Infidelity and restoration typically aren’t usually used in the same sentence because, well, it’s almost impossible to be restored after infidelity strikes a marriage. Right? I mean, that’s what the world says, isn’t it? Well, my story is different.
My story is a story of fear, betrayal, heartbreak, and Jesus. And the latter is the most important part.
John and I celebrated 25 years of marriage in June. This man I love with all of my heart, soul, and mind. He is my everything second only to Jesus.
But after 15 years of marriage, I betrayed him in such a way that nearly wrecked and destroyed both of us. Nevertheless, what Satan meant for pure evil, God has turned in to something very beautiful.
Young and in love.
I was 19 and he was 20 when we married.
We were young and in love.
Six years later we were blessed by a beautiful big lipped baby girl that we named Alex Elizabeth. Two and a half years later Averee Grace was born with eyes blue as the sky.
About a year after Averee was born, John’s best friend suddenly died and it completely rocked our world. He and John had plans. They were going to open a business together and had already done most of the research to get started. Our families were close. We spent vacations and holidays together. It was a very traumatic time not only for us, but of course their family as well. He had left a wife and three small children behind.
Fast forward two years and John had another best friend that suddenly died. Same situation. We were close and spent vacations together. He left a wife and two small children behind.
Fear of death.
As crazy as this sounds, after this happened I knew that I would be next. I mean, why wouldn’t I be? John has a pretty extensive family history of heart disease. Surely he will die soon, and I too will be left to take care of two small children.
I started living out of fear and I just had to figure out a way to become independent. I needed to learn how to take care of myself and my two girls without leaning on John. This was a gradual process and it was something that just happened over time. I didn’t “set out” to become independent, it just happened.
And it was wrong.
Aside from that, I had completely left my heavenly Father out. I had forgotten to put my trust in Him. There were parts of me that I just hadn’t given over to Him.
This was the beginning of my failure.
I let fear in and allowed it to control my mind and thoughts.
I needed to be able to take care of myself. That fear flourished inside of me and taught me how to not need my husband. That fear caused there to be a crack in the door of our marriage. And Satan slivered his way through. I opened the door of my heart to another man. This led to an emotional affair and then a physical affair that literally almost destroyed me and my husband and our two girls.
I’m going to stop right here and say to you — if you are flirting with this temptation STOP RIGHT NOW.
It’s not worth it. I’m telling you, it’s NOT worth it!
Furthermore, it’s NEVER God’s will to break up a family. NEVER. If you’re involved in a relationship like this then STOP. It is NEVER God’s will for you to leave your spouse to be with someone else.
I betrayed my husband. The one who my soul has always loved. The one who I promised to cherish and love all the days of my life. The one who makes up half of my beautiful girls’ heart.
This beautiful man, I betrayed. When the affair came to light, my husband did not kick me out. He should have… but he didn’t. Instead he opened his arms to me. He showed me the love of Jesus. Don’t get me wrong… he didn’t just roll over. He’s a smart guy. He had no idea what I would do, and he had to be prepared. The morning after it came to light he got up (he was sleeping upstairs in the guest room), came downstairs and got in the shower as if he was going to work.
I knew he wasn’t going to work.
He was going to see an attorney. So, he left that morning. The girls were with my in-laws so I was alone. I remember just laying in my bed in the fetal position not knowing what was going to happen. I called my dad and I told him everything. I felt like I was a teenager again as I listened. “Shannon, you cut it off! Cut it off RIGHT NOW.” He had a conviction in his voice that I had never heard.
He scolded me and told me what a mistake I had made. He spoke truth to me and talked sense to me. Yes, I felt like a teenager again… but it was exactly what I needed, because I certainly hadn’t been behaving like a responsible adult. Gosh — thank you so much Dad… for speaking truth to me. Thank you for not being afraid of the ramifications of how I would react. Thank you for being brave. You have showed me how to be brave. Oh how I love you Dad.
Can I just tell something?? Speak TRUTH to your loved ones! Speak truth to them even when it will hurt them. And on the flip side — YOU ALLOW OTHERS TO SPEAK TRUTH TO YOU. Speaking truth to others can literally save them! They may not take it well at first, but THEY WILL GET OVER IT.
The Beginning of Restoration.
Later that day I saw Johns car drive in front of our house and pull into the driveway. I walked over to the garage door. I just wanted a hug. I wanted to be in his arms. See, we have this special hug thing that we do. We’ve done it our whole marriage. I walk into his chest and he envelopes his arms all the way around me as if he is shielding me. So, he walks in and I’m standing there. I walk right into his arms and he pulls me close. I whispered, “I love you John.”
“I love you too honey.”
And at that moment we both knew that we were going to try. Little did we know that this was one of the hardest decisions that we would ever make in our marriage.
Here’s the cool part. On the way home John was praying and crying out to God. He asked God to help him know what to do. He asked God for a sign… and when he walks in the door there I am. Our hug was his sign. Seems small and insignificant when looking at the scope, doesn’t it?
So the girls were staying with my in-laws and we had about four days just to really talk things out and try and move past the initial trauma. Let me say — it would have been SO much easier for both of us just to give up. Infidelity is extremely painful and honestly sometimes it’s just too hard to come back from.
