Adultery

What happened when my little, normal world was shattered and became a tragedy because of sin? 

Here's what.


We Meet.
My husband and I met at a Christian college, in 2001, and dated for almost 3 years by the time we got married. We met through a friend (a long, detailed story I'll blog about one day). We had so many fun times together and with our friends in choir, eating at Hardy Hall, hot tubbing at Turtle Creek Apartments, and a thousand other things. We look back at a lot of that time with such fondness and nostalgia. We also look back at it with disappointment.


College
Our relationship had not been God-honoring. I was a Christian and I thought he was a Christian, because he told me he was. In fact, he believed he was as well. I was trying to follow the Lord, but was quenching the voice of the Holy Spirit every time we were physical before we got married. I say this with much shame. These are sins that He DIED for. I have repented and I'm thankful for His grace (undeserved favor), mercy, and forgiveness that he has given me. 

I was not in a good place in my relationship with Jesus, when we were dating and got married. Jesus was, evidently, very secondary in my life.




While we were dating, I found out about some "indiscretions" he had had while he was away for a summer. During that summer and right when he came back, our relationship was in danger of ending. It was a pretty horrible time. We had been arguing a lot, before he left and since he'd been gone, about other things, so what I thought was this..."Well, we were in a horrible place in our relationship, so now that he's back, I'm sure it'll get better." We ended up getting back together with promises of him being very different once we got married. He looked at marriage as "so much more serious than dating". 

I look back at ALL of this and see how HUGELY unwise and naive I was, and how this relationship was absolutely an idol in my life that I was worshiping. I did NOT want to lose it. It came before Jesus most of the time.


Marriage For Worse
So, soon after things started feeling better, he proposed (a good story:) and we had a big, beautiful wedding in my hometown, in 2004, where he had "consequently" gotten a job as a teacher and coach through a family friend of ours.  I did not want to be back there (in my hometown), but was willing, of course, because that's where he had gotten a job. The plus side is that my family still lived there.
God was planning something and I could not see it.





We regularly attended the church I grew up in and I started to help lead worship on Sundays again. Josh would go, and he acted like he was fine with it. He even had some good interactions with a few of the men there, but he wasn't very invested.  It kind of felt like I was dragging him along (metaphorically) to be a part of what I was doing every Sunday, even though he very willingly went. I knew he wasn't leading me. My relationship with Jesus had improved a little, but because I was dragging Josh along,  it was kind of like I was walking in mud (spiritually), walking so slowly, but heading in the right direction.

My husband and I had been married for 2 years. Things weren't amazing. They were fine. They were a little lonely, in that he was spending 40 hours a week playing video games...on top of his 50 hour-a-week job. Our marriage was pretty unsatisfying emotionally, but we had just enough connection to get us by. Friendship (a shallow version of it) came pretty easily for us as a couple. We didn't really have any friends we both wanted to hang out with and we spent a lot of time with my parents.

Jesus was clearly filling in the gaps.

A little over two years into our marriage, I asked to use his phone (which I didn't often do, because he usually seemed selfish with it....RED FLAG MUCH?). I found some inappropriate texts, asked if he had something to tell me, and he said, "yes". 
He had been unfaithful for about two years with many women. 

I was devastated and shocked. 
While things hadn't been great, I just wasn't expecting that. I had very little discernment. My discernment "muscle" was weak sauce. He had also hidden things very well and I hadn't really been looking. 

After processing what I'd heard for a few minutes, I said "Josh, I forgive you. Everything is not fine, but I forgive you", which he could not accept or understand.
This was the HOLY SPIRIT in me that was able to forgive him in that moment.
I wasn't saying let's forget it and pretend it didn't happen, but that he was forgiven, even though he didn't deserve forgiveness. There is no way that I could have forgiven him on my own. I did know that I was in this for better or for worse and that I wanted to work it out. He, on the other hand, wasn't sure what he wanted. He was wrestling with himself, his own desires, and with demons who had a mad hold on him. He was heavily considering divorce for freedom to pursue his fleshly desires without any consequences.

The next morning, early, I went to our church (on a Sunday morning) and found the youth pastor that I knew Josh kind of respected and liked. I told him what happened. He prayed with me and asked if Josh would come to church with me later on. I went home, told Josh, and we went together and sat a few feet away from each other. We met with the youth pastor later and after lots of talking, Josh, concluding that he did still love me (as much as he knew how), and that this was a good life, decided that he could fix this.

So, he tried hard...for two months....and failed. It felt like I had been stabbed in an open wound.
This time, I asked him not to tell our pastor (whom he had been talking with occasionally). I wouldn't tell his wife either (whom I had been speaking with). I was embarrassed. I didn't want the looks of pity from church people, that I'd gotten the first time. I begged him not to do it anymore.
Wow...me...IDIOT...PRIDEFUL IDIOT. I should have just started to introduce myself that way. I put my pride and feelings of embarrassment above my husband's well-being. He was even willing to confess. Yeah...no need to let me know how dumb this was. 

