Adultery: To forgive or not to forgive

Spring of 2006 on the way home from helping at a Weekend to Remember marriage conference, Gene pulled the car over into a church parking lot and our lives changed forever.

I thought I was going to be confessing my affair and abortion and left in the dust, but little did I know that Gene had news of his own. I remember while Gene paced the church parking lot I sat crying in the car, kind of ticked off at God. I was prepared. I was ready to confess my sins, but I was not ready to hear a confession. I was just wondering why the King didn’t give me a heads up. I was being obedient and confessing my affair, so how was I suddenly the recipient of bad news.

But it was at that moment watching my husband in tears literally crying out to God, I had to make a decision as well as Gene did. Trust. Trust in God to lead us and take care of us. Then we chose forgiveness. We had to choose to forgive one another.

Well, that’s a no-brainer, you might be thinking. You both were cheaters, you had even playing ground. It wouldn’t have been so easy had just one of you cheated. That couldn’t be further from the truth. We were both hurt. We were both angry. We were both betrayed.

But the decision we both made separately that day changed our legacy.

We chose trust not in each other, but in God.

We chose to extend forgiveness and grace to the undeserved.

We chose to not attach the sin with the person.

We didn’t believe the lie “once a cheater, always a cheater”.

We chose to make the home our kids live in a Christ-centered one, not one filled with hate and revenge.

We chose to take God at His Word that what Satan meant for evil, God will and can use for His good. For His glory.

And we chose to believe that even though our mate did something rotten and horrible and chose the ultimate betrayal that even God could use someone like us. As a couple.

Before Gene got back into the car, I remember tearfully asking God, “Now what?”

My husband eventually got into the driver’s seat, took my hand and said he forgave and loved me.

Powerful.

Scraped this hurting woman’s heart off the floorboard of the car and gave me hope. He chose to love me as is and chose Jesus Christ over revenge. Chose Christ over the threat of divorce. Chose Jesus Christ over his own hurts. Chose to not look at his wife as damaged goods, but instead as God’s daughter.

He chose Jesus.

That gave me the strength to forgive my husband and then walk into my house and call the other woman. And tell her I knew what happened, but that I forgave her. I also added with much boldness, “If you ever contact my husband again…”  but let’s just focus on the forgiveness part. By choosing forgiveness I also chose Jesus Christ.

That night I sat at the kitchen table after my husband and kids were in bed trying to process everything that had happened. My closed Bible was before me on the table and I pleaded with God to give me something. I randomly flipped open my Bible and it opened to 2 Chronicles. I don’t remember when, but at some point I had underlined just part of chapter 20 verse 15:

For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 

 I sat there and cried my heart out to my Savior.

I have no idea what you are facing today, but whatever it is, choose Jesus Christ. Let Him fight the battle on your behalf. 

Choose Him over your hurt feelings, your broken vows or any betrayal you’ve felt.

Choose to lean on Him and not on your own understanding of your situation because when we choose Him, we give Him permission to take all the ugly and make it beautiful. But you have to step back and trust Him. Better yet, step back and kneel before Him in trust.

Then stand amazed that this King, this Almighty One sitting upon a throne in the middle of heaven sees you. He gets you and He adores your choice to pick Him over your own heartache. For when we choose Him we are guaranteed to be blown away.

To this day, Gene and I have not used our choice to cheat on each other to sling mud at one another. We took the advice of our friend, Bruce Thompson that “divorce is not an option” and God has used our choices in mighty ways that only He can. Last weekend, we just finished helping at our 8th Weekend to Remember marriage conference and this summer we’ll celebrate 13 years of marriage…only God.

It didn’t start with forgiveness and grace, it started with trust. Trust in a God that does not lie.

“The only way to see worth in our pain is to realize it has purpose. Though we despise suffering, it educates us, transforms us, allows us to share in the inheritance of Christ, and gives us a ministry of compassion for others who suffer. This is God’s promise. He is faithful in using every situation for our good. It’s just not any good, but the kind of of good that causes us to look back—whether here on earth or in eternity–and say, “It was all worth it. Look what our good and gracious Lord has done!””                                                       ~Micca Campbell, author of  An Untroubled Heart

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. 

Blessings,

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9 Responses to Adultery: To forgive or not to forgive

  1. Michelle Courtney says:

    I’m so glad you chose forgiveness! Love having you two in our lives!

  2. MaryLu says:

    Powerful, my friend!!
    My hubby is now a Chaplain in the Army Reserves and we see first hand how infidelity can rip a marriage to shreds! If so many more would realize just what committment means, our moral fiber would not be made out of the soluble stuff it is today.
    God bless you for your tranparency.

    • Thank you! It is so sad how many people’s lives are changed because of a selfish choice. If only they could see the big picture before self-indulgence took over…{hugs}

  3. Tammy says:

    Lelia,
    What a beautiful ending to what could have been! I totally relate to the whole “adultery” thing. My husband and I both cheated on each during the first half of our marriage. My husband had a on going affair for 7 years, while mine went from on with several men.

    But God is good and in May we’ll be married 25 years!

    love ya friend~Tammy

    • So glad you 2 chose to work through it also. Tough, but so worth it when Jesus is the center of the relationship. We have so much of the same story! Love ya back! 🙂

  4. Julie Pramberg says:

    Gene & Lelia,
    What a powerful testimony…I had no idea! It has been and blessing and honor getting to know you as we’ve worked together at the WTR conferences. I too am glad you chose forgiveness! may God Almighty continue to bless you both!

    • Julie…thank you! We feel the same way…blessed and honored to work side by side with you and Terry and of course, Mike & Michelle. Looking forward to next spring already! 🙂 We’ll pop in this weekend and say hi…way before any packing needs to be done. 😉 xo

  5. Marilyn...in Mississippi says:

    Awesome proof of what the presence of God in a marriage can do! Thank you for sharing!

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