The Forgiveness of an Adulterer
(Please listen to Michael’s story by clicking the white play button at the top of this post. You can read the transcript of the story below.)
When I tell this story, I’m always hesitant, at times, because I don’t want it to be about me. And I think that’s the temptation of the age to make it about yourself. ‘This is what I did. Oh, I love my wife faithfully. I did all these things.’ I didn’t do anything. I don’t. It wasn’t me doing it. It was Christ in me. I can’t explain it. I even think back now, like how the hell did I hear my wife say, “I miss another guy” in church, and act patiently and calmly and then speak truth to her and love her and still want to be with her and, and knowing that wasn’t what she really wanted. Like, I can’t explain it. So my hesitancy with sharing my story at times is people like, “Wow, that’s so crazy how you did that or whatever.” I don’t want it to be about me, because it wasn’t about me. It’s still not about me. It’s still about Jesus, what He did, what He’s continuing to do, and what He will do ultimately in the end, making all things new. Our marriage is just one small piece of that redemptive story of Him making all things new and building that kingdom. And I’m just grateful, as painful as it was, I am grateful that I got to be a part of building that kingdom with Him.
A little bit of background of me is I didn’t grow up in the faith. My mom was a believer, I went to church at times, but was never really involved in the church at all. Didn’t really have Christian friends. That kind of continued all through my childhood, teenage years, where I met my future wife, Kandria. We would, we started dating when we’re about 16-17 years old, and we had just a really rocky relationship that entire time. And that continued on all the way through college years. We ended up getting married in 2013. We, both of us, were not living in accordance with the Word, in accordance with the Spirit. In fact, so much so that we actually took everything related to God out of our wedding ceremony and just stripped it down to a very bare-boned ceremony. So God wasn’t a part of our marriage early on as well. So we were married in April 2013 and by June 2013, my wife was already asking for a separation. Somehow I managed to convince her to stay in the relationship. But by October, she kind of had enough. She wanted to leave–not necessarily because of something that I did, but because she felt like there was more out there in life to experience than our rocky marriage, our rocky relationship. So she got an apartment, outside of Dallas from where we were living at the time, North Dallas, and she moved out during that time. She engaged with other men and during that time of separation, both physically and sexually, and relationally, and I had talked to other girls. I didn’t, I didn’t ever do anything with them, not because of some morality inside me or anything like that, or because I knew God. Just because I didn’t want to get involved and I still wanted to be in my marriage with my wife.
One day in early 2014, my wife goes, we’re separated at the time, she goes and gets her hair done. Someone shares the gospel with her, tells her about a church in North Dallas. She invites me, if I wanted to go. I absolutely wanted to go. Not because I necessarily felt called to go to church, or come to Jesus, or anything, but I was going to do anything to repair the relationship between Kandria and I. So I jumped at the opportunity. We went in late January, early February 2014. I remember, I walked in there, they were singing one of the songs and for some reason, I just started tearing up. I started crying. The words on the screen just resonated so much with me and a thought popped into my mind of just about two weeks before that. My wife and I had a huge argument during the separation about some of the things that were going on, the dynamic there. I remember driving home on the freeway late at night, just kind of yelling at God. Letting God have it. I was so angry with Him saying, How could You be doing this? How could You be doing that? Just this kind of, I felt like this righteous indignation about who was He to let my marriage crumble and all this stuff. And it was more out of embarrassment, probably than anything else, not necessarily true genuine love. Then I was kind of transported back into this time, just like from being the most angry at God I’ve ever been in my entire life, to being probably, maybe even the most in love I’ve ever been with Him.
I look back at that as, it’s only something God–that only God can take someone from being angry as can be, turn that anger into pure joy and love and happiness. To be honest, my circumstances didn’t change at that time. It’s not like two weeks later, my wife and I were back together and we had a healthy marriage and we were going to work on it and were committed to it. No, in fact, when we walked into the church that day, she wasn’t even wearing her ring. Like, my situation hadn’t radically changed. There’s nothing to explain why I went from [being] so angry, to being at the feet of Jesus weeping and falling into His presence. That was before I even heard the sermon. That was before anything. That was maybe the second song or the first song into the service. And I remember what song it was–it was “Lord, I need you,” which is literally what I needed. I’m like, “I look like an idiot. Why am I even crying?” I have these tears coming down and I remember my voice, I couldn’t even say the words on the screen. Like, I was holding back. I mean, if no one was there, at that moment, I would have probably been bawling like a baby and let it all out. But because I was in church and you’ve got to kind of, I guess, maybe put your best foot forward or something, I was like, I can’t let this raw emotion out. But it was almost like everything that was building up, rage, anger, disappointment and embarrassment, all that stuff that had been building up to that moment. It was just like, God’s like, “I got it. I got it. Lay it here. This is where–you’re not meant to carry this stuff. You’re not designed to carry these burdens. Lay it down.” And it wasn’t, I don’t want to lay it down. I’m gonna hold on to it. I want to be bitter. I want to be angry. It was, “I surrender. I want to. Please take it from me. Lord, I need you.”
