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July 22, 2008

“O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help. Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord; hear my urgent cry. I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me” (Psalm 86: 5-7).

A few years ago, I made a new friend. It was someone that Hugh knew well and so when I started hanging out with him, neither Hugh or I thought much about it.

He was really funny. And smart. Slowly, the more time we spent together, the more I realized how much he liked me. The best part about spending time with him was how he made me feel – he made me feel smart and funny, too. Smart and funny in a way I knew Hugh didn’t think I was – after all, most of my conversations with Hugh centered around our budget and who was in charge of bath time that night.

Because this was a guy Hugh knew well, it was really natural for me to be in the same room with him. As soon as I saw him, I would engage him in witty conversation about politics and books and anything else I could think of – I could think of a lot of things to talk about; we never really ran out of stuff to say.

Then, one day, he and I were alone together. I felt so comfortable in his presence and we talked for a while as we usually did. Suddenly, something happened. He crossed a physical line, and my world froze.

“I can’t tell Hugh about this.” was my first thought. I felt so much guilt and shame.

That night, after the kids were down, Hugh asked, “How was your day?”

I paused. Then, taking a deep breath, I told him everything.

“I am so, so, sorry. I don’t understand what happened. We were just talking and then…and I…and I didn’t think…I don’t know…I feel so awful…Hugh, geez. I am so sorry.”

The next few weeks were some of the hardest of my marriage – not because of Hugh, but because I wrestled through so much guilt as a wife. How could I have been such a fool? How could I have been so very, very stupid?

The amazing thing about Jesus is that He is somehow right there in the middle of every single situation of my life. When I brought Him this mess, His forgiveness and love and mercy was complete and total. Once I allowed Him into the situation, He began to show me how I had let this friendship develop into something inappropriate, and He loved me every day – even when I wanted to crawl under a rock.

I used to judge people who went to “extremes” to protect their marriages. No close friends of the opposite sex, no closed-door meetings, or (with a nod to Billy Graham) not even a cab driver of the opposite sex. I have completely changed my mind and heart on this. I now realize that my boundaries have to be set to the point of being ridiculous – that my marriage, family, and relationship with Christ are worth any inconvenience or “extreme” measure.

Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you.” I now long for a pure heart before God in a way that I never did before, and I am keenly aware that it is only by staying daily surrendered to His voice and authority in my life that I can live a life that brings honor to the name of my Jesus.

Father, I love you. Your forgiveness and mercy are more than I can take in. I long to be with you more. I ask for your Holy Spirit this day to fill me with your wisdom and your Presence. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. July 22, 2008 11:47 am

    The devil and the world tell us those boundaries are ridiculous and our pride tells us that something like that won’t happen because we’re not that kind of people. I know what it’s like to find yourself in a situation you never thought you’d be.

    I applaud you for making sure to put up those boundaries, no matter how ridiculous they may seem to anyone else.

    God bless you and your marriage!!

  2. July 22, 2008 1:29 pm

    A very similar situation happened to me very early in my marriage. It also happened to Rod with a co-worker. It was a shocking lesson to learn for both of us, but one I’m glad we learned without scarring us or destroying our marriage. I have seen it happen so often. Bless you for being willing to really “get it.”
    Love to you.

  3. Amanda McEwen permalink
    July 22, 2008 2:58 pm

    I know this was no easy thing for you to write about. I was blessed to watch you walk through this because you did it with humilty and strength even though it was incredibly hard. I am proud of you. I am proud of you for safeguarding your marriage. There is no other human relationship on this earth more important. Billy Graham knew that. That is why he did those things. And only the Lord knows what he saved himself from by doing them 🙂
    Love you

  4. July 22, 2008 3:07 pm

    I imagine this couldn’t have been easy for you to share. It is going to be part of your testimony, and I have no doubt that this first time you’ve shared it publicly, you are going to bless people.

    Hugs to you.

    And one more time— are you coming up or not now???

  5. July 22, 2008 5:07 pm

    This is the most transparent blog I have ever read. Thank you for your courage. And wow, the other side of the tunnel is great, huh!

