This is Day 5 in the series “31 Days: What You Should Know Before An Affair“
As I began to risk and dare to be more vulnerable, new opportunities came–first as a speaker, then as a writer.
In 2010, the women’s pastor at our church asked me to teach a summer Bible study series on integrity, and I immediately knew that meant talking about struggle, God’s grace, and my story. I took the risk and said yes.
With my heart racing, I stood on that hot June day in front of a room full of women—several of whom had known me personally through a couple’s Bible study for over three years—and I took my biggest risk yet. With courage and shaking-bravery I told my story publicly for the first time. All of it, from start to finish. They met my raw message with empathy and love, which felt like a reflection of God’s love. I couldn’t have been more thankful.
As a writer, I set out to write my story in a series of twelve posts delineating it all. And I did so after getting permission from every single person in my story. But it seemed the writing would be a bigger risk than the speaking.
When speaking, the audience was small and contained. They could see my face, hear my inflections, and sense the heart behind my message. They even talked with me afterward and built small connections.
Writing would not the same. The internet was large, and without the context of a relationship with me, I would likely face some rejection and criticism from the proverbial scarlet-letter givers of the world once they heard my story.
But in 2013 I wrote anyway, with the dream that someone—even just one person—would find hope from where I’d been.
While I have received hundreds of positive and thank-filled notes in response to my story, there are plenty of those who have criticized me, rejected me, and judged me–both in writing, and face to face.
They’ve called me a hypocrite,
Told me I don’t deserve to be happy,
Said it’s not fair that they’re struggling in their marriage and I’m not,
And expressed resentment that I’m satisfied and they’re not, despite their faithfulness to their marriage.
These are some of the people who have not hesitated to express their disgust at my audacity to share such a story. How dare I get to do what I did, live it still, and tell about it too.
And while there haven’t been hundreds of naysayers—in fact I could probably count them on two hands—it’s amazing how one negative comment, even among hundreds of positive ones, can sting and burn so deeply.
The thing is, it’s not like I didn’t realize it was a controversial story. In fact that’s the reason it took me over a decade to be convinced there was any profitable reason to put myself out there and share it. Besides, who wants to speak and write on the internet about what a big fat failure you are?
Here’s the thing I want you to know. An affair can’t last forever.
Eventually you will have a reckoning.
You’ll desire to pursue healing and recovery.
It may take years, but you will eventually move on in the aftermath of your mess.
But here’s the thing. Your integrity and character will be more suspect in the aftermath of an affair than if you’d never chosen it.
No matter how many years have passed and how healed, whole, and forgiven you are, your character will forever be in question.
I know for certain this will be true.
And that truth will hurt.
A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
and favor is better than silver or gold.
Proverbs 22:1 (ESV)
The struggle will always be real, no matter how many positive comments or thank you emails you receive, no matter how many lives might be changed because of your eventual redemptive story.
There are many reasons in life someone might question your character or integrity.
There are situations where you will be called a hypocrite.
But when you choose to have an affair, it will forever and always underpin who you are, and who they perceive you to be.
You will wish this truth away. Beg for your past mistake to be able to be erased from the history of your life.
Because you’ve healed. You’re faithful. And you’re different now.
But I can tell you, it will never be the same.
What is your response when you discover someone’s failure?
How does it forever change your view of them?
How have others changed their view of you?
Read Day 6 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.