Psalm 139:11-12

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. (PSALM 139:11-12)

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Christmas Gift

We are on the brink of Christmas. The next few days will be a flurry of activity, jaunting from here to there, spending time with family, giving and receiving gifts. Tis the season to be utterly distracted, frazzled, and hurried.

I try not to lose sight of it...the Christmas miracle; a baby conceived from the Holy Spirit, God made flesh, Immanuel, "God with us". I put myself in her shoes, Mary the mother of Christ. There was a cost for her obedience, but she remained faithful. The others could not understand, to them she had sinned. Joseph submitting to God's plan. They were chosen for this.

In all my wonderings, shame, and guilt trying to be whole, I try to remember that I am not the only one who has suffered. Jesus came to die. He came to die. He, too, was betrayed, misunderstood, hurt. His coming was a gift in so many ways, the biggest, the cross. He walked where we walk, He felt what we feel. His gift an understanding Father who knows injustice, tragedy, pain.

Sexual abuse robs you in so many ways. I lived in denial for such a long time, convincing myself that what happened to me didn't matter. I avoided the memories like the plague. Who wants to remember that? It wasn't until I started counseling that I found my voice for it. The first step was admitting what had happened. The second was receiving validation that what happened mattered. The third, it wasn't my fault. Unraveling the mess internally, understanding for the first time how much it effects, infects everything you think, see, and was not an easy task. I never knew how chained to it I had become. The very thing I wanted so desperately to run away from became more and more tightly wound within me. It takes time to cut the chains, link by link, yard by yard.

I cannot suggest that my sexual abuse was a gift. Maybe it was, although I'm not sure I'll ever honestly see it that way. In anger I have pounded my fists demanding to know why. I am stubborn and my God is good. What remains from the ashes of our suffering? A chance to learn, perhaps? To grow. To realize how much I need Him? I am not angry (anymore).

What I found in my ashes was a gift, Jesus. He is my answer to why. A baby in swaddling clothes, laying in a manger. A King who didn't look like a King. He was more then he seemed. What if nothing in my life is just as it seems? The abuse, the adultery, the losses, the grief, the disappointments, what if they are spiritual wake-up calls God allows to re-form and refine me? What if things in my life that seem bad to me are actually Graces to help me?

"We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." (Romans 5:3-5)

As we celebrate the birth of Christ this Christmas, may we also understand the depth of this gift.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:13-15)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Learning HOW to Love

I feel deeply.

In other words, I'm emotional. I prefer the former because the latter gets such a bad rap. Compassion and the feeling of love come fairly easy to me. I can often become overwhelmed by it. But it took some deep reflection and study to understand the action of love and loving others.

Is it any surprise that someone with a sexual addiction doesn't really know how to love?

For years, perhaps my whole relationship with my spouse, I have struggled to feel loved by him. Of course he was "loving". He said what I wanted or thought I needed to hear, he showered me with gifts and flowers to make me feel loved. But what he was doing was not actually love. It was still about him and how he was perceived by others. How often I was told by a friend or a co-worker how wonderful my husband was! I actually had one friend ask if I could clone him. He had everyone wrapped around his finger. It looked great on the outside, but what was going on inside was far more important. And at the time, he wasn't sharing that with anyone.

I'm not saying that dealing with my spouse's sexual addiction wasn't and still isn't hard. It is. But when I understood addiction better (thanks to reading "False Intimacy" by Dr. Schaumburg), I realized that love has nothing to do with the addiction. It was never a relationship he was after and as twisted as this may sound, there was some comfort in that for me.

Now many years and many counseling sessions forward of the crisis my husband and I continue to vary on our idea of love. A couple of years ago I felt led to revisit what it means to truly love another person. I read a book called "Love Walked Among Us" by Paul Miller. When you want to understand what love is SUPPOSED to look like, who better to look at then Jesus. He is love and He does it perfectly. We can love better when we study Jesus' example when He was here on Earth. I recently encouraged my husband to read it and it has been very powerful for him.

I know whatever we idolize we love. So if sex is your idol then not only does it become everything to you, in my spouse's case, it became the way he felt love. (I know in a general sense this is true for a lot of men.) But for him, it actually became the exclusive way he gave and interpreted love. Everything he did (that looked like love) was motivated by sex. And if there was nothing to be gained, he was impatient, self-centered, and uncaring when it came to others. Even people he was trying hard to love. He just didn't understand it. Love became disfigured and he was hard pressed to understand what it was supposed to look like, let alone how to do it. It became hard for him to receive love from me in any other way. And certainly impossible to feel the love God had for him.

The Paul Miller book has opened his eyes to what true love really looks like. Love is "forgetting our own needs in order to think about someone else" (70), it is not efficient (30), "love moves towards doesn't leave them alone in their suffering or selfishness" (148). One of my favorite quotes from the book is, "If we mix love and self, we don't get a mixture of love and self -- we just get plain selfishness" (137). That's a convicting and challenging task even with a healthy understanding of love.

Sometimes I took for granted the fact that it is easy for me to feel deeply and have compassion for others. I suppose I can credit God for making me that way and for important people in my life for modeling that for me. Realizing that it does not come as easily to my spouse and yet expecting that of him has been difficult. There have been times when he has done things that have felt completely unlovable. It's hard for me to comprehend being able to make choices that are so selfish. Not that I do not struggle with selfishness. I would say it's our human default. You have to work to love others. If it came easily do you think God would have had to make such a big deal about it? Do you think he would have had to explain how a husband was to love his wife and vice versa (Ephesians 5; 1 Peter 3)? Do you think it would have been one of his most important commandments (Matthew 22:37-39)?

