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. 


Beth 

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
Eventually, our affair led to the demise of his marriage. Mark and I moved in together. We married several years later. Eight months after the wedding, Mark suffered a massive stroke. His swelling brain threatened to end his life. My first thought was, “He and I are condemned to hell because of what we did.” I cried out to God. I committed myself and Mark to the Lord, confessing that I was lost and unable to handle my life. As God’s Spirit began to work in me, I was overwhelmed with the guilt and shame of what I had done. I saw the truth of who I was. I recognized the pain I had caused Rita and their innocent kids.

Mark survived. But, the stroke forever changed his personality. He struggles with physical and emotional challenges every day.



Mark and Beth today
Fifteen years have now passed. During those years, I’ve experienced darkness, sadness, stress, challenges, shame, and loneliness. However because of the steadfast love and grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, I’ve also experienced blessings, grace, forgiveness, mercy, and redemption.  


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. 




Rita 

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.

Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. It brought tears to my eyes. Forgiveness can be so hard not so much because we want vengeance, but because our anger can be justified. It's important to know the purpose of forgiveness and to remember always that we don't deserve it either. It's been difficult to forgive my ex for abandoning my children and even though I have, I still hurt for them.

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    1. Thanks, Linnea. I'll pass on your comments to Beth and Rita. It's sometimes easy to forget how much we all need grace.

      I'm sorry your ex abandoned your kids. My 1st husband abandoned me, but thankfully we had no children. Your situation would be so hard to forgive. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

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  2. My Dear Peggi,
    I can only say that I have had similar experiences in my life and they were hard pills to swallow, but I knew God wanted me to forgive the people concerned regardless of what they had done to me. The interesting thing about this all is every time I did it, I became free.
    My God son said something to someone on Easter Sunday that really opened my eyes. He was talking to someone else about forgiveness and he told them, God wants you to forgive, not because you are wrong, but because he wants you to be free. As long as you have not forgiven the other person, you are in their jail cell. What he said was so enlightening, and I could only thank God for giving me the courage and the humility to be obedient to his word.
    I really enjoyed your blog. It always builds me up.
    Have a blessed weekend.
    Shalom,
    Patricia

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  3. Patricia, I'm so glad you shared this thought about forgiveness freeing us. Someone once said that staying bitter (or not forgiving) is like taking poison and hoping the other person dies. It injures us. We can feel like we don't want to let the person who hurt us "off the hook," but we're actually unhooking ourselves.
    That other person often still has to deal with the negative consequences (as Beth mentioned above) of their behavior.

    Thanks for your kind words on my blog, Patricia!

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  4. This is a story only our gracious God and Father could write. Only He can put our pieces back together. Thank you for sharing this.

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  5. Amen! Who, but God? Thanks for commenting, Michelle.

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  6. What a beautifully written post Peggi! The one thing that is tough for many of us to truly do at times is forgive, especially those that we believe have done the unthinkable. But the miracle of God's actions at the Cross is the ultimate example of truly forgiving and loving others despite wrongdoing. This piece is truly a testament and reminder of God's grace and how we need to apply.
    Thanks for sharing :)

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  7. Thanks,friend, but the writing credit goes to Beth and Rita. (I just edited.) I appreciate your reminder that the cross is the ultimate example of undeserved forgiveness and grace. Beautiful, powerful thought. Thanks for commenting!

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  8. I have been struggling for two years to forgive the woman at my husband's job that he had an "emotional/online affair" with. God has transformed so much in our marriage. I have forgiven myself and my husband but I cannot seem to let go of my anger towards her :( She isn't remorseful, never gave an apology and was just scared she would lose her job. She has approached several married men at the company and it bothers me that others are suffering pain and heartache that my family did. I finally called her husband a year after it happened to explain my sadness and anger because she thought she did nothing wrong. Surprisingly, he had been struggling with her infidelity for over 6yrs. I felt so sad for him and told him I would pray for them as well as myself to be able to forgive her. They still work for the same company and it's really hard for me, even though I know that NOTHING is going on anymore. Occasionally, I see her in traffic or at a local store. I DESPERATELY want to forgive her like Rita forgave Beth :'( I have been praying for so long that GOD would remove her from the same workplace and NOTHING... I know that it is His plan not mine that will be done, I feel like a prisoner of anger & bitterness and I want to let this go...... Amanda

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    Replies
    1. Hi Amanda,
      My heart goes out to you! I'm praying that God will enable you to forgive this woman.

      Remember that forgiveness does not always mean that you become friends with the person. Beth and Rita's situation is unique and amazing (only by God's grace!). Sometimes, healthy boundaries are needed. And, forgiveness is a choice you make regardless of your feelings. You might still feel angry. Just keep surrendering the situation to God.

      I wrote another blog on forgiveness. (Especially read the bottom notes on "What Forgiveness is Not.") Maybe it will help, Amanda: http://www.peggitustan.com/2013/04/how-many-times-shall-i-forgive-matthew.html

      Lord Jesus, please give Amanda the power, love, and grace to forgive this woman. Help her to see that by releasing this woman, she is releasing herself. Please help this woman to recognize the harm she's causing and repent. I pray she would be saved. I pray that you would completely heal Amanda's heart and relationship with her husband. In Jesus name, amen.

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