I just heard myself gulp as I opened up this blank page. With this extremely public revelation of Ashley Madison users, I am feeling split between stirring the social media stew and speaking my mind. What I hope to bring from voicing these thoughts is a full understanding that there is a lot I do not know, even though it seems I am being fed everything. I hope that in realizing this, I choose to take a road that is less demonizing toward the perpetrator and more humanizing toward the victims.
I was eighteen when I decided to move in with a boyfriend. It was more or less a move to gain freedom from the restriction I felt at home than it was about I-love-you-so-let’s-live-together. A month into it, I found another girls phone number in his wallet, among other secrets. The night before he had decided to have a “Guys Night” at Hooters. (I never said I picked a winner here.) I cannot forget the pang that I felt in my stomach. While this wasn’t my first time being cheated on, it was the maturity of the situation that made it that much worse than before.
This was eight years ago and, of course, I have moved on. However, the physical act of moving forward is easy, but the emotional damage that was caused when someone disrupted trust? Besides the years of counseling I have under my belt, it has made my wall of trust thin. I was young, immature, and trying to find my bearings then, and I got hurt. So with this wave of Ashley Madison users being uncovered, it resurrects that familiar feeling, and my heart is heavy for the victims.
I think of the wives and husbands finding out that their spouse has chosen to be with someone else. Because of years invested and children involved, I cannot imagine the depth of grief they feel. My grief may have been real and valid, but this … is different. This was a covenant, a promise, made between two people.
Now comes the harder part to talk about, and I say this more towards myself than anyone else. Being a Christian as all of this is unraveling feels awkward. To be honest, when I first found out that this Duggar dude was a name found among the hack, I was disgusted. (Mis?)Using that part of scripture where Paul talks about judging those within the Church, I found myself wanting him to explain and then not believing his words when he did. I gave the screen about fifty eye-rolls reading through it. I still don’t buy his using pornography addiction as a scapegoat, but, uh, that’s not really my place, is it?
What I have to hear louder than the public show of infidelity is, that on the other side of very public betrayal, are victims. Real, hurting people. Every single one of these victims are the ones that have to make sense of the excuse and apology (if these are given). They are the ones that have to spend the time putting the pieces of life back together and finding a way for life to be OK again.
I am not the one who has to choose to forgive.
I am not the one who has to choose to stay married or divorce.
And here I am, poking my fingers at screens towards the lives of people I do not know and will never know. What they have done is cruel and wrong, and they will certainly have consequences – but why do I believe I can speak into that?
There are scriptures on the importance of confession and what happens when a sin is hidden (Proverbs 28:13). Jesus has spoken into these areas of life, including adultery (Matthew 5:27-30). But mostly, I think about parts of scripture where Jesus took in the brokenhearted. I find Matthew 5:3-4, Matthew 11:28-30. Where He chose to reveal himself to a sinner? John chapter 4. Forgive the sinner, along with the command to “sin no more”? John 8:1-11.
I think it is easy to take these scriptures and formulate what should or could happen out of this mess. But it is even more important to live out of the present moment and pray for the hearts, minds and souls that have been affected. The victims (wives, husbands, children) on the receiving end of these acts need empathy, prayer, restored hope and peace. It’s tiring to see blogs dedicated to helping excuse the adulterer, and not nearly enough expressing their sorrow for the brokenhearted families.
And, even though my self-righteous, snooty mind likes to play barrier sometimes, this Duggar dude – and the many others – have hearts, minds and souls that have chosen to live in a dark, dark place. I really do pray that they find the help that they need (i.e. counseling, accountability) and a restored, whole, abundant life that they probably once had. Gosh, this life is possible no matter what.
Ultimately, and most importantly, the name of Jesus still has a place here, and my opinion could never discredited that truth.
Because, you know, my speck of sawdust comes first.
“But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” – 1 Timothy 1:16