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The Double Standard Of My Heart

February 16, 2010

its news you never expect to hear from a friend. the kind of news that you hear of from other people…a friend of a friend. but this time, someone very dear to me shared that her husband had an affair. the bottom drops out. words cant be spoken. shock sets in. you wonder how on earth will she get through this? then you sit back and are continually blown away in amazement by the grace, kindness, maturity and Christ like love she extends. my dear friend alece is a powerhouse woman. a woman i respect greatly. and im honored to have her share a bit of herself here today…

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For months I’ve been praying for my husband’s heart to return to the Lord.

For Niel to feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

For the consequences of his decisions and actions to open his eyes to how deceived he’s become.

For him to hit rock bottom.

For God to do whatever it takes to get his attention.

But if I’m being most honest, I wasn’t as concerned with Niel’s repentance as I was with him feeling the weight of what he’s done.

The reality is that I sometimes still want him to hurt like I’ve hurt, more than I want him to live forgiven and free.

I’ve had to come face-to-face with the double-standard of my heart.

Because my struggle to genuinely pray not only for Niel’s repentance but also for his forgiveness really only means one thing—

I don’t realize just how much I’ve been forgiven for.

I want to accept the work of the cross for my sins, but not for my husband’s.

As if my sins have been lesser.

Or even fewer.

When they are neither.

“…God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.”

I remember gasping out loud when I saw that verse as if with new eyes.

And I’ve wrestled with Him long and hard over the implications of it.

It has taken me a very long time to get to this point, but I’ve begun praying—with tear-filled eyes still—for God’s kindness to lead Niel to repentance.

I’ve started asking God to smother him with His goodness and grace and mercy.

Some days it’s easier to pray that way than others.

Some days I can’t at all.

On those days, I just sit in the reality of what it truly means.

And I pray for God’s kindness to lead me to repentance.

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88 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2010 4:36 am

    As usual, Alece… I am blown away by your post. Your honesty. Your realness. I am so grateful for this post.

    And – I hope you don’t mind if I say this… but I do love u. I love your heart – and I love you JUST AS YOU ARE. Just like God loves me.

    This morning I was overwhelmed with tears as I heard a song on the radio

    I’m amazed that you love me
    I’m amazed how you care
    Through your precious blood
    I’ve found pardon
    and my sins are all
    they are all washed away
    (Oh) My sins are washed away….

    I myself have been asking God (through the wonderful counsel of our friend Annie) for a revelation of God’s Love – as I need to understand that love in its entirety. This will allow me to stop seeking love in other places, and just revel in it from the Lord himself …. “Perfect love casts out fear…”

    I pray that you be blessed today.

    • February 16, 2010 11:55 am

      i am definitely in a place of needing a revelation of the unconditional love of God. i am going to start asking Him for that. thank you, robert!

      • February 16, 2010 5:20 pm

        Thanks for sharing this! I love that song Bajanpoet.

        You will always be the Beloved, His love is unchanging and it is our job to be love OUTRAGEOUSLY! Please check out this video from Graham Cook, called “God’s EXTRAVAGANT, Outrageous Love for YOU” http://tinyurl.com/yh9lbaw

  2. February 16, 2010 4:47 am

    girl, for real…you are awesome. And i love you.

    A mentor of mine told me that a big part of my healing from abuse would be to find scriptures that declare goodness over my abuser. So I found some benidiction like verses and prayed that for them each day. When I started at the beginning I couldn’t pray my own words…only those of the scriptures, but as I began to see how it was helping me forgive I could pray for them in my own words.

    Thank you for sharing alece. Love you.

    • February 20, 2010 2:32 pm

      i need to do that… find verses that express what i can’t. and maybe eventually my heart will start lining up with His.

      love you.

  3. February 16, 2010 5:04 am

    love you! and you know i hear your heart. oh…how many times i have prayed for don, but in reality i was praying for what I wanted not really for don at all.

    still working on having a heart that prays with pure motives out of an overflow of gratitude. i’ve a long way to go.

