For most of my life I’ve felt more like an open manuscript than an open book. Filled with a flawed storyline, too many mistakes, and mediocre endorsements, my story seems like it needs a good editor before it can be sold to the general public. Telling our story to friends is tough. Writing it out for everyone to read, critique, and judge seems infinitely more vulnerable and scary, and fear has a way of silencing even the best storytellers.
I must have started this blog a million times in my head, but something always stopped me. When I felt God asking me to be courageous and share our story a few years ago, I fumbled my way through several awkward conversations that left me filling the silence with too many details and not enough content. I’d often leave feeling discouraged and questioning whether God wanted me to be vulnerable or if I simply needed to exercise my verbal processing skills on any willing victim that came along. There was also the shame part. Seeing the look of pity, and in some cases judgement, from across the table was hard. I have a feeling that won’t get easier–shoot!
“The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable, but our wholeness-even our wholeheartedness-actually depends on the integration of all of our experiences, including the fails.” – Dr. Brene Brown
I realize now that those sometimes-painful conversations were the stepping stones that helped me muster up the courage to publish this blog that tells our beautiful, albeit flawed, love story. My goal is to encourage, love, and listen without judgment. When Chris and I decided to walk the journey of restoration after adultery, we knew we had to be transparent with other believers. We asked everyone we knew to pray for us, and along the way we had dozens of couples open up about their own struggles with infidelity, pornography, and abuse.
What was so shocking was not that these things were going on in marriages, but that our own friends, friends we walked through life with, felt isolated in their marital struggles. The call to live above reproach in the Christian Church leaves many Christians feeling like transparency is a one-way ticket to banishment, and we felt that. There were friends that strongly opposed our choice to stay together. There was judgment. There was doubt. There was shame. And there was that awkward intervention at community group.
It was a difficult road to walk, but we were fortunate to have a precious few that saw beyond the depravity of our situation and exemplified Christ’s love. Our conviction to help others grew stronger as we began to heal and listen to more and more friends share their own struggles and stories of hopelessness in marriage. For the first time, they saw a couple that had walked the same road. For the first time, it wasn’t intimidating to simply say “I made a mistake. I did it too. We need help. We need prayer. Please don’t judge.”
We were brave enough to ask for, and to accept, a redo on our marriage. Ideal? No. But marriage between two imperfect people is not ideal. We often find ourselves wishing we could do it differently or do it again so that we can make it better. And I hope my words, our story, will help couples who are facing a redo have the courage to start the journey with strength and dignity.
So be kind dear reader, because my story is so very similar to many others out there, maybe even your own.