Enjoy another blog from the continued series by Elle Emmerson!
I washed my husband’s feet for the first time on our wedding night. As he sat on the edge of the bed, I lovingly washed and dried his feet, and declared my faithfulness to him for all the days of his life.
Seasons came and went, and with the passing of time came the sobering realization that all was not well in paradise. I stood on the sidelines of life and watched pornography steal my husband’s mind, heart and faith in God. The harem in his imagination had ruthlessly invaded our real world. Intimate times together took a distant last place to the women in the recesses of his mind. I was my beloved’s, but he wasn’t mine.
Every woman who has gone through the experience of betrayal in marriage has a stark memory etched permanently in her mind of the moment she first discovered her husband had serious issues with sexual sin. It’s the moment she discovers that on some very base level, she’s really only been living a mirage of a marriage after all.
When I reached this moment in my own life, I began to pray for my marriage. Desperate prayers really. Prayers like, “Please God, do something!” I prayed hoping to avoid the embarrassment of my marriage being exposed as a sham. I prayed because I loved my man, although I feared loving him would leave me only crushed and empty when it was all said and done. I prayed, because my soul, was being thrust violently into the middle of the deepest, darkest forest I had ever known, and I was nearly suffocating with wild fear.
Years wore on as we rode the cycles of his addiction. And always, the secrecy, denial, the uncovering, and finally, the crushing pain. Anger, shame and imminent despair also ride the heels of sexual brokenness every time my husband went for a spin, and as a consequence, I rode these emotions every time he did too.
One cold December night, I rolled over in bed to find my husband gone. Hearing the sound of the t.v., I tip-toed down the stairs, peeked around the corner and saw images on the screen that sent chillls up my spine. Images incredibly crude and graphic. Porn, welcomed into our home for a nightcap, had unlocked the door to my husband’s heart, and devoured his soul. “Stop it, ” I begged. You’re breaking my heart.” Sobs escaped from somewhere deep within my bleeding heart. I wept unashamedly. I sunk down to my knees and cried out to God. That’s when I heard a whisper, audible only to my heart. “Wash his feet”. I stilled my breathing and heard the voice once more. “Wash his feet and forgive his sins against you.”
Forgiveness is a choice. Forgiveness is birthed when we chose to fully engage our heart and will in the process of release. And, forgiveness, infused with God’s power, forges freedom. Freedom from bitterness. Freedom from resentement. Freedom to live fully forgiven ourselves.
I understand how difficult it is to forgive someone who has deeply violated your trust. For every wife wrestling with offering forgiveness to her man, may the rest of this story offer encouragement to go the distance and give the most amazing gift you could ever give your husband and yourself.
Dawn came and went, and sometime in-between the wakening and the dreaming of the days that passed, I went to the linen cupboard and got out the basin. I dusted off the bowl and filled it with warm water and fragrant bath oil. Inviting my husband to the bedroom, I lovingly washed and dried his feet. And, as I did, the memory of washing his feet for the first time came flooding across my mind’s eye and an amazing thing happened. As I obeyed God’s command to wash his feet, the dam surrounding my self-protected, shell-shocked heart broke wide open and God’s love poured in. And out of the overflow, words of grace and forgiveness freely flowed as I was able to offer him mercy. My husband was deeply and visibly moved.
I live in a marriage with a husband who continues to walk in sexual brokenness. Forgiving him has often been the last thing on my mind and heart. Perhaps you can identify? God knows your pain and understands the brokenness in your life. But, he is waiting, willing and entirely able to bring complete healing to your aching heart if you let him in. Unload the burden of a heavy and embittered heart at the foot of the cross. Surrender your right to be bitter and choose to forgive instead. Forgiving others releases God’s resurrection power into the dead places in our lives and brings forth life. Let the mantle of forgiveness rests over your marriage for your yesterdays, your today and for all your tomorrows. The outcome of your tomorrow is dependent on your choice to forgive today. Let mercy reign.