    • February 16, 2010 11:56 am

      “in reality i was praying for what i wanted not really for [him] at all” – that’s exactly what i realized. painful discovery. even more painful to correct.

  4. February 16, 2010 5:41 am

    You’re a stronger woman than me, Alece. 😉 Perhaps I will arrive at this place sometime. Or, more accurately, perhaps I will discover that I will have been (grudgingly) brought to this place sometime.

    • February 16, 2010 11:56 am

      not as strong as you think. this has been long in coming. very long.

  5. February 16, 2010 5:58 am

    Wow. Simply wow.

    Your honesty and transparency are encouraging and challenging.

  6. February 16, 2010 6:39 am

    You teach me to examine my heart better…

  7. Jessie permalink
    February 16, 2010 6:41 am

    Alece — I loved when you shared this with Katie and me at Starbucks that morning a few months ago. It struck me how merciful and loving God is to reveal that truth to you in the midst of hardship, and I’ve started to pray that for some of the loved ones close to me who are in need of a big dose of the kindness of God. So thankful how He’s working in and through you.

    • February 16, 2010 11:58 am

      that’s how long i’ve been wrestling with God over this one! i heard His voice and felt His conviction begin months ago, but only got to a place of being able to pray this way last week!

      • Jessie permalink
        February 16, 2010 1:54 pm

        Praise God! Only by His grace! Hugs to you, friend.

  8. February 16, 2010 6:53 am

    I was burned in my last serious relationship and I was here for a LONG time (actually sometimes when I see him happily settled into his next relationshi I am still here.)

    “The reality is that I sometimes still want him to hurt like I’ve hurt, more than I want him to live forgiven and free.”

    It is when these feelings crop up that I realize that I don’t love him. (Not anymore. Cuz, this is not love.) I loved him loving me.

    Love you Alece!

    Tam, glad you are back home safe and sound with your babies (who are not exactly babies.)

    • February 16, 2010 12:06 pm

      my ability (or lack of ability) to pray for him at all has been a big indicator to me of where my heart’s at. so this feels like progress. which feels so good in ways i can’t even describe.

      although i know i’ll be here, with these cropping-up feelings, for a long while still. and the “see him happily settled” is unbelievably hard for me. sigh…

      thank you for sharing your own heart’s journey, friend. means a lot.

    • bahava permalink
      February 16, 2010 1:18 pm

      you describe what I’ve dealt with in the past so perfectly: I loved him loving me.

      • February 16, 2010 9:34 pm

        ya know, it wasn’t until i read this comment that i realized, even years later, even as a (very) happily married woman, i am sometimes still in this very spot.

        it’s hard for me to know that he STILL won’t take ‘credit’ for much of the bad things in our past relationship. and if i’m honest with myself, i know i have to let God take that from me. i have to give it to him, and then choose to be forgiving despite my hurt.

        with that said, i’m grateful for the wonderful, loving man i have now. so thankful. and undeserving.

        • February 20, 2010 2:33 pm

          mmmm… i appreciated this more than you know, JR. thank you for your transparency.

  9. February 16, 2010 6:56 am

    I’ve found your blog via Alece. I’m learning through life that honestly praying for God to draw those who have wronged us to repentance is probably the most difficult thing as humans we’ll ever do. If I’m hurt, I want them to hurt too. I want them to feel horrible for hurting me for a long time to come. And I categorize sins – and well, that’s wrong. Plain ol’ wrong.

    This is just one more reminder that God loves us all – regardless of what we’ve done. And He is the Redeemer. He redeems everything. Even this.

    Great blog! I’ll be back!

    Mary

    • February 16, 2010 12:11 pm

      i know that my forgiveness is not to be contingent on his repentance. i know that. but dang, most of the time i wish it could be.

      and then i hear His whisper that He understands. because He died for me while i was yet a sinner.

      His forgiveness made possible my repentance.

      maybe mine will do the same for my husband.