As I re-read this post today it can at times seem like I'm being a little harsh. Obviously to some degree my spouse can love and is today making great strides in this area. I'm sharing this today because learning how to love is just another step in a process of healing. We all have issues that contribute to relationship breakdowns. I am very fortunate to have a spouse who is open minded and willing to take these hard looks at himself. God has given him a heart to want to make changes, critical changes so that we can grow in love with one another. And for this I am truly thankful!

"What is it like to know that no matter how messed up you might be, the good shepherd looks at you with love, surrounds you with compassion, envelops you in his arms, and cares for the details of your life? Love begins, not with loving, but with being loved" (164).

Monday, October 3, 2011

Redeeming Love

The Lord said to me, "Go. Show your love to your wife again. She is loved by another man. And she has committed adultery. But I want you to love her just as I love the people of Israel. They turn to other gods. And they love to offer raisin cakes to Baal and eat them. In spite of that, I love my people."

There is a fictional story by Francine Rivers called "Redeeming Love". It is based on the biblical love story of Hosea and Gomer. In the context of this blog, "Redeeming Love" is about loving someone like Jesus. It's about not giving up on them. It's about loving someone even though they hurt you. It's about allowing God to use you in someone else's redemption story.

When betrayal touches your marriage it forces you to take a deep look at yourself. It tests your heart and reveals your own sinfulness.

I have read "Redeeming Love" twice. At my request, my husband also read it. I highly recommend reading this fictional story as a means of giving you a new perspective and encouragement in the struggle.

For me, this story was a beautiful way to see how deeply faithful and unconditional God's love is for each one of us. I don't claim to be "Hosea", but it is a role I can relate to in my commitment to my husband. And the redemption "Angel" experiences at the end of the book is worth all "Michael" fought for and all the hurt and pain his obedience cost him.

And I feel the same way. Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Bump In The Road

There is a speed bump in a local shopping center that I don't like. No matter how you drive over it, no matter how slowly and carefully you maneuver, it shakes, bumps, and bounces you every which way.

Well, we have hit a bump in the road. Six months ago a "misunderstanding" among friends sent my husband for a loop. I knew he was struggling to process through it. I had gone through my process, forgiven, moved on, but he was stuck. I had no idea six months later that the loop he was sent on was more like a tailspin.

Finally coming to the light in the last few weeks, in some ways it feels like deja vu. Almost seven years to the day my husband confessed his sexual sin and infidelity and we are back to the confessional. Somehow in the last few months firm lines between sexually appropriate and not became blurred. We are still trying to understand how that could happen, after all we have been through.

Last night I "lashed out". I cried and yelled my frustration to him. Seven years of working on trusting him. Seven years into a new commitment to honesty and light and we're back to half-truths and hiding again. I was anything but grace-filled last night.

This morning I apologized. I don't want this to erase seven years of growing and healing. I want to offer him grace because we all make mistakes. We all get caught up. We all justify and make excuses. We all try to escape, instead of face the hard stuff.

I am sharing this because I want you to know that seven years forward of the crisis, we are still learning to live with this. But in some ways, we have perhaps become too comfortable in our routine. Accountability meetings between my husband and his friend have become less questioning and more sharing life. Safe guards that were set up long ago have become compromised. Somewhere, somehow he just stopped going to counseling. We have let down our guard.

Everything I wrote in my last post is still true. "Even if" ___________...we are going to be alright. I have confidence in this. I could never pretend that I have it all figured out. I do not FEEL like an expert in this area. It's as if we are walking a path unknown and unchartered. Each day, each month, each year not knowing what "recovery" means for us and trying to figure it out along the way.

This speed bump has tousled us around, but we will get to the other side. It may not always be smooth sailing, but it's in times likes these that I trust that God is at work again, revealing this chink in our armor so we can protect ourselves and not let our guard down. Sexual addiction is a disease. You don't wake up one day free from those chains this side of heaven. It takes work, hard work, and a commitment to the light.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Yes, Even Then

It's been seven years since the truth came out. To be honest, there have been moments (not surprisingly) when I've wanted to throw in the towel. So what kept me here that day and keeps me here now?


Formost a faith in Jesus. In who He is. In what He has promised.

I believe faith and hope keep me right where I am. Faith to know that He has a plan and a purpose for all things, including me. Faith that God can do ANYTHING. Faith that He is working and moving in my life and the lives of those around me. Faith that whatever happens, He can use it to His glory. He can redeem it. He can use it.

Living out this faith day to day is not always easy. When bad things happen, when people hurt you, when you feel stuck; it's hard to not give up or run away. It's difficult to not get caught up in the here and now of what is happening and feel like there is no hope.

My faith is not assurance that I won't struggle or that everything is going to be easy. My faith gives me confidence in Him, not in me. Because I know that I cannot react without sinning. I feel angry, disappointed, impatient, even hopeless sometimes. Other people break their promises, other people hurt me, disappoint me. Situations can overwhelm me. Sometimes I think we have worked through something to have it resurface again and again. How could one not give up?


I read a book by Joanna Weaver called "Lazarus Awakening". It talks about 3 specific kinds of faith she wants to have. The faith of "even if", "even though", and "nevertheless".
Daniel 3:17-18 (emphasis added)
"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it...But EVEN IF he does not, we want you to know, O King, that we will not serve your Gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (emphasis added)
"EVEN THOUGH the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; EVEN THOUGH the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; EVEN THOUGH the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, YET I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!"

