Category Archives: relationships

NOT THE CHAMP…BUT THE 49ERS CHUMP

Posted by Mike Foster:

Yesterday was a great day for NFL football lovers. Four great teams battled like maniacs to go to the Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, both games ended with all the attention being put on 1 players HUGE mistake.

Billy Cundiff from the Baltimore Ravens missed an easy field goal that cost the Ravens the game. Kyle Williams from the 49ers became the goat by fumbling…twice…once in overtime allowing the Giants to win the game.

It’s not fun being Billy or Kyle right now. This one hurts a lot!

Sometimes when you’re the chump their isn’t a lot you can do. Nothing you can change or take back. You’r stuck with…history. And the replays. And the ESPN commentary and trending topic on Twitter. You’re stuck with the fact that millions of people just watched you choke.

These NFL players may not be able to do much but their teammates sure can.

This was demonstrated most clearly by the San Francisco 49ers who came to the strong defense of Kyle Williams.

Tight End Delanie Walker said, “We all lost this game…We play as a team — it’s 45 of us out there. It’s not Kyle’s fault, so don’t go over there and act like it is. Cause it’s not.”

Josh Morgan, another 49ers receiver stood at Williams empty locker and told reporters:

“I’m talking for Kyle,” Morgan said. “You have any questions, ask me. He’s not talking today. I got it.”

They had Kyle’s back. When it was easy to throw the chump to the wolves, their teammates stood their ground in support…and acted like true champions.

And that’s the way grace and second chances are suppose to work.


THEY NEVER GAVE UP

By Tindell Baldwin:

I spent years ruining the only relationships that really mattered.  My bad decisions left me in shackles and my family in the dust.  I walked away from them – and God – to live a life of “freedom,” convinced they were the ones holding me back from true happiness.  I had parties when they were out of town, I refused to tell them I loved them, and was too drunk to help when they needed me.  I was 17, and I just wanted to stay out all night and drink.

I put myself first in every decision I made. One Tuesday, when my mom was sick and asked me to pick up my little brother, I got drunk instead and forgot.  So my mom, with her 102 fever and migraine, got out of bed and got him herself.

That was who I was.  That was “freedom.”   And all the while I told myself that they were the problem.

They never gave up though. They never stopped believing that I would come back around. My brother always told me that God was going to use me for great things. My dad took me on dates, even when I was grounded for months on end. My mom would meet me for lunch when I was having bad days.  Out of three brothers and two loving parents, not one of them gave up on me.

God never gave up on me either.  Even as I pushed, he kept showing up in my heart.  And finally, one day at a Passion Conference during my freshman year of college, I stopped pushing.  For the first time in years, my soul felt true freedom.

But it felt incomplete because of the wrongs I’d done. I knew I had some apologies to make, and I didn’t know if my family could find the strength to forgive me. There was so much to forgive.

When Christmas rolled around, I saw clearly, for the first time, what we most often forget about family.  As we shared things we were thankful for, with tears in my eyes, I said, “I’m thankful for our family’s unconditional love.”  My dad stood first and gave me a bear hug as I cried.  He answered, “you were easy to love.”

Looking back, it’s amazing to realize the second chance I’ve been given.  My family lived by the unconditional love that God displays for us,  and even though I didn’t deserve one ounce of their forgiveness, they let it flow freely.   They embraced me as part of the family that I had always tried to run from.  Because of their grace, I was given a second chance at the greatest relationships of my life.


I WAS A PROSTITUTE

By Lauren Lankford:

Last night I went to a sex trafficking awareness event.

Black and white photographs – mug shots – of broken, bruised women arrested and brought in for prostitution flashed across the screen, over and over and over. Horrifically broken women. Women who, like horses, have had their spirits broken in order to serve another man’s purpose and desire.

I listened to a 30 second clip of a young woman pleading and sobbing with a judge for mercy in his ruling on her 31 solicitation charges: “This isn’t me. I’m not this woman. I don’t want to be this. I don’t want to do this anymore. This isn’t me. Please, please help me. Please.”

