Unconditional

By Jonas Beiler
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In the face of infidelity, one man made a commitment to keep loving his wife, no matter how he felt or how she responded. This meant accepting her without judgment no matter how angry he felt. 

Two sentences changed my life forever.

The first caused my life to crumble. The second gave me the courage to put it back together.

Despite the rumors, I never saw it coming. People had begun whispering that my pastor was having sexual encounters with women in our church. That’s when my wife said the first sentence to me: “I was one of those women.”

The way Christ loves

Darkness flooded my soul. At first I wanted to die — and to burn my house down around me. Then I wanted to injure the man who had hurt my family and taken advantage of my wife. Finally, I wanted to leave.

Start over.

But God’s grace kept me from running. The first positive thing I did was call a counselor. As I poured out my pain, he said the second sentence: “Love your wife the way Christ loves you.”

The way Christ loves me.

I became obsessed with finding out how Christ loved me. How could He love me with all the terrible thoughts I was having? As I continued to dwell on this, a very simple concept became clear: Even when I did not respond to Christ’s love, He kept loving me.

Unimaginable joy

So that’s the commitment I made: to keep loving my wife, no matter how I felt or how she responded. This meant accepting her without judgment, going to counseling, praying with her and continuing to eat dinner together as a family. Even if I didn’t feel married, I was going to act married.

This wasn’t easy. When we went out together, I would reach over and take her hand in mine. For two-and-a-half years, she never once reciprocated that simple act of affection — mostly because of the guilt and shame that gripped her heart. But I kept taking her hand, even when it felt forced.

I’ve learned that discovering Christ’s unconditional love and applying that to my relationship with my wife is a lifelong process. It’s not a revelation that will change anyone’s heart in an afternoon, or a month, or even a year. But it did eventually change me and my marriage.

Today, my wife is my best friend. I cherish the time we spend riding our motorcycles, sitting together on the beach or chatting over a cup of coffee.

If I had let bitterness consume me, I never would have experienced Christ’s love so deeply or had the opportunity to live life with Anne. Choosing to love her in the same way Christ loves me was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But it led to more joy than I ever could have imagined.

Infidelity is a complex issue. A variety of factors can complicate the decision of whether to separate or seek reconciliation after an affair. If you are dealing with the fallout of infidelity, seek the advice of a licensed Christian counselor. You can call Focus on the Family at (800) 232-6759 or visit this page for a referral.

Put the Pieces of Your Marriage Back Together

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

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Copyright © 2010 by Jonas Beiler. Used by permission. From the Focus on the Family website at FocusOnTheFamily.com.

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Learn How to Cherish your Spouse and Have a Deeper Connection

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? What does it mean to cherish your spouse? Couples who cherish each other understand that God created everyone different, and as a result they treasure the unique characteristics in their spouse. We want to help you do just that. Focus on the Family has created a free five-part video course called "Cherish Your Spouse". In this video series, Gary Thomas will help you have a deeper level of intimacy and connection with your spouse.
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