Peering three stories down off our balcony, I wished I could throw myself over the edge to punish my husband for the pain he had caused. My perfect world of marriage, kids, and ministry work had completely shattered when I found out my husband was viewing pornography. The shock of betrayal was followed by pain beyond any I had experienced, closely tailed by shame, grief, and anger.
My husband was broken. He was repentant. He immediately called our pastor to confess. He purchased an internet filter to install on our computers. He went with me for counseling. He asked forgiveness. He shared his immense relief that his struggle was finally in the light, and his hope that he would be free from the shame of his sin at last. My husband responded ideally to my discovery.
I felt rage. Numbness. Alternating with pain. Then rage again. I wanted to hurt my husband back, and at times, only the thought of our children kept me from leaving. I would stay for them, but I didn’t have much hope for our marriage. To be like Jesus, I knew I needed to forgive my enemy, but that didn’t mean I would ever trust him again.
Then came a turning point. I was lashing out at my husband, “You are such a fake! You aren’t who I thought I married! I feel like all our memories together are a joke. I don’t even know who you are, who you really are!”
And he quietly replied, tears in his eyes, “I know who I am… I am the beloved of God.”
As I walked away, God’s Spirit convicted me. I had a choice. I could choose to see my husband as the enemy, and let the walls of anger and bitterness divide and destroy our marriage. Or I could see him as God’s beloved son, lost and broken and in a mess of sin, but crying out for his Daddy, desperately looking for healing.
Only by God’s grace did the truth of our situation slowly work out in our lives. My husband is not the enemy. My husband is a wounded soldier in an epic battle of good vs. evil. He has been targeted by the enemy of our souls, the Deceiver who seeks to destroy God’s children: their lives, their marriages, and their testimonies.
So I decided this was one battle Satan wasn’t going to win.
I was still angry. But now I started to channel my anger into action against the problem, not against the person of my husband. I prayed a lot, interceding for my husband and our marriage. I journaled. Along with my husband, I strategized ways to protect our marriage from attacks of temptation. It was hard, but I gave myself lots of time to watch my husband’s behavior and see him prove himself a trustworthy partner again.
Months have turned into years, and I am so very thankful that God led me to choose to be on the same side as my husband, not against him. I feel like I have a new marriage. I’ve seen how my husband is growing into the man God wants him to be. He has so much more joy, a more effective ministry, and more freedom to love me honestly and wholeheartedly.
I wouldn’t have seen any of this if I hadn’t loved through the hurt, stretching out a hand of forgiveness to my husband: not my enemy, but my brother in Christ.
To read the other stories in this series go here.
Photo Credits: via flickr-Noukka Signe, Mysza831, White Ribbons