Matthew 26:39 (emphasis added)
"O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; NEVERTHELESS, not as I will, but as you will."
"Even if" my prayers are not answered the way I want them to be, "even if" my husband cheats again, "even though" I was sexually abused as a child, "even though" I was betrayed, "nevertheless" I have faith in Your plan and Your promises, "nevertheless" Your will not mine, "nevertheless" You are still God and You know better then I.

Throughout these years of dealing with and healing from betrayal I have seen God's faithfulness in my life and in our marriage. I have gone to the pit and out again many times. While in the pit I have wondered if this is all worth it. I start to lose hope...and faith. And then I am reminded that God has not and will not leave me there. Hold tight to your faith, especially in the darkest of moments, because you know God has you. He has you! He will not let you go!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Love Is

Love is supposed to be the heart of all we do and say. In our imperfection, we are consumed with ourselves and motivated to love by what we might gain. The latter -- our default -- is something we must work to suppress. We must choose compassion and understanding. We must put ourselves in other's shoes whether they are the right size or not.

To love is to give daily grace. How easy to see the mistakes, the poor attitude, the wrong in others. To love is to judge ourselves the same way we judge others. There is always more to the story if we care enough to find out.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (I Corinthians 13:4-7)

When your spouse has let you down, it strikes at the core of your marriage. It hurts in that "love place" where your deep longings, trust, and hopes live.

How can love hurt like this?

But the "standard" is the same for you as it is for your spouse. Can you love someone who has betrayed you?

Can you be patient, kind, compassionate, and forgiving (all of which is considered to be loving) when you have been hurt, especially in a big way, by someone that was supposed to be loving you?

How can you live out love unless you understand what Love is?

How can you give undeserved love, or grace, without knowing your deep need for it as well?

When I think about how I could stay married to someone who was not loving me, who cheated on me, who betrayed me, I see God. I see God working in my heart to love him. I came to understand that although his actions felt like they were about me and against me, that his struggle with sin was not about me at all. My husband was suffering and dying in his sin. That without love from me, he might have stayed in that place. That if I am called to love, then I am called to protect, trust, hope and persevere with my spouse no matter what. That despite actions that were quite unlovable, that God loved him and put me in his life for a reason. Even if that reason involved being deeply hurt. Even if the purpose was about being a part of saving my husband from himself.

I would want someone to love me that much!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Forgiving the "Unforgivable"

Forgiveness is such an instrumental aspect of healing and yet, something I have had to work to completely understand.

What does it mean to forgive? What does forgiveness look like?

I am reading a book called "Bold Love" by Dr. Dan Allender and Tremper Longman. Dr. Allender is also the author of "A Wounded Heart" (see book resources), which I have referenced before. Allender talks very pointedly about forgiveness and has a take on it that I haven't necessarily wrapped my brain around before. I am still processing through it, but I wanted to share some of his thoughts on the topic.

At the heart of forgiveness is a deep desire for reconciliation. A desire that the person would turn from sin and live for God. As you process through the hurt you have experienced at the hands of another person, do you want "wrongs to be made right"? Do you want them to find redemption through Christ? Or do you want them to pay?

Allender writes that forgiveness is neither "unconditional or one-sided" (161). In order to receive forgiveness from the Lord we must repent. Allender suggests the same is true in our human relationships. Repentance is key to restoration and reconciliation with the one that hurt us. "Forgiveness involves a heart that cancels debt but does not lend money until repentance occurs" (Allender 162).

Why is repentance so important? Without deep, life redirection or a heart change, many return to the same sins and addictions. Some are sorry - that they got caught - but not repentant and grieved over their sin. We can work through the hurts and betrayals of another, but I don't know whether we can actually forgive and reconcile with them completely unless they have the desire to change. This idea does bump up against more traditional ideas of forgiveness.

It would be easy then, to view the one that hurt you as "the enemy". Easy to see their sin and blame them for everything. However, knowing that we are all sinful, it is necessary to look at our own part and acknowledge our own sin in the relationship.

Allender says, "Evil in another ought to serve as a mirror to better reflect evil in our own eye" (200). This is a reference to Matthew 7:1-5 which talks about judging others and taking "the plank out of your own eye". I really appreciated this reminder because I feel like ultimately, taking this perspective helped my husband and I to grow through the crisis. When I was able to look at my own "plank" then I was able to love and understand my husband's struggle better and offer him grace.

If your spouse has repented and is trying to make the necessary changes then you must learn how to forgive. "Reconciliation is not to be withheld when repentance -- that is, deep, heart-changing acknowledgment of sin and a radical redirection of life -- takes place in the one being rebuked" (Allender 162).

Allender's definition of forgiveness is "to cancel the debt of what is owed in order to provide a door of opportunity for repentance and restoration of the broken relationship" (160). So forgiveness, according to Allender, requires a "hunger for restoration" with the person that hurt you, "revoking revenge" and allowing God the final judgment, and "pursuing goodness" by "words and deeds - by praying and blessing, and by turning and giving" and "loving them boldly" (220).

So maybe "forgiveness" comes down to our attitude, desires, and motivation toward the person we are trying to forgive. I have said before that forgiving isn't forgetting. Forgiveness doesn't magically make what happened leave your memory. We are to forgive "not seven times, but seventy-seven times" (Matthew 18:22). But you don't want forgiveness to enable someone who is unrepentant to continue treating you and others in the same sinful way they have been. "Love, in many cases, is a covering over of the offense with long-suffering patience. Love may pardon an offense, but it does not ignore the ugliness and arrogance that blights beauty...covering it over is not another word for pretending it doesn't exist" (Allender 184).