Fast forward a little bit. My wife and I get involved in a marriage ministry at this church. And we had two of the best leaders, Adam and Brooke. During this time, my life radically changed. It was like, I was blind but now I see. My whole worldview changed. Everything I was seeing, the errors of my ways, the destruction of the path that I was on and I wanted something different. I had tasted and seen that the Lord was good. And I was all in. I was sold out. My wife was kind of living in this world of one foot in, one foot out. I think she was getting a little bit of a taste of Jesus, but couldn’t let go of the roles that what she was wanting to be a part of and she was not ready to give up some of those things that she entertained. That played on for about a year.
After we went through the marriage ministry, it seemed like things were about to change. But I was about to be hit by a truck that I wasn’t ready for. Late December 2014, early, sorry, January 2015. We were living in an apartment at that time. I walk out of the bathroom and her phone’s laying there on the bed. For some reason, I just felt like God put it on my heart to check the phone. I remember I, I I walked past it, had this kind of placed on my heart; I look back at the phone and I was like, “No.” I kind of just stood there, frozen in my steps. It was almost like I was stuck in mud for a second. And I kept looking. I was like, You know what? I’m gonna check it. I checked the phone. Sure enough, I find some messages that she was engaging with a guy that she was working with. I confronted her about it and she ended up confessing to it eventually. And I remember just in that moment how angry I was at God again. Just, I remember saying this out loud. “God, I did everything that You had asked. I was, I was doing the things I need to do. It wasn’t like before. I was trying to walk in obedience, learning the Word, doing all these things. Yet, You still let this happen.” I just didn’t understand. So she ends up confessing and we had a plan that she was going to quit her job.
The next day, I woke up and I went to meet Adam at the church that we were going to at the time. We were sitting at the top, where we had been meeting every day, every Friday, for the last year or so, since the marriage ministry. We were just walking through identity in Christ and what that meant and who I am in Christ and really just been learning about that it wasn’t my behavior or the sum product of of all my actions, but my identity determined who I was, my birth in Christ determined who I was. I remember talking to him about it. He gave me a hug, and we just kind of talked about what transpired and, and the affair. And I remember just, I kind of had this feeling of peace. I wasn’t angry, and I remember saying to Adam, “I feel like I should be mad. I feel like I should be angry. I feel like these are normal responses for someone in this position.” And I’ll never forget the question that he asked me. He said, “Why do you keep saying you should feel this way, you should feel this way?” And I said, “Well, like people that just found out that they, you know, their spouse had an affair. That seems like a normal reaction.” And he said–it’s something I’ll never forget–he’s like, “Isn’t this what the Bible talks about, though, about a peace that surpasses understanding?” And in that moment, I remember it was just a paradigm shift in my thinking, and realizing that the Word to me was not only a truth to be understood at that point, but also an experience in our reality to be lived. It was more than just understanding truth and an intellectual assent. It was about this Jesus. The Spirit is alive and He’s active, and He’s very real in times of need. As I look back, I had this clarity about one of my purposes here on earth, that God put me here for. And I remember just telling Adam, “I don’t want to be angry. I feel grieved for her, because I know that Jesus is life and I know that the way she’s choosing leads to destruction. And so if the only thing I ever do in my life is to help show my wife the path of life, then I’m good with that. I can call it a day and I’m good with that.” I just knew that I was going to be used by God, and I felt an overwhelming peace and almost, in a weird way, kind of privilege.
I look back and I don’t understand why I had those feelings or why I felt that peace, other than a supernatural presence of the Spirit. Even now, I still try to fit it in this box of, why did I feel that way? What happened? What transpired? I just didn’t have any kind of context for that kind of love. Why would I love someone that just hurt me more than anybody possibly could or has up to that point? Why do I have this overwhelming desire to love this person? That day in my faith just kind of changed everything for me. That meeting changed everything for me. I wasn’t mad at God anymore; that I did everything I was supposed to and so He should have delivered. What I realized was that wasn’t the Gospel. The Gospel wasn’t about the gifts. It was about the Giver and realizing that no matter what happens, Jesus is enough because Jesus is the point. And I wanted my wife to know Jesus. That’s what I was concerned about.