Two months later....it happened again...with someone else. I FINALLY experienced some intense, righteous anger. I had previously been devastated, but had not yet been righteously angry. I WAS ANGRY. I was sick of trying to work on things and sick of being betrayed by the person I loved most. I gave him 15 minutes to decide if he was in it for good or not. I had forgiven him this time as well, but I was done taking that from him. He said that he DID want to change. He just didn't know how to change. 

We went to see our pastor. We began talking, and our pastor  (who was hearing from the Lord, during this conversation, that Josh would want to hurt him at some point, but that God would keep him safe. He was to say what needed to be said) told Josh that based on his continuous actions, he didn't believe that Josh was a Christian. He led him to read Hebrews 6:4-8, which says:

4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. 7 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful  to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.  Hebrews 6:4-8 
He told Josh that he believed that he had never actually known Jesus, because from what Josh had told him about his life since he prayed a prayer as a teenager, there had never been any fruit. 
Josh had rage running through him and was having demonic visions of hurting our pastor, lighting the building on fire, and leaving me. He has never been a violent guy. He's always been the happy-go-lucky guy. Next, our pastor asked Josh if he was ready to trust in Jesus...and more rage came over him. He was literally trying to move and attack our pastor, but God or his angels were holding him down in the chair.
God intervened.
He was completely unable to move, even though everything in him was wanting to.

The spiritual warfare was intense. Our pastor asked him a second time if he was ready to trust in Jesus, even though he could see the rage in Josh. In a instant, Josh has said, he felt everything inside of him break. He felt his heart shatter into a thousand pieces. We went home, he finished confessing the worst of the worst to me, everything he had held back before. He confessed everything he could possibly remember. I, only with the strength, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness of the LORD Jesus Christ in me, hugged him and told him that I forgave him for his betrayal against me. We knelt by the side of the bed and Josh accepted the gift of salvation in Jesus that he had already been given in that chair (April 2007).

Marriage For Better
Let me tell you...though there were many months of discipleship, counseling, and time spent building trust again, the man that I am married to today is a new creation in Jesus. He is nothing like the guy I married. He loves Jesus with his whole heart. He loves and leads me like I could never have imagined. He is my very best friend. He is an amazing father to our three kids. Jesus came in and made our marriage new. As I'm writing this, joy is just overflowing out of my heart, having seen the massive evidences of Christ in our lives, in our marriage, in our parenthood, in our friendships. Through the Lord, Josh challenges me and loves me so well. It's been 8 years since this part of our lives took place...years of hard work and lots of grace on both of our parts. God has given us a beautiful and precious love for one another.
True reconciliation is possible through Jesus Christ.




Josh has a very intense story of salvation. My story of salvation is hugely different (raised in a Christian household, 8 years old, alone in my garage, Jesus called me) but, what we went through together in our marriage and in his salvation experience has been one of the biggest parts of my sanctification so far. When I got to see my evident need for Jesus because of what I was going through, I loved Jesus all the more!!  He filled my every need when my husband was obviously failing me. I experienced unfathomable comfort and peace in a time when, without Him, I should have been wallowing in self-pity and going into depression.
We cannot waste our suffering! We can rejoice in it, as Christians, knowing that God will grow us and our relationship with Jesus in the process of pain.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5 
One of the best pieces of advice I received was from our pastor, right after I found out about all the indiscretions. He said, "Ashley, make sure you get yourself into the New Testament like crazy. If you don't, you're likely to just spiral down and keep spiraling down." I believe this was true! I began reading the Gospels intensely and reading about Jesus and what He did, dying for me, forgiving me. It just helped me to have greater mercy and love toward my husband. I need that same mercy and love from Jesus, and he gives it. So, why shouldn't I give it? I have no right not to forgive. We're called to love, because He first loved us.

This is God's story of the grace of Jesus, in our marriage, through the sin of adultery. 
May HIS NAME be ever praised.

He still does and has done great things.

That's what.

6 comments:

  1. Ashley, I'm so glad you started this blog!!! You guys have an amazing testimony and I'm so thankful for the Lord's work in you!!!

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    1. Thanks for reading Bethany! I'm so thankful for His work in us too! He did a miraculous thing when He saved us (our souls and our marriage). Why did you stop blogging? I loved yours!

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  2. What an awesome testimony! God can truly do the miraculous. The rough times are hard, believe me I know, but I am so very thankful that through it all I, like you, saw my desperate need for Jesus for the first time after being raised in a Christian home all those years. I feel that I thought everything would be ok always so I took Jesus for granted.
    Anyways thank you for sharing. This is Julie at From Awkward To Art. We talked a bit on instagram today. =)

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    1. Julie, Thanks for taking the time to read my blog! I hear ya! In the same way that I think Jesus saves people from maybe a harder lifestyle (one of emptiness), I believe He saved me (and it sounds like you) from complacency or from being comfortable. I know I've experienced His grace in a way I had not before my husband and I went through what we did.

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  3. Thank you for sharing your testimony with the world!! It is so needed and I know that it will encourage many women. I'm so glad that your marriage has been restored!

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  4. wow, just wow. this is a powerful testimony! i'm incredibly glad Jesus restored and healed both of you and your marriage. praise be to His name.

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