Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Face to Face

Today I did something I never, EVER, thought I would do.  Nor did I think I would ever want to.  Today I talked to her.  Its been 3 years since I last came face to face with the woman with whom my late husband had a 7 month affair.  And the one time I saw her I cringed.  I wanted to shout very unpleasant things to all those around so they would know the truth of the matter.   At that time it had only been a year since I found out, our marriage was still rocky, and her presence at an out of state business meeting infuriated me.  I didn't want to face her.  I didn't want her there.  I wanted to hide from it all.

I knew when I decided to go to the business meeting today that she would be there.  I wasn't sure I was ready to face her again.  So much has happened in the last 3 years.  I had no idea what would happen and how I would respond.  I figured it would be hard, I figured I may encounter some unexpected emotions, afterall I would be seeing many people who had known Jonathan and his many issues.  Walking into it this setting, after being so far removed from it all, was a bit scary.

When I first saw her, I again was disappointed that in fact she was there, and once again I had to face her.  All through lunch my eyes continued to glance her way.  I don't know why it is, but she was like a magnet.  However unlike 3 years ago I didn't feel anger or pain when I glanced her way.  Perhaps the draw was my way of getting used to the idea that yes she is here, and this is going to be part of life at these annual business meetings.

As lunch was drawing to a close, a very random thought crossed my mind.  Perhaps I should break the ice... but what would I say?  Do you tell the woman who was inimate with your husband, "I forgive you?"  Does it need to be said?  Is it the right thing to say?  And most importantly had I really forgiven her? Perhaps its more an issue of being "over it".   Instantly I ruled out the idea, why on earth would I want to talk to her.  Such a bad idea.  Then it started, my heart began to beat, it began to race.  At that moment I knew God was telling me, yes! Yes, I need to talk to her.

I still had no idea what to say.  I wasn't really sure I had anything to say.  I have closed that door of my life, I have moved on. I'm  remarried, and so so happy!  Life is peaceful again, and the memory of the affair is fading.  Although I did not know what to say, I knew I needed to move on this urge I had recieved from God, before it was too late: either she leaves, or I chicken out.  So I walked across the room, sat down beside her, put my hand on her shoulder to get her attention and simply said, "I wanted to stop over and say Hi."  My voice was quivering, it was obvious from within and without that I was nervous.  This was a really hard moment.  I had suffered so much pain because of her, yet here I was coming to her, and holding out an olive branch. 

She smiled at me, and to be honest I have no idea what she said.  Probably something about being glad that I had come to the meeting.  I continued in my nervous state and said a few really stupid things, all in the gesture of breaking the ice.  It was awkward, it was weird. And we both felt it.  I got ready to excuse myself, and then the conversation just took off.  We sat and chatted for probably a good 15 minutes, mostly about business.  She told me she had really hoped that I would come today.  Oddly enough her presence was almost enough to keep me from going.  But as I sat there I found myself thinking how nice she was, and how easy is was to talk to her.  Even as I sit here writing it I find it completely bizzarre to have those thoughts flow from my brain.

As I ended the conversation, and we stood up, once again I awkwardly asked, "can I hug you?"  And then I did.  I felt I needed that as an act of completion, the completion of my season of anger and hurt.  It marked the end of my season of feeling intimidated by her.  I hugged my once enemy, and even meant it.

I'm sitting here writing, hoping that it helps me to process all that happened in that 15 minutes.  It was so important, a defining moment in my journey, that much I know.  Perhaps this conversation was a way of bringing closure.  It was a long time ago, literally in another life, and I don't want to carry the hurts and wounds of that life into my new one.  I am so blessed, I have all the promises God gave me unfolding before my very eyes, so why should I hold on to this previous hurt?

A common theme along my healing journey has been "Nothing will have power over me."  Time and time again God had me face very hard situaitons, the things from which I ran, were the very things God caused me to face.  And in so doing, I recieved freedom.  This woman had power over me.  I felt it the moment I saw her, although I didn't realize it at the time.  I felt awkward, uncomfortable, and wished she were gone.  I was overly aware of who was around, and it seemed to dictate my actions.  Her simple presence was bondage.  Yet the moment I walked over and said hello, I took control of that bondage.  I was in control, and I was freed from that situation.  Talking to her freed me. I was no longer angry, hurt, bitter, or afraid.  I faced the giant, and realized it wasn't anything to be afraid of.

In my mind I keep replaying how nice she was and how easy it was talking to her.  I have to stop and literally remind myself that this was the woman who had a relationship with MY husband while we were married.  I have to on purpose make myself look at her through those eyes again, because today something changed.  I don't want to carry the offense against her, I don't want to make myself mad at the situation. 

There was a healing that took place in my heart towards her, in that short 15 minute conversation.  I saw her as a person.  Before she was not.  She was the woman who hurt me.  However that isn't true.  I'm understanding tonight that while her actions were not right or justified, it was not about me.  She didn't know me.  She didn't hurt me.  It was my husband who did.  He made vows to be with me.  He knew me, and committed to be with me, and HE was the one who sinned against me.  HE was the one who hurt me.  Yet I was able to forgive him, move past it and attempt to reconcile, because I loved him.  If I was able to do that with someone who knowingly brought hurt and betrayal into my life, I should be able to do it to someone who didn't know me and intentionally hurt me.  I find it very interesting that we do quite the opposite, we demonize the "other woman", and throw all our hurt, rejection and anger on her, while we give every effort to work it out and forgive our husbands, who are the ones who actually betrayed us.  I guess today I realized that if I am willing to forgive and release one, I need to forgive and release the other.

I don't know that I can say I have forgiven, or that the forgiveness is complete.  But I can say that today I made a large step in that direction.  You never really know if you've forgiven a person, truly, until you come face to face.  Perhaps the fact that I no longer feel I need to hide from her, is a sign of forgiveness at work in my heart, no matter what stage it may be.  As much as I want her to say she's sorry for what she did, that did not happen.  It would be nice to hear, but I don't need to hear it in order to forgive.  Forgiveness is for me.  Its my step which releases me from the bonds of the past.

I'm really proud of myself for what I did today.  It wasn't easy, but it was necessary.  I want to move on from my painful past.  I want to be 100% free.  I want to be able to hold my head up high knowing that I am living just and right, and giving God glory, even in the midst of painful experiences.  Most imporantly I want to have all the chains from my previous marriage broken, so that I am completely free to love my new husband and build a healthy relationship. 

I don't know what the future holds.  Will we speak again at the next business meeting? Perhaps.  I wouldn't be opposed to it.  If I saw her I probably would approach her, and give a quick hello.  I refuse to let that power her presence once held ever return. Regardless, I know that something happened in me today that was critical to my healing.  Only with time will God be able to fully reveal to me what happened inside as I came face to face with my fear. 


  1. Dear Jennifer, this reminds me of the Scripture, "Forgetting what lies behind, I press on . . ." (I'm terrible at remembering references but I can look it up for you if you want). I'm so happy for this victory and new life God has given you. You've truly been set free! God is the Expert at raising life from death and you have given us all the privilege and honor of witnessing that fact in what you've written today. thank you for obeying His leading and the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

  2. Ferree, Thanks for the encouragement. That scripture is so true, especially in this situation. I feel another level of freedom from this step. God is faithful and always takes us from glory to glory!