Monday, November 30, 2015

Grace Abounds in Deepest Waters...

What is your deepest fear? What are you most afraid of? Although I am not afraid of death, I do fear how I will die. I fear death by drowning. Can you imagine? Simply thinking about drowning is enough to send chills down my spine. The heaviness gripping at your lungs, heart hammering against your ribs as you panic to rise to the surface, desperate for a gulp of air. The darkness crushes you, enveloping your body as you grow tired from thrashing against the very water that will thrust you into the next world.

I was drowning. But it wasn’t water that was crippling me – it was shame. It was guilt.
What I am about to share with you is going to be messy. It is intimate, and it will have potential for great misunderstanding. I pray, Father God, give me the words.

I had an affair. I had an affair with a married man. I walked away from my marriage.

Allow me to rewind time for you –

My parents divorced when I was seven. Although I wasn't conscience of it for many years, my parents’ divorce destroyed my security. My daddy was everything to me. Not having him as a constant in my life left me feeling alone, unworthy and unloved. It would lead to a lifetime of poor choices. As a teenager, once I discovered that a boy’s attention made me feel good, I regularly exchanged sex for a few minutes of “love” and “worthiness.” I grew up in a “churched” home. I believed there was a God, but I wasn’t aware that I could have a personal relationship with Jesus. I knew that God was disappointed in my choices. I began to believe that the “bad” things that happened in my life were God’s punishment for my bad decisions.

And yet, I have spent years looking for someone to fill my deepest desire to feel loved and valued. *There it is. Right there. That sentence would become my demise. It would become my shame, my guilt and the ultimate collapse of my marriage. You see, I now know {at the age of forty-one years} that there is only one “someone” who can fill my desires. That “someone” has been beside me from the beginning. That “someone” was with me as I lay on my bed at the age of seven, griping my Maggie doll, trying to make sense of a crumbling family. That “someone” was whispering in my thoughts each time I gave myself to a random boy, desperate to feel valued. That “someone” has fought for my attention – fiercely making known that He is the answer. That “someone” is Jesus Christ. And if I am to be honest with myself, and with you – He wasn’t enough. I never knew how to allow Jesus to be enough. Or maybe I was too selfish to allow Jesus to be enough.

Two years ago my oldest son became entangled in a web of drugs and lies. It began the downward spiral of a family that from the outside looking in looked “together” and “wholesome.” Just four years prior, my little family of four and I became Christians – all of us turning our lives over to Jesus. We attended church together. We were involved in various church activities. We were developing friendships with “church” people. Life was good. Isn’t it amazing how the despair of a child can absolutely annihilate a marriage? In this case, my oldest son was not the biological child of my husband, which only added to the messiness of the situation. 

When I needed emotional support, I felt like my husband was lacking in empathy. When I needed spiritual support and guidance, I felt like my husband was flawed. When I needed to be held, my husband was not available. Our conversations became arguments. Our arguments became knock-down, drag-out fights. There was name calling. Threats of divorce were tossed around like a ragdoll. When rare moments of opportunity to spend time together presented itself, we chose to spend time in separate rooms. Our marriage was in shambles. But I was coping. I was coping by painting a fairytale marriage for the public to relish over. And I became brilliant at storytelling. I created a “hottie hubby,” a man who was an American hero. I generated conversations that would ensue laughter from my followers. I composed scenes of an enchanted family – happy in our home filled with love and giggles. How could I allow the public to know that my marriage was collapsing when they already were aware of my unraveling son? I needed others to think that I had some area of my life in control – my son might be failing, but by golly, my marriage was strong. …It’s numbing to live in such a lie.

I sought refuge, when I should have been seeking help.

In January I began a new job as Vice President of Marketing for the Missouri Baptist Foundation. I had prayed about the position with the Foundation since October when the job was “unofficially” offered to me. I had not been looking for a new job, in fact, I had a job that I absolutely loved and I was good at. But this job at the Foundation seemed like the right move. I felt like God had answered my very specific prayers, leading me to accept the position with the Foundation. My boss, Chris, was a familiar friend. Chris and I attended church together. We served on the praise team at our church together. I led the children’s choir at our church and Chris was my accompanist. Chris and his family had volunteered many times with me at my previous job. Our families had become friends, often spending time together on the weekends.

