Joy is mine. That's what Jesus came here to give me, and that's what dwells in me as a believer filled with the Spirit. The joy of the Lord.
Once, a few years back, one of my children was struggling with a drug problem. And by struggling, I don't just mean smoking pot on occasion. I mean mightily struggling, with some of the nastiest street drugs you can imagine. This child and I enjoyed a particularly close relationship, and my heart broke to witness what addiction was doing to him.
But in the midst of this struggle and suffering, I experienced an overwhelming peace. The Lord was in control, the Lord had plans. My sister even said to me, "How can you remain calm while all this is going on?"
My simple answer was, "God." And even though I had to accept that God's good plan may include the loss of this child, I had the peace of Jesus. And I was blessed, as the Lord's plan was to bring my child through this and use him. This is one of the major miracles I have been given in this life.
And I tell you all that because, friends, I am struggling now. As heartbreaking as dealing with my beloved son's addiction was, my husband's betrayal is, at least right now, even harder to accept. I guess that's because it was so personal. He claims he has a dysfunctional personality that allows him to get pleasure from sneaking and hiding things....and I know that has to be true, because of the many things he's hidden and been shady about in our fourteen years together. If he wanted to sneak and hide, there were plenty of ways to do that without chasing another woman. This was an attack that didn't really involved anyone else. It was against me. He betrayed the vows we made to each other, as well as the many many times he looked into my eyes and swore he'd never cheat on me. (This was almost always in the context of something else he would do...but at least I had this promise.) But this time, he chose to cross that line as well.
Okay, I guess I have to give a bit of background here. First, I need you to understand that my husband never met the woman he was pursuing - at least, not in person. This was an emotional affair. He was pursuing a relationship with a woman he met in an online game (twist the knife here - this was a game I introduced him to, and made him promise he'd never chat with someone he was playing with. His answer to that was, "I only play with you.")
He started chatting with this opponent about the game, then crossed numerous lines into the personal...pet names, greeting her upon rising each morning and wishing her good night before he went to bed, telling her details about what we were doing and where we are, seeking out links to songs to share with her. Oh, and the biggest red flag - never mentioning he had a wife. (I would have hated to see, "My wife is such a bitch" or some such, but honestly? It's worse that I wasn't acknowledged at all. In his fantasy world, I did not exist.)
Oh, and how do I know this wasn't just playful banter? Well, the obvious answer is because he hid it. But there's another answer as well.....because it's exactly the way we started. Fifteen years ago next month, I met him in an online game. We started with teasing about the game, he started sending me links, the whole deal. So no matter what he admits or what others think, I know exactly what this was.
And I know that I need to give this to God, but I struggle with the intimacy of this wound. He compares it to all the other times, and his dysfunction, but he seems to ignore how this is different. I stood by him as he revealed secret after secret to me....drinking, smoking, drugs....and together we got through everything. But now he's crossed a line he promised he never would, and I don't know that I can trust my heart to him again. I don't know if I'll ever respect him because I know he's capable of such decisions.