I feel the weight of the pain that fills this forum. It is meant to be a place of healing, and I hope that is what it will be. But sometimes the hurt is so great I wonder if healing will ever come to some. And when a recent member posted a wish to hear just one "We made it!" story, I realized how overwhelming the painful stories can be.
Please understand that this forum will always be a safe place for pain to be expressed in all its ways (tears, anger, numbness) as long as we respect each other in the process. But sometimes I wonder about the message we are giving as a whole. Specifically, I wonder what direction we, as a Community, encourage others to move toward after they have been wounded by infidelity. Do we want people to find their way to justice, or to grace?
For most who have experienced betrayal, there is a quick move toward justice: the need for confession, the admission of wrong-doing, the demand that responsibility be accepted and consequences met, and the expectation that amends be made. These are not bad things. In fact, they are often needed when an unfaithful spouse resists doing what is right.
But when someone gets stuck in justice, they rob themselves and others of the better things that life and love can offer. It is grace, not justice, that leads us to those better things.
I do not believe in cheap grace. Grace can sometimes be fierce. It can burn with pure truthfulness. But it is driven by a desire to offer good to others, even those who have harmed us, and see them in a different light. People of grace are the ones, it seems to me, who experience peace and joy in life, even after tragedy. And it is toward GRACE that I want to encourage people in this Community to move.
To some, grace is a familiar place and they find it easily. For most of us, however, it seems like a foreign destination, especially when we have been unjustly wronged. We will not get to grace with a hop, skip, or a jump. Our journey to grace might sometimes be a crawl.
What does grace do? It looks at our offender in a different light. Instead of holding them up to the measure of justice, it chooses to move toward forgiving and encouraging the better parts of them (without sacrificing truth about ongoing needs for change). Grace hopes for something better. And if an affair permanently breaks a marriage, grace allows the offended person to move on in a way that is free from bitterness.
What does healing look like? I believe it looks a lot more like grace than justice. There is a place for justice, but it should not be the thing that rules our hearts or our marriages.
I know that for some, the message of grace is a hard pill to swallow. It may seem like grace simply lets the wrong-doer off the hook or dismisses offenses too easily. Even Paul, one of the New Testament writers, confronted this criticism when he wrote about the wonders of grace. His critiques accused him of a message that would just encourage more “sin” by letting go of all that justice would demand. But grace is greater than justice.
I have known both in my own life. Grace is SO much better to experience, both in the giving and receiving of it.
But let me let someone else tell you about their journey toward grace. Below, I will post letter I received this morning from a betrayed husband. He concludes: “Freedom. Some might call it… Grace.”