At Millersville the other night, we had Contact, and we were discussing whether or not we would forgive our spouse if he or she cheated on us. Almost everyone (who spoke up, at least) said that they would forgive someone for cheating on them. They said that we all make mistakes and that we are supposed to forgive because God forgives us. Well, of course that's true; I can't argue there. But I felt like I was the only person who flat out said they wouldn't take someone back after he cheated on me. Though I will say, from the way others spoke, they hadn't had someone cheat on them. So that definitely makes a difference in the way you see it.
I find cheating to be the most despicable thing ever. I've done it once, I must confess. I was about 14 years old, and I kissed a boy that wasn't my boyfriend. I actually still regret it because it's so not me to do something like that. It wasn't me then, either, so I don't even know how that happened. In any case, that's irrelevent. Just thought I would confess.
Anyway there I am, listening to everyone say that they would want to work it out with their spouse if he or she cheated and wondering what the heck is wrong with me that I wouldn't even consider it. Should I be more merciful? More forgiving? My friend Tommy brought up that there is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. There is a way to forgive someone that doesn't mean you have to stay with that person. Of course there's also the difference between an affair and a one time thing, but either way, I don't think I could stay with that person. Even if it's my husband. Even if I'm not one who usually supports divorce as an option.
It's just that cheating breaks my heart so much. I've seen it, and I just feel like it destroys lives. It's not just about the spouse who is betrayed, but it's about their children. I wonder, what will the daughter think when she finds out her father is having an affair? How will her perception of her father change? Will she feel that security that a daughter should feel in knowing that her father is there to rescue her always? What will a son learn about what it means to be a man? The same is true for the inverse, of course. What will the children, whether young or fully grown, learn about marriage and commitment if the spouse leaves the one who cheated? Will they learn it's okay to just leave when times get rough?
On the other hand, if a woman forgives a man for cheating on her (well, assuming it was a one time thing), will this teach the children a good lesson; will it show them what it means to truly show grace and mercy in the toughest situations? Will it show them what forgiveness means and how the process of reconciliation works?
I know that we are unfaithful to God all the time. I know that we choose other lovers over Him. That's what our talk at Contact was about the other night, but I just can't stop thinking about this marriage thing. Is it true that because God always takes me back, I should stay with my husband after he cheats on me? I don't know, and I pray that I will never have to actually wrestle with these questions. But it's definitely something that challenged me the other night because I didn't realize that others would seem to have so much more mercy than me. Of course, it's all hypothetical, so who knows how someone would actually deal with this situation. I think I've been pretty forgiving. I think I've taken someone back after he has hurt me a lot. And I know that is a very different situation, but I don't know, I guess it seemed like my downfall... thinking that reconciliation was possible when really, it just wasn't. Forgiveness, I can do. And maybe that's all I should have been doing. Reconciliation didn't work. But I don't know if I really tried for it, prayed for it, or even knew how much we needed reconciliation to go forward. Sometimes I just pretended it wasn't there. It seemed easier than dealing with it all.
Well, I don't know any of the answers. But the one thing I do know is that I can't keep blaming myself. C'est inutile.