(This is a continuation from Wednesday’s post. To go back to read part one, please click here.)
The dreaded day came when I knew I had to break my silence during group therapy if I ever wanted to be released.
As I waited for my turn only half listening to the group’s conversations, I reflected over my life. I was trying to sort out just how I had come to such a place as this. I had given my heart to the Lord at the age of nine; I experienced sexual abuse at the age of ten; Imarried a Christian man when I was 20. We got busy with family, career, and church. My spiritual life was more about “doing” than “being.” We spent so much time “playing church” that we didn’t realize how Satan was deceiving us. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:3, I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
Both my husband and I brought baggage from our childhood into our marriage and we began to drift apart. We did not heed the warning in 1 Peter 5:8:
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
My husband Dave’s poor self esteem caused him to lash out at me with hurtful comments that, in turn, caused me to feel unloved. My controlling and manipulative personality did not give him proper respect, which caused more unloving actions, leading to more disrespect. We found ourselves in what Dr. Emerson Eggerichs calls the “Crazy Cycle” in his book, Love and Respect.
There was such a disconnection between us that I believed Satan’s lie – I had married the wrong man. I was primed for Satan’s seduction. Seduction begins with a seed of doubt. Just like in Genesis 3:1 – Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden?” Or in my case; did I wrongly hear from God? Did I make a mistake marrying Dave?
In the midst of feelings of isolation and powerlessness, I did the unthinkable – I allowed myself to be seduced by the enemy.
So, as we sat in our usual circle, the facilitator said, “Arlene, I want you to tell us today, why you were admitted into the hospital.” All eyes were on me, including little Shadow’s. Shadow had a sly smile, however, and I could see she was anxious to hear just what lie I would tell the group.
Knowing I had no choice, I heard my voice saying, “I had an affair.” Absolute silence filled that little room. After what seemed like an eternity, a woman broke the silence, “Is that it?” I nodded yes as I sobbed in shame. And as the entire circle of patients broke into laughter, totally unable to identify with the shame that I was feeling, the facilitating staff member smiled and said, “Good job, Arlene.”
Although I realized the “good job” comment was because I finally opened up, I heard it very differently.
Good job? Didn’t they realize what I had done? I had the Spirit of the Living God living in me and I sinned against Him. I hurt my husband, my family, my church family!
The seduction lasted only for a very short season because the feelings of devastation and indescribable sorrow came, ushering in deep repentance.
Through the work of God’s Spirit, my husband was given a supernatural ability to forgive and extend grace to me. In fact, our God is so good – Dave even went to the other man without me knowing it and forgave him. As a result of that miraculous encounter, the other man gave his heart to the Lord!
However, as we began our restoration journey, and after I had experienced such amazing grace and forgiveness, Satan would not let it rest. I became seriously depressed and, thus, the hospitalization.
But as I listened to the laughter in the little therapy room after my confession, I realized that very moment – it was shame. It was shame that had sent me into a deep dark hole. God had forgiven me, Dave had forgiven me, but shame had begun to consume me. Shame had settled deep within my soul and was trying to sabotage the progress Dave and I were making in our marriage!
Oddly, the staff labeled that confession session a success and released me from the hospital. And predictably, my wonderful Lord whispered in my heart – “I do not condemn you. Shame comes from the enemy of your soul.”
God was victorious again as Dave and I continued in our successful counseling sessions, Family Life marriage conferences, good praying friends, and family.
Our marriage looks so different today. We have open communication, a deep desire to please each other, and we have gotten off the “crazy cycle.” I truly respect Dave and I feel safety, security, and unconditional love. The closer we each get to God, the closer we are to each other.
The enemy seduced me, had his hold on me but he is now defeated and I am set free, praying constantly for protection against the devil’s schemes and living victoriously in a loving marriage.
In Beth Moore’s study, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, she gives us ways to seduce-proof (to resistant Satan’s seductions)our lives according to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-25 (AMP):
- Be happy in our faith
- Abstain from evil
- Pray unceasingly
- Always be thankful and give thanks
- Do not quench the Spirit
- Do not despise instruction, exhortation, or warning
- Test and prove all things
- Allow God to sanctify us through and through
- Be blameless in our spirit, soul and body
- Know that God is faithful to do what He says
- Recognize our need for prayer
While we are waiting on the Lord for more direction, we are bathing ourselves in the scriptures and soaking up His incredible love for usand seeing His incredible love for the entire world.
We have experienced firsthand the works of the enemy. John 10:10 tells us this:
“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” (Amplified Bible)
We choose daily to walk in His abundance.
Arlene Gabrielson is a wife, mother, grandmother, a blogger, and a speaker. Her personal past rebellion and sin caused so much pain to her family, and almost destroyed their marriage. But God’s amazing forgiveness and grace overwhelmed their lives with healing, restoration, and sincere desire to “not waste their pain”. She and her husband Dave facilitate The Art of Marriage Seminars for churches, and home groups. She is also an eMentor for Family Life Ministries. The complete marriage success story and contact information can be found at her website at www.arlenegabrielson.com.