In college I cheated on a boyfriend.
More than once.
In fact, one boyfriend told me I should have a big red sign on my forehead that read, “DANGER.”
It’s a wonder I’ve been married for 12 faithful years. By grace alone.
But here is what I want to tell you about what I know about cheating and consequences from a place of experience.
To the Person Who Hasn’t Cheated But Is Considering It
Picture this: Your husband is sitting on the couch and just read the story about Ashley Madison. He looks at you and says, “Have you ever cheated?” Your stomach turns. Your palms begin to sweat. It was just a kiss. At first. Oh God, help me. You smile, a little, out of nerves. His eyes are searching yours now and he knows. “Yes.” You tell him. Your heart is beating wildly and is about to jump out of your chest. He tells you to tell him everything, and through tears you tell him, and you hate yourself in the telling, and he starts crying, and everything is falling apart. One of your kids walks in and asks what’s going on…
You can fill in the blanks from there, just use your imagination. And yes, I’m seriously telling you: use your imagination. Think about the consequence your cheating would bring. Think about the fall-out, the destruction, the look in your children’s eyes. Actually think it through.
It’s not worth it.
So run. Run from temptation. Tell a friend. Talk to your spouse. If there are issues in your marriage and you feel alone and unloved, talk to him, or to her, or to a safe friend or counselor. But don’t go down that treacherous road of adultery. What looks like glitter is shard glass that will cut you up and leave you to bleed.
“…each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” James 1:14,15
To the Person Who Has Cheated But Hasn’t Told
Walk into the light. For one, you will be free, and for the other, the other person will be free, free to choose whether or not to stay with you. But at least that’s honest and real and there is no hiding.
And speaking of hiding, it is a terrible, lonely, broken place to stay in the dark. Yea, it’s terrible to confess a sin like adultery, but once you do, you’re free. Free to be honest. Free to heal. Free to begin again. The consequences may be painful and heartbreaking, but there will be light and freedom.
In college I was seeing a counselor for my many issues, and in the session I told her about my cheating. She said, “You need to tell him.” I didn’t need to. I could hide. I could pretend. I could cover it all away by “not lying” just “not telling.” And then she said in so many words, “You will never change if you don’t face the consequences of your sin.”
When you face what your sin has done, or could potentially do, you are ready to change.
I went home that day from my counseling session and I told my boyfriend what I had done. He told me to get out, that I was just like my mother, and that I would never change.
And it was painful. But you know what that did? It made me grow up. It made me look directly at my sin and the pain and upheaval and damage it caused. Do you think I ever what to face the consequences of that sin again? Emphatically no.
In fact, the times I have felt tempted, I have pictured what it would be like to look into the eyes of my husband and speak the words, “I cheated on you.” I have imagined looking at my children and explaining to them what I’ve done, or why mommy and daddy are going through such turmoil. I don’t ever want to have to tell my family I cheated.
For All of Us
The sin of adultery lures us in and makes us feel good. We feel wanted and loved and seen and beautiful and chosen. We feel powerful and seductive and we feel like we have no choice over our bodies and our reactions. What deception. The pleasure of sin is fleeting. It feels good for a time, but afterward it wrecks you and those around you.
We Have a Choice
Do not believe the lie that you can’t choose. You can. There is hope for everyone and for all marriages.
There are thousands of couples who have been faithful for years and years and years of marriage. They have integrity and vision and they see that this world is short compared to eternity. They have perspective and wisdom. Whenever I want to give up hope that there can really be faithfulness in marriage, I am reminded of the faithful ones who have gone before me. My in-laws. Sally and Clay Clarkson. Dave and Cathy Bowman, to name three off the top of my head. They’ve all been married 30 or more faithful years.
And I’m reminded of myself. Yes, me, the once cheater who did change because a wise counselor taught me to face the truth and the pain, and because I cling to a God of grace who at every turn has given a way out.
If You Need a Way Out
Call a friend. Tell your spouse. Get out the secret before it gives birth to a full-fledge affair. It will be hard, and maybe embarrassing, and it might hurt for a time, but it will save you.
You are not alone in your temptations, but you do have a choice. A choice to run away, a choice to tell, a choice to be free.
There is always hope, and there is always a way out.
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything.” -Tim Keller
12 years. Faithful and free (hard-fought). Praise be to God.
With love, SM
P.S. I just got an email from a woman who had an affair. She gave me permission to share what she wrote:
“You mention in your article to confess KNOWING that things will get ugly…just do it…you are so right! There is such freedom in the light…even through the pain, shame, guilt…the freedom is still there! And, my husband still loves me. I’ll admit, I don’t understand that…how he can love me despite my betrayal.
