Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Losing Her Husband To A Mistress

Heather Campos thought she had a great marriage. She loved being married and had been married for almost 25 years. Her husband began withdrawing, losing himself in computer chat rooms. He was a pastor and decided to leave his ministry. He was talked into staying.

Shortly afterwards, Heather was diagnosed with a low strain of a sexually transmitted disease. He told her there is no way he could have given it to her. He slowly imploded and finally admitted about an on-line relationship. When she finally realized the depth of her husband's sin, she ran to the book of Hosea. "God knows about betrayal and unfaithfulness," she said to herself. "I need to know how this works."

Shaken out of her stupor, Heather knew she had to begin to forgive. "I remember looking at Rennie and saying, 'I know I have to forgive you. I'm going to.' But I was not flooded with a great sense of forgiveness. I was confronted with the truth of having to forgive. Forgiveness was something I could walk into."

She shared her struggle with a pastor, who assured her that forgiveness doesn't imply or confer trust and it doesn't remove the pain. Heather learned that giving forgiveness was vital to her spiritual survival and growth. "The Lord taught me that it's a matter of obedience. If I'm going to keep my heart open through this whole awful process, I'm going to have to be obedient." 

Notice that Heather's first focus was vertical. She was willing to forgive her husband because that's what she had to do in order to stay right with God. The marriage was secondary at this point. Heather was more concerned with doing what was right spiritually than with anything else.

Because bits and pieces of Rennie's story leaked out over time, forgiveness became a constant discipline. There was always something new to digest and try to understand. She fought against bitterness, she loved being a pastor's wife and she loved being a part of their church, and she knew that Rennie's actions had taken away from her something very precious.

Several months later, Rennie finally came completely clean. He laid out everything he had done. Many hurtful things were disclosed, including the fact that Rennie had had another affair and thought he might still be "in love" with this woman.

Biblically, Heather knew she was well within her rights to kick Rennie out of her life and start over, but she never seriously considered that option. "Forgiveness was the harder option, definitely, but I never felt in my heart that divorce was the right thing to do."

This is the key, I believe, to Heather's spiritual maturity and growth through this awful ordeal. Heather told me, "I've always lived my life by conviction and the harder road is not something I'm afraid to take."

It was precisely on the hard road of suffering that Heather started growing, learning lessons, and drawing closer to her God. She would never choose to go through this kind of trial again, but by adopting the right spirit and being willing to forgive, she experienced growth in ways she never could have otherwise.

"I've learned that even when we're in great pain, we're not excused from considering others and from carrying out our call to witness to God's faithfulness."

Though Heather was feeling numb, she learned selflessness by focusing on her concern for her children, the welfare of the church, and even Rennie's soul. Rather than lashing out in anger at Rennie, she was more broken over the spiritual consequences of his actions than over how those actions offended and affected her.

It was a tough, tough time of testing, but choosing forgiveness kept bitterness and anger at bay. It saved her marriage in the end, brought Rennie around, and moved Heather many steps closer to more fully modeling the person of Jesus Christ. Why? I think back to what Heather said ~ "The harder road is not something I'm afraid to take."

Heather was given a bitter juice. She offered that juice to God, 
who made spiritual honey in her life.

Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? 
Prudent, and he shall know them? 
For the ways of the Lord are right, 
and the just shall walk in them.
Hosea 14:9

***Taken from the book A Sacred Marriage.