Don’t punish me for what I did, because this isn’t the woman I wanted to be.

But I feel like I have no other option.

I beg of you to be the man who stands in my defense.

Sitting on that cold, wooden bench, watching this girl beg for someone to understand that Prostitute wasn’t her name, I was shocked to find that the ache swelling in my heart was an ache I’d felt before. The same pain I’ve felt many times. An ache I could see written on the faces of every single girl and woman in that room.

Why could every woman identify with the sobbing prostitute in the court room?

I have begged for someone to see me as the woman I want to be; not as the woman I’ve fallen into being.

I have been the woman condemned by the sex I’ve allowed, agreed to, and willingly sought out – but later, desperately cried out for someone, anyone who will understand that this isn’t the woman I want to be. This isn’t me.

But a small part of me feels like I had no other option. It was out of my control. I said yes, but did I really mean it?

Desperately wanting a man to stand in my defense. To fight for me, before he wants sex.

“I used to think prostitutes were the criminals. Not the victims. Everyone has a choice, right? She had the option of not agreeing to sex. But look at these women’s faces. When you judge thousands of domestic violence cases, you learn what victims look like and what they don’t. And every single woman brought in on a solicitation charge looks like a victim. I started studying statistics on women charged with selling their bodies. Every single woman has been the victim of another crime: domestic violence, abuse, incest, molestation, abandonment. But we prosecute them as the criminal.”

So this judge made the decision to start viewing prostitutes not as criminals, but as victims. A second chance.

Sex taken from them. Not given. Even though they said yes. Even though they received something in return.

Every time I had sex I said yes to it. But I have always felt like something was taken from me. Even though every single time I thought I got what I wanted or needed that night.

Do you have a choice? And is that really the question? Is it really the word Yes or No that matters?

Did those women have the choice to say no to giving up their bodies in return for something else they desperately needed to make it through the day?

Do you? Do I? Out of the overflow of the heart, so the mouth speaks.

The ugly truth of prostitution is that those women don’t really have a choice. The majority of them have been trafficked, and if you’re familiar with trafficking, you know that it is kidnapping and slavery in it’s most brutal, gruesome, despicable, evil form.

The ugly truth of prostitution is that those women exchanged sex for what they needed to get through that day alive, according to their past, their perspective, and the men who shaped their lives.

And the ugly truth of my sex life is that in the past, I have given every inch of my body in exchange for what I needed to get through that day alive, according to my past, my perspective, and the men who shaped my life and my culture.

That is why every woman in the room could relate to the desperation, pain, judgement, guilt, brokenness, and plea for mercy expressed by the prostitute.

Because I believe that as a woman who has had sex with men who did not commit their life and love to me, I am as that of a prostitute.

As are you, if you have also slept with a man before he married you.

I am not judging you. I am fighting heart and soul in your defense.

Because I know that you feel like you were the victim of another crime. A father who left. A man who broke your spirit. An emptiness that never ceases. Pain inflicted on you by another. A culture that tells you sex is all you’re worth. Men who have degraded, devalued and destroyed women through pornography. A society that has lied to you about sex since the day you were born. The victim of men who refused to fight in your behalf; men who refused to fight for you. All of you.

Because I know that when you said yes, you thought he would stay. Because I know that when you said yes, you knew he wouldn’t.

Because I know that you were in search of something other than sex, just as I was.

The truth is that when we want sex, we want passionate intimacy. We want a man to want us. We want him to actively, physically demonstrate his intense desire for us – over everything else he could be doing at this very moment.

We want closeness. We want to feel needed, wanted; to feel like we both fully satisfy and are satisfied by another.

I’m not eliminating our desire for physical pleasure, or to put it bluntly, saying that “women just want to be wanted, we don’t care about getting off.”

No. What I’m pointing out is that when we crave sex, we are craving things that can’t be delivered by getting ourselves off. Otherwise we would be forever content with that.

And this is how we identify how powerful sex is.

I am not jaded when it comes to sex. I am not pandering abstinence because traditional Christianity labels all self-indulgence as “sin.”

