing me as a stepping stone to actually turn him back to God......to bring him back to what he should have had with God from the very start.
Even though my affair continued during this time, God continued to work with me as well. I continued to attend a church (not my own), to pray for God's help. My older children were in turmoil, and asking me WHY I was going to divorce their Dad, when they had always been taught that God hates divorce. They began to disobey me, because in their minds, I was disobeying God...to them it was one and the same. I took them to counseling, while at the same time, realizing I was the one who needed the help.....I was the one in the wrong, especially since their Dad was trying to make amends. God continued to put up road blocks in my divorce progress this whole time. And, what's more, as we got closer and closer to the time for the custody hearing before the divorce could be final. I began to feel more and more angst in my spirit. I realized, that even though some people are able to divorce, and God may actually allow or overlook it, for some reason He was making it very clear to BOTH Adam and myself, that we were NOT to follow that path. There were many people in our church, that were praying fervently that I would not go through with the divorce, and just a few days before the hearing, I called my attorney and called off the divorce. I can't explain the feeling, but anytime I thought about the hearing, I literally felt a road block in my heart. I felt I could not go past that point. I realized it was God preventing me from passing that moment, just as he prevented the donkey in the story of Balaam from passing the angel. My choice was made to obey God, even though at that point I didn't feel any trust or very much love for my husband.
It was a long journey. We found a Christian counselor who didn't know either one of us, and began, first, to meet him separately. Then, after a while, together. We stayed separated for this time.....almost a whole year. We changed home churches, so the other family involved didn't have constant reminders, and most importantly, we made a commitment to love each other again.......love is a choice. We had to learn to trust again......which was probably the most formidable task. Every time someone was late in getting home, or ran an errand without the other, there were always unspoken questions. It took a long time to actually believe in our hearts, what we had told each other that we knew from God......that God had told each of us, that we were to remain married. Knowing, and believing were two different things. I finally just had to tell myself that I needed to trust God with this.......that HE was the one that kept us together, and HE would see us through this.
Slowly the pain began to subside....days began to go by without wondering if the other would give up... or wondering if they truly had gone to the store. Then weeks went by. Then months. Both of us slowly started picking up responsibilities in our local church.....again, involved in teaching, singing, various committees, etc. Eventually Adam was elected to the church board.....a vote of confidence from the local congregation, as well as an acknowledgment of his spiritual growth. Since our immediate families knew our story, as well as the church boards from several churches, we were given the honor and privilege of helping others in similar situations.
By the time we came to the story at the beginning of this testimony, I could actually look back and wonder, “Just when did I stop wondering, and worrying about whether I could ever trust again? When did married life become normal?” With God's help and grace, it “just happened” along the way.....the way of putting our complete trust in God, that He would deliver us...both of us.....from Satan's clutches. It's not impossible to survive infidelity......not even impossible to survive dual marital infidelity. God is the God of forgiveness......the God of 2nd chances.......the God of love and mercy beyond bounds.
As I write this testimony, I can tell you that God gave Adam and myself over 40 years of constructive, committed, productive (if not blissful) married life, before He took him from this world in a most loving, God inspired way that left no doubt of His merciful forgiveness. (But that's a different story.)
I am reminded almost every day, that we need to focus our minds on the positive aspects of life, because when we get out of the negative (distrustful, fearful, worrying, dishonest, inappropriate, unjust) parts of this life, then God can implant into our hearts the positive qualities and He can then work with us. We can then get over the past, and begin to build the future......no matter how awful the past was.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
In Christ's love,
[END OF STORY]
If your pastor husband has been unfaithful (including through porn!) and/or otherwise abusive or ensnared by sin, we would be grateful to hear your story and possibly make it available on this website for others to read and renew their hope. We recommend that stories be under a pseudonym or anonymous, and constructed to avoid openly identifying any specific pastor/pastor family. You may rest assured that all personal information will be kept private and strictly confidential. Please contact us.
Please note: We do not necessarily agree with or endorse all the information contained in the pastors’ wives’ stories. We do, however, feel they have some valuable information that could be useful to you in your recovery. It helps to know you’re not alone, that others have shared your pain and have healed, by the grace of God, in their own time and way.