Like I said, a very interesting take on biblical forgiveness. If you are trying to understand what forgiveness looks like for you I would recommend reading both "Bold Love" by Allender and Longman, as well as, "Choosing Forgiveness" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Keeping Hope Alive (for the wife of a sex addict)

“If you trust in God, this shall be your verdict at the close of life. When you come to die you shall look back upon a life which has not been without its trials and its difficulties, but you shall bless God for it all: and if there is any one thing in life for which you will have to praise God more than for another, it will probably be that very event which seems darkest to you.

Did God ever do a better thing for Jacob than when he took Joseph away and sent him to Egypt to preserve the whole family alive? It was the severest trial of the poor old man’s career, and yet the brightest blessing after all . . . rest assured of that. Your father’s rumbling wagons have woke you out of sleep, and you are frightened at them; but they are loaded with ingots of gold. You never have been so rich as you will be after your great trouble shall have passed away.”

--quote from Charles Spurgeon

It may not feel this way now, but whatever is happening in your marriage right now, whatever defining moments you have experienced in your life, can be "the brightest blessing" if you are open to the Lord and trusting in what He is trying to accomplish in your life.

"Your father's rumbling wagons have woke you out of sleep"...such an amazing line because I can so identify. For years I was "asleep", in my faith and in my relationship with my husband. Lots of things were going on around me, but I just didn't know. I was naive and ignorant, but God woke me up. He opened my eyes to see the truth that I couldn't see. When you find out your husband has a sexual addiction it feels like your world is falling apart, but in all reality it was the Lord waking us up! I feel strongly that I would rather know the truth and deal with it. It's the hidden, secret stuff that scares me because Satan uses that to keep you right where he wants you, ineffective and bound to sin.

"You never have been so rich as you will be after your great trouble shall have passed away"...It's likely if you are reading this that you are in the midst of that "great trouble". And maybe it's hard to imagine a time after that trouble has passed. I want to encourage you to not lose hope. The same God that can move mountains, walk on water, bring the dead to life, is with you now working and moving within this great trouble. He has promised many times in the Bible that He will never leave you, that He will be with you always. It is in times likes these that we need to hold on to those promises from God and trust Him.

I believe in a forever marriage. I am willing to fight tooth and nail to keep it. I will go down fighting for it. I know that God's plan is different for each of us. After sincere attempts to reconcile, staying together may not be the best thing for everyone. But I strongly believe that everyone deserves an opportunity to change, we all deserve a second chance, we all deserve to have someone believe in us, even when we don't believe in ourselves.

Sexual addiction does not just happen. It is a symptom of deeper issues, that more then likely go back to childhood and/or a trauma that was never dealt with. For me, once I understood the deep hurt and situations that led my husband to act out sexually, I found myself having compassion for him. Compassion for the boy that was struggling and confused. Now that boy is a man and those issues don't magically go away. Have you and your spouse dug into the why behind the addiction? What happened in your spouses life that contributed to this particular path of sin? We all have an idol, the very thing we turn to when we are stressed out, tired, disappointed, etc. These feelings are usually triggers for us to turn to that idol. Do we turn to God when the going gets tough? Or do we turn to sex, food, people, or shopping to make us feel better?

I know you are angry, but as you start to work through the crisis it may be wise to start asking these questions. It may help you to love your spouse better, even though he doesn't "deserve" it. Loving your spouse even though it's undeserved is called grace and God has been gracious to you. He wants us to love boldly. He wants you to support your spouse in making the necessary changes. You are His ally in the war for your spouse's heart.

"If there is any one thing in life for which you will have to praise God more than for another, it will probably be that very event which seems darkest to you"...I pray you will one day agree with this statement. My darkest time was a turning point in drawing me closer to God and it was an opportunity to see God's care and commitment to being there for me always. My darkest time eventually brought my husband and I closer in our marriage then we ever could have been before. You can't be close with secret sin blocking your way to each other.

It may be a long process. You may take 10 steps forward and 11 back sometimes. It may feel like it's not happening fast enough for you. You may be feeling impatient with your spouse, demanding, frustrated. But it could also be an opportunity to love, support, and help your spouse at a time that most people would have already given up on them. A time when God will give you the strength to dig in your heals and plant your roots deep into the soil of marriage, hoping and trusting in God and His plan. Surrendering your will to His and believing His promises. And that's not easy.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Roller Coaster of Emotions

I love roller coasters; the anticipation as your "car" ascends to the highest peak, the "stomach in your throat" feeling as you ride up and over the top, and the adrenaline rush as the "car" races down, as it twists and turns, so quickly you hardly know where you are going. Perhaps it's the reckless abandon you experience when you voluntarily give up all control for the thrill of the ride. The higher and faster the better, atleast that was our motto before we had children and responsibilities. And as such, we rarely have the opportunity to ride them anymore.

When I look back on the years since my husband told me everything, I could pretty much summarize it as a roller coaster ride. Much of the ride consists of twists and turns you aren't able to anticipate. There are highs and lows that leave your stomach tied up in knots. Just when you think you have reached a plateau, down you plunge. At times I have found myself wanting off!

Each experience with betrayal is different; every circumstance, every heart, every walk with God, every response, every desire to change, every recognition of sin. I have often felt like we were blazing a new trail. No one quite understands how I feel. No one knows exactly how to "fix it" or how you should respond or when you should go or when you should stay. No one can say when you should be "over it" (and I know people who try).

