A Story of Grace | Forgiving the Other Woman
|Rita, Mark and son|
Welcome to Real Life. Mark and Rita fell in love, married, and had two children. Then, Mark met Beth. They ended up having an affair. Mark left his family and married Beth. Eight months later, Mark had a life-altering stroke. This is Beth and Rita’s story of grace.
I made a decision to accept Jesus as my Savior when I was a young teenager. However, I didn’t really know what that meant. I didn’t understand salvation or grace. I knew God, but kept my distance from him. I felt like I was too far gone. I wasn’t worthy of his forgiveness.
When I met Mark, I was rebounding from a long, unhealthy relationship. Ironically, what drew me to him was the way he interacted with his family. Mark was and is a patient, loving father. I saw the special relationship he had with his children. As we began the affair, I was racked with guilt. I consoled myself with the thought that he was the one sinning, not me. He was the married one. I was single.
|Beth and Mark's wedding day|
Mark survived. But, the stroke forever changed his personality. He struggles with physical and emotional challenges every day.
|Mark and Beth today|
The Lord has healed and restored my life.
Still, in many ways the consequences of the affair are ever with me. Our marriage has been difficult. To this day, Mark and I wrestle with “What if?” questions. This brings sadness. When people ask how Mark and I met, it’s awkward. Although the kids have forgiven me, I can never give them back the life they should have lived with their mom and dad.
One day as I was sitting in church, the Lord spoke to my heart, “Tell Beth you forgive her for the affair that ended your marriage.” I couldn’t believe his words. I sat in the pew and wept.
I argued, “It’s not fair, Lord.”
Since Mark’s stroke, I had forgiven him and Beth. I was surprised by my heartfelt compassion towards them as they struggled to adjust to their new “post-stroke” life together. But, I didn’t need to humble myself and tell Beth I had forgiven her. However, God was clear. He would not back down. He wanted me to do it. I decided that I had better obey.
This was so huge, I asked God for a confirmation. If he wanted me to do this, I asked him to create a circumstance within the next seven days where Beth and I would be alone. Then, I could speak to her privately and freely. A week passed and nothing happened. I breathed a sigh of relief. This idea wasn’t from God. It must have been my imagination.
On Monday morning of the eighth day, I went to Mark and Beth’s home to pick up my son’s hockey skates. It was early. I was surprised when Beth opened the door. As she handed me the skates, God’s Spirit spoke, “This is it!” This was the circumstance I had asked for. Beth and I were alone.
I stood there speechless and obviously out of sorts. Beth asked if I needed to speak with Mark. “No,” I replied, “I need to speak with you.” I told her that God had enabled me to forgive her. She was reluctant to accept my forgiveness. She didn’t think she deserved it. I reminded her that none of us deserve God’s forgiveness. Yet, he freely gives it. He forgave me when I surrendered my life to him many years ago. And he continues to forgive me today.
With tears in our eyes (and by the grace of God) we called a truce. I would no longer treat her as the “other woman.” Beth would no longer live in the shame of her past decisions. Since that day I have watched Beth grow into a godly woman, in spite of her difficult circumstances.
The Lord is healing our broken family with his forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Neither Beth nor I are living the lives we would have chosen. Yet as we obey him and forgive one another, God is mending our broken lives one stitch at a time.
Taking it further ...
- Like Rita, is there someone you need to forgive? Ask God for the strength and desire to freely forgive.
- Like Beth, are you carrying shame for something God has already forgiven? Jesus died to set you free. Leave your burden at the cross. Ask God to help you understand and experience his love and grace.
- Rita and Beth are available to share their story in person in the Cleveland/Akron area. For more information, contact Rita at Rita@LauxHouse.com.