My head was in his lap and I was looking up at the ceiling, wondering how I had gotten here. My little girl hopes and dreams were flashing right before my very eyes. My husband’s soft hands were brushing away the hairs surrounding my face. Just 24 hours prior, I had confessed to having an affair with another man.
“Shannon, do you really think this is Gods will? Do you really think it’s God’s will for you to leave me to be with someone else?” In that moment, that very tiny moment in time, it was like a lightbulb that had been flickering for days finally flashed all the way on and shined bright. “No,” I said. “No, it can’t be.”
We immediately went in to survival mode. Devastation surrounded us and we were completely gutted. My heart was crushed with guilt and self-loathing. Like a rag doll, I was weak and limp, slumped over in shame. Those days are blurry to me now, but looking back I just don’t know how we made it. This vile thing that I did was completely out of character for me and it almost brought me to my death.
I knew it was wrong. I willingly continued despite the promptings God put on my heart. When we refuse to listen to God’s warning, we are left to battle the devil by our own strength. It’s a battle we will never win on our own! And now, my husband and I faced the most difficult test of our marriage. Would we survive? It didn’t seem possible. How could he forgive such a terrible thing? He met with a divorce attorney and I didn’t blame him. I expected every bit of rejection and angry backlash that he could throw my way.
God was faithful. He saved our marriage. There is just no other explanation. “What is impossible for man is possible for God.” Luke 18:27
God took the anger and devastation in my husband’s heart – and replaced them with an unfathomable love and forgiveness toward me. He picked up this dirty rag doll, dusted her off and held her close. In my husband’s heart, God worked the truth of Ephesians 5:35:
“Husbands, love your wives so much that you would give your life up for her, just as Christ gave his life for the church.”
I’m grateful for a strong husband. He fought for me. He fought for me because he loved me.
And I loved him.
He was Jesus with skin on. He showed me the true love of Christ, and I finally got it. For the first time in my life I finally realized how powerful the message of the cross was and what Jesus did for me on that day at Calvary.
And it changed everything.
It still took several years for us to be fully restored. When infidelity wrecks a marriage, the hardest thing you will do is make the decision to stay together and work it out. It was a roller coaster of emotions for both of us and I will tell you that it probably would’ve been easier for both of us if we had just succumbed to what the world was telling us to do. Get a divorce.
But, we loved each other and our marriage was worth fighting for. We sought counseling and got plugged into a grace-filled church. Even so, we each had our own battles to face.
For me, even though I had repented I still had to battle the ugliness of what I had done. Because of shame I felt dirty and worthless. I felt like I had nothing more to offer anyone. Every time I picked up my bible it was foreign to me. I couldn’t fathom how those words could apply to me. Because of sin and shame, they just didn’t make sense to me anymore.
My identity was severed and I had no idea who I was. Even though I had heard about it my whole life, I felt grace just wasn’t for me. I would be forever marked as “that woman,” and I might as well forget about ever doing any kind of ministry again.
I remember walking in to church many times with tears streaming down my face that would not stop until we left. I was so broken. I was broken before Him and stripped completely bare. All I had to offer Him was me. But yet that’s all He ever wanted.
I was enough.
It took a while for me to really understand how he bore MY shame on the cross.
The problem with shame is that it can take you into a deep, dark hole. It will pull you deeper and deeper until you feel no way of escape.
But then there’s this:
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
He suffered shame so that my shame would be taken away and HE would be restored in me. God loved me so much that He sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for me so that all of my sin and shame be taken away.
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, (Luke 4:18).
Jesus was sent to this earth for me and for you.
He came to heal my broken heart that was completely severed at what I had done to my loved ones and to myself.
He came to deliver a captive like me. I was held captive with my thoughts and the thoughts others had about me. I was dirty and worthless.
He came to recover my sight. I was blinded. I could not see past my sin. I couldn’t see a future. All I saw was blackness around me and there was no way out.
He came to set me free from my oppression. I was burdened down by shame and guilt, and I felt it was what I deserved.
The Him I Never Knew
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
I began to seek him with everything I had in me. Honestly I didn’t have a choice. In order for me to save my marriage, I had to do something. I had to GET UP. I had to find strength. So I ran to God with every single bit of my heart. And I found Him. I found the Him I never knew. I’ve been a Christian my whole life yet I finally found Him. Only then was He able to work inside of me. I offered everything I had up to Him, and in doing that it completely restored my marriage.
It took about 4-5 years for our marriage to be fully restored. Today we are genuinely happy and we do not take each other for granted. Each day is a gift. We love and we love big. By the grace of God, we will celebrate 25 years of marriage in June. We owe everything to Jesus and if not for Him, no doubt we’d each be on our own path today.
Though I made some really, really bad choices, I’m so grateful for our journey because it brought us to where we are today!