To a certain extent it's like a balancing act where you need to find the middle or you'll fall off one side or the other. Too much angry and bitter or too much enabling and overlooking and you're off balance. Where is the middle ground? There is an appropriate time to take a hard line against the sin, but if your spouse is honestly working to make different choices and working alongside of you to heal the marriage, then you are called to forgive.

Obviously when it all comes out it feels like you're on one of those extreme roller coasters, highest, fastest, mostly loops, upside down and backwards. For a while you don't even know which end is up. As the years progress, your roller coaster downsizes, and if your lucky you find yourself on one of those runaway trains, fast then slow, up then down, but a little more palatable.

I don't know which roller coaster you're on or whether you have found the balance yet. Unfortunately no one can tell you the exact formula. That's between you, your spouse, and God to figure out. I can't explain how or why I came to feel some of the things that have gotten me through. Time has been an essential element because the ramifications of this type of sin are far reaching and they don't go away just because the truth is out. It's hard work on both of your parts to put the pieces back together trusting God will show you the way.

"Don't you know that evil people will not receive God's kingdom? Don't be fooled. Those who commit sexual sins will not receive the kingdom. Neither will those who worship statues of gods or commit adultery. Neither will men who are prostitutes or who commit homosexual acts. Neither will thieves or those who always want more and more. Neither will those who are often drunk or tell lies or cheat. People who live like that will not receive God's kingdom.

Some of you used to do those things. But your sins were washed away. You were made holy. You were made right with God. All of that was done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

(1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Friday, March 11, 2011

How Could You? (truth from the story of Tamar)

When someone has hurt or betrayed you, one of the first questions you may ask is, "Why?" or "How could you have done this to me?" This type of betrayal may never have crossed your mind. It is most likely something you would never consider perpetrating yourself. It may be the furthest thing from your mind. Sexual sin may not make any sense to you. So you spend your days wrestling with the "why's" and the "how could you's", but it just doesn't make sense to you no matter how hard you try.

After studying the story of Tamar in Genesis 38 something struck me that I wanted to share with you.

This is what Genesis 38 is about in a nutshell: Judah had 3 sons. He found Tamar to be the wife of his first son. But his first son was wicked and the Lord killed him. Then Judah told his second son to sleep with Tamar in the hopes that she would have an offspring for the first son (who is dead). But the second son doesn't want his inheritance to go to the offspring of his older brother so he misuses Tamar and does not make it possible for her to conceive a child. Because of his wickedness the Lord kills the second son. Judah does not see that wickedness killed his sons so he decides he does not want to risk giving Tamar to his third son and sends her back to her father's house. Basically, Judah has sealed Tamar's fate because without an offspring she has no hope and no one to take care of her in her old age. Although Judah is responsible for taking care of Tamar (as his daughter-in-law) he has shirked his responsibility to her. Many years later, Tamar decides to take her fate into her own hands. She dresses like a prostitute and waits along the roadside for her father-in-law, Judah, to come by. He solicits her and they have sex. He does not know it is Tamar. Because he thinks she is a prostitute he offers to send her a goat as payment to which she agrees. However, she requires that he give her something as collateral until the goat is sent. So he gives her his seal, cord, and staff (which would have been of great value back then, even more valuable then the goat he would send). When he returns to give her the goat she is no where to be seen. She becomes pregnant with Judah's child and is accused of being a prostitute (because she has no husband). The "authorities" tell Judah about her adultery because by law she belongs to his family. He hypocritically tells them to kill her for her sin. While Tamar was being brought out to be killed she told Judah that the father of her child is the man who belongs to these items and reveals the seal, cord, and staff. He, of course, recognizes these as his and realizes all that has happened. He says, "she is more righteous than I, inasmuch as I did not give her to my son Shelah" (verse 26). He then takes responsibility for Tamar and she bears him twin sons.

The truth as it relates to trying to make sense of how someone could betray another person in this way comes in verse 18 when she asks for a pledge until he can send the goat and he offers her the seal, cord, and staff. Since we know how the story ends we can easily see how stupid a choice that was for him. Why would he give her things of such value? It doesn't make any sense to us. Like Judah, to satisfy our own lustful desires we are willing to give away things of great value and importance. I found this truth oddly encouraging. A reminder that we often want to make betrayal about us, our value and worth in the other person's eyes. That if they had loved us, valued us, thought our marriage, our relationship, even intimacy was truly important then they could never have given it all away so easily.

Proverbs 14:16
The wise watch their steps and avoid evil;
fools are headstrong and reckless.

We are all foolish in our sin. Foolishness doesn't make sense to the "wise". When we are caught up in sin we make choices that don't make a lot of sense to others. We don't think clearly and we are definitely thinking only of ourselves. This thinking results in reckless behavior and the foolishness of giving away things of value to get the sinful desire we think we need.

God has a plan. He had a plan for Tamar and He has a plan for you. If this has happened to you then it has a glorious purpose in your life. The reason you were betrayed may never make sense to you. You may need to change your perspective on it and agree that it will never make sense. Your betrayer, in their sin, was acting foolishly. Sexual sin was tempting enough to give it all away, sometimes to the point of losing everything that really matters. Although you should take responsibility for your own sinful actions in your marriage relationship, their betrayal was about them (not you) and does not reflect on your value and worth as a spouse or as a person.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How Will You Know?

"Marriage is a momentary gift. I have only scratched the surface of its wonders and its wounds." (John Piper "This Momentary Marriage")

So how will you know whether or not your spouse will stay true? Only time will tell.

