A critical point of my journey into Grace came when God reminded me how blind I can be - blind to my own sin and the depth of His Grace. He revealed this truth to me when I journaled a story titled Nails.
I wrote from my anger, which at the time felt righteous. I was sober and attending seminary to become a pastor. I turned my life around and pursued dreams for God. I perceived I was doing rather well following Him, and then wooooosh! I was pinned to the wall by a thousand nails with my arms spread out. Can you hear me identifying with Christ? About halfway through the story, God tapped me on the shoulder to expose my arrogance and self-righteousness. “Ben, we need to talk about a relationship you have.”
He said, “The relationship with the woman (Patty) you’ve been close to at work isn’t honoring to your marriage. Your relationship with her is a problem.”
I hadn’t perceived my relationship to Patty as a problem, partly because the desire passed to have sex with her. “That was close, but no harm done,” I thought. God began to show me that wasn’t really true. I caused much harm to Ann's soul because I was giving my heart to this other woman. (Jokes about a work spouse aren't funny when you understand the core wounds they inflict.)
Actually, a couple of months before I found out about Ann's affair I had decided to end contact with Patty. We hadn't been close for a while but would touch base every couple months. One day she called to tell me her husband filed for divorce. Soon after, Ann revealed her affair.
What a set up for me! Could this be God arranging for me to leave Ann in order to be with Patty? (Don't be fooled. God does not work that way.) Her voice became a powerful drug to me in my pain.
Our counselor helped me see the dynamics in the other relationship and bring it to a close. In all honesty, I did relapse with a couple of calls and emails, which I told Ann about. We finally labeled my relationship with Patty as an emotional affair. Emotional affairs devastate a marriage just as much as a physical affair. I left Ann lonely, abandoned and emotionally vulnerable. I was called to own my share of that and how I hurt Ann.
With my emotional affair there wasn’t a trail of lies to deal with. I didn’t lie to Ann about my whereabouts or whom I was with. My deception was mostly with myself. We did eventually talk through my emotional affair. I admitted my sin. I owned the damage I caused Ann’s soul and asked her forgiveness.
What about Nails? Well, it's half finished and will remain that way. What began as my story to remind God of all the good things I was doing for Him and the gross unfairness of Ann’s affair became something much different. Nails serves as a poignant reminder of the depth of my arrogance, blindness, hubris and desperate need for God's Grace.
Like me, has your arrogance been exposed in little or big ways on this journey?