  10. February 16, 2010 7:09 am

    I’m not there. I don’t even know if I want to be there yet. I don’t forgive easily…especially when I’m hurt deeply. It’s a fault- a huge fault. Thanks for your example and reminder, Alece, that just as I was forgiven I must also forgive.

    ::sigh::

    I know I’m praying, almost without stop, for those I have hurt recently. That they may find Christ through my mess. It’s hard to not tie in my own selfish wants with that prayer. But I’m getting better. I’ve really had to look at my motives in this prayer and realize that it’s not in my control. All I can do is pray that some seeds will be watered and grow into fruit.

    • February 16, 2010 12:13 pm

      love how you tied this in with needing to check your heart motives in your prayers regarding your current situation. my heart is so deceptive. if i don’t stop and take a long, hard look inside, i don’t realize how “off” my motives really are.

      love you.

  11. February 16, 2010 7:24 am

    Whoo. I could hardly read this post, because it is so convicting for me. I have actually SAID to my husband, “I wish I could hurt you as badly as you’ve hurt me.” Ridiculous. But I’ve SAID it. (Not recently, but it doesn’t matter, does it?) Thank you for your perspective. Thank you for your post.

    • February 16, 2010 12:16 pm

      i so want to hug you right now, mary! i’m so appreciative of your transparency and honesty – thank you, friend. and you need to know that i’ve said that very same thing. my heart has been in a very bad place for a very long time. i’m grateful that i’m starting to crawl out of this pit, but i’ve thought, prayed, and said some horrible things along the way.

  12. February 16, 2010 7:46 am

    It is all about the process right?

  13. February 16, 2010 9:11 am

    Man. This stuff is so, so heavy.
    But I am thankful for your ability to teach others in the midst of something you are going through.

    I’m not there yet, either. Because I want him to hurt as bad as I hurt. I want that. If I were a cartoon, my eyes would be glowing red out of anger… Because I know it consumes me sometimes.
    Forgive? Pray for? Neither of those things have entered my pile of “maybe”, let alone my “to do” list.

    This will gnaw on me.
    Thank you.

    • February 16, 2010 12:18 pm

      i love you, becca.

      keep wrestling, my friend. you’re on the right path.

  14. February 16, 2010 10:03 am

    You are always amazing…..

    I pray God continues to surround you with His goodness, love, and forgiveness… and just the all that God is, that makes Him so awesome.

    LOVE you.

  15. Rainer permalink
    February 16, 2010 11:01 am

    “…God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.”

    Its all too easy to think that God’s condemnation is what’s needed to turn a betrayer around. And its all too easy to think that we should ride along on His coattails to pitch in and make sure the condemnation is doled out.

    Trust Him to lead your heart to a place where you probably never would have believed it could go…

    • February 16, 2010 12:20 pm

      it’s true. i want vindication more than i want restoration of his heart. and THAT is a painful realization to come to.

  16. February 16, 2010 11:38 am

    Oh, how I love you, Frass. When you write I learn… really learn… so much. I can’t tell you how much more I examine my intentions having walked through this with you. I love your heart so much.

    • February 16, 2010 12:20 pm

      thank you for this hug for my heart, fritz.

      and i say the same thing about you all the time! i learn so much from you.

      • February 16, 2010 5:07 pm

        Just have to say : I love your names for each other 🙂

        And love both of you too. Such strong women in such different ways, teaching all of us how to love better through your experiences in learning how to love better.

        • February 20, 2010 2:34 pm

          i love our nicknames too! 😉 and i’m so glad i’m not alone on this journey of learning to love…

  17. February 16, 2010 11:58 am

    took me 10 years to get where you are sister… God is doing something so amazing in your life and heart… thanks for being honest 🙂

  18. February 16, 2010 12:29 pm

    beautiful. thanks for writing this.

    • February 16, 2010 12:31 pm

      i say beautiful coz i’ve had to go through the same thing…only looking at it from a child’s perspective towards my parents. thanks for reminding me to not forget where i came from so that i will always have a heart to forgive those who hurt me as well.