Betrayal tears away walls of trust that take years to build. It is a complicated world we live in when at any moment, anyone, anywhere can hurt us, physically or mentally or both.

There is something magical about time. You may have heard it said that "time heals all wounds". Think about losing someone close to you and you remember how difficult the first year was, every first that comes along without them here. But time does heal and we all get back to living. What else is there to do?

I think time is a gift from God. It's through the passing of time that we often see and understand a little bit more of what was going on "back then". Time offers fresh perspective on things in the past. Sometimes it's through time that God reveals some of His larger plan. Believing we are all part of something greater gives us hope and helps us to keep putting one foot in front of the other, especially through the struggles.

Time also gives change wings. Time is constantly pressing forward but so are our opportunities to make different choices and to change. Over time trust between my husband and I is slowly building. Like I have said before, through thought, word, and action I have been witness to my husband's heart change. He is not the man he was before and time has revealed that.

I have been asked, "what will you do if he betrays you again?". I have been mulling this over for awhile because I know what I want my answer to be and I know where I believe I stand. But truth be told I hope my heart is strong enough to resist the urge to run if something like that happened again. For me, FOR ME, I choose to embrace this covenant commitment I have made with my husband. It's easy to say when things are good that I won't give up on him. That I am not going anywhere. But I also know what it's like to be face to face with raw hurt and betrayal and how devastating it can be when your trust is in shambles. All I can say is that I am committed. I am planted deep in this marriage until God moves me. I cannot control whether or not my husband betrays me again. But I am not self-deceiving enough to think that I could not make a major mistake that requires the same grace from him some day. I hope that his commitment to me is as strong and true as mine is to him.

So time heals. It allows for second chances and change. It unveils some of God's plan and work in our lives and the lives of others. And ultimately, in a marriage, time means a commitment and a covenant to enjoy and work through hard issues with your spouse. Time is a gift of memories. And time means there is hope for all of us to know and love God more and more each day. That when we mess up today, we get another chance tomorrow.

Time is a gift.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

God-Honoring Intimacy

Intimacy is a really important part of marriage. Notice I didn't say "sex". It's taken us quite a while to understand the difference. It's even more complicated when you are married to a recovering sex addict AND you have childhood sexual abuse baggage.

I believe God created sex to be something you share with your spouse alone.

I believe that sexual intercourse is the fruit of knowing and being known by your spouse. This "knowing and being known" is not exclusive to the bedroom. This can be deep, heartfelt conversation, non-sexual touching, spending quality time together, and being loving to one another (thru actions and words) -- all of which can ultimately culminate in intimacy in the bedroom. When you feel loved, connected, cared for, and safe it creates an atmosphere for trust and vulnerability which I believe naturally leads you to God-glorifying physical intimacy.

I believe that all things, including and especially your sex life with your spouse, need to be God honoring. And I believe you know whether it is God honoring when you truly understand and are honest about what is motivating you during the act of making love. If it is for self-gratification or just to make your spouse happy then I don't believe it is God honoring.To glorify God in sexual intimacy it cannot be about using each other...using for a release or using to feel loved or so they won't leave you.

Intimacy includes being respectful of your spouse and not asking them to do things that make them feel uncomfortable, confused, objectified, or unloved. It's about mutually loving one another. It is me loving and putting his needs before mine and him loving me and putting my needs before his. If sex is a means to getting off, whether it's with your spouse or not, I don't believe that is intimacy (atleast the way God intended it to be). Intimacy is definitely a heart thing and intimacy is about LOVE.

Marriage is not a free ticket to sex anytime, anywhere, any way you want it. You are not an object. You are his wife and should be honored above all. You should be his treasure and treated as such.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (the message) "There's more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, "The two become one." Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever - the kind of sex that can never "become one". There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for "becoming one" with another. Or didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? They physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body."

Sex has and continues to be one of our biggest struggles in our marriage. And it's only been until recently that we have made some major strides in this area. A sexual addiction makes sex an idol. Whatever the means by which they get the sex they so desperately want (even if it's with their spouse), it is still an idol. Until they turn to God, instead of sex, to fulfill all of their needs, it will be a struggle for them (and you).

Reading the book "Undefiled" by Harry Schaumburg has helped tremendously with our understanding of biblical intimacy and biblical manhood and womanhood. Another resource that has been helpful to us is a sermon series by Pastor John Piper of Desiring God ministries called "Sex and the Supremacy of Christ". To listen or to download a copy of the sermon click the links below.

Sex and the Supremacy of Christ Part 1 -- By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:
Sex and the Supremacy of Christ Part 2 -- By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This Is My Solemn Vow

"I take you to be my (husband/wife), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, for as long as we both shall live. This is my solemn vow." (traditional Christian wedding vows)

The day I said these vows I meant them. The beauty of them tearfully spoken. A promise. A commitment. The day couldn't have been more perfect. I was marrying the man I had dated for over five years. We were excited and ready for this new chapter.

Intimacy did not come easy. Years of "don't do it" and "wait until marriage" suddenly changing to "it's okay, you're married". I was obviously thinking about it completely wrong. There wasn't a lot I knew about being someone's wife. My only examples my parents and other married adults I had known throughout my life. Some good examples, I suppose, but we are all just doing the best that we can after all. I felt ill-prepared still torn between the life and family of my youth and this new life I was beginning with the love of my life. "Leave and cleave" was much harder then I had ever expected.

