The Path of Freedom (part 7)
As our journey continued I focused on supporting Maty the best I could by communicating at a level I’d never done before and providing everything she would ask from me. Rebuilding trust from betrayal is not a task for the faint hearted. I told her everything that was going daily. I consistently shared all of the temptations and struggles that I faced (something I still do every day). It was extremely difficult at first, because shame screamed so loud every time I was building up the courage to speak. But I knew that if I didn’t explain exactly what I was dealing with, even the shameful thoughts, our relationship would deteriorate.
Along with this “new normal” of communication, we also set up practical parameters to restore Maty’s trust and sustain my purity. It played out like soldiers planning a patrol or police officers setting up a security zone. Every detail was analyzed making sure all possibilities were considered and any vulnerability was addressed.
By the time February rolled around, the weather in our area was getting nicer. It was the perfect temperature to be outside. One Sunday morning Maty was scheduled to sing on the worship team at church. Since it was a weekend long commitment, she told me that I could go hiking if I wanted while she was at church. Now this may seem a little ridiculous to you (that Maty gave me permission to go hiking), but remember that I manipulated and lied to her for close to ten years. Maybe with our new practical parameters there was enough trust built up to give our plan a try and I was grateful.
Driving south towards the church, we discussed our plan: I would keep my cell phone on and send a text every 30 minutes with a picture of where I was; I would follow the route to the national park we selected and would not deviate at all; there would be no secret activity…again, you may think this level of planning is absurd, but I embraced every detail. To me, this was what walking in sexual purity looked like. The ride took about 20 minutes and as I pulled into the church parking lot, I felt extremely grateful to Maty for allowing me enough trust to go for a hike on my own. But what she did next, I never expected.
I placed the truck in park and sat silent for a moment. I wanted to express to her how grateful I was and also reassure her that there would not be any issue and I would conduct a complete de-brief (every detail and thought I had) with her after church. But she didn’t give me time to say any of that. She grabbed my hand, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I want to tell you something.” With a somber face, I braced for the worst. I’d gone too far. Sin had won. The enemy was standing by rubbing his hands together waiting to celebrate the destruction of yet another marriage…25 years of sexual brokenness was getting ready to deliver its final blow. But as those thoughts were overwhelming my mind, something completely different happened: Grace showed up. Her life still shattered and walking in pain, Maty squeezed my hand a little tighter and everything around us seemed to come to a complete standstill as she said: “Travis, I forgive you.”
Wow. I couldn’t believe it. All sorts of emotions started turning inside me. I didn’t know what to do at first except to respond with gratitude and thankfulness for the grace she extended to me. She explained that it was a choice and that if God forgave her, how could she withhold forgiveness from me. But she also made clear that her decision to forgive me didn’t guarantee her future decisions about our marriage and that her emotions towards me would take time to heal. I completely understood and reassured her that we could take it one step at the time. I asked her if I could give her a hug and she said yes. We prayed together and I thanked God for the grace and mercy Maty showed me. From there she went into church and I drove towards the national park. While driving off into the morning sunrise, I felt so blessed and thanked God again for His grace and mercy that I’d experienced once again. And after arriving at the park, I approached the trailhead, made sure I had all my gear and then shouted out “WE’RE IN BUSINESS!”