  6. July 22, 2008 6:05 pm

    Once again my friend…you amaze me. For being transparent and allowing God to use you for others.
    A wise man once said, “Whatever your messes are, God will use for ministry….because it’s only thru the messes that we learn purpose and get “jewels in the rough”. And it’s only thru the valleys that we learn the refiner’s fire and come out on top of our mountains…tears streaming down our face from it all…but hands stretched high towards the Heavenlies in true freedom and joy… a new and changed creation. And it’s all for His glory. There is purpose in it all.” Love you friend!

  7. Tasha permalink
    July 23, 2008 5:00 am

    That is something that I have dealt with too. When you think that a good friendship is harmless and innocent and then find out it isn’t. 😦

    I’m learning too, that I shouldn’t share with any male something I wouldn’t share with my husband, or anything too deep into my heart, because those set traps in your heart and conscience.

    I admire your ability and humility in sharing this with the world, and helping others that might make the same mistake learn first to guard themselves and second, that if a mistake is made, that there is redemption and Grace waiting for us in Jesus’ arms.

  8. July 23, 2008 6:43 am

    This is the first time that I have been to your blog. As I was blog hopping this morning, I jumped here from “A planting of the Lord”. Your title caught my eye and I just had to come and read a while.

    You are so real and so transparent. Those are qualities that I have come to love. No more fake pretending… God can’t use that. But “messes into ministry”, now that is something that He can use.

    Sharing that must have taken you outside of your comfort zone… thanks for being so brave. I know that many people really needed to hear it. I have a friend right now that shared with me about a similar situation in her life. God opened her eyes before it became a “huge mess”, and she realized the need to break off her contact with this person completely. I try to keep her accountable in this area. I am one of those people that try not to have any close contact with anyone of the opposite sex… even my friends’ husbands… I tend to keep them at a distance. Thankful that God showed me this early. Now… if I had just taken all of His warnings this seriously.

    Thanks again for being so honest.

  9. July 23, 2008 1:27 pm

    thank you so much for sharing. I have a friend who is the leader of our small group. He and his wife are both good friends. They have done some counseling with me, and I have had the opportunity to share with him often about things going on, etc. I think it is a good two way friendship, but I have gotten in the habit of when I email him, I copy the email to his wife. He makes sure that he is never alone with another woman on his own. He even makes sure that if we are at worship team practice, we leave at the same time as everyone else, even if we are in the middle of a conversation.

    I was meeting him and some others from our church at a funeral in northern Illinois, and offered to give him a ride back to central Wisconsin. He had talked to his wife about it, and they both agreed that it wasn’t a good idea for him to come back with me alone… but he also told her that if it was between me driving into a ditch because I was too tired, or him riding with me to keep me awake, he wanted to keep me awake… at the end of the funeral, our pastor asked me for a ride back home too. He was an answer to both of our prayers, just to have that accountability… because the enemy would love to screw up both our marriages, and “ruin” our testimony and ministry, etc…

    At first, like you said, I thought his boundaries were really over doing it. But now I know that it was really not overkill. He was doing it to make sure we were both safe. Because at the time, i really didn’t have boundaries. Now I do, or at least stronger. And after an experience with my husband, now even more I understand the need for boundaries, and how much we all need them to protect ourselves.. not only from physical entanglement, but emotional as well.
    God has used this incident to make you wiser, and help you see the same thing that I have. Guys just see things differently than we do, and the things we do, the interest we show in them (the same way we might with a girlfriend) just connect to them in a different way.
    well, anyway, thank you so much for sharing, and for the reminder.
    Love you, Jess,
    God Bless,

  10. July 23, 2008 1:30 pm

    Did I mention that I am really thankful for you sharing so honestly and openly? I know it was hard.

    I hope that I didn’t come across sounding superior, because I have had to really watch myself in this area too. With some of my husbands friends, a co-workers husband too… it is hard when you feel your husband isn’t caring, and another man shows interest and listens and expresses concern, etc.

    I struggle with the same thing many times.
    May God strengthen us both in this area!!!
    Love you,

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