I never anticipated the self-loathing, the self-hatred, the shame, the guilt, the complete loss of all you knew to be true, the loss of yourself. Even from a purely selfish point of view affairs are NOT worth it. And, then, as a believer you add in the separation from God, grieving the Holy Spirit…it’s a disaster…of your own making. But, then the glorious takes place…conviction, confession, repentance, redemption and restoration!!! Praise God for His love for us. Praise God that he’ll leave the 99 for the 1…all for His glory!
So, just…when temptation comes…RUN!!! When you have to start making excuses for why someone “befriends” you, how they speak to you, how often they contact you…regardless of their position…RUN!!!”
I was lying in bed one morning, my sweet daughter Caroline tucked in close, as I rubbed her head.
She had come down a few minutes earlier to snuggle. It was early, 5:30 a.m., but the sun shone through my bedroom window, gently easing me awake.
As I stroked her soft hair, I kept thinking about how much I love her and how she is growing up so fast. Six years old now.
Four years ago I wrote about how exhausting it is to tend to little ones, especially at bedtime when you’re spent and just need a break. But how yet, even in the crazy hardness of it all, God made it so that our little ones would need us. Close, and soothing and available. I find that those words are just as true today. She still needs me, pulled in close, surrounding her with comfort and love.
And so I do this. I let her get into bed with me in the early-morning hours because I don’t want to miss it — this precious time, this cuddly, sleepy, warm, tender time. I know it is only for a season, and one day, it will be gone. But I have the here and now; I have today to take it in and enjoy.
And this is how I want to live, taking in these moments so that I can look back on my life and not regret that I missed them.
Photo Credit: My adorable six year old (you can see her on the vid below)
I have THE BEST MOST FUN giveaway for you today in honor of my new book, Longing for Paris (which you have picked it up, right?! It’s the perfect end of summer beach read!). And I would have had it up sooner but apparently it takes a billion years to upload an iPhone video to YouTube. Yes, I’m sure someone out there knows something I don’t, but alas, here we are. At nearly bedtime. On a Friday night. Le sigh.
Photo by my dear friend Amy Smoker
But it doesn’t matter because YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE this giveaway.
First, watch the video. You must. Because it’s so cute because of the cutest cuteness in it. Hint: not me. 🙂
Today’s supremely delicious giveaway is… A SUBSCRIPTION TO TRY THE WORLD!!!!!
Two subscriptions, actually. TWO OF YOU WILL WIN A YEAR LONG SUBSCRIPTION! I mean, food delivered to your door from AROUND THE WORLD every two months. WHAT COULD BE BETTER?! Not much. Let’s be honest.
What is Try the World?
Try the World is a subscription service that offers curated food for you to discover and enjoy from around the world right where you are. What a delight!
Now, go and have a peek around, drool a little bit, then come on back and enter by filling out the form below!
Small print: Open to U.S. only.
Good “luck” and happy drooling!
Get your copy of Longing for Paris at your local bookstore or at one these lovely vendors:
My pretty little newborn!
Happy launch week, day 3! 🙂
Longing for Paris officially launched on Tuesday, and you can now get the book anywhere books are sold! WOOT! To celebrate, I’m having a party here at the blog where you’ll find giveaways every day this week!
Today we are giving away croissants! Let me tell you why…
(Just here to see the webinar? Scroll to the bottom!)
After wrestling out some questions and uncovering some deep roots I had in regards to womanhood and dreams and pain and confusion, I learned how to delight.
I learned that not only does God delight in me, but He delights when I delight in Him and the beautiful, good gifts He puts all around us.
But since I can’t go to Paris, one of the ways I woke up to my life and found delight was to bring a little bit of Paris to me.
One of the ways I did this was by going on a hunt for the best croissant in Lititz, Pennsylvania! I brought my kids along on the search, and we had such a magical time trying different croissants.
We took our time and savored, and with each bite, we found a whole new appreciation for the verse “Taste and see the the Lord is good.”
How kind that He gave us such delicious food to enjoy!
I write about this adventure and others in Longing for Paris: One Woman’s Search for Joy, Beauty, and Adventure…Right Where She Is.
I also share the winner of the great croissant hunt! 😉
Now, I can’t join you in your town to help you find the best croissant, but I can offer you a bit of a gift. Take a look…
This is a picture of a batch of William-Sonoma croissants, which I hear are RIDICULOUSLY delish.
