it’s too much pain to have to bear to love a man you have to share | an open letter to the other woman

It’s not often that I like to talk about this time in my past, and not because I’m ashamed anymore, but because it hurts. Remembering the pain that I felt back then and the damage that it did to me is almost unbearable, and without my Savior’s love and comfort, I don’t know that I could bear it at all.
Yesterday, I heard Sugarland’s “Stay” and I don’t know who this letter is for exactly, but I just have a feeling it’s for someone. Whoever you are, I pray it finds you and I’m here if you want to talk.

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Dear precious sister,

I know what you’re thinking and I know what you’re feeling. Who is this girl on the internet to judge who I am or what I’m doing or presume she knows what I’m feeling. To an extent, you’re right. I might not know you at all; I might never. But I do know me, and I know a woman’s heart. And I know what it’s like to love a man you have to share.
I know that it’s not easy being betrayed or being the betrayer, no matter which side of the triangle you’re on, but being the other woman is a uniquely painful catch twenty two: you are both the betrayer and the betrayed. Now, I’m not here to condemn you for what you’re doing because I know that in your heart you are pursuing this out of love. I’m not here to tell you that he’s stripping you of your dignity, making you sell your soul, or he’s abusing you, no matter how true those things might be, because I know what you’re sacrificing for him.

I know the pain that you feel in saying good bye not knowing when you’ll see him next. I know the agony in wanting to call, needing to call him for support or just to hear his voice and knowing that you can’t because he’s at home. I know the knot you feel in your stomach when he steps away to take a call or when text conversations drop off for hours at a time. I know the torture you feel trying to believe him when he says he doesn’t touch her, and the sickness you feel when you don’t. I know how it sounds like nails on a chalkboard to hear about another fight they had, how he doesn’t love her, or how something came up and he has to cancel on you.
I know the hope you feel when he promises one day he’ll leave her and spend his life with you, and the elation you feel when he says you were made for him. And I know the love you feel when he tells you he loves you, when he holds you tight, even if just for a moment or two, and when he looks you in a way you believe he has never looked at her. I know the fun you have with him, how real it feels, and how you dream of the things you’ll do together once you’re together; oh, the places you’ll go, right?
I know what it’s like to have codes, and share secrets you know each other won’t share with anyone else because of the level of secrecy of your relationship and how it feels like trust. I know what it’s like to lie my face off to my friends, to his wife, to my family about the relationship and believe it’s for the best and that I’m protecting him out of love. I know what it’s like to shelter him, hide him, and promise him things I know I can give him that he never took me up on. I know what it’s like to say to him, “You’d really like my friends,” and hear it in return not knowing when or if any of these people would ever meet. I know what it feels like to hear all the comments from your friends and family who do know about how shameful it is, and what it’s like to be told how wrong or stupid you are.
I know what it’s like to be found. I know what it’s like to get that call from an unknown number asking if I know him, and getting told that it’s his wife. I know what it’s like to hear about his kids, how he’s been lying to her about you and he’s been lying to you about her. I know what it’s like to get cussed out, threatened, defamed, and insulted. I know what it’s like to lie to her for him and what it’s like to be coached by him to say the right things to her. And I know the agony of him still going home that night to her.
I know what it’s like to hold on for months, years to a promise that someday he’ll be yours, that when the time is right, it’ll be your time. I’ve heard reminders probably similar to yours that his heart is with me no matter where he goes. And at the end of all that, I know the liberating pain of finally walking away from it all, the hopes, the dreams, the love, and the lies. More than most, I know it’s not easy being in your shoes.

I. know.

Sister, that’s who I am. I was you, in all reality, and my heart won’t let me forget because there are some things I need you to know that I didn’t know at the time.

You are an adulteress, a mistress. That sounds so dirty, doesn’t it? I still feel dirty, even 6 years removed, when I think about what I was. When I was trapped in the lies of an affair, it was right after I’d started getting closer to God and it really ripped me away. I felt as if I’d sold my soul and I avoided God for a number of years, throwing myself into poor relationship after poor relationship. Once I came to Christ, I knew I’d been made new and that ministered so greatly to my healing, but I’d be lying if I said I ever knew how I was going to explain to Christ what I had done. God designed marriage to be a picture of Him and His Church and it pains me greatly to know I’ve been forgiven and granted grace for making a mockery of it, perverting it, and destroying it.

It has blown my mind though, as I’ve prayed on what I needed to say to you, what the Holy Spirit has led me to, and sister, there are three women in the Bible that we both need to know about.

1. The first woman to note is without a name, but she is commonly referred to though, as the woman at the well or the Samaritan woman. A lot of the time, this story, found in John 4, is used to illustrate the point that Jesus came to save all people, as this woman was not a Jew and yet she was offered eternal life (v.14). It was also a scandal that He talked to her at all, because Jewish men certainly did not associate with Samaritan woman (Samaritans were considered unclean in Jewish culture). So Jesus comes up to the well and they have a beautiful exchange in which she is clearly confused. Jesus is talking about the living well and the living water of eternal life. Her response: “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirst and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (v. 15). I imagine Jesus smiled at her when she said this. Though Jesus had perfumed miracles and taught many people so far, He had not really become a household name at this point in His ministry, and most of the time, He was hiding His identity. This woman had no idea who He was. It was at that point that He calls out her situation: she has had 5 husbands. And the man she is currently with is not her husband at all.
Yet it is this woman who is the first person Jesus truly reveals Himself to plainly: “the woman said, ‘ I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When He comes, He will explain everything to us.” (v. 25). And explain He does! This is how Jesus responds: “Then Jesus declared, ‘I who speak to you am He.’” This woman who has had multiple husbands, and probably multiple lovers is the first person Jesus declares that He is the Messiah to. The biggest news in the Jewish world in hundreds of years and He broke it to an outcast adulteress. He chose her out everyone in the world. Striking, isn’t it?
I often wonder how many people there were at that time that He could have chosen, but He chose her.
What I learned from this woman and the way Christ treated her is that He sees what we’ve done and He knows it, and yet He is willing to reveal Himself to us right in the middle of our situations. I was so busy running from God, trying to hide what I’ve done, and yet He was willing to meet me right there in the middle of it; He is willing to offer me what I need, to quench my thirst.

