There are certain things that I write about and talk about that are harder than others. The most difficult things to discuss for me are the personal, intentional decisions that I made to have an affair. Selfish. Cruel. Mean. Dark.
There are some things in life we can chalk up to circumstances. There are some things that we can attribute to someone else’s choices. But then there are the things in life that we choose that cause tremendous hurt and damage and have severe consequences. Those are what haunt me the most. My thoughts are typically “If I would have just chosen to do that one thing differently.” “Things could have been so much different if I would have done this…” Haunting.
I heard someone say one time in reference to making mistakes “You can stub your toe a hundred times, but you can only cut your throat once.” For me, I had two decision points…one that was near fatal, and one that decimated not only my family, but also another family and an entire church.
About eight weeks before the affair started, I found myself talking with a good friend. He was sharing with me from his heart. Sharing with me his struggles. Sharing with me some issues with his marriage. In that moment, I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit, “Justin, you can share your struggles with him. You can share your lust issues with him. You can share your pornography issues with him. This is safe…you can be free.”
As quickly as that prompting came to mind, so did fear. Fear of being judged. Fear of being misunderstood. Fear of being seen as a failure. Fear of being fired.
That one decision, to hide, set up the kill shot.
A few weeks later, I was in the middle of planning out a message series on “Things that Jesus Said.” The message that I was working on was centered on the passage where Jesus said, “If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out.” In my mind, I knew that I had impure thoughts about this woman. I knew in my mind that I was sinning by hiding my thoughts and my feelings. So rather than talk with a friend; rather than have coffee with a pastor buddy of mine that loved and cared for me; instead of talking to my wife about this, I chose to go to this individual and share my feelings with her.
What is the most sick about this is that in my mind I was being spiritual. In my mind I was doing what was right. In my mind, this is what Jesus would want me to do. My mind was so jacked! By telling this person, I avoided accountability and gave her the opportunity to reciprocate.
My marriage ended that day. By the grace and mercy of God I have been recreated. By the unconditional love and forgiveness of my wife, our marriage has been restored. I’m forever grateful.
I often think how things would have been different if I would have shared my struggles with a friend. Because of that, part of my passion is to provide a safe place to have honest conversations before the fatal mistake is made.
What if there were a place for leaders, pastors and people to go and share their struggles before they become fatal? How many marriages could be saved? How many affairs could be avoided? How many kids could live with both parents instead of alternating weekends?
Can I just encourage you to not make the same mistake I did? If you have feelings for someone in your office; if you have lustful thoughts about someone at the gym; if you are in an increasingly intense texting or Facebook relationship with someone who isn’t your spouse…tell someone. Don’t move from stubbing your toe to cutting your throat. It will be fatal.
Editor’s Note: We’re excited about the release of Beyond Ordinary, Justin and Trisha’s new book, and we’re convinced their story can help yours. Grab two copies – one for yourself, and one for someone you know who needs it.