The Day I Walked Away From My Marriage

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I have the amazing opportunity to be a part of an awesome community called Compel Training. It’s a part of Proverbs 31 ministries, and its purpose is to train writers in writing words that move people. Everything I am as a writer today has so much to do with this outstanding community.

One of the benefits of being a part of Compel is the challenges that are offered. Recently, one of the challenges was to write your story, and I’m pleased and humbled to announce that I won!

I’m so honored to be featured on the Instagram account of Proverbs 31 Ministries today! If you get a chance, go check it out, like and follow them. You won’t be sorry! If you don’t see the feature there, check back later in the day.

The piece I wrote is about the day that I walked away from my marriage.

The Day I Walked Away From My Marriage

We sat at the dusty, worn picnic table while our two daughters, who were six and eight at the
time, swam at the crowded wave pool nearby. It was our annual summer family vacation, and
while we were supposed to be having fun in the sun as a family, no one knew about the
baggage that I had smuggled in because for the last three months I had been fully engaged in
an extramarital affair. Humidity mingled with unwelcome tension was in the air, and I knew what
my husband was about to ask me, in fact, I’d been waiting for him to ask the question for
several weeks.

This was it. The moment when I would tell my husband of almost 15 years that I didn’t love him
any more and that I had found my soulmate in another man.

Sweat was sliding down the bridge of his nose as he struggled to get the words out. “Are you
having an affair?”

“Yes,” I answered.

The Day I Walked Away From My Marriage, infidelity, marriage, relationshipsThere was much more I wanted to say, but I couldn’t seem to find the words.His face turned ghostly white, his eyes moist and shiny. Looking down at his fingernails, he pulled at one of his cuticles.

It was done. The baggage unpacked. I was free, or so I thought.

What happened next still grieves my soul to this day, now ten years later.

With brash resolve, I swung my bag over my shoulders, tucked my frazzled hair behind my ear, and walked away, not even taking a minute to say good bye to my beautiful, spirited, unsuspecting daughters.

Sin had crept its way into my heart, twisting and turning me into someone unrecognizable, even
to myself.

The year had been a busy, stressful season of change. It was exciting but tough. John received
a promotion that prompted a move to a different state. Our new home was older and in need of
repair. While he settled into his new assignment, I played the part of home contractor. Little did
we realize that the bricks were slowly starting to crumble and threatened to suffocate us to the
point of death.

The day I walked away from my husband and girls at the water park, I called for a taxi and just a
couple hours later was flying home, where I would get my car and drive to meet the other man.
However, he told me it wasn’t a good time, and so I stayed home. I’m forever grateful for that
timing.

I had no idea that while I was flying home, John had scooped up our girls and started driving
home as well (we had driven to our destination for vacation, which is why I flew home). He
called his parents and asked if they could meet him and take the girls for a couple of days while
we sorted things out.

The sleep deprived days after we sat motionless, dazed and confused as to what to do next. My
head was in his lap, and I was looking up at the ceiling, wondering how in the world we had
gotten here. All of my little girl hopes and dreams flashed before my eyes as the wreckage surrounding us threatened to obliterate them. Just days before, I had dreamt a different dream.
A grown-up dream of leaving my family to live happily ever after with the other man. Sin had me
believe this dream was better, sweeter, truer.

How completely deceived I was.

“Shannon, do you really feel like it’s God’s will for you to be with him? Do you really think God
will bless it?” John has always been the voice of wisdom, and his statement impacted me
significantly. A lightbulb that had slowly been flickering off and on for days suddenly shined
bright.

“No…no, it can’t be.” My mind felt like a battle zone as opposing thoughts waged war within, and light struggled to overcome darkness. I began to see all the hurt I would cause, all the pain. No, this couldn’t come from God. This couldn’t be God.

In the light of this revelation, I turned to John, “I don’t understand why you are letting me stay
here. I don’t understand why you are treating me this way.”

It seemed so illogical. I had just broken my husband’s heart into a million, tiny pieces, yet he was tender and reasonable. It wasn’t his personality. I had expected him to kick me out, in fact, it’s what I hoped for because I was too much of a coward to leave on my own. He did have divorce papers drawn up, but thankfully they were never executed.

He fell silent, and after a couple of minutes he got up and slowly walked around the sofa where I remained. He stopped and suddenly and doubled over as if in pain. Tears started streaming down his face and between silent sobs he spoke the words that are forever engraved on my heart, “because I love you, Shannon.”

In those five simple yet costly words, I found grace, and my life radically changed.