He was patient some of the time, but there was often conflict. I guess I never realized how insecure I felt with him. There was always something sort of off with us and it didn't take long for things to start falling apart. What I realize now, is there were secrets eating away inside of him at that time. His heart wanted a "happily ever after" with me, but sexual immorality was stealing away those dreams. If you have visited this blog before, you already know the details (or can easily read them for yourself).

God works in the midst of the junk. He knew what was going on, but He also knew where He was taking us. We weren't necessarily walking strongly with the Lord back then. We were Christians meaning we believed in Jesus and we occasionally attended church. I knew He was around somewhere and although I don't remember asking Him for help, I know now that He was certainly helping whether I had asked Him or not.

The strength of my faith today I can humbly thank God for. It was because of the yuck we were forced to deal with that God became the focus and foundation of our marriage, a place He should have been at the beginning, but we didn't know any better. It is often a difficult journey this thing called marriage. With the everyday stresses, young children, work, school there is so much to contend with. Finding our way back to each other and changing our priorities and shifting our focus onto Him was easy and challenging at the same time. The challenge lies in changing the way we think and act in our marriage; having courage to seek wise counsel and see our hearts as they really are, broken and helpless. Condemned to a life of struggle if it weren't for God sending Jesus to redeem us and save us from this brokenness.

Saved from doesn't mean we don't still feel broken sometimes. It doesn't mean that we don't struggle anymore. It IS a life of hope, that we can weather any storms and He will be with us in the midst of them.

And all of this just brings me back to those vows. Whether said in earnest or under a shroud of secrets, it doesn't matter because God brings man and wife together and we CHOOSE whether to stay that way or not. If it's for better or worse it might mean staying and working through your biggest nightmare, but God will meet you there.

"I take you to be my (husband/wife), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, for as long as we both shall live. This is my solemn vow."

This is what living and walking with him and Him looks like.

Monday, January 17, 2011

When You Raise the White Flag

School lunches need to be made, noses wiped, diapers changed, grocery shopping, laundry and are a Mom, after all. And yet the busyness of your day can only drown out the questions for so long. Why? How could he? How could He? Will I ever trust him again? Do I even want to stay married to him? How can you love him let alone live with him?

Where do you find the answers? Where do you find the answers to any of life's questions? Unless you have been down this road before I don't think anyone truly understands or knows how to overcome it. Like a "Dear Abby" letter I've been asked many questions. It's been many years since the truth came out and the light came on and I remember how we managed; at that time we were stumbling through it, reaching, grasping for anything we could use to hold us together.

Then came the Truth. That was the glue. And the tremendous grace He bestowed on us, bringing us to what we both needed and still need the most...surrender. You are fighting, fighting, fighting and you realize you can't do it anymore. You're tired and beaten down, weak and confused. Have you reached the point where if you don't raise the white flag in surrender then you know you're going to die? Maybe not physical death, but maybe you will just give up. Hopeless is a desperate place to be.

Whether you have stopped trusting your spouse or you have stopped trusting yourself. When it all seems lost, there is a moment, when you get to choose. Is it about you? Or is it about love? Is it about Him?

It is easy to make this all about your spouse. What choices they made that hurt you so much. When they aren't who you thought they were. There comes a point when all the anger and bitterness can turn on you if you can't see Him in the struggle with you anymore.

Are you ready to surrender? Can you give up trying to understand why? Because what feels like another betrayal may be the door for you to see things a new way. To see things within yourself that need changing. What does your heart look like? When everything is going well in your life it's easy to love God, but when the trials hit, that's when your true heart for Christ is revealed.

Are you willing to let His light shine into your darkest places, too?

There was a moment when this suffering felt like it was about me, my pain, my betrayal. How could God do this to me? He knew about my childhood betrayal so why would he allow this? Why did he not allow the one thing my heart had always wanted...a man to love and cherish me the way I deserved? This was a poignant moment because I realized (with help) that this suffering was about me, but not in the way I first thought. It was about my heart and who I was; who I was as a spouse, a mother, a woman; who I was in my relationship with Him. God could have kept the light out. The secrets could have remained secrets for all of time. We could have lived a status quo, unhappy married life and passed that example onto our children. Could the painful truth coming out actually be FOR ME? out of love for me? Was this the way, the ONLY way, out of an unhappy marriage? Was this His way of giving me my heart's desire?

When the light came on and the darkness exposed, God had brought my husband through the pit. God graciously convicted him to the point that he was done with the lies and he repented. By exposing the darkness, the secret sin could be dealt with, worked on, and healed. The Light is desirable. The Light is love. The Light filled my husband with the desire to love me and our children more perfectly. Something I had always desired, but feared would never happen in our marriage.

So allow yourself the freedom to experience ALL that this crisis has for you. Be angry, sad, disappointed, or worse. Forgive and forgive again as often as you need. But I pray that when God brings you through He will also soften your heart to all that He has in store for YOU, all that YOU need to see in yourself.

"I can tell you these things because I have been in dark places -- which is the only way any of us ever learn to love the light." (Tony Woodlief, "Somewhere More Holy")

Monday, January 10, 2011

Intimacy Issues

"Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death..." (Song of Solomon 8:6)
"Intimacy in marriage is a love bound by promises, pure and unwavering...This love in a holy, God-honoring marriage is as strong as the powerful (but negative) experience of death." (Dr. Harry Schaumburg "Undefiled")

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one. And it's true! No one has had the same experiences I have had. Sometimes I feel lonely, like there is no one else that understands how I feel. I know that is a lie. Jesus struggled. He suffered. He has been where I am and where I am going. Still, in the quiet of our struggles it is easy to feel very alone.