I want it. I enjoy it. It frustrates me when I cannot have it. But I have learned that “sex will satisfy me” is a lie, and comes at great cost.

Beloved woman, would you still be turned on if the man in your bed said:

“You’re sexy, but I might decide another woman is sexier later.”

“You are beautiful, but not enough to make me yours forever.”

“I love you, but I can’t promise I’ll protect you, in fact – I’ll probably hurt you instead.”

“I love getting you off, but if you get pregnant, I might not be the dad.”

“I love your body, but only because you’re hot. And I’m watching porn when I’m not with you.”

“I want you more than anything, but just tonight. It will be different next week.”

“I came over because you’re easy sex and I don’t have to really love you to get anything.”

“I want your beauty and your warmth and your body, but nothing else.”

Whether or not the man you are sleeping with is saying these things out loud, these statements are being branded into your mind, body & heart every single time you have sex outside of marriage.

Because they are all true, when sex is had without a diamond on your finger. There is no guarantee that a man is staying, that he loves you and is committed to you – and so these statements are inherently true. And there is nothing that the best intentions can do to alter their truth.

Even if you are content with going through with sex, and sacrificing what you know you want or deserve in order for temporary companionship, comfort, “love,” or physical pleasure, you WILL start to believe certain things about yourself, other men, and other women.

You will start to believe that you are no better. That men are no better.

It will alter your view of sex, love, relationships, and men. But most importantly, it will alter your view of yourself.

It will name you Prostitute when your precious, broken heart begs a man to see you as the woman you always wanted to be.

We are a generation of women who have been convinced by the men in our lives that sex is what we have to give in order to attain what we need to get through life.

I crave Something, and men have convinced me that sex will fill it.

Be honest with me. When you tell yourself that you want sex, did you come to this conclusion by yourself? Or is it the product of the men in your life and the culture you live in? I challenge you to sit down and wrestle through this.

Are you the criminal, or are you the victim of a broken world, in dire need of Love in it’s true form?

Women, we have sold ourselves.

And it is breaking us.

The human body is not built to withstand regrettable sex. We are not built to give everything before he has stepped up and committed to give us everything back. This is why you feel like something has been taken, even though you said yes.

Women, you are not built to have sex with a man who has not committed his heart, mind and body to you for the rest of your life.

I beg of you to join me in saying No.

Saying No to the lie that sex alone will satisfy what you crave.

Saying No to men until one of them loves you enough to promise to give, not to take. For the rest of his life.

I beg of you to sit at the foot of Jesus with me as Prostitute. As he gives us new names, and fights in our behalf.


REDEFINED

Posted by Brad Mitchell:

I have hurt and disappointed literally thousands of people. I’m not being melodramatic. It’s a sad fact. I have done deep damage to two families–one of them my own. All because of a series of lies and deceptions that I began to accept which led to actions for which I have no one to blame but myself. This in turn led to consequences that continue to cascade long after the repentance and work toward healing.

There are seen and unseen forces which work hard to keep us locked–frozen–in that season of sin by definition. Voices which pummel our minds with “You are a ___________!” “You can’t be trusted because you _____________.” “God can never really bless you and use you because you ____________.”

I know. I still hear those voices accusing…attacking…relentless.

Early in my journey when the pain and exposure was raw and gaping, a leader put some salve on my soul by reminding me that many of those whom God used were people who had a fallen or broken past. People who had been given a second chance.

So I’ve been thinking about the people God has used throughout the pages of the Bible–people who made incredible impact for God. Abraham. Moses. Rahab. David. Jonah. Peter. Maybe you can add to the list. After each of their names could have come an adjective by which they would be forever identified: liar, murderer, prostitute, adulterer/murderer/faithless, coward, denier, abandoner. Sadly, several of those apply to my past as well.

While there are consequences and discipline that are attendant to those choices, the challenge is to not let those past actions define our present and future destiny. To do so is to deny–again–our relationship with Jesus. Because he doesn’t accuse. He doesn’t despise. Instead he takes the humble, the repentant, the broken–and he restores and redefines us.