      • February 20, 2010 2:36 pm

        thank you, patricia. and i’m sure you have so much you could share from your own experience of walking through this…

  19. bahava permalink
    February 16, 2010 1:24 pm

    such a good reminder for me to day to REALLY pray and really check my heart motives for those in my past that God would “smother [them] with His goodness and grace and mercy.” because more often than not…I want that for myself, I think of what I want or how they’re getting to do what I want when it’s really not about that at all because in the end, I want my heart to ache the same way for those that hurt me as it does for those that I see hurting and I want to want God to show up BIG in their lives.

    • February 20, 2010 2:36 pm

      “i want to want” is the start of many of my prayers. you’re journeying strong, friend. i’m right beside you.

  20. February 16, 2010 1:34 pm

    alece, i’m so thankful for your heart and authenticity. i know i’ve said that before – but again i’m faced with your willingness to lay it all out there.
    i get this. although my recent hurt didn’t come from the heart/actions of my husband, the pain is still paralyzing. and in reading this post, i realize while i am praying for healing and restoration of my heart, i need to be praying for the healing grace to fall on those involved. that’s tough. my God should be bigger than my ego; sometimes that’s just hard to remember…

    • February 20, 2010 2:37 pm

      “my God should be bigger than my ego” — so well-said!

  21. February 16, 2010 2:09 pm

    alece…i know the sting of these circumstances still burns your skin and soul. and i know the journey of sharing it was difficult to grapple – the putting out there, for all to see, the deep hurts of your reality. and you have a host of friends and family who are with you now and will be with you from here on out. that you have let us in is an honor and a privilege we treasure. i treasure it.

    as i read thru these comments im so taken by the honesty this post, and you, have fostered. real life. real hurts. real fears. real hope.

    healing is happening.

    • February 20, 2010 2:38 pm

      i am so grateful for those the Lord has put around me to carry me through this season. so grateful.

      and your last line hit me hard. “healing is happening.” i could feel my spirit saying a resounding “YES” to that.

      i love you, friend.

  22. Heidi permalink
    February 16, 2010 2:25 pm

    FF…

    Simply…..

    I love you!

  23. Alex Clark permalink
    February 16, 2010 2:31 pm

    I love you Alece, you are one of the strongest people I know. Completly open and honest know matter how much it hurts. There are many times in my life that I have struggled with this, including praying for Neil..i was so angry at first still am at times. But I have relized that being angry is doing nothing, but praying for grace, people to come into his life that will influence him, those kinds of prayers will have an effect. Thank you for being open it helps me heal too..

    • February 20, 2010 2:40 pm

      i’m so glad to hear that your heart is journeying towards healing and freedom as well. that is my prayer for all those who have been so personally and directly wounded by all of this.

  24. February 16, 2010 7:55 pm

    Appreciate your honesty so much. Thank you for being willing to share your story, and your struggle.

    • February 20, 2010 2:41 pm

      my hope is that in sharing openly, others feel the freedom to be transparent as well. there is a healing that only comes in bare-naked authenticity.

  25. February 16, 2010 11:49 pm

    When just reading these words stings my heart so deeply, I guess it means I’m not quite there yet…

    Struggling, wrestling, and still wanting the hurt more than the goodness. Oh Lord, help.

    (Not my husband, though. My father, who took my adult daughter heart and shredded it with his scandalous affair and subsequent cruel treatment toward my mother this past year. sigh…)

    • February 20, 2010 2:43 pm

      oh i am so sorry to hear about your dad. SO sorry. keep wrestling. you’re in a good place simply because you’re willing to wrestle through it.

  26. February 17, 2010 5:16 am

    Hi Alece,

    Just like I knew He would, the Lord is doing an amazing work in you and through you as a result of the pain you have experienced. It is in our weakness that His power shines in all its glory, and yes His grace is sufficient for us. You are the living testimony of that.