John 7:37-38: “…Anyone who is thirsty may come to Me! Anyone who believes in Me may come and drink! For the scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from His heart.’”

2. The second woman we should get to know is named Gomer. Gomer was a prostitute who should have been rescued by her prophet husband, Hosea. You would think that this wonderful holy man could take a prostitute and that by default she would change; but she didn’t. The whole book of Hosea reads out much like a contemporary talk show and includes the juiciest of scandals: prostitution, unfaithfulness, and downright sorrow. God called Hosea to marry Gomer, despite her profession, and though she continued to sell her body and dishonoring the covenant of marriage, he stood by his wife. No matter what she did, he would not leave her.
Hosea surely suffers at Gomer’s hand but what I learned from Gomer and Hosea is that there is a love out there that looks beyond what I’ve done and there is someone out there relentlessly pursuing me, despite my promiscuity: Jesus. Much like Hosea was probably jealous for his wife, Jesus is jealous for His bride, us. Jealous is different from envy, which the Bible states is a sin. When someone is jealous for something, they want what belongs to them that someone else has. When someone is envious for something, they want what belongs to someone else that they don’t have. God is jealous for us and is pursuing our hearts in a furious and loving way like we’ve never know. And here we have done what Gomer had done; mistreated marriage and given our bodies away to someone it didn’t belong to, and no doubt, took from someone else’s body what didn’t belong to us. Our hearts belong to God and He is constantly seeking for us, longing to reach us to get us to a place that He can love us and show us our worth and value, no matter what we’ve done to hurt Him or how jealous we have made Him.

Luke 19:10: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

3. The last woman we need to know has no name mentioned in the Bible, but is found in John 8. The religious leaders bring a woman to Jesus who had been caught in adultery. It is not specified if she was married or if she was with a married man, it simply says “adultery.” Most assume it’s that she is married and it cheating on her husband, but adultery is adultery is adultery, no matter who you are in the equation. They were challenging Jesus, trying to trap Him, and asked Him what to do with her because Jewish law stated that she was to be stoned to death. Jesus’ response is remarkable – He bends down and starts to write on the ground with His finger. As they persisted in their questioning, He finally stood and said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her,” and went back to writing on the ground. One by one, each one of these people dropped their stones and left, knowing that they weren’t without sin until only Jesus was left. This is usually where the story stops, but what I want to point out is this: Jesus was the first and only man ever to exist without sin. He was the only person who could cast stones all day by His own declaration. But this is what happens: “Jesus straightens up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared.” (v. 3-11).
As I said earlier, this letter is not to condemn you. Challenge you to think, sure, but never to condemn you. I am not sinless and have no authority to go throwing any stones, nor would I want to. I had plenty hurled my way a time or two. What I want you to realize though, is that even in all of the condemnation, shame, and humiliation of being an adulteress, you are loved enough by Jesus that He won’t condemn you even though He alone has the power and authority to do so; but rather, He will spare your life. He is a shelter for you from you own sin and He will love you at your worst.
This was something I seriously didn’t know about Jesus at the time that I was someone’s mistress. I believed that being with God or coming to God would do me only more harm than good because I’d done something so disgraceful. And the further and further I got from Him, the further I got from the truth and the closer I got to the his lies and all that he wanted me to believe in order to keep our affair going, and to keep me in a revolving door of feeling unworthy and desperation and lies. But His truth is something totally different. His truth says, “Come as you are, lay it all before me, there is no condemnation in My Name.”

Romans 8:1: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

There is one more thing about this exchange though, that we really need to know, girls. It is probably the most important: After Jesus declares to her that He will not be condemning her, He says, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Jesus isn’t here to pardon you of your sin. He’s not here to make it excusable. He’s here to take it away, make it like it never happened, and remove you from it completely. Sister, He spared this woman but He say that it made it right what she had done. Adultery is very much a sin and every sin is worthy of death, but Jesus is here to pull you to life.

John 3:16: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

This letter is my plea, and maybe it’s His to, to get you to see that He is FOR you. He loves you, He is pursuing you, and He is trying to reveal Himself to you. He doesn’t want to condemn you, but He wants to get you out of the mess you are in. You don’t have to stay where you are. You are not a slave to this man and you don’t owe him anything. There is nothing of real worth that he has given you. But there is Someone out there who will, and it’s Jesus. The living water that flows from His heart will sustain you when you feel like dying and He will rescue you like He rescued the Samaritan woman, Gomer, and the woman caught in adultery… like He rescued me.

Isaiah 45:22: “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth, for I am god, and there is no other.”

There is hope for you, and a prosperous future, and a man that God is grooming for you right now. I know it’s true because I’m living it, sister. All the while that I was wrecking my heart on men who should have been investing in their wives and then healing from it, God was preparing the heart of a wonderful spouse who is sensitive to my needs and, like Jesus, does not condemn me for my past. Sister, there is something so much greater on the other side. Just be willing to lay it before Him, He’s waiting.

Zephaniah 3:17: “for the Lord your God… will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

With so much love and many prayers for you,
Samantha

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