Surviving Adultery and Divorce

Beauty From Ashes

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life….She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised. Proverbs 31:10-31 (excerpts)

For all of the hurt and pain caused by my ex-husband, there is one thing for which I will eternally be grateful to him. It was because of his betrayal that I discovered just how beautiful I am.

My children have really been working hard to eat right and get in great shape. It is a regular topic around our house—in a healthy way. Before my divorce, I was about 20 pounds heavier than I am now. Recently, one of the kids asked me how and why I lost those 20 pounds. After explaining that I made some simple changes of cutting out sugar and eating high fat snacks, the weight simply began to fall off. I then added exercise to my routine, and I soon had to buy an entirely new wardrobe (darn!!).

The “why” I lost that weight is a little more complicated. Unless you have ever been betrayed by a spouse, you can never fully understand the depth of hurt and pain that is associated with adultery. You question everything about yourself. What’s wrong with me? Why am I not enough? Maybe if I was prettier… Maybe if I was thinner… Maybe…

In those early days after learning of his betrayal, I remember waking up each day, staring in the mirror, and thinking, “Well, look at me. It’s no wonder he chose her.” I remember comments that he made about how it was simply intoxicating to have “someone like her” interested in him. I wondered what that made me. I was once told that my expectation that I should be on a pedestal above all other women was simply ridiculous. In my mind, that’s truly where I felt I should be in the eyes of my spouse (and where Proverbs 31 indicates a wife should be).

For years, every ounce of my time and energy and every dollar in our household were spent on everyone but me. I had lost myself in the process of trying to be a great wife, pastor’s wife, and mom. I no longer knew who I was. I had given up many of my dreams and interests for the benefit of my husband—who did not have the same interests nor any interest in being part of someone else’s activities. With all that I had been through, my self-esteem was in the toilet. Satan was having a great time throwing it all in my face, beating me up about my appearance. He was winning the battle, too.

Then, one day it happened. I simply got fed up! I was tired of being a victim, and I decided to be the best me I could be! I made the decision to change a few simple habits and see what would happen. I never dreamed how easy it would be. I think I lost 5 pounds the first week, and by the end of week two I was wearing clothes I hadn’t been able to wear in years. I felt better physically, and I certainly felt better emotionally.

It was that summer that I also decided to get a new hairdo and splurge on some new make-up. I was proud to be a mom of three great kids, but I didn’t want to look like a frumpy mom of three. I wanted to be able to look in the mirror and be proud of who I was!

At this time, I was still married and living with my husband. He began to notice the difference in me. But instead of making him interested, he assumed that I was now having affairs with other men. After all, we had seen it repeatedly throughout our ministry: women lost weight, began to feel pretty again, and then found themselves having an affair. In his mind, I’m sure it was the only logical explanation.

Slowly, I began to feel better about myself. I began to look in the mirror and see an image that I felt good about. My self-confidence began to grow, and I began to enjoy life again. I remember taking the kids to the farm one week. We enjoyed the time with my precious grandfather who was 97 at the time. We took him out to the farm, and we rode the 4-wheelers for hours! As I was zipping across the land with the boys following on their own 4-wheelers, it suddenly hit me: THIS IS WHO I AM. THIS IS WHO GOD CREATED ME TO BE.

As a child, I had loved the outdoors. We spent weekends at the lake, water-skiing and fishing. We had a 3-wheeler that my brother and I rode all the time. When it snowed, we would hook a rope to the back end of the 3-wheeler and take turns pulling each other around the yard on water skis. I loved the water, snow, outdoors and all types of adventure. But, that adventurous person had been lost in submission to my husband. I wanted that person back!

It was about this time that I discovered that my husband was still having an affair and had “expanded his business” (his words) to an online dating site because he was “so good at connecting” with the women. I knew that God was giving me permission to walk away from this one-sided relationship—a relationship to which I had devoted every ounce of my love and energy. For all I had given, I had never received the unconditional love that I longed for. And, I had lost so much along the way.

There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. 1 Peter 3:2-4 (The Message)

God created women with an innate desire for beauty. As children, we dream of being a princess swept away by our knight in shining armor. We love the beauty of a sunset and a sunrise. There’s nothing better than the beauty of roses—especially if they were delivered just to us. We look for the beauty all around us—and within us. We long to hear someone extol our beauty. There is something that God planted within us that longs to know we are beautiful to someone.

Through the process of healing, God has shown me my true beauty. Although I take pride in my external beauty—especially in how far I’ve come since those early days—I want my true beauty to be from my inner self. I want to be adorned with a quiet and gentle spirit, with a kind and encouraging word, with a smile that lights up the room. I want my presence to be a light to the world around me so that they might see the beauty of my Savior shining through me. Instead of looking at every new wrinkle and every gray hair, I want to remember who I am in Christ Jesus. I try to remember that I am the apple of His eye, His precious princess, His beautiful bride. I try to remember that He sees the beauty in me even when I can’t see it in myself.

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair (Isaiah 61:3).

Isn’t that a beautiful promise from God? He will take our sadness, our hurt, our pain, and replace it with beauty, blessings, and praise! Over the past few years, I am so thankful that my Savior has shown me my true beauty, that He has replaced the hurt with joy, that the pain has dissipated into blessings. I will never again allow anyone to make me feel anything less than beautiful. If there’s no one in my life telling me about my beauty, I know that my God thinks I’m nothing short of amazing! And, He thinks the same about you!

In case no one has told you today…You are beautiful! You are loved! You are chosen! You are a child of the one True God! Soak in His love today!

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2 thoughts on “Beauty From Ashes”

  1. I especially like Psalm 91. With God as my refuge, I don’t have to hide in dumpy looks anymore – or a ton of weight. I’m glad you’re receiving such wonderful words from Him.
    \o/

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