This is Day 30 in the series “31 Days: What You Should Know Before An Affair“
It’s been seventeen years since my confession, since surviving the absolute worst year of my life. This coming year we’ll celebrate fifteen years of marriage, my oldest son is almost twenty, and our four other children are thriving. I’m living a wonderful life with my family and a few friends, and God has been so good to me. While time has helped my heart heal from the woundedness of my choices, I am still living with consequences from the decisions I made all those years ago.
Sometimes I hesitate to talk about the consequences, because in some ways, highlighting them feels like I’m trying to prove that I’m suffering enough and paying for the sin I chose, which seems to give satisfaction to the naysayers and haters of my story—the ones who think “top ten” sinners don’t ever deserve blessing, and who are angry at God for forgiving us completely and allowing us to live any sort of decent life at all.
I also hesitate because while the consequences are still painful and real, I hate feeling like I need to prove how bad I have it in order to persuade you not to choose what I did. Especially because to take that posture and highlight all the consequences and regret, in a way, degrades the family I now have and the life I now live. I love my husband and children very much, and to say I wish I’d never done what I did, is to wish they never existed. It means to say I regret my current family, and that feels impossible and wrong.
Do I regret my sin? Yes.
Do I regret learning from it and being changed by how God’s mercy met me in it? No.
My husband and children are the best thing that has ever happened to me, and they are the greatest representation of God’s mercy, grace, and redemption I know.
God is not up there trying to divvy out the worst consequences He can give. That’s not the kind of God we serve. God loves us, and forgives us completely. He never gives us the punishment we deserve, but instead gives us unlimited grace all along the way.
However, He does allow us to experience the natural human consequences of our choices, but even in those, He promises to be with us, in and through them. And I can tell you, He has done just that for me.
So if you find yourself in the aftermath of poor choices today, feeling guilty that you should regret your current life, I want you to know, God loves you. He is for you. And He willingly meets you right where you are today. No matter what.
With that said, no matter how blessed I feel now, and no matter how much God has redeemed my story, the reality is there are ongoing consequences I face. And to fail to tell you about them would be misleading and dishonest, leaving out some very hard truths you need to know.
Regardless of the kind of poor choices, you need to know,
there are consequences forever.
Because of your choices, there will be situations and circumstances which are hard to change and impossible to forget. They will cause wounds which will eventually heal over time, but will leave you with scars that will never go away.
For me, my choices have forever marred my reputation and also affected the way I view myself. I created shame tapes which have taken years to get to stop playing. And even now I sometimes realize I’m playing them again, requiring me to intentionally fight them with truth, seek empathy from friends, and remind myself of my identity in Christ to get them to stop. This will be a lifelong process for me.
I also lost many relationships because of my choices. Friendships ended. Acquaintances were severed. Family relationships became strained. I lost my history with college friendships and church-based relationships and it has been a lonely road of recovery. This is the price I have paid, and the low-grade ache of lost relationship continues to this day. Honestly, it has been really hard.
But the biggest ongoing consequences for my heart, far and beyond any others, are related to my relationship with my oldest son. For the first nine years following the divorce, we shared physical custody—he spent one week at our house, and then the next week at his dad’s—back and forth for years. He went to school by my house and on the weeks he was with his dad I would drive him home everyday after school. Over time though, it became clear this wasn’t ideal for any of us.
When my son was in sixth grade we all four mutually decided it would be best for him to live with one parent full-time—one room, one set of clothes, one address, one set of rules, and one place to fully engage and belong—and we all agreed that parent would be his dad.
And so, we moved and bought a house within walking distance of his dad’s house, and he moved in full-time with his dad and stepmom. For me, it was the beginning of a slow goodbye over time, unlike the sudden goodbye most parents face when their adult child moves out to go to college or live on their own. Instead, for me, the loss would start early. It was a price I willingly chose because I believed it was best for my son, but it was not easiest for my heart.
I became the homework and transportation mom, taking him to and from school and activities, church youth group and drum lessons. This was the way we stayed in daily contact. And although it was daily, it wasn’t daily, regular, around-the-house sort of contact. No longer did we just hang out on the couch together watching TV. No longer did he chat at me while I cooked dinner, and our conversation was less organic and spontaneous. I rarely got to do his laundry, pack his lunch, or just sit in his presence for no reason. One minute the loss would feel sudden and acute, and then with some connection it would fade. But over time, it would inevitably feel acute and fresh again, and most certainly was a process of grief for me, a long process of grief.
Then came a whole new level of grief the fall of his senior year in high school. I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me before it happened, or why it caught me by surprise. He was nearly eighteen, and had waited until then to finally get his driver’s license. But the day he decided to take the test caught me off guard. There was no warning, he just decided to go down to DMV and take it. And not that he needed to warn me, but I found myself unprepared. I thought I still had time.
While I was thrilled that he passed the written and driving test, I was clueless about what it would end up doing to my heart. Little did I know our allotted time in the car together was about to abruptly end. It was like a sudden death but with no warning. Suddenly one day, out of nowhere, I went from daily contact with him, to having no reason for contact, as my transportation provision was no longer needed. And I grieved. Truthfully, I’m still grieving. Letting go is hard enough, but with all the rest it was especially jolting.
He’s almost twenty now. He works, goes to school, lives a busy life. I take care of my life and my family in all the regular ways, but the ache of his absence and the regret of my lost time with him over the years will linger forever. He was my first. He first made me a mother all those years ago and I can still close my eyes and feel his three-month-old body in my arms. He was all mine then, and now he’s grown.
There have been many everyday moments together lost, because of my choices years ago. Lost memories, lost influence, and lost time together are the greatest consequences for me, even to this day. And although there is much to look forward to with him—texts, calls, advice, and times he comes for dinner—it has been an enormous price for my mother-heart to pay.
No matter your choices, you must know, there are consequences forever.
It is my prayer that you would heavily weigh them, and know as you face whatever temptation is before you,
God is with you,
Someone has faced this before you,
Secrecy doesn’t have to control you,
And there is a way around what seems to be your inevitable destiny.
It is not my desire to deprive you of fulfillment or joy, but by sharing my experience, to save you from pain … the inevitable pain of consequences that promise to be with you forever.
May you know today, you are not alone.
What consequences are you still facing from your choices?
How has God been with you in your pain?
Read Day 31 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.