This is Day 16 in the series “31 Days: What You Should Know Before An Affair“
I can still see the deli where we met that day. Running late, I raced down the stairs and headed for the sidewalk. The time for the conversation had come.
The turmoil was taking its toll on us both, and the secrecy escalated our failure. My twisted way of thinking curled tighter and tighter around me as time passed, making it seem like I was suffocating. We were on an endless escalator, going who knows where—not only lying to others, but to ourselves too. But we stayed on, because while we were riding, there was an element of hope and exhilaration mixed in too.
The truth is, sin often satisfies in the moment, but what we don’t realize is that it makes promises it can’t keep. It entices our hearts with its illusions, only to drop us straight into a free fall toward pain as we fall over at the top of the escalator’s climb.
There are few good destinations for sin.
I remember opening the heavy glass door to Jerry’s Deli and immediately seeing him. He’d come from work to meet me, all dressed up in that bright blue button up dress shirt—cuffs turned up and blue eyes to match.
We greeted each other with the same familiar gaze—the one where you don’t need words to know exactly what it means—hoping our passion wasn’t obvious to everyone in the place.
It was always a tricky dance to be in public.
I’m not sure I even knew myself anymore—leading worship each Sunday, functioning as a pastor’s wife and then driving to secretly meet him in the crazy cracks of my life. We’d spend time alone in private places, but in none of the this-is-normal-life places—no grocery shopping, no stores, no friends. It was a secret world we’d created that felt like it met the deepest personal needs of my heart— a world where I was wanted, and seen, and heard. But it was a private world no one knew about but me, a world I longed to be reality somehow, but one so far from my reality at all.
Secret worlds and secret lives never satisfy because life is so much more than the isolation of one relationship. My heart was splitting in two, wanting to do what’s right, but believing that doing what’s right was too hard for me to select. I had fallen in love with a man I wasn’t married to—who was married to someone else—and I couldn’t tell anyone.
We ordered beef dip sandwiches with the fries on the side. He drank the diet coke he always loves and I had iced tea. We spoke small talk for a while–about his job, about my son and the details of the day.
And then I just said it. And the heaviness of the words hung in mid-air.
“I can’t live this double life anymore…”
My sentence startled him–not from the content, but because of the timing.
I can still remember how he looked at me, and then how he stared out the window for a long time. He knew we needed to deal with this. He’d been feeling it too—the turmoil, the tension. Finally, with eyes welling-up he locked them on mine and broke the long awkward silence.
“So is this it? Is it over?”
It seemed like an impossible place to be.
And it would be in this Neverland of tension we’d remain for the next year—neither of us wanting to sin or live double lives or hurt anyone–including ourselves–and yet we were.
With time and investment we’d become connected—so bonded and addicted—and felt powerless to choose to walk away.
Even though an affair isn’t a realistic representation of everyday life, the feelings and needs which are met in the midst of one, are very real. That’s why choosing to willingly say goodbye felt as if we’d be amputating a limb, and then volunteering to hemorrhage to death.
What I want you to know today is that the goal should be to avoid this Neverland of pain. And the biggest mistake that got me there was secrecy.
From the very beginning I told no one.
And secrecy fuels failure. Every single time.
Secrecy perpetuates compromise.
It allows us to ignore how we justify our bad choices,
And it promotes us to believe the lie that no one ever will know— that we’re aren’t hurting anyone.
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)
It’s my hope today, that if you have a secret, whether in thoughts or actions, you would find someone safe to tell—someone who loves you and would have your best interest at heart, even if the only possible person is a professional.
Select your someone and break the secrecy and silence today.
You are not alone.
What is your experience with secrecy?
What changed in your situation when you dared to tell someone?
Read Day 17 HERE
Throughout this series, if you have a question or a struggle and want me to address it or write on it in this series, please send me an email (jacque at jacquewatkins dot com) or a voicemail (green button on right sidebar) and I will do my best to incorporate it into this series. It will make me so happy to have feedback from you and to write what it is you might need. I can’t wait to hear from you.