In between the seats in his car, I discovered that awful piece of paper, a love note. I knew it wasn’t from his wife because it was signed Sheila. I was old enough to understand what was going on. I just sat there in shock, wishing I was not the one who had found the evidence of his awful crime. He is part of our family, how could he hurt everyone like this. There was no time for emotions. My mind went into thinking mode and I couldn’t stop the endless commentaries in my mind.
How long has this been going on?
Does his wife know?
What is Sheila like?
Does he still love his wife?
Why would he do this to his family?
Was everything he had shared with us a lie? Suddenly all of his advice to us and all of his wisdom lay in a pile of rubble. Look at him now, he can’t even follow his own advice.
Later that night, my emotions finally caught up with me and the pain rushed over, as I quietly sobbed. My world had been shattered. Someone I looked up to, admired, and loved was now lower than scum, as far as, I was concerned. I prayed. Asking God for guidance: What am I supposed to do? Please don’t ask me to talk to him or worse to tell his wife.
It was the longest Christmas break ever. Normally, I was playful and had long conversations with him and his family but I had a hard time being loving and kind to him in light of what I knew. Later, I did discover more information and my doubts were confirmed, he was indeed, in an adulterous relationship.
Each day it became clearer that I needed to let him know that I was fully aware of his dirty little secret. My holidays were ruined and more than ever, I was ready to head back to school. Unfortanately, the morning I dreaded had arrived. I rode in the front seat and my mom was in the back seat. The closer we got the terminal the more my stomach turned. Of all the family members that could drive me to the airport, why did it have to be him?
I kissed my mother good-bye and he stayed in the driver’s seat. This was it. I won’t let myself chicken out. I looked at him in the eyes and I said good-bye (what? this is not what I practiced). I went into rationalizing mode and I was about to close the door.” It would be easier if I just wrote him a letter, right?” I stood there (trembling), with no emotion on my face I said “I know what you are doing behind your wife’s back. You know it’s not right. I just want you to know that you can stop this and you can repent.” He looked at me with a serious face and said “I don’t know what you are talking about.” I was shocked. It never crossed my mind that he would deny it. This is not how our conversation was supposed to end, none of my practice conversation included this line.
What do I do? I looked at him and said “Yes, you do. I am not the Holy Spirit and it’s not my job to make you repent. I will be praying for you.” I closed the door behind me and it took everything for me to walk through the airport double doors without bursting into tears. How can one become so emotionally drained from a conversation that only lasted 1 minute?
That year I had to continuously remind myself of those last words I shared with him,
“I am not the Holy Spirit and it’s not my job to make you repent of your sin.” It’s the Holy Spirits job. John 16:8
With everything in my heart I wanted to believe and follow those words but it was hard because everything inside me wanted to see him immediately repent.
I wanted to hurt him into repentance. Maybe if I was mean and cold to him he would realize that what he is doing is wrong.
I wanted to shame him to repentance. Maybe if I told everyone at his church and his wife he would repent.
I wanted knock the Bible ( a big chunky Bible you know the ones that are only for decoration) over his head until he could see the Truth.
But most of all I just wanted to HATE him for his hypocrisy, for his selfishness, for his lies….
It was a rough year, God showed me how He loves me and that I could do the same. I could love this adulterous family member but hate his sin. I could eventually forgive him. By no means did I do this perfectly. To do the complete opposite of what I wanted was emotionally draining. I spent a lot of time on my knees, asking for help and strength. The struggle was mostly in my mind and my heart, I had lots of hateful thoughts toward this person. If I had such evil thoughts towards this person who was just a family member, I can’t even imagine what this would look like if I was the wife who discovered that the man I love was cheating on me.
It’s hard to let God do the convicting and let God deal with the sinner, in His time. I wanted it to happen immediately, but I had to remember the many times in my life, God brought me back in His time. (I totally believe there is a time and place for God honoring confrontation and helping someone come to repentance with love and grace. But there is fine line of doing this and not crossing over to being condemning, controlling, legalistic and judgemental. Believe me I crossed it many times.) Blessings and wisdom if you find yourself walking this journey.
What are ways you keep yourself from becoming the “repentance police” in your family?