Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Healing from Affairs (Part 2 - Case Applications)
Here, we see the relevance of biblical principles of God’s inner healing. Keys to Helen’s first aid (and continuing healing) for the betrayal and pain she suffered from her husband were presence (God’s), perspective (truth), and participation (Body of Christ).
In overcoming her husband’s severe wounding, Helen evidenced a supernatural source of strength. And that is, a living relationship with God. She was so emotionally damaged. Confused. Immobilized. But she realized on time that she was under profound spiritual warfare.
Helen can only thank God for giving her enough presence of mind to cleave to Him during crucial moments. And place her inabilities and helplessness into His protective hands.
Helen’s self-control and patience amidst pains she suffered shows her commitment to God’s righteousness. Others who face such kind of wounding without Christ’s presence would simply be set adrift, hurt another, or self-destruct.
Helen moved forward in the blessings the Lord had between her and her husband at previous instances. But at the same time, she was also keenly aware that they’d not arrived yet.
Helen could had asked God: “Lord, do I have to wait for as long as it takes? How long, Lord, how long?” Here, God tested her through 1 Corinthians 13 where He says, “Love is patient … it … always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Helen may had only experienced this type of love in theory until God pressed her to love this way at this point! Such becomes possible only when she continues to embrace God’s presence. That is, regardless of developing circumstances along the way.
With this, she found her self identifying more deeply with the sufferings of Christ. Helen learned experientially how to fathom the selflessness of Christ’s “bleeding His giving love” for us. Even for those who left and rejected Him.
A newsman once said, “In a time of war, the first casualty is truth.” In the case of Helen, she needed the right perspective of truth both about herself and what happened.
Ephesians 5:15 reminds us to “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.” If Helen is to avoid ungodly response, she needs to be wise about the way Satan will seek to trap her with lies.
It can begin with thoughts of revenge (even murder). If Helen didn’t make the right choices immediately, she could had swallowed the emotional hook. She almost did. If it happened, she simply couldn’t take the damages back.
Now, it can get trickier. Inappropriate guilt could do a number on Helen. She needed to distinguish between true and false guilt. Or, she will become hostage to wrongful blame and opinions from her unfaithful husband.
If it is true guilt (especially over her own “part” that led to their broken marriage - of course, she had to repent too for her "part"!), Helen simply had to confess it, ask for forgiveness, and move on. Get on with life by changing. In this way, she also teaches her children more about forgiveness, repentance, and humility.
It becomes false guilt if Helen began to “own” and feel responsible for the choices of her husband. Christian therapist Rick Reynolds corrected this kind of false guilt commonly experienced by betrayed spouses.
Reynolds wrote, “If you’re wondering if you did something to cause your spouse’s behavior, rest assured the answer is no. All marriages have deficits and all marriages have difficult problems, but not all marriages experience affairs as a result of these problems” (source: http://www. affairrecovery.com).
At any age, immature selfishness is always found to lead to unfaithfulness. It's a failure of character - a reflection of her husband"s own nature. Such includes unwillingness to honor God and family responsibility in most cases.
Within this perspective, therefore, Helen must know and feel that she’s not to be blamed for her spouse’s choice. She is loved as a child of God. And she should not punish herself for her spouse’s faults. Her reliance for her worth should be on God.
Helen could also gain perspective from Dr. James Dobson in relation to her husband’s “rationalization.” Dr. Dobson sheds light by explaining that “justification of actions” and “transfer of responsibility” do often happen because of the nature of adultery.
According to him, guilt is a very painful emotion. And one who is willfully tearing up a home is in a shameful condition. Dr. Dobson writes: “In order to justify his behavior, he energetically constructs a verbal defense around those who would testify against him in a court of moral law. His purpose, of course, is to make adultery seem reasonable and downright godly. That takes some creativity!” (quote taken from the book “Love Must Be Tough”)
Dr. Les Parrott, noted author and clinical psychologist, concurs with Dr. Dobson in one of his books: "Remember, even if the unfaithful spouse feels guilty about the unfaithfulness, he or she may deal with guilt by finding fault with the spouse to justify the adultery."
Regardless of its outward appearance, lying through cover up is a deadly weapon. It poisons trust. If it continues in the case of her unfaithful spouse and she chooses to expose it, Helen can expect unusual spiritual resistance. And even her best efforts may not prevent a considerable amount of damage.
Godly perspective leads one to where to run for cover. For Helen, no amount of self-effort could protect her if the deception continues. Yet she was not alone. God protects her. What matters in the middle of all these is her relationship with the Lord.
Another important key to Helen’s healing journey is participation in community (Body of Christ). It involves “telling another soul” about her pain through confession, repentance, and cleansing in the church. And out of the comfort she receives, she proceeds to help heal others in service.
Affairs can be a hidden painful generational pattern within a family. Just as drugs and alcohol ruin marriages and families, so too does adultery. But in most people’s lives, secrecy keeps the pattern going in the scene of domestic crime. Truth, as a result, is not confronted head on from generation to generation.
Peggy Vaughan, an affair recovery author and expert, wrote of challenging the “code of secrecy” by sharing to others when it comes to affairs. Such exposure then facilitates inner healing of the betrayed spouse. It increases accountability of the unfaithful spouse. And it starts a process of breaking and cleansing a possible multi-generational curse.
To help Helen heal and move on with deeper perspective and participation, specific resources such as from beyondaffairs.com and affairrecovery.com will be of great support. In sharing and reaching out to others for support, Helen should learn not to allow prejudices of culture or society to hold her back.
In the church and beyond, Helen can respond to God’s call by sharing what happened to her as an example that He heals. As He blesses her, she can then continue to pass on the rich blessings of God’s inner healing to many others.