A little over a year ago I joined an online weight loss community looking for some support and validation in my weight loss struggles. I found a great group of loving caring people who understood me and understood the struggles I was having losing weight. I was successful at losing about 20 lbs, doing my first 5k, and choosing an overall healthier lifestyle.
I also found someone who was willing to be what Aaron was not being (or more less someone I wasn't letting him be) to me and for me. I spent about 8 weeks involved in a full blown emotional affair.
Towards the end, I had pretty much made up my mind that the best option for me was to leave Aaron and start over fresh. Possibly with this new guy, but even being on my own sounded like a better option then staying in my current situation. Aaron and I couldn't hardly be in the same room together. We were polite to each other (at best) in public and at home it was pretty much no holds barred. When we were even home together. Aaron stayed at work most of the time to stay away from my angry bitterness. And I preferred it that way because I didn't have to deal with all the issues between us. My girls did not escape the drama and we had a constant battle with their behavior on our hands. Which only compounded the stress we were feeling.
And let's not forget that we were still serving in full time bivocational ministry. Aaron was youth pastoring and we were very involved at our church. WHAT?! A pastor's wife had an affair? Yes. And it happens more often than you think. How could this happen!? Those that knew me well and knew about my affair asked me that question immediately. Now, after a year with 20/20 hindsight, here is my answer.
It's a slow fade. (Yes, I'm referring to the Casting Crowns song) You don't jump into full blown sin patterns overnight. I didn't wake up one morning and say... oh, today I feel like being adulterous. It took time. It took lots and lots of me believing lies that Satan fed me and lies I fed to myself-
I deserve better. I should be happy. Everyone else has a better life than me. Everyone else has a husband who adores them. I should too. Why not choose someone who makes me happy. The grass is greener where you water it, but there's gotta be grass to water.
If there was a lie to be told, I told it to myself. And I believed every word. Past hurts and failures in our marriage created a wall that seemed insurmountable. So, I stopped choosing to try and climb it. I slowly shut myself off to Aaron in almost every way possible. We stopped being intimate. In fact, I slept on the couch most of the time. We stopped spending time together- why would we. We could hardly stand each other. We pretty much stopped talking unless it involved money or the girls and even that turned into an argument. And every day, the selfishness, bitterness, and anger grew and rooted itself deeper and deeper slowly pushing God out. Things started very innocently. Encouraging emails. Texts here and there. Rationalizations. Something inside me was being fed. A need to be loved was being met. Then starts the denial. Then the hiding. Then the lies. Eventually, I was lying to everyone I loved. I was living 2 lives.
Eventually, the lies caught up with me and Aaron found out. That day he stepped down from his position as youth pastor at our church. The next week we started going to counseling. I'd like the say that it was all sunshine and roses from there. But. It was hell. It wasn't like I woke up the morning after things came crashing down and I found myself madly in love with the man I could hardly bring myself to look at. No, he was still that same man and I was still the same hardened shell of a person. But every day we took a step forward. With help from our marriage counselor we made a rule that we talked first, apologized later. (I don't advocate this rule for everyone, but it worked well for us). We started communicating (for the first time ever really) and we started sharing with each other things we'd never shared before. We decided to do the hard stuff. Things we didn't feel like doing. But we did them anyways.
And guess what? It still wasn't roses.
When you've calloused yourself to God- to his presence in your life, to hearing his voice, it's not a switch you can flip and all the sudden you're back to this deep loving relationship with him (at least not for me) . I'd created such a wall between God and I that I felt nothing of him. I heard nothing of him. I just chose to believe he was there. And I prayed like I'd never prayed before. Even though I felt like he wasn't there, even though I felt like he wasn't hearing me. I prayed. And I prayed. And I prayed. I prayed that I would know the weight of my sin. I prayed that God would restore me. I prayed that God would restore my marriage. And eventually I prayed that he would restore our ministry.
But, emotional affairs are like a drug. A drug addiction. An addiction you can't just walk away from.
To Be Continued...