    I have had a similar experience with a friend who also hurt me deeply. I often pray for that person, but the other side of my heart wishes justice was done and that this person could experience the same hurt I have experienced. I have longed for this person to be convicted by the Holy Spirit of where they went wrong, not because I would like them to repent and be freed from their sin, but just so that they would realise they were in the wrong and I wasn’t.

    But like you say, oh but for the grace of God go I, for I am a sinner just like this person is and though I may not have hurt them in the same way they have hurt me, I have hurt others with the same intensity if not greater, so yes, you share a very painful reminder that often it is not our very kind wish for others to be restored to God’s grace that aches in our heart but our fleshly desire to see justice done. In reality our hearts are no less corrupted or sinful than the hearts of those we are praying for. We need a Saviour just as much as they do, if not more, because we have been blinded by our pride and self-righteousness, and we have forgotten if only temporarily that Christ died for our sins too.

    THANK YOU FOR THAT REVELATION ALECE!!

    • February 20, 2010 2:45 pm

      thank you so much for your faithful prayers for me. and for this beautiful window in to the struggle of your own heart.

  27. February 17, 2010 5:18 am

    As one who was ‘left’ by her husband after finding out he was having an affair–and now going through a painful divorce–this post very much resonated with me.

    Praying for my husand has been one of the hardest things to do (or not do). It almost physically hurts to pray for him. It goes against everything in me. If I am totally honest, I don’t want to pray for him. I want him to hurt like he has hurt me.

    You are right…it is indeed a double standard.

    Thank you, Alece for honesty and for sharing you heart once again.

    • February 20, 2010 2:47 pm

      we are in the same place, mishel. and my heart just aches for you. i’m so sorry.

      i know exactly what you mean about it physically hurting to pray for your husband. i still feel that when i pray for mine.

      i so appreciate your openness in sharing.

  28. Mary permalink
    February 17, 2010 7:19 am

    My heart goes out to you! I will keep you in prayer! Hang in! God will get you through!

  29. February 17, 2010 5:17 pm

    Wow friend. The tendereness and teachability of your heart seems unparralled. Thanks for taking the risk to be brave and honest. Much love. Xo

  30. February 18, 2010 10:53 am

    As usual, I have no answers for you. lol. And you probably aren’t looking for any. I can only share what I’ve experienced and offer the little view from my corner.

    There have been three times (Count them. 1. 2. 3.) in the past year (yes, year. Or more. Around 400 days.) when I’ve actually prayed a truly compassionate prayer for Ben. And all three times were not me praying. All three were the Holy Spirit. The first was one time when I was driving; I opened up my spirit and prayed the words I heard Him say … they blew me away. The heart of love He had for Ben … right in the midst of his wrongdoing … I was in tears hearing the heart of the Spirit. The second … the one I referenced on your blog when I asked God to remember his offenses, but not hold them against him. I truly believe I was operating under the strength of the Spirit then, and not my own strength. The third was just a few days before my Mt. Moriah moment. After pouring out the pain and grief of my heart, I heard God start to pronounce ‘woe’ over my husband in the spirit. It cut me to the core to hear Him say that of my husband, and I grieved in the Spirit for mercy.

    All that to say … that I’m not really sure, at this juncture of my life, that humans are really capable of that kind of compassion. We really need the compassion of the Spirit to take over. My soul is too wounded; my emotions too traumatized. I am like a wounded animal looking in terror on her abuser. I cannot, of my own strength, conjure up compassion. Perhaps one day, I suppose. Perhaps when my heart is more healed. Perhaps when the pain of the injury is not so fresh. Perhaps it will be easier then to see objectively and not subjectively. But right now … it’s okay to feel hurt, my friend. You are. That is honesty. And it doesn’t make you less saved or less godly because you are. You are human. And you are hurt. “Whoever causes one of these little ones to stumble …” I think God understands the pain of the human heart very well. He does not look with superiority on the wounded and lightness on the accuser. He is angry. And jealous for the wholeness of his children. Do not be impatient with yourself, and rush the healing. There is a time for everything.