The world says it can’t be done.
But Jesus… He says I can do ALL things!
Giving up and getting a divorce would have been the easy part for us.
Instead of kicking me out John welcomed me in. He showed me love. I had mocked him and spit in his face. I caused him to bleed and I shamed him. Sound familiar? Matthew 26:67:
Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him…”
He showed me who Jesus was and for the first time in my life I realized what Jesus Christ did for me on that cross. I’ve been a Christian and loved Jesus ever since I was a little girl and at the age of 36 I finally understood. 1 Peter 3:18 – Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring us safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the spirit.
The Hard Work.
The days following didn’t get better. In fact, they got worse.
I’ll never forget the day we picked up our girls. I remember them piling out of the car; Alex’s mousey brown hair was just a mess and she had that crinkled up nose smile that she always gives me. Averee’s sweet blue eyes just twinkled when she saw me. They both ran up to me and hugged me so tight. We hugged for what seemed like the longest time. They had no clue. They had absolutely no clue what their momma and daddy was going through. Those sweet babies didn’t have a care in the world.
They had no idea that the next couple of years would be the hardest…that it would be an emotional roller coaster. They had no idea their parents were literally fighting the powers of darkness and hell.
So, we decided to make it work, but we were very, very broken. There was SO much to be repaired and so much work to be done. I had broken the heart of my husband and completely severed the relationship I had with many of my friends. How could I do such a thing? How could I? It wasn’t my character to do this. I was in such a state of depression for what I had done. There were many days that I didn’t know if I would make it. I just didn’t want to live in the shame and regret. It was too hard.
Can I tell you something else? Never, EVER make this statement: “I would never do that.” You know, that saying… “Well, I would neeever…” Oh Please. I said it and look what happened. This thing… thing that I did was the NEVER of all nevers for me. It was my un-doing.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering why I would disclose something like this online or in public. It’s something that’s supposed to be kept a secret, right? It’s private. Yeah, I know. And Satan would love nothing more than for me to keep quiet. God spoke very clearly to me and told me exactly what to do so I’m doing it. What we went through and how God restored us is just too much of a miracle to keep to myself. Honestly it’s His story, not mine.
The next three to four years was the most difficult season for us. While we were fighting for our marriage we also each had our own, very personal things to work out.
John had to deal with trust issues and the hurt, anger, and bitterness. I can’t really go in to what he went through because that is his story… but I will tell you, there were so many layers of deceit and hurt that it is purely a miracle he survived. He is a walking miracle. WE are a walking miracle. OUR KIDS — they are walking miracles.
Thank you Jesus.
And me? Well, I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I didn’t know how to read my bible. I remember picking it up and not even understanding the words. Sin does that to you — it twists you around and turns you into something that you are not.
Jesus was just foreign to me. It was as if I had never heard of Him or even read the bible. It was weird. The root issue was that I felt unworthy. I felt so unworthy and unlovable. I felt dirty and full of shame. There was absolutely no grace for me and no way back. I would be forever marked as “that woman.”
The healing process for us was extremely crucial and important. Each step had to be taken very carefully. There were so many different layers to our situation. John was completely heartbroken at what I had done. I was heartbroken at what I had done. As I said before, our marriage needed healing, and we each needed individual healing. I don’t know how we would have done it without Jesus and counseling. We had an amazing marriage counselor.
It took about five years for both of us to become completely whole. Five years of blood and sweat. It was hard work. Marriage is hard work y’all. But if you push through the hard times it can be so rewarding.
Maybe you have sin in your heart right now or you are like I was and you are carrying a past sin around… you feel isolated, alone… Jesus isn’t afraid to talk about our sin!!! Talk to him about it! Give it to him! Give him your whole heart! Satan WANTS you to feel isolated but if he can get you to feel isolated then he’s got you!
So many people tell me that I am brave and courageous. Listen — Jesus made me brave!
No matter what we’ve been through or what we face, we all have it within ourselves to be BRAVE – to be the person that God designed us to be. Its your decision! Step out of your comfort zone! With HIS courage and HIS strength we CAN make the choices that can CHANGE our circumstances!!!
Where We Are Now
So, has it been worth it? Naturally I guess it seems my answer would be yes. Our family is so happy today. There is pure, genuine, and fierce love. We know what it feels like to almost lose love and we’ve both tasted death. We are thankful and we live each and every day out of gratefulness, and hopefully that has been passed down to our girls.
Today our family is a living, breathing miracle. When I think of the grave possibilities that could have taken place had we not surrendered to Jesus, I shutter. There is fierce love in our home. What you see is what you get with us. People joke and kid with me all the time about the way we love each other. “You and John are so sappy and mushy!” Yep. We sure are.
I would always think to myself — if you only knew what we have gone through to get here. We hold on to each other and we hold on tight.
John and I have learned the gift of God in marriage. We are a team. We love and we love hard. We don’t hide it. Love is a decision and we have decided to love on purpose. When I am weak, he is strong. When he is weak, I am strong.
We are John and Shannon. And we always will be.
To read Shannon’s full story, click this link.