So when I hear those voices accusing and attacking–I have to make a conscious choice to reject those lies. They are not who God says I am. They are not who God says you are.

Jesus redefines.

Here is who you are: you are redeemed, set free, washed clean, and given a new identity in Jesus. God sees you, loves you, and restores you. Your past does not define your present or your future.

Remember Abraham–the man of faith; Moses–the most humble man who ever lived; Rahab–the woman of faith and heroine; David–a man after God’s own heart; Jonah–used by God to save a wicked city; Peter–restored to spiritual authority and a leader in the early church.

Our future will be written on the pages of our lives as people who are afresh with a love for Jesus and our commitment to serve Him alone. I say “our” because I, too, am one who is healing, growing and learning about the new future as a person receiving the second chance.  Our future is bright, good, blessed…and redefined…because of grace.


girlsittingontile

DISPENSING SECOND CHANCES

Posted by Karen Hammons:

“I was looking down at the cold, white tile floor with a stomach in knots, tears trying not to boil over, a 6 year old hanging out with a cop, and a 4 year old holding my hand while being told what my future was going to look like. The label made me want to puke. And the thought of it turned my knees to Jello.

Wife of an accused sex offender.

The detective is giving me the facts and trying to make me think she cares. But I know she doesn’t. I’m just another case number. A person who she could possibly use to bring another man down. My job. Dang it. I just got new business cards that will have to be trashed since I’m pretty sure I will now lose my job at the church this all went down in. And our family and friends. Ugh. I have the “pleasure” of rehashing the story 50 times over with them, when all I want to do is tell the story once and hide. I feel so alone.”

Those were my initial reactions and thoughts as I stood in that sterile police station on a Friday night in October 2008. That night I was adamant my marriage was over. But for some strange reason, 72 hours later I wasn’t so sure about that. God in a huge outpouring of grace and mercy, revealed to me how this man was deeply broken – just like me . And the recent chain of events were symptoms from deep hurts that were never healed.

How could I stay angry with Danny? How could I not forgive? God gave me second chances all the time. Why shouldn’t I give Danny a second chance?

Who in the world was I to judge who could and couldn’t have a second chance?!

With that understanding, I decided to forgive him and move forward into the unknown. It felt like I was jumping off the highest cliff into a dark, bottomless ocean. But Jesus. The secret sauce that helped me make that jump and forgive Danny. I can’t explain it any other way. Jesus did a work in my heart and mind, enabling me to give complete forgiveness when the world was shouting crucify. God giving me the ability to forgive Danny so quickly was a tangible gift from God saying, “You’re gonna make it, girl. Watch this.”

I came to the realization that God had set this up for a purpose. And instead of fighting it, I decided to surrender to whatever fires He wanted me and my marriage to walk through. Some people were fantastic. Others were not. And I struggled with those “others”. It took almost a year and half for me to dispense complete grace and forgiveness to all involved. I had placed most of those people on a pedestal and God allowed the pedestals to fall. He desired for my faith, my hope, my second chance, my everything to be rooted in Him and not in people. That was more important to God than maintaining my temporary comfort level. Even when I didn’t receive grace from others, I decided it was time for me to give it.

Our ability to offer grace and forgiveness cannot be dependent on if we receive it first or not. We just have to give it. And while it can be hard and uncomfortable, God gives us what we need to help us dispense complete grace and forgiveness when we feel like doing anything else but that.

Who is that person you need to unleash complete grace and forgiveness on?

Who do you need to take off of a pedestal?

What was a tangible gift of grace that God gave you during a hard journey?


AVOIDING GRACE

Posted by Rhett Smith:

I think we that we are often living in a Christian culture that believes when we put others first we must not think about ourselves at all in the equation.  To think of ourselves may illicit comments from others around like, “You are…..self-absorbed, self-centered, not outwardly focused….etc.” At all costs we hope to avoid the label of being called “selfish.”