From the site:
“Master pastry chef Jean-Yves Charon crafts our croissants in the traditional French style, using his buttery, award-winning puff pastry, cutting and shaping the pastries by hand. Shipped frozen, they are easy to prepare—just let rise overnight and then bake. The croissants emerge from the oven with flaky, golden-brown exteriors, delicate interiors and an irresistible buttery aroma. There’s no simpler way to bring a taste of France to the breakfast table.”
I mean, are you drooling yet? YEA YOU ARE!
Well listen up because FIVE OF YOU ARE GOING TO GET A BOX OF THEM!
That’s right. Today’s giveaway is a box of 15 of these croissants, and we’re giving away five boxes!
To enter, just fill out the form below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Open to U.S. only.
Longing for Paris Webinar!
Watch it above or click HERE!
Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Longing for Paris!
Get it on Amazon
Get it on Barnes & Noble (signed edition)
Photo Credit: Crystal Paine
Oh friends. Let me tell you about my day.
But first, I must start with last night, when I was writing a celebratory post about the launch of Longing for Paris. It was then that my screen turned all white.
And my computer bit the dust.
On launch eve.
I mean, one just had to laugh.
So I went to bed knowing I could deal with it in the morning. Ah yes, the morning, when my daughter came to me asking for itching cream. “Why?” I asked. Because this:
Yea, some kind of something all over her hands. She’s been having strange allergic reactions lately, so I decided to take her to the doc. Before we left, I put up this quick post about the book launching, and made an appointment at the apple store.
Once my girl was taken care of, I came home to the loveliest of surprises. My sweet neighbor Lynn brought over a Parisian lunch for me in honor of my book launch.
And she even brought sparkling apple juice, and then made a toast in my honor. With all the neighborhood kids. Because this is my everyday life (the kids, not the food) and Lynn is the best.
After this, I headed over to Barnes & Noble and signed some books, and then onto the Apple store where they told me my problem was just a video card and they would happily fix it for FREE. Ya’ll. I cannot even tell you how this made my day because I was sure I was going to have to buy a new computer and that just would have been a major bummer. I’ll be without my computer for five days, but that’s okay because I stole my husbands. 🙂
I knew I still
needed wanted to put up a giveaway post, but what I really needed was to get away and just be with my kiddos and do something fun. Because the thing about launching a book is that it brings out all sorts of crazy in you. For example, this morning I slept in and avoided checking my email or social media because I just wanted to pretend it was all over. That’s crazy. You work for so long for this moment, for this week, and now that it’s here, I’m kind of losing it.
I went to my husbands JOB SITE and in the middle of talking to him just burst into tears and fell into his arms. He said, “I was wondering when you would burst.”
It’s a funny thing, putting a book out to the world, especially when you now have to do pre-launch stuff. I didn’t do any of that when I launched Desperate. It’s exhausting and exciting and your adrenaline is up and then down, and you experience feelings of loneliness and failure and you beg the Lord to keep you grounded and firm in Him.
It’s just a wild ride.
But it’s done. She’s out. That baby girl, she’s in the world now for all to see and make comments on and love her or not love her. It’s all vulnerable.
I’m rambling now.
Since I’m feeling all crazy today, and I could probably use some good council and encouragement from a wise friend, I figure maybe some of you out there could use that as well. I mean, most of us are on the verge of crazy at some point or another. In church on Sunday my friend sat next to me and she just kept crying. And then she’d look at me and just say, “I’m just a mess today. It’s okay.” I looked at her and said, “I’m a mess 99% of the time. You’re not alone.”
Why am I telling you all of this? Because when I wrote Longing for Paris, I had to sort out some of my mess. I was struggling with questions of womanhood and dreams and motherhood and how to delight in a world where so much evil exists. The book is really a story, a bunch of stories, of my untangling. And we don’t untangle alone. My friend Carey is an untangler of sorts. She is a listener and a processor and she knows just which questions to ask to help you get unstuck.
Carey is a life-coach, and today’s giveaway is two full sessions with her to help you figure out some of your longings and dreams and what to do with them in the middle of your reality. I will pick two winners.
To enter, just fill out the form below!
Oh, and if you just want to go ahead and get yourself some life-coaching with Carey STAT, you can get a 20% discount on a coaching package till 9/1/2015 by using code: LONGINGFORPARIS
Open to EVERYONE AND ANYONE! Yea Canada! 😉
Much love, SM
P.S. I wrote a few articles I’d love for you to read. Check them out below:
4 Ways to Have a Satisfied Life (Money Saving Mom)
Fully Alive Women Will Change the World (incourage)
Holy DNA (Love God Greatly)