Lessons Learned About Forgiveness After Infidelity

how to forgive infidelity bible

My story of forgiveness after marriage relationship suffers from infidelity.

The undercover cops flashed their badges and search warrant and before I could catch my breath, the words “pornography, minors, Internet, and prison” were trying to find a place to land, but my mind screamed, “Impossible!”

Shell-shock is a state of mind when a person has not yet mentally moved beyond a highly stressful situation or event.

The mind remains a war zone because it is locked on a traumatic experience.

The dreadful event becomes an invisible force that creates anxiety, tension, sleeplessness, hyper-alertness, mood swings, depression and more. 

That certainly defined my state of being. I lost ten pounds in one week and was so sleep-deprived I began to think I’d have to farm out my kids before I either forgot to feed them or lashed out at them.

Coming face-to-face with reality was not good for my health or for anyone else who was around me. Denial tempted me as a less complicated route, but the memory of the cops at my door never ceased to remind me how real this deal was.

Sure enough, my husband had been involved with pornography, but it wasn’t child porn as the detectives had first led me to believe. All the same, court hearings and jail time were the result.

I thought the worst was over when my husband was released from jail. I was sure that God had finally intervened and now we could somehow get down to the business of reconciliation. But a quick recovery was not what God had in store for me.

I knew God expected me to forgive and I thought I already had, but I soon learned that forgiveness is not a formula. So how could I forgive infidelity?

The rejection I still felt crushed my spirit so bad I thought I’d rather be dead. There were days I foolishly thought I had to be a better wife or my husband would return to his old habits. I pondered how I could be more erotic or somehow sexier. My mind constantly replayed the track of “you’re not good enough.”

I thought pornography was all about sex and if I could just get my “sexual” act together we’d be set to go. I had allowed by husband’s sin to define my worth and because I was focused on trying to fix myself, forgiveness was out of reach.

Other days left me feeling such a deep inner loneliness, all I could do was weep. I didn’t know why at the time, but I would later define it as sorrow.

It had staked its claim on my heart and I found that no amount of tears could barter relief.

If I could just change my husband back into the “image” of who I thought he was before that momentous day of discovery, then I could forgive.

But I couldn’t undo the past and the damage was done. I couldn’t control who he was, so forgiveness remained elusive.

I cried out to God relentlessly, asking why He had forsaken me. He knew I had already been betrayed and abandoned once before in my life.

Why would He permit it again?

Didn’t He care about my kids?

Why did they have to suffer for my husband’s sin?

When did He plan on fixing this mess?

When would He heal my broken heart and shell-shocked mind?

Why me?

One day, in total defeat, I quit accusing God. When I asked, “Why me?” He answered with a familiar verse:

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.”

John 15:16-17

I had been asking God to fix me, my husband, our marriage, our life. He hadn’t given me those so why was He using this passage?

He read my thoughts and was ready with another reminder.

“… just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”

Ephesians 1:4-6

What was that?

was accepted? Not rejected. 

He chose me. I was His Beloved?

“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you.” 

Jeremiah 31:3

Then another reminder,

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, while we were still sinners, Christ did for us.” 

Romans 5:8

I had read these verses many times before, but now I was beginning to see the heart of God and it was changing my perspective. He loved me before I was a new creation, while I was still covered in the filth of sin. And I still sin, yet He loves me?

Knowing He truly loved me and appointed me to love like He does, gave the shambles in my life new meaning. This was about His glory. This was about being holy like Him.

This was about loving others with the love He lavished on me.

He had not forsaken me as I had accused Him of doing. I confessed that my focus on self had blurred my vision so much that I hadn’t seen Him.

That is when my recovery began. That dialogue removed one big piece of shrapnel from my heart, but it was just the first of many. I searched my Bible daily for more of this healing balm and I never failed to find it.

I accepted that I wasn’t the one who needed fixing so I started looking for a way to fix my husband. I started reading everything I could get my hands on about pornography. God had another eye-opening lesson waiting for me.

My mind was being saturated with God’s Word and I couldn’t read anything else without thinking about a cross reference in the Bible. This led to my conviction that the popular view about pornography was really a deceptive philosophy.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” 

Colossians 2:8

Many of the “experts” on “sexual” sin claim that a man turns to pornography because he has a wounded spirit. Maybe his father had not affirmed him enough when he was a boy. Maybe he had been rejected by all the girls in high school and the anonymity of pornography was his way of finding approval and acceptance.

We live on a cursed planet and sin permeates everyone and everything. Each of us has been a victim of sin, as well as offender.

Every person that ever lived had a wounded spirit because of somebody else’s sin. That doesn’t excuse us. Sin exists in the heart of man and causes him to seek pleasure and safety for himself.

I recognized pornography was not a “sexual” sin, it was idolatry.

That’s when I suddenly grasped how much of my own attitude came from idolatry.

I suffered from shell-shock because I chose to linger on past events that had hurt me.

The disappointments from the past left me wallowing in self-pity and trapped in self-protective mode. The words from John 15:16 came back to vex me and now I longed for fruit.

I began to appreciate how God was answering my prayers. He was fixing me.

I felt deep shame for not fully forgiving those who had hurt me.

Rather than risk being vulnerable, I had played it safe. But playing safe was really nothing more than worshipping self. My husband had used porn to escape because it seemed safer than working at a relationship.

We were both guilty of the same sin, we just reacted differently.

Jesus didn’t play it safe. He was despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Yet He chose me and bore my grief and carried my sorrow. He died for me.

This breakthrough produced a new compassion in me.

My love for my husband deepened; somehow it felt like reverence.

I began to see him as the Lord did and I desired to help bear his grief and sorrows. I wasn’t expecting it, so I was quite surprised that God had suddenly given me a servant’s heart.

That was the day I learned a new meaning about intimacy.

Intimacy with others starts with our relationship to Christ.

He healed the old wounds that had held my heart captive. God’s Word was more than just a balm, it gave life.

“Life in Christ is the cure for shell-shock.”

I let go of my past.

I forgave.

I took more risks and was willing to suffer if it meant more fruit. I felt safe to do what God appointed me to because He will never reject me.

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About Jennifer Wilson

Jenny Wilson is passionately devoted to guiding broken-hearted victims of betrayal to true and lasting forgiveness and meaningful reconciliation. She helps Christian wives overcome negative spiritual and emotional effects of infidelity so they can walk in truth and go beyond coping to victorious living.

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