I understand that as Christians we are to continually think of others for that’s what Christ commanded us when pressed by the Pharisees to tell them what the greatest commandment in the Law was.  Jesus responded with “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[b] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

But He also commanded us to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’

How am I to love my neighbor and think of others if I don’t even love myself and think of myself?

In order for us to love others we must love ourselves.  In order for us to serve others we must love ourselves.  It is out of this self-love that grace flows in order that we can love those around us and continue to keep our eyes on the those who are in need of the grace that we so desire to extend.  But the extension of grace in other’s lives begins with the living out of grace in our own lives.

Too many leaders live unhealthy lives because they believe the lie that in order to adequately love others and put others before them they must exclude themselves in the process.  This is most noticeable in the lack of healthy boundaries many leaders have in their personal and work lives.  Their lack of boundaries and, therefore, care of themselves (self-care) is glaringly absent.  When we do not adequately care for ourselves and set healthy boundaries we cannot care for and give to others.  It’s not possible.  Sure, maybe for a season, but not long term. Before long you will be burned out.

I remember when I was in my final year of my MDiv at Fuller Theological Seminary.  I was doing a research for a Ph.D. class in Practical Theology on the issue of sexual ethics in pastoral ministry.  In all my research what I found to be a glaring truth was that pastors who didn’t adequately care for themselves by setting healthy boundaries and fostering a life of self-care were the most susceptible to affairs and sexual infidelity in ministry.  They had thought that as long as they focused on graciously helping others they would be okay.  But they forgot to practice loving themselves and fostering grace in their own lives.

When we don’t begin by looking at our own lives and the work of God in it, we cannot venture out into the lives of others.  If God sent His only Son to die for my sins, then He must have thought I was important enough.  This love and grace of God begins and is affirmed in my own life.  It is then that I move out to those around me and let the overflow of that grace and love extend to others.


TASTING THE PAIN (& GRACE) OF MY NEIGHBORS

Posted by David Trotter:

As I stood in front of a large portrait of Adela (my neighbor), I took a deep breath and welcomed her family and friends to a day of celebration…a celebration of her 69 years of life. The last few had been quite difficult for her, and she desperately wanted to go Home. On several occasions when I visited her in the hospital, she would turn her weary head and whisper, “David, I’m ready. I’m ready to see Jesus.”

I’ve had the privilege of officiating countless funerals, but this one was like no other.

I met this dear woman and her extended family when my wife and I moved onto Lemming Street in 2003. That December, we went door to door introducing ourselves and delivering cookies…inviting people to our first Christmas service at the new church plant we were launching.

Within a few months, Adela’s 20-something son and his wife (who both lived with her) attended a Sunday service, and God began to slowly transform their lives. I’ll never forget that night in my living room as tears streamed down their cheeks, and this softhearted husband and wife made a life-altering decision to follow Jesus. Not only did I baptize them, but I eventually baptized his mom as well…the woman I was now honoring in front of the church.

Before you get too intoxicated with that warm and fuzzy, spiritual feeling, let me cut through to the harsh realities of life.

In 2008 when I left my wife to be with her best friend (a leader in our congregation), I disappointed more people than I even know…especially those closest to me…especially my neighbors. Not only had their lives and marriage been transformed, but they eventually became influential leaders in our church. In fact, they were helping to lead our marriage ministry when my own marriage imploded.

After resigning from the church and moving in with my ‘mistress’, I found myself all alone when she left me 40 days later and went back to her husband and family. I checked myself into a mental hospital and spent three days trying to get my head straight. After being released, I learned just how devastated my neighbors truly were. As I was loading some furniture from my family’s garage into a moving truck, the husband led a group of people from a birthday gathering down to my home.

His loud voice carried from the front sidewalk down my driveway. “Hey Dave, we heard your girlfriend left you! I hope you feel the pain a million times more than your wife does!” A sinister laugh echoed from the group.

This was the neighbor I reached out to.
This was the man I cared for as he was struggling with his own marriage.
This was the man I led to Christ and baptized a few years earlier.
This same man was now mocking me.