My husband, who I betrayed, lived the grace of God right in front of me. I shamed him. I
smeared his name in the dirt. Yet, he loved me. Just like Jesus. I finally understood the love
behind the cross and the price that He paid.

“I love you too, John.”

I meant it. At that moment I determined to restore not only our home but our marriage. There
was much work to be done, and honestly, agreeing to do that work proved to be the wisest, but
the hardest decision we’ve ever made.

This work was excruciating. I had to offer every single part of my heart up to my Savior (and
John), and it required deep vulnerability. I had to face the pain and truth of what I had done,
while simultaneously accepting the forgiveness and grace of both John and Jesus. I also had to
learn to forgive myself.

Sometimes, a heart has to break completely in two before it can become whole again.

Today, ten years later, we are a restored miracle. God did not waste one ounce of our pain. We
are whole, happy and free because of Jesus Christ.

Thank you for reading! Would you do me a favor? If you have a friend or family member who would benefit from this article, could you share with her?

 

 

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  1. Such a gripping story of redemption, Shannon! So bravely shared. So deeply felt. Thank you for reminding us all to check our choices against Christ, even when they might feel right. Blessings to you and your family!

  2. Shannon, you are a beautiful, fierce, brave voice of God’s grace today. Many, many blessings prayed on you for sharing your story, friend!

  3. Thank you for sharing an incredibly vulnerable and impacting story. When we’re willing … God is able, indeed.

  4. Robin says:

    What a beautiful story filled with honesty, truth, grace, and love. Your words are inspiring, and if I’m to be honest as well, brought tears to my eyes. Yes, He loves us even when we do not feel lovable. “Sometimes, a heart has to break completely in two before it can become whole again. Today, ten years later, we are a restored miracle. God did not waste one ounce of our pain. We are whole, happy and free because of Jesus Christ.” Thank you for sharing. God bless.

  5. Dawn says:

    This is such a powerful story of redemption. I thank God for you, Shannon, for the grace and courage that he has given you so that you can tell this story, and through it, offer hope through Christ.

  6. Lisa Appelo says:

    Shannon, praise the Lord that he restores AND redeems lives. What a testimony that no marriage is beyond God’s healing. xoxox, friend. Beautifully shared.

  7. Leigh says:

    Wow. I have a very similar story. And you’re absolutely right. My heart had broken in two. I no longer knew who I was because of the lies I’d believed in my sin. The restoration journey is excruciating. We’re now knit even closer because of Christ’s redeemi

    • Shannon says:

      Isn’t it crazy how God knits people together who have similar stories and don’t even know it??? Love you girl:-)

  8. Sienna says:

    Do you really believe your husband is “whole, happy and free?” Or is it just you? I haven’t felt whole, happy or free since that horrid moment when my world crashed. Must be so easy being the one who got to live selfishly and keep her husband/ children.

    • Shannon says:

      Sienna, I do believe that, and it’s only because of Grace. I’m so sorry for what happened to you, but you can be happy. You can be whole. You can be free. Because of Jesus.

      Everything that I am, or have is because of the grace and mercy of Jesus.

      I do appreciate your comment and pray you find peace.

  9. Denise says:

    My husband of 25 years admitted to an affair in February this year. Then he moved out of state to be with the girlfriend. He has basically abandoned me, our children, his family, friends, everyone for this person. Most importantly, he’s completely abandoned his faith. I would appreciate your prayers as I learn how to love and encourage and support my children through this difficult time. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Shannon says:

      Denise, I am so, SO sorry. Your story is not over, and God has a purpose and plan for you AND your family, even if it seems dismal right now. Stay close to Jesus- for He has a beautiful purpose for you.:-)

  10. What a touching story!!! I absolutely love that you decided to see God’s truth and stay in alignment with it! I feel like a lot of times, people see their son as a “no turning back” kind of thing, but you saw it and found His truth and fought for His plan to unfold in your life!! Love it! Very powerful stuff! May God continue to bless you and your family!

  11. thank you for sharing your story, allowing yourself to be vulnerable in order to share your heart and the shift that took place to save your marriage. 28 years ago I was the one doubled over in pain sobbing, begging my husband to stay. He didn’t. It took years for me to discover God’s grace in my life and to allow Him to love me the way he has always longed to love me. Your story has impact and is relevant for today. I’m glad you had the courage to share something that must not have been easy to share.

  12. […] I did was too bad. My sin was just too big and I can’t forgive […]

  13. […] Do everything you can to get your marriage to a healthy place. God will help you. […]

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