Later on that day, my wife completely turned a one-eighty. All the plans we had for her to quit and that we were going to hopefully work on the marriage and all that stuff, completely changed. She texted me from work saying she couldn’t quit after all. She wanted to keep working there, probably continue the relationship with this guy. I didn’t know who my wife was that day. I still struggle to find words for what I was witnessing. In fact, it wasn’t her. I don’t, I don’t know if it was a demonic stronghold or something like that, but her eyes were dark, her voice was cold. She had no– zero remorse for the actions that she’d done. The affair. She was convinced that she was going to continue the relationship. Over the next couple of months, we just really had this spiritual battle in the home. I remember one night in particular, she was, we had come to a church service, so it was on a Tuesday night. We were sitting in the parking lot and she was just believing all these crazy lies. Like, ‘well maybe I could still be friends with him, even if we repair our marriage,’ and all this stuff, and, and all these things, and was trying to rationalize how she could still be engaged with this guy. So anyways, we go into the, the church service, I remember before it starts, she looks over at me and she says, “I miss him.” And she was talking about the guy that she’d had the affair with. And you know, as you can imagine, as a husband, hearing your wife misses somebody else, in a church of all places, was heartbreaking. It was hard to hear. I look back, and I still to this day, I don’t understand how I was calm, how I navigated it, and how I had these conversations speaking truth to my wife and loving her in a way that…I look back now, and I’m like, I don’t even know if I could do that again. I just feel like Jesus met me where I was and He had me. It was my goal to try to share with with my wife the same peace that I was feeling. I knew that this wasn’t what my wife really wanted inside. I knew that she needed and wanted Jesus, because in Him there is life. And I knew that she needed that.
When I ever come to a point now where I’m struggling with my faith, I’m struggling with God. Things seem kind of out of control. I don’t see a way. I look at our daughter. I look at our marriage. And I remember He’s faithful. He’s faithful.
We had that conversation about her missing him and I remember we, we drove home that night, and I just started speaking truth. To this day, I feel like it was the Spirit, giving me the words to say, to proclaim to my wife; to, to almost set the captives free. I don’t remember a thing that I said. I kind of remember the context, just as far as truth and like, this way that leads to life and you’re choosing destruction. Christ has you and this is not your identity. You’re not these things. Something relative to that. And I’ll never forget the look my wife, who I didn’t, almost didn’t recognize for the last couple months, looked up at me with clear eyes. It wasn’t the dark eyes I had seen that day. She looked at me and she said, “I get it.” Something clicked in her mind. Something clicked in her heart. Some chains were broken. She wasn’t believing the lies anymore. Something happened supernaturally in that moment that I can’t explain what I saw. I can’t explain what I heard. And that day going forward, things just started to radically change, chains were broken, baggage was laid at the feet of Christ. I couldn’t even put it into words, the change that I was seeing was like black and white.
At that time, I was in a Bible study with a guy that had a ministry of inner healing and deliverance. We, I kind of told him a little bit about my wife, and he thought she would be a great person to go through this process. So she ends up going to, going to his house, to do this deliverance process. And I remember thinking I thought she was going to be—I didn’t go because he preferred that I didn’t because he thought she would maybe hold back if I was in the room. So he wanted her to go with Brooke and so she went. I remember I thought it’d be like 45 minutes or so. Three hours go by, she comes back home and her shirt is drenched. And I’m like, “What happened?” I mean, she looked like she had ran a marathon. Her shirt was drenched, her face looked like, it was just like she had gone through almost like a war zone or something. I can’t explain what had happened and so I asked, “What went on? You were gone for like three hours. What went on?” She had this incredible deliverance process–got really vivid visions while there, prophetic words spoken over her, chains were broken. It was crazy. That’s the only word–it was supernatural. I can’t explain it. Those two events, and they’re about a month or so apart, our marriage and our life were never the same. She was, had been completely different. And it was just a radical transformation.
But I want to back up real quick in between the “I get it” and the deliverance process, she had reached out to him–the guy that she had an affair with. I’m not really sure, I don’t remember exactly why she reached out, but I basically said asked her, “Can I have his number?” She said, “Why?” I said, “I just want to ask him, you know, to basically leave our family alone. Leave us, leave us alone.” So I got his number I texted him. I said, “Hey,” I kind of said who I was. I said, “I’d really appreciate if you would just respect my wishes basically, to stay away from our family. We’re trying to repair our marriage. I’d appreciate if you kind of just stay away.” And he responds, “Can I call you?” And I was a little shocked. One, that he wanted to talk to me and two, that just that would just seem like a weird thing for him to want to call me. So I say, “Sure.” He ends up calling me and we have this conversation. And he asked me, “Why was I doing this? Why was I loving my wife this way?” And a bunch of thoughts went through my mind in that moment, and it just, I didn’t want to be angry at him, either. I didn’t want to tell him he should be this or he should be that. And I remember I answered his question just saying, “Because Christ has loved me.” I just, I didn’t want to punish her. I wanted to love my wife. I saw her for who she was, not for what she was doing. And as crazy as it sounds, I saw the same thing about that guy. I saw him as a child of God. That God loved him and He had something for him just as much as He had something for me. And so I told him, I said, “It’s because Christ is the way. I believe my identity is in Him. And I believe your identity is found in Him the same way my wife’s identity is found in Him and I would urge you to confess it to your wife. And I would urge you guys to seek–urge you to seek forgiveness and reconciliation with your wife and urge you to seek a relationship with Christ because I know He has something better for you.”
