We all face temptations in our lives. It’s very possible there are those out there who have never been faced with strong sexual temptation. If so, email me so I know one. I’ve been thinking about this post in particular since the beginning of this sex talk. I want to have and demonstrate integrity with my friendships, so I share mostly from my own experiences.
When Benny and I started dating, my temptation to get bored and move on to another boy ended. I would no longer see a guy that was cute and think, ” I wonder what it would be like to be his girlfriend…I wonder if he’s a good kisser..etc.” Because that happened often in high school (not so much in college) I almost expected it, and when it didn’t happen, I thought that was my sign that Benny was the man for me. Still, I kept waiting for the old feelings of temptation to come. It wasn’t constant or anything, but now and then I’d think, “Wow! It’s gone. I’m free.” I know the verse in 1 Corinthians well, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” I was so sure that I never would. I was a Christian after all! I wore the big “C” on my chest proudly, owned a big pink Bible and a good highlighter, and I could quote scripture fairly well. Putting it into practice was my challenge – not that I spent a lot of time dwelling on that. I didn’t see that shortly after we married, we began getting careless in tending our little “love garden”.
We moved to a new state where we didn’t have any friends. Benny worked nights and I worked days. Our financial lives were a mess before we got married and just worsened when we combined our financial ignorance. We got depressed. We fought. We threatened divorce and brick by brick began building a wall between us. My job was stressful and what made things worse was it was intertwined with our church. The things that should have been binding us together were tearing us apart. Our views of sex were so skewed, and I had begun adding more weight to the extra pounds I had already gained from my absence from sports and the loss of my virginity. We were spiraling out of control and like many disillusioned young women, I began to think I had made a mistake and married the wrong person. Surely God wanted more for my life than what Benny and I were stepping in.
Enter Satan…and Matt.
Matt was one of my boyfriends in high school. We lived a few hours away from each other, so we were “dating” as well as two 16 year-olds could long distance – lots of hours on the phone. No physical contact other than the day we met on a greyhound bus. I was traveling to a youth rally across the state. We met and “fell in love” in a matter of 3 hours. Over the next few years of my life, Matt was my lifeline to reality from the hell I was living in. We talked about everything and though he wasn’t much of a believer, I was sure I could convert him. (I don’t recommend missionary dating – it’s a farce.) When I finally got to college I sort of left Matt behind. The distance was enormous and I was meeting all of these cute college guys. But somehow Matt always seemed to pop back into my life when I most needed him. My mom was hospitalized and we thought she was going to die…Matt called. My boyfriend in college decided we should “just be friends”…Matt called. The night I lost my virginity and was an emotional train wreck, Matt called. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
I should have seen it coming. I would never cheat. I know firsthand the consequences of straying and divorce and I was never going to join that little group of statistics. Matt cared about me. He would never try to break up my marriage! That’s ridiculous! Well, as my nights were long and Benny was absent, I got lonely and bored. He was so distant and he wasn’t meeting my needs. I was ripe for the picking. Matt popped back into my life once again. My former-debate-star-boyfriend was just finishing up law school and about to get married. Seems harmless enough. We began having long phone conversations comparing our significant others and their charms and quirks. It was so gradual that I was blinded to what was coming. Our conversations took on an intimate tone as we revisited the old days. One day he told me he wanted to come and get me and bring me back to his state and make me his wife. All I had to do was say the word and he would completely change his future plans for me. Satan knew EXACTLY what to say to me and he used Matt to do it. Matt’s family was wealthy and I grew up without money…he offered me the world, telling me I would never want for anything again. (Benny and I were suffocating in our debt.) He lovingly told me that if my husband loved me_______. You fill in the blank, he probably said it. He made me feel wanted and sought after – something EVERY woman needs to feel. I had never felt so tempted in all of my life. The battle within me was raging! What should I do? I was tired of fighting. I wanted an easy life.
Twelve years later I am happily married…to Benny…the man I always wanted and needed. During my brief emotional affair, I was completely blind to my part of our struggles and blamed them all on him. I decided that since he wasn’t meeting my needs, I wouldn’t bother trying to meet his. I am incredibly grateful that I made the right choice and ended the affair though it was painful to do so since I was in deep. I am even more grateful that Matt and I were never sexually (physically) involved…though Satan arranged for that too. Don’t think for a second that just because we didn’t consummate the affair we didn’t do anything wrong. I had promised my heart to Benny and had carelessly given it away once again…old habits die hard. The affair ended as it had begun-with a phone call. I thanked him for being there for me during the most difficult moments of my life, then told him that I never wanted to speak to him again. I told him even though I loved him, I was ashamed that I had so easily given up on my marriage and that I knew deep down that Benny and I could fix things. I told him that I needed to be right with God and my husband and I couldn’t do that while I had any contact with him. What he said back to me doesn’t matter anymore. I asked him not to call me again…which he didn’t honor. I refused contact and gradually released the feelings I had developed for Matt. It was HARD!
James describes the progression of sin that we fall into. He says, “Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. These evil desire lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death. So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters”. (James 1:14-16, NLT)
I just gave you a word picture and put a face on a particular sin. I thought I was standing strong and I would not have fallen in a full frontal attack. I believed I was prepared. Satan knew the frontal attack approach wouldn’t work so he found the chink in my armor and struck me there…hard…and I fell. It was a long, painful, dirty battle, but I survived, my marriage survived, and I am restored and redeemed.
So why share all of this with you? I didn’t set out to have a series of posts about sex. It just happened and I have been feeling God pushing me along through the hard stuff. God has blessed it, and blessed people because of it. God is so good. I have received some great feedback which is nice. But more important than the “atta girl” emails and comments are the ones that expressed their own struggles with sexual sin and the gratefulness for God’s mercy on them. Christians aren’t perfect. I’ve never met one who thought they were. Most of us are too hard on ourselves and all of us are prone to sin.
When I look back over that horrible time, I can clearly see when God gave me ways of escape and I chose to ignore Him. My desires were stronger than my faith, and faith wasn’t truly my desire. Once again I want to warn about guarding your heart. It has a mind of its own sometimes and the great tempter loves that. I have firm boundaries in place now that I know that I’m not above temptation. That was quite a revelation for me. Silly, huh? So what do you think so far? Can you relate? Did you think you were above temptation too? Are you recovering from a painful past? If you have, have you used it to try to help someone else avoid your mistakes? Are you plagued by fear and the knowledge that someone may find out your little secret and harshly judge you or deem you unfit to lead? I’m no longer plagued by fear, but I have friends who are.
If you’ve known me for a long time and are just hearing these things for the first time, you’re probably shocked. I was discussing this post with a friend from camp this week and she had no idea. She was a former youth group member of ours. She said she had never suspected anything because Benny and I have such a strong marriage now. Friends, that’s another one of my points. God can bring healing and restoration to your marriage after an affair. It’s possible. We do have a strong marriage, but we had to work hard for it. I am so glad we did! It is my hope that my testimony will help or challenge someone else. I’m not ashamed to share it anymore.
I’m still putting together a resource list and will post it soon. Let me know of any you’d recommend.