“How much did you have to pay that doctor to sign you out of the hospital?” he jabbed.

I shook my head in disgust and tried to ignore the bitter taste of their pain as I swallowed my own words in silence. How could someone stoop to this level? How could someone I love attack me this brutally? Out of all the arrows that were aimed my way, this was the most painful…it came flying from the neighbors I had loved.

Months after I reconciled with my wife and moved back home, he emailed me to apologize. He explained his pain and disappointment, and he wanted to re-connect in person. Frankly, I had absolutely no interest in giving him a second chance. Sure, I ‘forgave’ him, but I didn’t want to have any sense of connection or relationship.

How ironic is that?

As the one who had disappointed and hurt so many through a public affair, I had the opportunity to extend a second chance to someone who attacked me in the midst of the darkest season of my life. Ever so slowly my hard heart began to soften over the months ahead.

A periodic wave as I drove by their home.
A handshake at a school carnival.
And, finally, an invitation to dinner at our home.
A tearful apology (by both of us) and grace was extended.

A different relationship developed over time…less pastor/parishioner and more like neighbors/friends….more like a second chance for both of us.

A few weeks ago in the final moments of his mother’s life, he texted me to see if I could go to the hospital to pray with his entire family. I dropped everything, and I rushed down to be with Adela and remind her family of God’s incredible love and grace. I held her hand and leaned in toward her ear. With her eyes closed and mouth wide open, I softly sang one of her favorite songs, “And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own…”

She quietly passed away that night.

Adela finally walked into the fullness of the Grace she longed for, and I simultaneously tasted the grace of her family…my neighbors…as they asked me to lead her funeral. Within a few days, I found myself standing in front of her portrait as I shared about her deep love for Jesus, and I basked in the second chances that had been both given and received.


WHAT TO SAY TO A FRIEND HAVING AN AFFAIR

Posted by David Trotter:

It’s not a moment that most of us plan for. It’s not as if we sit around wondering aloud, “Geez, I should really think about what to say if a friend or family member has an affair?” No, most of us would rather live in a fantasy world believing that we won’t come face-to-face with such a gut-wrenching reality.

The truth is…you probably will have that experience at some point in your life. Someone (whether it’s a co-worker, parent, child, pastor, or best friend) may choose to start an emotional or physical relationship with someone other than the partner they’ve committed to loving. When that happens, how will you respond? What will you say?

Based on my own experience (through my own affair and by walking with quite a few others over the last two years), let me give you a few options that don’t work too well…

  • How could you do such a thing? (The reality is that it’s much more complicated than you could imagine.)
  • You’re going to screw up your kids for the rest of their lives. (Believe me when I tell you that they probably don’t care in the moment.)
  • God doesn’t approve of this, and you’ll pay the price for your actions. (I’m not sure I’ve met anyone who thinks God likes affairs.)
  • I won’t have anything to do with you until you get your life together. (Being associated with someone doesn’t mean you approve of their actions.)
  • You are ruining any chance of ______________. (Whatever it is that they’re throwing away by having an affair doesn’t matter in the midst of the delusion they’re operating within.)

 

I hear of quite a few well-meaning friends and family who think they can talk some sense into their loved one, but I just haven’t seen it work. I’m not insinuating that you shouldn’t help someone see the ramifications of their infidelity, but most people need to feel the intense pain of a rock bottom experience in order to be jolted out of the powerful grip of an affair.

In the midst of an emotional or physical affair, there are so many chemicals pulsing through the body, and one primary message is being fed into the brain. “THIS PERSON IS GOING TO MAKE MY LIFE COMPLETE. HE/SHE WILL TAKE AWAY ALL MY WORRIES.”

