I Didn’t Sign Up for This

Suffering or adversity in life is often times treated as though it’s a mistake and shouldn’t happen to us at all. We think it’s not supposed to happen financially or emotionally, and certainly not maritally. Fact is though, what we suffer through in life teaches us an incredible amount about life, reality, God, and ourselves.

My family and I each have a few things we are suffering through.  No we’re not homeless, thank God, and no we’re not in the middle of marital crisis like we were nine years ago. But all of us are in the middle of some tough stuff emotionally and physically. I hate that I have to go through it, that Samantha has to go through it and that our kids must face what they are encountering as some of it seems debilitating. I treat adversity like it shouldn’t happen to me.  I mean come on; I’m trying to help save marriages and help people find their calling and healing in life. I’m doing all I can to try and be a good person and help others. I’m not cheating anymore. Why does life, or God, or Satan or some cosmic force of evil have to pick on me and my kids like this? 

Looking back, I’ve learned more in life through adversity than I ever have when things have gone well. However, when I go through intense adversity my knee jerk reaction is to believe I’ve been abandoned by God and left to myself to figure it all out. I know it comes from some childhood issues and some serious fatherlessness when I was growing up, but I’m doing much better with it all. Still, as you can tell from my blogs, I’ve nowhere near ‘arrived’ in life that’s for sure.

Many of you are suffering and suffering incredibly. Some of you brought it on yourselves if you were unfaithful, and more of you have not. You’ve not asked for this. You’ve not done anything to deserve it. As one spouse said to me just yesterday “I never signed up for this.”

Rather than present to you this epitaph of suffering and both of us miserably drown in this blog, I’d like to share with you that there are in fact, life changing rubies and jewels if you will, of healing and insight and revelation that are available when you’re suffering. When you’re suffering, it feels like you’ve been abandoned, but in fact, you’ve not been. The fact that you’re suffering proves you’re not abandoned and that there is a purpose to your life and to the trial you are facing. Yes, I said there is a purpose to what you’re going through. It will probably make far more sense in reverse than it does while you’re walking through it though and I get that more than you know.

Maybe, just maybe, the suffering and the pain you are feeling is happening ‘for you’ and not just ‘to you?’ One of the greatest things that happened to Samantha and I was having my affair exposed. We were forced to confront what seemed impossible to confront. We were forced to talk about what we had swept under the rug for years and didn’t want to have to wade through. I was forced to find transformation, or be left for dead and miss out on restoration due to stubbornness and resentment.

The richness of our lives has been learned through ploughing through the incredible amounts of hurt, pain, abandonment, confusion and agony. Yes, agony. It’s agonizing to go through what you’re going through. But I encourage you today to cry out to God. If you don’t believe in God, that’s OK. I get it. Maybe it’s time you ask if there is a God and if he’ll talk to you? Perhaps it might be time to ask him to reveal himself to you in a way that seems undeniable? Maybe it’s this entire nightmare which may be serving a purpose in causing you to reevaluate what your beliefs are? If you think I’m full of crap, that’s OK. I was there too.

I’d like to end with a final thought that Tim Keller said once: “If God is treated as God during suffering, then suffering can reveal and present him in all his greatness.”

I’m not sure about your faith or world view today and if you’re not a Christian or a believer at any level, it’s OK. This is a safe place for you and I hope you’re not offended. For others, and for me, as I finally treated God as God, and as I revere him and humble myself under God now, the suffering I’m experiencing reveals a beauty to Christ and reveals a whole new ocean of intimacy and oneness, the likes of which easy, agony-less living has never presented to me. Looking back, it was good that I had to experience what I’ve experienced in life. 

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Thank you

This is something I've been wrestling with lately. As the betrayed, it has been a difficult road for many reasons but perhaps one of the most confusing is that I thought I had done everything right. I was discerning, I waited until marriage, I made good choices throughout my life. I also was always keenly aware of the terrible things that happen in life, in other parts of the world and here, and I thought, somehow, this knowledge and empathy would keep me safe. I never was one to think, "This will never happen to me." So I worked very hard, and approached my life very carefully, thinking that might help keep it all in order. Suffering is something I wanted to avoid at all costs, somehow believing I could escape it. I was raised in a church that had an If, then approach to God…if I act a certain way, or make these choices, or pray hard enough…these things will (or won't) happen. I don't know if our marriage will be better after this. I do know that my husband has been cracked open in ways I never thought possible. We are talking more than ever, sharing what we are learning, and our vision for the future of our family is more aligned than ever. While I have chosen to stay in the marriage (we are 4 months past disclosure), I struggle daily with indifference and the "why would this happen to me?" question. Your sentence about "for you" versus "to you" is a good one. A difficult one, though, to fully grasp for me. Your articles have helped in so many ways, but this one in particular cuts through to what I am struggling with the most right now. It's a shift in perspective that I hope to be able to make one day because I truly believe it will help in many aspects of my life. Thank you.