There’s a quote by, I didn’t know it at the time, but Bob Goff talks about in his book; he says, “I don’t want what’s fair anymore. I want to be like Jesus. It’s a distinction worth making.” And I think that perfectly summarizes how I felt in that conversation, as insecure as I was at times. And the worry that I was struggling with at times, of anger, of bitterness–all those, I had all those feelings. I don’t want to minimize that I didn’t have any of those feelings. Those feelings were real and I had them. But they weren’t the narrative for my life during this time period. They weren’t my overwhelming emotions and, and things I was dealing with. I really wanted to manifest Christ to people that I saw were hurting, particularly my wife. She had a really awful childhood, she had dealt with a lot of things and I felt like I had an opportunity to–that she had so many broken relationships in her past, that healing was going to come through a relationship. A relationship with Christ and a relationship with me. About eight months later, our marriage took a dramatic turn. We were receiving lots of healing, chains were being broken, our marriage was restored. So much so, at an incredible rate I can’t even explain. We decided to try to have a baby and I even think about it now, as advice probably from the Christian world–Well, you should maybe see if she’s really repentant. Should you really even be trying for a baby? And I probably would even have given that advice–like, slow down a little bit. But that’s kind of the pace at which God was working. And we just, He was doing miraculous work and I wasn’t going to step in front of the Spirit and say, “Whoa, You’re going too fast. Slow things down. We’re having too much healing.” We were soaking it all in. So we decided to have, to try to have a baby.
Throughout that whole process, I kept trying to think about having an eternal perspective and Genesis 50:20 brought a lot of peace to me about what the enemy meant for harm, God meant for good for the saving of many lives. That that life, who I was thinking of, was my wife at that time. I trusted Him during this time in a way that I just believed, radically believed, that He was going to use us for His good. My goal and my job was to just be obedient to the Spirit, to be in tune with the Spirit, and to love my wife as He was calling me to love her. The book of Hosea kept constantly coming up and my job was to love her; He was going to take care of everything else. A verse that Brooke gave to me during our marriage ministry time was Exodus 14:14. “The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.” And that’s still a verse that I cling onto tight and I think I cling onto it so tightly because at the time, because every day I woke up trusting God. He was going to do something about it. He was going to take care of it. The weapons of our warfare are mighty, the breaking down of strongholds. And it was strongholds that she was dealing with. This wasn’t an intellectual battle. This wasn’t a moralistic battle…just do better, try harder. This was spiritual warfare that was happening in the unseen realms, I couldn’t see it, but Jesus was taking care of it and I believed in Him. So that’s the only focal point I needed to have–is fix my eyes on Him. He was going to take care of the rest. If I have to endure all this, yet my wife comes to know You, it’s worth it. It’s worth it.
So after we find out she’s pregnant, we started calling our daughter who is Amelia, she’s now three and a half, our little redemption baby. When I think about that, God was using it for good. I look into her face. I just think if He didn’t show up, if He didn’t work a miracle, if He didn’t meet me where I was, she wouldn’t be here. It’s crazy to think about and it’s funny during this time, I kind of had–I hoped that I would look back and I would have kids one day. Now look back and man, I’m glad I stayed. I’m glad I did and to see that come to fruition was crazy. And you know, now we also have a son, Jonathan, who’s a year and a half, and it’s not a day I look back and regret enduring what I had to endure and being obedient to what I felt God was calling me to do, because it’s easy to see, it was worth it. As much as I hated the process, at times, nobody likes to feel feelings of insecurity or betrayal or just being wounded in that kind of way. In a way it was my spiritual awakening. It was, Jesus became reality to me. He became life to me. And not only that, He became life to my wife and then we got to inherit two incredible gifts of life from God. So I just look back, particularly with our daughter, we still talk about her to this day as a little redemption baby. She was a sign that pointed to God’s faithfulness during this time period. And when I ever come to a point now where I’m struggling with my faith, I’m struggling with God. I’m not really sure what You’re doing here. Things seem kind of out of control. I don’t see a way. I look at our daughter. I look at our marriage. And I remember He’s faithful. He’s faithful.