In light of this powerful message, there are several key messages I communicate to someone in the midst of an affair (or trying to break free from one)…

 

  1. Help me understand what you’re feeling.
    While many are quick to assume what’s going on in their life, your friend or family member longs for someone to understand. Most people are hungry for someone who is trustworthy to ask open-ended questions and simply listen. Offering passionate advice or correction will likely push them away. Holding your tongue and seeking to understand can be an incredible gift of grace to someone in the midst of an affair.
  2. I’ll walk with you.
    It can be incredibly difficult to be a non-anxious presence in the midst of a challenging season of life, but it is healing to those in need. For religious folks, there is often an assumption that ‘my presence communicates my approval.’ Not true. You can be with someone and not feel the need to continually remind them what you stand for. If you’re walking with someone along the way, you’ll have the opportunity (and privilege) of scraping them off the asphalt when they crash and burn. Walking with someone means calling, connecting, and asking how they’re doing. It also involves not feeling the need to bring something intense up every time you talk.
  3. I would encourage you to go to therapy.
    If your friend is caught up in an affair, they are missing something in their own life and the initial relationship has gone sideways at some point. They need professional help to wrestle with what they’re truly searching for in the affair. Ironically, they have a very positive intention by getting involved in another relationship. They’re probably longing for a passionate, intimate relationship, but they’re inappropriately directing that intention. A therapist can help them process this and hopefully help them re-direct their positive intention toward their spouse. By helping them find a good therapist in their area, you’re giving them an onramp to health.
  4. I’m sure you’ve thought through the consequences.
    They probably haven’t. Well, maybe they’ve thought of a few things, but they definitely haven’t thought through (or experienced) them all. By acting as though they’ve processed the painful consequences, you’re giving them the benefit of the doubt, and you’re empowering them to think about them in a fresh way. Use it as a way to ask more clarifying questions. “How will this impact your spouse when he/she finds out? Are you thinking about a divorce? How will your kids take the news? Have you been looking for an apartment and furnishings? What about the other person’s spouse?” There is a never-ending trail of painful questions that have the possibility of either unraveling the person’s heart or simply pushing them away. It’s your call. Most of the the time, it pushes them away.

Once again, I haven’t seen anyone who has been able to get out of an affair without hitting a significantly painful rock bottom experience. There’s something about the allure of “this person could be my soulmate” that doesn’t go away until you’ve felt the pain. That unbearable pain seems to have an incredible way of opening one’s eyes to the beauty of fidelity and the loving work that’s required to have an intimate marriage.


EMBRACING THE SECOND CHANCES I DON’T DESERVE

Posted by: David Trotter

When I left home three years ago, my son was five, and my daughter was eight. Blinded by the delusion of a new soul mate, I resigned from the church I founded and headed off to San Diego with my wife’s best friend…not having a clue at how my choices would negatively impact my children. What I thought was the beginning of a new, life-long relationship and an adventurous season of life turned out to be 40-day affair that abruptly ended as my ‘mistress’ returned to her husband and family.

On the Thursday afternoon she left me, I quickly found myself at rock bottom.

I did my best to hold everything together, but by Sunday morning, I had dropped multiple f-bombs on a friend (in front of her two kids) and subsequently broke down in front of my own son.

I knew my life was falling apart at the seams, and I had to get help.

After handing him off to the children’s director at my former church, I drove immediately to the hospital and checked myself in for three days of don’t-kill-yourself therapy. Unfortunately, I continued to battle intense thoughts of suicide for two weeks after I checked out, and the only thing that prevented me from killing myself was the sight of my two beautiful children. I just didn’t want them to grow up with a legacy of suicide.

Covered in proverbial pig-slop of the prodigal sort, I finally came to my senses on May 3rd, 2008, and I called my wife to set up a meeting. I was a long way from home, and I had one thing on my mind…confessing my sin and apologizing to the woman I had betrayed.

As we sat across from one another at a local park, I took full responsibility for my selfish behavior, for the public embarrassment of the affair, and for deeply wounding her and our children. I didn’t ask for a second chance…all I wanted to do was apologize.

When I left to move in with the other woman, I assumed my wife would be incredibly angry, and my children would be resilient as we worked through the challenges of the life-change. “A lot of kids go through a divorce and turn out okay,” I kept reassuring myself. Having never experienced divorce in an up close and personal way, I had no clue what the ramifications of my decision would be.

