A Shared Meal

She did not arrive as I had prepared myself for; [she isthe woman the world tells me to hate and my sisters in Christ warn to love only from a distance. I imagined her arriving airy, fresh, and bright; the face I’d clicked on thousands of times the last year and a half of my knowing. She arrived fearful, unsure, and shaken. We’d spoken on the phone a few times, sent Facebook messages, comments, likes and texts, but this would be the first time our eyes would meet.

We sat on Whiskey Cakes outdoor patio. Texas sun bearing down on us. I wore dark sunglasses and a new-to-me outfit from Goodwill. I didn’t feel the need to show up as “Tony’s beautiful wife” donning manicured exterior. For the first time in my life, I was comfortable in my own skin. I didn’t have to act like something, but rather be who I am—Jennifer, lavishly loved by my Heavenly Father and Tony’s Covenant Love.

Physically shaken, she kindly asked if I minded her ordering a glass of wine to help calm her. With hand extended across to her arm I tried reassuring her that there was no need to be nervous and wine would not offend me.

We chit chatted just as one would expect to meeting someone for the first time. Neither of us sure as to where our conversation would travel. For me, I had no burning questions; no intention on bringing up what connected us (my husband's affair with her). I had from day one seen it as my husband’s responsibility to answer any and all questions formed within me. I thank God daily for his telling.

What brought me to share a meal with her was to truly know if I’d forgiven as proclaimed. I also came having prayed to God that he’d show me so deeply into her that the visions haunting me would be replaced by who she is and not what she had done. To do this would take my offering her the gift of telling her story as only she could, through her lens. I would have to listen.

Face quickly becoming washed in tears of brokenness- a shattering. A life lived knowing loss: father, grandmother, grandfather and in many ways mother. Mother whose first choice was never the one birthed from within her womb, but instead choosing man. A mother whom regularly takes without the asking, never replacing or sowing into the woman-child whose blood is that of her own.

Her words pierce me and I draw closer taking her hand into mine. It would stay this way the rest of time together. Never before have I sat this close to broken, the desire to know and be known. The desire to be seen naked and unashamed; a desire I too am familiar with. Her only knowing of love has been manufactured becoming defective causing confusion.

She shares that all she has ever done has been pure of heart. I believe her yet realize this formed definition of pure isn’t drawn from Love Himself, The Creator. She cannot walk in what has not been shown, not been taught. “Lord, in this moment reveal to her a love that cannot be created; create within her a new definition.”

“You said once that he showed me a bad example of marriage. It was the only example I'd known marriage to be.”

My mind knew she spoke of my husband, the one I now with honor call “Covenant Love” yet there was separation of whom she spoke of then and who he has become. She shared affections for him, even today having not seen him in eight years. His words “You are so deep” captured her mind and heart causing her to feel seen, heard, and gotten for the first time in her life. I believe her. I believe this story told across trembling lips.

I listened hearing her heart’s desire for truthful response, and truth was all I could offer. Truth that would cause heavy tears, but I had to be honest whereas the man who stole her self-worth wasn’t. It was time to take her trembling hand and escort her from the surface out into the deep. The place I'd been shown my own healing. 

“You weren’t special to him. You could have been anyone, but not because you aren’t special. You could never have done or been enough. You could never have been to him what only I was designed to be.” Truth spoken boldly in love from my lips with hope of healing.

The sting on her face could not be hidden even by the cloth napkin brought upwards in drying motion. I knew in that moment all she could hear was that it could have been anyone, that she wasn’t special.

When dealing with the weight of sin and weight of Gods glory ones perception cannot be off. It must be altered and diseased parts cut away. We must be shown what love isn’t in order to truly know love as it was created to be. Not some generic word written upon metal dangling from our necks or nailed upon walls. But rather a treasure that frees. Love does not trap or enslave. There are no grey areas in love.

Truth has a way of taking what was once masked making it exposed, and this moment was no exception. As she cried color melted away from covered face. Manicured hair now ran between fingers, pulled to one side. I wished I have had a pony tail holder to offer, but I had none to give. Finally I could see her, what I couldn’t see when we greeted one another an hour before- shattered yet hopeful.

“I thought it was me he saw as deep, but I was just a manifestation of you. He was hearing you, not me.  His words “You are so deep” caused me believe I was seen by someone for the first time but it was really you who he saw.”

 Her statement stirred me. I didn’t desire to make this about me if it wasn’t, but was this more about me than I imagined? Was it about sex at all or was sex just the offspring of something greater within the heart. A desire to relive that in which can never be made new of again, especially with a stranger. Had I, the love of his youth become invisible?  I needed Tony to walk through this one with me. That would come later, for now I continued listening.

“You have offered me grace and forgiveness that my own mother has never offered or shown me.”

With pointed finger placed upwards I assured her that what she saw was not merely me, Jennifer Upton, because I could not have sat there. I told her that what she saw was Christ whom I live my life to be a reflection of. Such forgiveness could only flow from Love Himself.

“That reflection shows. You give me hope for what I can become.”

 She is well aware of the grace that lay cloaked over me. I extended this grace freely given to me, forgiveness I’d been given without merit after spending time exploring in my own tale of adultery almost one year to the day of Tony’s. We each carried our secrets for years without the other knowing; he for eight and me for seven. I didn’t have the power to transform the heart beating rapidly within her, but I gave what offering I could.

We hugged a long tight hug saying our goodbyes. This embrace seen from a distance by my Covenant Love, the one whom could not imagine such an embrace all those years ago filled with darkness. I’d not hidden him this day, but asked for this to be my process in the midst of my healing ultimately leading to fullness of our own and prayerfully this “Child of God” who’d sat before me.

She asked that in my telling that I share with you the loss of self-worth that manifests itself in the act of adultery. The giving of what you believe is desired, the person of you, only to realize that they never saw you at all. Internal scars formed not easily healed.  I think it is only fair to share with you this truth from the lens of one that carries such hurt. Yes, it takes two and two are responsible, but hurt is hurt whether self-inflicted or not.

This journey into deep dark waters has taught us that sexual relations outside of marriage are merely a shell of God designed Covenant offering only brokenness, when meant to offer glory to the one whom creates. It is only within your marriage bed where glory and fulfillment of desires are found. Giving of sexual relations any other way is merely one that takes rather than giving. It is conditional at best. Christ gave without condition and we are to do the same.

I am unsure where the story of the one whose hand I held and I go from here, where travels will take us nor what this landscape may look like. I do know that I forgive and love her because of whose I am. My and Tony’s prayer is that you see God’s hand in our story and that you don’t forgive only those whom you deem worthy, but forgive all. It truly will set you free.

You can read more about our journey, the layers of who we are at www.spiritualglasses.me