As I consider the birth of my Savior this Christmas season, how one baby forever changed the world and the hearts of men, I also know how the birth of one baby changed my world forever. My husband’s affair began sometime around May of 2007. As I was working through waves of emotions, trying to figure out how to even begin to pick up the pieces, things went from bad to worse. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was in the master bedroom sitting on the edge of my side of the bed. My husband walked in, his face stoic. He said, almost without emotion, the two words I feared hearing: “She’s pregnant.” I literally felt my heart sink into my stomach. With those words, what was left of my world was obliterated. I lost all hope my marriage could be saved. I was angry–again–at what my husband had done and angry that he had lied to me about the affair ending. If he had ended things with her, the pregnancy never would have happened. But, the situation was what it was, so there was no need to dwell on “if only” thoughts.
I looked at him and said as calmly as I could, “I need to be alone.” As soon as he left the room, closing the door behind him, I called my pastor (my pastor’s wife). I told her what was going on. At the time, I was a small group leader at my church, and as she and I talked, I realized I could not continue to lead women with all I was dealing with. I was in spiritual and emotional shambles. She agreed with my decision to step down, and she prayed for me and cried with me. After I got off the phone with her, I cried some more, spilling out my confusion, anger, hopelessness and sense of utter despair to God.
When my husband and I talked about the pregnancy again, I knew the other woman had connived and schemed and intentionally gotten pregnant. I can only presume it was because she thought the pregnancy would be the death of my marriage and the beginning of what she thought would be a happy marriage with my husband. I was angry with my husband because I knew he could have insisted on using birth control and could have ended the relationship before the pregnancy occurred. I felt the betrayal again.
This pain, though, was different and cut much more deeply than the pain I was already experiencing because of my husband’s adultery. Honestly, I felt like God was slapping me in the face. I desperately wanted to have another child, but I was having trouble conceiving. There I was, a woman who was seeking God and trying to live a holy life, a woman who had saved herself for marriage, a woman who had been crying out to God, unable to conceive. There she was–a sexually promiscuous, immoral person, who already had two children out of wedlock, a woman who cared nothing about how she was living her life, a woman who cared nothing about God…Yet, she was pregnant and I was not. There was something horribly wrong with that picture. I could not wrap my mind around it. Why was God blessing her with a child conceived in sin but withholding another child from me? Why didn’t he stop it? He could have closed her womb. But, He did not. Sin has consequences, and one consequence of her sin and my husband’s sin was a pregnancy. Like all the other sins my husband had committed against God and me, I seemed to be the one paying the biggest price, bearing all the consequences.
I’m not entirely sure how to explain what God began doing in me at this point. Even though I was still not sure if I wanted my marriage to be saved, I also did not want to curse my marriage. I remember telling my husband, “I don’t think I can handle this,” but I added, “but I don’t want to curse our marriage.” (My husband only heard the first part of the sentence, though.) Despite all the anguish my husband had caused and was causing, there was still a part of me that didn’t want to give up on our marriage. I surprised myself. I had thought that if she got pregnant, I would leave–slam the door on my marriage and walk away, never looking back. I was wrong. It was not that easy. I could not bring myself to do it. In retrospect, I know that God was keeping me where I was because He did not want my marriage to end. In the face of her pregnancy, I thought for sure God would release me to divorce my husband. However, like other times before, He answered, “I hate divorce.” How? How, God? How can you keep me in this marriage after her plotting and scheming and all the pain that has been caused? How can you do that to me? Spiritual temper tantrum–probably so. I was once again wrestling with God.
In spite of all that was happening, the Holy Spirit kept repeating truths in my soul. First, with God, there are no mistakes; therefore, this pregnancy was not a mistake. Just as I knew God had a plan for my life, I knew that God had a plan for the life of that unborn child. Secondly, God was still in control, even though my world was crazy and chaotic. This pregnancy did not take Him by surprise. For some reason, He allowed it, and He could and would use it for my good if I would let Him (Romans 8:28). How, though, God, I often asked, can this pregnancy possibly be for my good? I don’t see it, God. I just don’t see it.
Wham! Revelation moment. The story of Joseph. Joseph, a brother sold into slavery because of the wicked and selfish plans of his brothers. A man falsely accused and thrown into prison. A man forgotten about for a time. Joseph had his faults, but he loved God. He did not do anything to deserve what his brothers did to him. He paid a high price for their sin. Yet, throughout his journey, Joseph held on to God. I’m sure he didn’t understand. I’m sure he had questions. But, no matter what happened, Joseph kept his faith. Eventually, Joseph went from a dark, dank, and musty jail to being the second highest in command in Egypt. God gave him favor with Pharaoh. God gave Joseph wisdom and supernatural understanding and dreams so that he could could help Egypt prepare for the famine that God had told him was coming. That famine was what made Joseph’s brothers go to Egypt. That famine was what God used to weave a beautiful story of redemption into Joseph’s life. When Joseph’s brothers finally realized that Joseph was alive and that he was in such a high position in Egypt, they were terrified. Notice how Joseph responded, “Don’t be afraid. Do I act for God? Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people. Easy now, you have nothing to fear; I’ll take care of you and your children.” (Genesis 50:20-21, The Message). Joseph came to realize what God was revealing to me: all things were working together for my good because I am a child of God. I knew that what the other woman did was done with evil intentions, but she was not the One who had the final say. Her plans were evil, but God could use her evil plans for my good. His plans, however, went beyond me. They would also extend to others, so that, through the ugly, yet beautiful, mess, God’s redemptive message could be known.
There is more to this story to tell, but for tonight, I will let you ponder the message of this post. Also, I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas! As you celebrate the birth of our Savior, may you fully know the depth of His love for you.