Chris and I spent a lot of time together traveling for the Foundation. Hours of car time initiated hours of conversation. Over time our conversations grew more and more personal and eventually we both began to divulge our deepest secrets. Both of us were struggling in our marriages. Both of us were seeking refuge. Chris became my confidant. He became my feelings of value. He became my feelings of worthiness. Chris became my refuge.

Do not be fooled - our affair did not start with our first kiss. Our affair began well before I even accepted the job at the Foundation. I specifically remember meeting Chris for the first time at church a few years earlier and thinking he was attractive. Blond hair. Blue eyes. Dimples. He sings. He plays the piano. He’s wildly talented. He was a spiritual leader within his family, and within the church. He is sensitive. He is kind. He is attentive. This is when the affair began.The affair manifested in my mind with each one of those thoughts. My downfall was that I did not capture those thoughts from the beginning and dispose of them immediately. Rather, I allowed those thoughts to grip me – placing a stronghold on my heart. Chris made me feel good – my iniquity {my flesh} was ruling over my spirit, and I allowed it.

This next part is what can be misunderstood…

I was aware that the affair had consumed me. I was fully aware that what I had become raveled up in was a sinful relationship. I was aware that what I was doing was wrong.

But I was exhausted of the fighting. I was depleted of the desire to continue to “try.” I was weary of the loneliness I felt. I was depressed. I was worn out from meeting the public’s perception of who “Betsy” was – giggly, upbeat, always smiling and positive, entertaining and hilarious Betsy. Inside I was screaming. I was beaten up. I was broken. I was living the life of one person on the outside, while living the life of another on the inside. I was sharing my testimony, preaching authenticity, when all the while I was living a lie. I walked away from my marriage because I desired to live in truth.

I am mindful that my words could possibly be the motivation for someone in a similar situation to seek help, and I find great peace of mind in that possibility. However, I am also conscience of the risk I am taking that someone else might interpret my words as permission to leave their marriage. I am convicted to share these truths, of which I fully believe:

I believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. I believe God created marriage as a covenant to last a lifetime. I believe God created marriage as an image of how Christ loves His church. I also believe God allows a marriage to end when specific sins have been committed. I believe the Church is a place to protect and guide individuals and families in bleak and complicated situations. I believe God would have wanted my marriage to be healthy and remain unbroken. I believe God gives us free will. I believe God is conceiving a different kind of miracle in my life – one of healing and redemption and true joy. I believe God is using my mess to be my message to others that are hurting. I believe no one should walk away from their marriage without first seeking help. I also believe only you and God know what is best for you.

Psalm 139: 1 & 2 ~
 “O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.”

Who am I to hide my thoughts from Christ? I covered my sin, burying my shame and my guilt deep in the pit of my heart. I made a choice to share my deepest desires, my heart and my emotions with a man that was not my husband. I justified my choices by convincing myself that I deserved to be loved. I deserved to be valued. I deserved to be paid attention to. I made choices that damaged my marriage, my family, my friends, my church, my work and most importantly, my walk with Christ. I made choices that carried shame. I walked away from my marriage. The ugliness of divorce has taken its toll. My affair planted rumors and gossip.  I have sobbed. I have thrashed against the suffocating waters of shame and guilt. I was drowning. Yet, God's grace abounds in deepest waters. Christ has covered me with His immeasurable grace. The more I am learning about Christ’s love, the more I recognize how unreasonable my definition of love was. Love is not an emotion. Love is unconditional. Love is unchangeable. Love is a commitment. Love is a choice.
The Bible says that God works ALL things for His good. I am clinging to this promise. I am not proud of the choices I have made. But I am also fully aware that God does not want me to continue to walk in shame. God is redemption. God is restoration. God is reconciliation. God is grace. God is mercy. God is unconditional love.

God is enough. 


  1. I'm proud of you, Betsy. That took a lot of courage to write and publish. I hope this marks the beginning of living a life that is no longer filled with guilt and shame because you deserve it. You are an AMAZING woman and I wish you all the best .
    Blessings, Melle

  2. Betsy, I need to read and reread this. It's difficult stuff. I know it must have been hard to write, and then to publish. I can feel your pain.