My reactions to my childhood sexual abuse were unique to me. I did not become promiscuous. I did not act out rebelliously. And although I do believe there had to be signs that something was awry, they were not significant enough for my parents to think anything of it. As an adult, who has been dealing with the ramifications of the abuse for many years now, I have always wished there was a blatant sign or a red flag that would have initiated counseling or help. More then anything I think my parents just weren't equipped to understand it and people weren't really talking about it back then either.

The symptoms stemming from the abuse have become more or less a private struggle for me. Intimacy, specifically physical intimacy with my husband. For others, emotional intimacy with other people. Whether physical or emotional, intimacy issues can get in the way of God's relational plan for you. And it only gets that much more complicated when you throw in sexual betrayal by your spouse.

God's plan sometimes seems comical to me. For someone who prior to working through the sexual abuse stuff wanted nothing to do with physical intimacy to marry someone whose sexual desires were off the charts in the addiction side of things is crazy and amazing. In many ways, the fact that my husband and I were on the extreme ends of the sexual spectrum has helped us both with our sexual issues. But it has also made it very difficult. Sex has become for us our number one struggle in marriage.

A sexual addict is not looking for intimacy. Schaumburg's book "False Intimacy" discusses how it is an "intensity over intimacy" thing. Sexual immorality has nothing to do with intimacy. It is not about being known and it's not about love. It's about using others for your own satisfaction.

Likewise, someone who was sexually abused as a child by a trusted person may as an adult decide (perhaps subconsciously even) that they don't ever want to open themselves up to being taken advantage of again. Intimacy is a scary proposition because you must fully trust and allow yourself to be known completely, hopefully without shame. In my case, it is not for lack of desire. And through a lot of hard work, my husband and I have been able to have meaningful intimacy together. But so far, the struggle has not left me and I want to understand what it is deep inside of me that makes me feel like being known, exposed and unguarded, is not okay.

I often wish I could find someone else that feels the way I do about intimacy so that I don't feel so alone. If you struggle with physical or emotional intimacy, I would like to hear how you have overcome or dealt with it in your life/marriage. Would you consider emailing me?

"Real intimacy for the glory of God has a built-in secondary vital purpose of protection from sexual temptation. This doesn't work if you're only having sex for the sake of sex, which always leads to the lust for more and possibly for illicit sex. It will never work as a prevention if the wife feels like a sexual object and lacks interest. It will powerfully work if a couple is "on the same page" sexually, spiritually, and relationally, enjoying the interpersonal harmony of God-given passion." (Dr. Harry Schaumburg "Undefiled")

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I started reading a book by Harry Schaumburg called "Undefiled: Redemption from Sexual Sin, Restoration for Broken Relationships". My first encounter with Dr. Schaumburg was reading his book "False Intimacy: Understanding the Struggle of Sexual Addiction". He is a speaker, author, and counselor and has been "pointing people away from sexual sin to restored intimacy with God and others" for nearly thirty years. I'd say he knows what he's talking about.

I bought the book hoping it would provide the "break through" I was looking for. I'm a little over half-way through the book and I haven't given up hope for that yet. He has a very honest, biblical perspective that I appreciate. It's not always easy to hear, but I appreciate it. Reminds me of reading "The Wounded Heart" by Dan Allender...a whole lot of truth and conviction. That's what we need, though, someone who is telling us the truth, even if it hurts or challenges our thinking.

In a nutshell, Dr. Schaumburg makes the point that the "path to freedom, purity, and restoration" are through sexual redemption. Perhaps I'll share a little more about that in another post (once I've finished the book), but for now, I'd like to write some quotes from the book that really struck a chord with me AND encourage you to read this book at some point, particularly if you and/or your spouse are struggling with the ramifications of sexual sin (pornography, adultery, or even childhood sexual abuse). This book assumes that you have a desire to have "sexual and relational healing".

From a biblical perspective, we are all sinners. Every day we are making choices that go against God. The choice to commit adultery, view pornography, lust...are because we are sinners. This is not a justification. I'm merely saying that when we ask "why did this happen?" or "how could they have done this to me" the basic answer is because we are sinners.

(emphasis added)
"Sin is a failure to let God be God. Ultimately, sin results from placing ourselves and our desires ahead of God."

"Sexual sin is enslavement to sexual activity, a state of mind, a self-centeredness that pushes away the truth. Even negative consequences of sexual sin do not produce change because they lack the ability to effect repentance."

"Conviction is a deep spiritual sorrow for sin. It is not disgust or shame of being caught."

"Without conviction and the application of grace the best we can hope to achieve is frustrating, long-term behavioral management versus authentic and lasting heart change."

"Behavior can be managed to a degree, but real change from the inside out is essential and is always the work of God."

"Repentance is what happens on the inside; it is not an effort to change behavior through a process of steps or choosing to look away when tempted to lust."

"Past experiences, good and bad, shape us, but they don't dictate or make us do what's wrong."

"...there is an Ultimate Reality greater than our painful situations. At all times we are to pursue the path that glorifies God."

"God in His judgment at the beginning of time and in His providence allows pain to come out of our experience of life. At the very beginning of time, Adam and Eve stepped out from under God's authority in an attempt to enhance their lives. Their rebellion led to God's judgement for both of them--pain, frustration, and futility. To this day we seek to avoid the reality of God's judgement. We choose a different path to deal with the profound disorder of all of life. The arrogance in us all that attempts to get control over all the difficult circumstances of life by our own efforts is a foolish attempt to question or replace a sovereign God."
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