Last week I wrote that 79% of the Spiritual Crisis survey respondents (June/July survey with A Circle of Joy) stated that they had grown spiritually as a result of their husband's betrayal. Of course, this growth was not immediate. 68% of respondents underwent a spiritual crisis in the aftermath of discovery. However, as I pointed out last week, spiritual crisis opened up a door to new spiritual possibilities.
Good-Bye Romance, Hello Intimacy
In Beyond Betrayal (coming out next month) I dedicate a chapter to the topic of intimacy and its importance in our lives. I also describe how women (my hand is up) often get suckered into mistaking romance for intimacy.
However, nothing sucks the life out of romance quite like betrayal. Thus, finding out about M’s porn addiction (plus) was a perfect opportunity to throw out my childhood romantic dreams. I say that flippantly, but the reality is I had to spend a good deal of time examining these dreams and mourning their loss.
Who Are You, Lord?
However, even while this was going on, I was beginning to get better acquainted with the God who describes himself as a passionate lover (this in addition to “best friend,” compassionate father and nurturing mother). Getting to know Him this way took some processing on my part. I was raised in a church that preached a wrathful and distant God (which admittedly I was always skeptical of). However, that church’s influence took some time to overcome.
Thus, in my early crisis days I could easily visualize myself weeping at his feet. After awhile, I was weeping and clutching the hem of his robe. Over the course of time, I climbed up into his arms (a small child) to receive the blessing and comfort I so needed. All along the way, I was asking the question: “What is God really like?”
Today, I have no difficulty envisioning Him engaging with me in these kinds of intimate, joyful ways. The understanding of His loving, gracious character is always seeping deeper into my heart and spirit. His beauty is forever blowing my mind.
And I’m not alone. Though there were many responses to the Spiritual Crisis survey that brought tears to my eyes… there were just as many that made my heart soar. These include:
“[I gained ] peace in the midst of my storm and an intimate relationship that I would not trade... I learned what real forgiveness, compassion and trust in God is… And most precious to me is being able to pray and have fellowship with Father God and discern His voice.”
“I will never be happy that my daughters and sons were victimized, but I can see that God is using every part of what was meant to destroy me, to make a stronger healthier, more compassionate woman. He is bringing people to me who just need to be loved by someone with skin before they can understand God’s love.”
“As I was laid out flat on my face crying out to the Lord feeling like my life was over, I experienced His Presence cover me like a warm blanket wrapped around my shivering body… I would say through all of this pain I have found an Intimacy with my Father I wouldn't have known unless I had walked through this Journey.”
Growth through Intimacy
I suspect that like me, these women have found that intimacy with God, in no way crowds out their husband (where he remains in the picture). In fact, making God, rather than my husband, my romantic hero, has in some ways improved my marriage. Yes, I struggle with a cynical inner dialogue at times when M says romantic-type things to me. However, not “needing” him, or his love for me, to be perfect — because Abba has that base covered — has opened up new possibilities of intimacy with M.
He’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. But, at the present we’re not poisonous. We know each other’s weaknesses… and still manage to accept and love one other.
It began, though, with a deeper knowing of the Perfect One. My prayer is that every survey respondent would come to know our gracious and compassionate heavenly Parent. And this intimacy would revolutionize all their relationships.
Next week I'm hoping to interview the amazing Donna Meredith-Dixon — author of the soon-to-be-released guide for small group facilitators, A Door of Hope. Donna and I will be going back to an earlier topic discussed at Beyond Betrayal: body image.