As mentioned last week, the Beyond Betrayal/JHJ spiritual crisis survey results showed that 63% of women experienced a crisis of faith upon discovery of their husband’s betrayal. The crisis centered on either God, on the church or on both.
At present we are exploring women’s painful feelings toward God and the thoughts that fueled those feeling. In the first part of this series, we looked at the pain that came from a sense of being duped by the God who knew, but didn’t help us find out sooner. We also discussed the sense of injustice that some women feel. Below were some other common themes that we saw:
Feelings of Rejection and Judgment
A number of women stated that they felt they had come under God’s wrath for something they had done. There were also women who stated that they felt that this was some kind of just punishment for their own sins.
“I developed a fear of God, fear of church and judgment.”
“I was very angry with God and felt that he hated me.”
“I felt betrayed and unprotected and like God loved my husband but not me and our children.”
I will be discussing these heartbreaking fears in-depth in future posts. For now: please know this may feel very true, but isn’t. You are loved. God hurts with you and for you.
Many women reported feeling abandoned by God. In Spiritual Crisis in Wives of Sex Addicts, JHJ’s Coach Katherine talks about being unable to feel God’s presence. Other women talked about feeling their pleas to God were falling on deaf ears, resulting again in a sense of abandonment that lead them to anger.
“I felt abandoned by God and everyone else,” said one respondent.
“I couldn't understand why our prayers were not answered in the way we wished. We both wanted his same-sex attraction to be miraculously removed and in my mind, because it was ungodly I couldn't understand why that didn't happen.”
“I always pressed into the Lord for everything I needed and now I feel like my best friend has abandoned me.”
“I felt like I had been forsaken.”
The Sufferings of Ministry Wives
Of the three surveys I have now conducted with JHJ, this was the one that brought forward the most women identifying as pastor’s wives or the wife (or ex-wife) of someone in ministry. It’s fairly clear that women in these positions carry a unique burden of shame and pain around their husband’s addiction. As one respondent said:
“I found out about it [his sexual addiction] around our second year together. What made it worse is that he was a pastor... As my trust in my husband faded, so did my trust in God.”
Earlier this year, guest blogger "C" shared insights into the road that some ministry wives walk. If this is your story, you may find it helpful to read through that series beginning here.
Before we move to looking at the role the church sometimes played in women's spiritual crises, I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge one Christian organisation's help to wives of sex addicts. Our friends at Covenant Eyes, recently ran this excellent story on how the church can support wives of sex addicts. Thanks Catherine Etherington (of BTR) for writing this excellent story.
Those of you in Australia or New Zealand, please note that Catherine will be running a workshop on managing trauma triggers at the end of next week.
Thank you to the many wives who participated in the 2015 survey. Beyond betrayal also has some video interviews on spiritual crisis, and the topic is also features in the Compassion video series.