I was blind to the fact that my wife would have to tell our children why I wasn’t coming home. I was clueless to the depth of pain I would cause my daughter by moving in with a woman she looked up to. I couldn’t have imagined the tantrums my children would throw, because they were confused by my absence at bedtime. I was oblivious to the tears that would be shed by both of my children as I picked them up for a visit and dropped them back off at home.

That tear-filled conversation with my wife turned out to be the first step in a multi-month journey toward reconciliation.

  • Individual therapy for both of us to move toward health.
  • A brain scan to discover my overactive basil ganglia (controlling fight or flight).
  • Medication to help me with depression and anxiety.
  • Spiritual conversations with four leaders committed to walking with me.
  • Marriage counseling to process the betrayal and pain.
  • Long, intimate conversations with one another to rebuild trust.
  • Enjoyable time spent as an entire family.

 
In the midst of it all, I hoped and prayed that my wife would be open to the restoration of our marriage, and simultaneously I was doing my best to be the attentive Daddy I had been too busy to be over the past 10 years of ministry.

Within several months, we were in serious dialogue with our therapist about the possibility of me returning home. After experiencing my utter remorse and an ongoing commitment to my own health and the health of our relationship, she invited me to join her on a family vacation in August and move back home the following week.

She gave me one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received…a second chance at our marriage.

Equal to sleeping next to my wife again, I’ll never forget the opportunity to tuck my children into bed on that first night back at home. What used to feel like a chore became a beautiful privilege I could share with my wife and kids…a recap of their day, prayers for good dreams, and anticipation for tomorrow.

Within a few days, my wife and I sensed that it was time for me to have a heart-to-heart conversation with both our kids that hadn’t seemed appropriate until that point in time.

I knew that the conversation would go differently with each child. My son was five at the time, and he had been a bit oblivious to the reality of the drama. Although he had experienced the loss, he was now just ecstatic to have me back at home. My daughter, on the other hand, was old enough to understand the full ramifications of what had been going on over the past six months. Although she was excited for me to move home, she had experienced great pain and trauma because of my actions.

As my wife knelt beside my daughter’s bed, I could feel my voice quivering before I even got started. “You are an amazing daughter, and I want you to know how much I love you. I also…want you to know…that I take full responsibility…for my selfish decisions.”

Tears were flowing down my face as I felt the weight of my actions.
“I realize how much I hurt you through this all…and I’m so sorry.”

Without saying a word, she immediately sat up in bed and reached out her arms to draw me close. She held me tighter than ever before. As our cheeks touched and tears flowed together, I knew she was forgiving me. Although we’ve had many subsequent conversations over the past three years about my poor choices, that night I was given another second chance I longed for, but didn’t deserve…a second
chance to be the Daddy I could have been all along.


#GRACETUESDAY COMMUNITY CONNECT

Would you like to join other POTSC community members on TWITTER out there? Come, join us! We want to connect with you and hear YOUR voice. Welcome to #GRACETUESDAY!

HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN THE POTSC TWITTER COMMUNITY CONNECTION:

1. Add your Twitter Handle URL to the MckLinky below (you only have to add it to one and it will appear on all blogs that share this connection).
2. Be sure you are following @POTSC and using the hashtag #POTSC & #GRACETUESDAY – feel free to RT this by pressing the TweetMeme button (makes it super simple)
3. Follow as many people on Twitter as you like, but make sure to leave comments on their blog or @replies on Twitter to so they know who you are! Make the most of this by posting the code on your blog!

How to spread the word and add this MckLinky on your blog: Write your own post or copy and paste this one. Below the MckLinky box, you’ll see “Want to be a part of this Blog Hop? Click here for instructions and code”. By sharing this on your blog, it allows others to connect you to the POTSC Community and FOLLOW YOU!


Please only add your Twitter URL (even though it does not specify on McLinky)- not your blog URL. We will be able to connect your blog through the code. If you decide to host one, let us know- we would love to help spread the word.