ShawnR....

thank you so much for your comment. as i read your post, I could so relate to what you were saying. while I am a betrayed spouse, i was raised with that methodology as well and it ripped me apart when things didn't go well for me like injuring my arm when i was on the road to a six figure contract, or my dad dying horribly from cancer, or other family issues that happened. i understand and empathize completely my friend. I do believe this will make your marriage better, and you better and your husband better. it will provide better perspective and insight and an appreciation for life and for healing. you're not supposed to be a detective. you can't control what your husband does. you can't control what choices he makes you can only control you and your own choices and how you choose in life. the biggest victim in all of this is you, not anyone else. but, you do have choices in your pain. this article may help called the two stages of pain: https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/coping-with-infidelity-two-stages-of-pain also, give yourself a country mile of grace as respectively, four months is NO TIME my sweet friend. most on here who are far down the road will tell you that four months is barely enough time to really see a lot of change at all. true change and recovery will find it's wings about a year, then two years you'll hopefully say "wow, i didn't think we could get here..." by three years, if all goes relatively well you'll say "i'm so grateful that although this wasn't the package i wanted transformation to come in, it has come nonetheless. i'm happy to help in any way and thanks so much for responding. feel free to reach out or comment anytime.

Thank you for your kind reply

Thank you for your kind reply, Samuel. It's strange how time is sort of relative right now. When you're in the beginning stages of this, and all the feelings are still so raw, time seems to be passing excruciatingly slowly. I'm a fixer by nature, so the idea that this takes time, years even, is hard to accept. And yet..I truly believe you. Thanks for your reply and the article included. Another great one, and the line, "You need to be willing to let yourself have a life" hit hard. I've been functioning just fine, but living is another story. I heard this line in a show I've been binge-watching, said by a survivor of WWII, "You have to keep living every day until you feel alive again." Looking forward to that day.

Sorry this happened to you.

Sorry this happened to you. Maybe life is much harsher and grittier and less controllable and safe in this part of the world that you or I expected.
I wasted my virginity, I'm glad you did not. I hope you can keep the purity of your heart during these hard times. I believe this trial will add to your purity, holiness and maturity. It's very normal to be indifferent to life, God, your marriage and other relationships during the first year or so. Basically the affair shattered the old relationship and that indifference is grief, letting go of the old relationship. It's ok and perfectly normal. Embrace that journal it. Because grief is the correct and appropriate response to loss. I think the "for you" is hard teaching - it's probably true but perhaps not where you are right now. A great help is just to accept where you and your feelings.

Yeah that church you went to needs to read Job. God can't be controlled by us, but we so arrogantly think that don't we?

Beauty from ashes

Personally, I don't think God brings suffering "for" us. I mean absolutely no offense and nothing personal when I say that I too often read cheaters trying to absolve their feelings of guilt by saying the affair "happened for a reason" or ended up being "the best thing for the marriage". I DO believe that God can and does use sinful choices we make in our fallen world for our ultimate good. Evil is what tempts people to cheat. God redeems this. He doesn't purposefully allow it or cause it to happen. It is a side effect of free will that sometimes our will is not aligned with God's will.

thank you exercise grace...

thanks for commenting. I understand where you're going, but I'd have to take a bit of exception to "he doesn't purposefully allow it or cause it to happen...." Agreed, he would never cause it to happen, that's crazy and certainly not God and would anger the heck out of any betrayed spouse. it would imply God is the one that made their spouse cheat and God is behind it. that's ridiculous. however, I'd say he does allow it. we do in fact, have free will and our free will wreaks havoc on our lives and those around us. he also has a purpose to every ounce of pain that comes our way and out of his love is obligated to use that pain for good. he is the essence of good and good is only defined by him and his good-ness if you will. often times our will is no where near aligned with him, but we're still inside his care and concern. i think if you read more articles you'll see that in no way have I ever purposefully tried to 'absolve my feelings of guilt' for what i've done. we've been fortunate enough to experience transformation and samantha would agree. it (the affair) wasn't the way we wanted it and i'll forever be guilty of what i've done, but that doesn't discount the fact that it can, and will, (should both parties allow it and be willing to pursue reconciliation) can be the pathway for complete healing and restoration. i know that i can seem that way, that the unfaithful or even myself would be attempting to absolve my feelings of guilt, but it's actually not the case. yet, sadly, it happened and i can't reverse it or remove it. i can only choose to own it, embrace the colossal failure, yet not remain a victim of IT for the rest of my life and choose to live in the light of my healing as a demonstration that there is a new day and a new light at the end of the tunnel for some. it's not making light of it, it's moving forward, humbly. I've heard many unfaithful say they just can't escape the guilt and condemnation and often times unfaithful are accused of not owning it which for some, just isn't the case, and early on the betrayed isn't quite willing for the unfaithful to be allowed to move on or move ahead. they want vengeance. they want justice. they want them to suffer and i understand completely that struggle....but for us, 9 years later, i have to move on and walk in healing and recovery and look back and see the hand of God saving us, using what wasn't his perfect will, for restoration. that's his heart. if the unfaithful feel like they can never be seen objectively or share without being tarred and feathered, they lose hope and they quit. it doesn't have to be that way and i appreciate you commenting and sincerely hope the site and the blog have been helpful for you on your journey. i get your point yet i hope any unfaithful reading this will learn two things: 1. you must own it and live in light of the reality of what evil your capable of. 2. there is hope if you'll own it and move towards getting help, you can find healing and new life and that new life is still, available to you regardless of the shame you feel. thank you exercise grace.

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