Monday, May 20, 2013
Moral Failure. Mighty God.
So maybe it’s fair to say that while God doesn’t need our tragedies to transform us, He certainly uses our Plan B’s to bring about change in our lives. Pete Wilson, author of Plan B
In 2011, I joined the “unofficial” list of men who have committed adultery. I became yet another minister (and counselor) who fell into sexual sin and became a “moral failure.” It is a difficult pill to swallow for sure. It is etched in to my story like a permanent tattoo; one that I regret deeply. I now wear an invisible “A” for “recovering adulterer.” It is humbling no doubt, but thankfully God is the hero of my story. My identity is not in my sin; it is in Him – or at least that is what I am striving for daily.
My wife Amy will tell you that she never expected to have this situation occur in our marriage. The pain I put her through is terrible. Her raw and transparent expression of the pain she has felt combined with God’s amazing grace, are very well written about in the last chapter of our book, Moral Failure. Mighty God. It is to be published hopefully this year (2013). I pray that her courage and faith in God will inspire you and your betrayed spouse.
For most of my teen and adult years, I had serious baggage, secrets, and struggles that no one really knew about. Close friends and family members may have known bits and pieces, but the depth of my sin took me down roads that shocked even me. Roads that led to me hurting many others deeply, especially my beloved wife, Amy.
When Amy and I said our vows on May 17, 1997, we said, “For better or for worse.” We didn’t go into it expecting “for worse,” but sadly it happened. It is very difficult to write about and talk about, but it is a reality in our marriage that we can’t change. I would never wish this upon anyone. God didn’t cause it to happen; He allowed it to happen. Now, only He can fix it and use it for good; if we will continue to let Him.
From 2009 to 2011, I was a full time children’s minister, serving on staff and overseeing our children’s and preschool ministries. I was also doing part-time marriage counseling. At the church there were over 200 children under my leadership, along with hundreds of volunteers. Things seemed to be going well, at least on the outside.
On August 26, 2011, I received a phone call from my friend, who was a marriage and family therapist. He told me to come to his office right away. I said, “For what?” He said, “You know. Just come now please.” When I anxiously arrived at his office, he dropped a bomb on me that I knew would fall at some point but hoped it never would. He told me that my secret was out and that he now knew about my affairs with some women in the church. One of them confessed it to him earlier that morning.
He told me to call Amy and have her come to the office. He said not to give her details but to just come right away. I also called my associate pastor and told him. Amy wanted to know what was going on but I wouldn’t tell her over the phone, especially since she was driving. She knew something was bad wrong and started putting things together in her head on the way. One of the worst days of her life had arrived. I had to tell her that I had been unfaithful to her, and on more than one occasion, with people who were close to her.
Betrayal. Devastation. Heartbreak. This was a very dark day. It still is a painful reminder of the sin that nearly cost me everything. It is a day that has changed us forever.
Two days after I confessed to Amy, I was asked by my pastor to tell the church, publically. That was definitely not something I wanted to do. That Sunday morning at the end of what seemed to be a day long worship service (it was really only an hour and 15 minutes), I stood up and told the congregation of 600+ that I was resigning immediately - due to marital unfaithfulness. The shame I felt was overwhelming. The looks on people’s faces are etched in my brain forever. That was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done in my entire life. For years I had kept this secret shame hidden, but I now had to openly share it with hundreds of people. The grace I experienced from over 100 people who prayed for us that day was very healing, but the months to follow were very dark, painful, and difficult - to say the least.
God broke me down immediately. My shame was out and I felt relief in some ways. I no longer had to hide this part of my life, but the damage was huge. The healing path would take tremendous courage no doubt. God would have to show up and carry us through.
God changed my heart and gave me a love for my wife like never before. I wish it didn’t take such a horrible sin to humble me and help me start to find healing. I am grateful that we are still together and that our marriage is better than ever. At the writing of this book, we are in year two of our healing and have had to overcome huge odds to be where we are today. God is no doubt our refuge and strength. He gets the glory for sure.
Though many people still have very negative feelings toward me (rightfully so), and I am still in the early stages of recovery, I desire to pass on what God has done. My experience of brokenness and God’s work in my life is what led to the writing of this book. I wasn’t planning on writing a book. God laid it on my heart to do so. I have seen way too many people struggle to embrace their brokenness and do similar “sins” to themselves and others as a result.
I am not proud of my past. I wish I could take back all the wrong I have done, but I can’t. The best I can do is change how I live in the present and future. Not just for me and my wife, but for my children’s future families. I want to break the generational curse of adultery that has been in my family’s history for far too long. I want it to end with me.
Our prayer is that you are helped and find hope that God will do something amazing. There are no guarantees of the outcome of your situation, but God is good, no matter what happens. Trust Him and pray like your life depends on it. Well, your life does depend on it, better yet, it depends on Him. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. Apart from Him we can do nothing.