Editor’s Note: All of the names have been changed in this article.
I was in my hotel room … with another man … in a deep sleep. My cell phone rang. It must have been about 11:30 p.m.—much too late for anyone to call.
It was my husband, Ryan. “Didn’t you hear that?” he asked. “We’re knocking at your door.”
My head was foggy. I could hardly think. Was I dreaming? Or was the call a cruel joke?
Ryan assured me that he was really standing outside my room with our two boys.
The guy I was with woke up from all of the commotion. I walked over to the door and looked though the peephole.
I knew that the moment I opened the door my life would change. But in a crevice of my heart I was relieved. Strange as it may seem, I was glad that my husband had found me. I even said out loud, “My hero.”
After I swung open the door, Ryan and our 15-year-old son charged through the room. They rushed towards the man, but he took off running. I can still hear his pounding footsteps echo down the hall as they tried to catch him.
When Ryan walked back into the room, he was livid. He kept asking me, “How could you do this?”
You know, I wondered that myself.
How the nightmare began
Any woman who knew my husband then would have thought I was totally flipped out to be with another man. Ryan was uplifting and attentive. He was also a hard worker, but we were just getting by.
So when I got an opportunity to add a little money to the family budget by officiating at girls’ volleyball games, I accepted it. But I quickly got enthralled by the accolades that I was getting—not only from Joe, who assigned my games to me, but also from the other officials.
My husband warned me that Joe was a womanizer. He said that he did not want me to be in a car alone with him. I just could not see it.
I often traveled with Joe and other referees to various tournaments. On one occasion, I knew that Joe and I would be alone as we drove to an out-of-state tournament, but I lied to Ryan. I told him that we were going to pick up another referee on the way.
When Joe and I arrived at the hotel, I had absolutely no intention of being unfaithful to my husband. But Joe kept complaining that his roommate was snoring and that he couldn’t get a good night’s rest.
I didn’t have a roommate, and my room had an extra bed. Joe asked if he could sleep in it. I said that he could—bad mistake! Looking back, he had a clear plan, but I was completely oblivious to it.
Then Joe started to convince me that if I didn’t give him what he wanted, I wouldn’t get the work that I needed. As crazy as it sounds, I persuaded myself that I was doing right by letting Joe have his way. And so we started sleeping together.
Once I was in the relationship, there were times when I welcomed Joe’s affections. And there were times when he must have sensed my resistance. That’s when he’d use his subtle reminders: “You have to do these tournaments.”
The charade was over
A few weeks before Joe and I were caught in my hotel room, God had begun to convict me of my immorality. I longed to stop not only the infidelity but also the refereeing. But instead of obeying God’s Spirit, I keep thinking, How are we going to pay the bills? How are we going to take care of our kids?
Ryan had been doing some thinking, too. He feared that I was being unfaithful and even told our children about his suspicions. When he decided to make the surprise hotel visit, he sincerely hoped that he would only find me in the room.
I knew that my charade was over when I saw my husband through the peephole that night. I also sensed that God had allowed all of this to happen because I would not break the relationship with Joe on my own.
After Ryan and our oldest son unsuccessfully chased Joe, I packed my bag. Then my husband and sons got into one car and I got into another to make the long drive home.
Ryan was so angry with me when we all got home—he almost seemed like he hated me. “Why? Why did you do this?” he kept asking.
I somehow had to relieve Ryan and let him know that my infidelity wasn’t because of him. I asked God to help me understand my unfaithfulness.
The morning after we got home from the hotel, Ryan and I went to church together. At the end of the service I confessed to the elders what I had done, and we prayed together.
An older couple in our church met with Ryan and me several times and gave us some great counsel. And then some friends gave us the book Torn Asunder by Dave Carder. Ryan and I spent hours and hours discussing the book.
One chapter is about personal and family history. That led me to tell Ryan for the first time that I had been violently raped by a guy I dated. I had been a virgin until then, and had every intention of staying that way until I was married. When my virginity was taken from me, I hated myself.
You know, you go through things in life and figure, “I can put this on the shelf and I don’t have to deal with it. It’s done. I can get over it.” But it just doesn’t work that way. Stuffing my past had made me feel handcuffed. I realized that Joe had not been the first one to intimidate me into submission.
Free at last
Ryan says that he could not have survived my infidelity without his faith in Jesus Christ. He says that when he found me with Joe, he felt like he couldn’t even breathe.
I remember a time when Ryan and I were in our bedroom praying and I was so broken and in such despair. I didn’t even know what kind of creature I had become. I was so disappointed in myself. Why had I put fear of inadequate finances ahead of my values? Why had I believed Joe’s lies?
All I had ever wanted was a wonderful husband and kids. And I had that. And I messed that up and hurt the very ones I loved. I was so rocked by who I had become.
I realized I needed God to forgive me. The confession at church was a turning point; afterwards I felt like all of the yuck was gone and I started laughing. The freedom I was given at that moment was like I was floating on clouds.
I asked the couple counseling Ryan and me why I felt like I was finally free. They asked me to read Romans 8:1-2: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”
As I read that Scripture I knew I didn’t have to live in condemnation because of choices or mistakes or things that were done to me. That was all gone.
More in love than ever
Now my thought patterns are different. My purposes are different. I begin my day asking, “What does God need me to do?” In the past, I would have never considered that God wanted to use me for anything.
Before the infidelity, I had felt like I was a workhorse. That was my identity. And because of my date rape, I had felt like I was forever flawed.
But now I think of myself as a vessel. I became something that was mended, like a cracked vase that had been beautifully put back together. I believe those cracks have been transformed into things that happened in my life that God will use.
Ryan and I are more in love today than ever and our marriage is strong. And through God’s and Ryan’s forgiveness, I know that my life is really worth something.
I have a sense of joy and peace and purpose. I want to tell everybody that no matter how big your mess up is, God will forgive you. And I’ve learned that when you ask Him for forgiveness and to cleanse you, He will wash all of the muck away.
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