    • February 20, 2010 2:50 pm

      i appreciated hearing your heart. thank you, annie. and i’m sorry for the ways you can relate with all this. i hate that for you.

  31. February 18, 2010 3:47 pm

    WOW! That made me smile. Thanks for speaking from you heart Alece. I cannot imagine how it feels to go through all you have but, I can see how God is there with you. What an amazing post that flows with God’s grace.

    • February 20, 2010 2:50 pm

      thanks, jen. i’m so grateful for all your prayers.

  32. Simone permalink
    February 19, 2010 2:21 am

    Alece, I know I’ve shared this story with you before… A couple years back, some of our family really hurt us. I “forgave” them, but in the back of my mind, I would think “Just you wait- God will sort you out!” Then God opened my eyes- Jesus, on the cross prayed “Father, forgive them” THAT took me ages to work thru- asking the Father to wipe their slates clean so that they wouldn’t have to answer for what they had done to us. It was hard, still is. I wish it were a once off “I forgive and Father, will You please forgive them too” but it isn’t… the hurt lingers, everytime there’s a new issue, the forgiveness needs to continue.
    Still praying, Friend.

    • February 20, 2010 2:51 pm

      what a surprise to see your comment, simone. thank you. and i agree – i so wish forgiveness were a once-and-done sort of thing. but i know it will be a lifelong journey. one that, i hope, will get easier.

  33. February 21, 2010 4:53 pm

    of all the comment threads throughout the entire life of this blog – this one holds more vulnerability, healing and hope than i have ever seen.

    shaking my head, breathing in deep in gratitude of a mighty God who holds each and every heart here tightly and lovingly in His hands.

    • February 22, 2010 1:17 pm

      amen, girl. i love coming back and reading through these comments – seeing God working. it’s absolutely beautiful. 🙂

    • February 22, 2010 1:27 pm

      really, tam?! wow. just… wow.

      • February 22, 2010 2:45 pm

        yes ma’am. i am completely sincere in this.

        the words on this thread, to me, give a whole new definition to beauty.

  34. Makeda permalink
    February 22, 2010 1:13 pm

    Alece, thank you for so courageously sharing your heart and your story. Your vulnerability is inspiring and I appreciate that you have so willingly let us into the darkest place of your heart right now. God is at work in you and it is humbling for me to watch you walk this out with the level of grace and compassion that you are. You may not think so because it still remains so difficult to pray for your husband but the fact that you are willing to try, to at least consider obeying the Father in this says that your heart is full of more grace than it may feel like it is. I will continue to lift you up in my prayers and trust God to provide strength where you are weak, peace where there is confusion and hope in the midst of your pain. You are a gem and a true blessing to so many. Thank you again.

    • February 22, 2010 1:26 pm

      wow, makeda. thank you for your heart-strengthening words. it means so, so much to me.

  35. February 22, 2010 2:52 pm

    I am so glad I came back to read these comments. There is such raw honesty here, both in this post and in the responses.

    • February 22, 2010 3:00 pm

      we’re having church right here at In Progress! i love it!

      • February 22, 2010 3:06 pm

        its true. but girl…this is just one of the fabulous things about you…you create a safe environment through your honesty. even the ugly admissions…perhaps mostly because of the uglies. this instantly gives permission, a safe zone, for people to respond in kind. its freeing. honesty is rarely easy…but there will always be freedom in it.

        i know God is proud of His children here. and i pray that as a result of this post people will begin, or continue, on a healing journey with Him and know that there is always Hope. always.

  36. February 22, 2010 7:31 pm

    Church is growing through just you, Alece. Just you is an amazing leader. I hope you can hear and see your invitation for people to know depth, love, care, struggle, and realness that is very much okay. Just you is an amazing invitation to knowing a true hope for healing. You allow for the wrestling of the heart to be more than okay. Just you is a gift. Don’t forget.

    amen to “healing is happening.” Through your heart, healing is happening throughout this church!

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  1. the double standard of my heart : Grit and Glory
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