affair recovery · spiritual growth

What I’ve Learned About Lying

I have come to realize that one of the worst things about lying to someone is what it tells them about trusting the Holy Spirit in their own life.

Having heard the phrase “squelching the Spirit”, but never giving it too much thought, I didn’t realize that I might have the ability to squelch the Holy Spirit’s prompting in the life of someone else. Last year I was fearfully trying to tame the Holy Spirit’s prompts in my own life, and I never considered His presence in the life of someone else.

After everything was out in the open, the truth of how the Holy Spirit had been moving became alarmingly clear.

The Holy Spirit was speaking to several individuals. In different ways the Holy Spirit was bringing thoughts, revelations, and a sense of awareness to them. With no physical evidence, some individuals approached me and asked me very direct questions about the things they were sensing. They mustered courage and trusted the Holy Spirit’s leading, but in an attempt to shut them down and keep them from seeing that they were correct, I flat-out lied to them.

In lying I was doing more than just covering my sin. Without thinking about the long term consequences for them, by lying, I was telling them NOT to trust the prompting of the Holy Spirit in their daily lives. I was teaching them NOT to trust what God was so clearly showing them. The Holy Spirit is alive and He was allowing Himself to be revealed to them in tangible ways, but when I lied I was saying “Don’t listen to God; listen to me.”

A longing to see God.

In Exodus 33:18 Moses tells God that he wants to see His glory. It is at the end of a conversation that Moses was having with God. In their exchange Moses speaks to God about his insecurities. Moses is concerned that others may not understand God’s preference towards the Israelite nation. Led by this fear Moses asks God join them so that they will be clearly distinguished as God’s people. God assures Moses that He will indeed join them. Moses then makes the request to see God’s glory, and God complies in the way that Moses was able to handle.

“…I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But, you cannot see my face for no one may see me and live.” Exodus 33:19-20

God is powerful. He is so powerful that even the Israelite leader with whom he had actual conversations could not see His face and live. This is the same God who created plagues of frogs and locusts. This is the one who created a plague which took out all of the first born males in one night. With His power He parted the sea for His people to pass, and He sustained them for four decades in a desert wasteland. This very same God prompted His Holy Spirit to speak to believers on my behalf in an attempt to bring me to repentance. He was revealing His glory inside of them by allowing them to hear from Him in a personal way.

He was revealing Himself, and I stopped them from seeing His glory.

It’s bad enough that I was willing to let myself travel down a path of destruction and self loathing, but in lying I was also willing to have people who love me feel a lack of trust in the Holy Spirit as He was revealing Himself to them.

Sadly, I am not alone in this, for it is not only those who wear a scarlet letter who have lied.

Many people lie, including some of you who are reading this blog post written by a sinner. Granted, most of our lies don’t have the power to end a marriage, but it does not mean that God is less saddened by the lie. When we lie we are always taking a chance of squelching the Spirit in the life of another believer. When we lie we are saying to them, “Don’t listen to what you may be hearing from God. Listen to me.”

It is not only the large lies that damage another person’s ability to trust in their own intuitive nature and promptings from God. In some ways, the small lies may do more damage–simply because the lie goes undetected. There is no formal announcement to reveal the truth, and often no one is held accountable for the harmless white lie. But for the person to whom the lie was told it could be an ongoing battle for them to be able to discern and trust the Holy Spirit in themselves.

None of us can go back and make a a lie not happen, and there are many lies that will have long-lasting effects on the tellers and the receivers. The damage from a lie may be huge, and it is up to us to strive to make repairs when possible. We can return to the ones who may have courageously confronted us, to apologize and to confirm in them that they were indeed hearing the Holy Spirit. By doing this we encourage them to keep listening to those promptings and to trust those promptings even more in the future.

Through a restless night I rolled these thoughts around, and I awoke feeling awful. Owning the severity of my lies made me feel so unworthy of God’s love.

I opened my Bible and hunted to find answers for times when God’s people longed to be in the presence of the Lord and perhaps had been denied. In Exodus 33:11, I learned that when Moses and God were done speaking, after both had left the tent, Joshua (the aide to Moses) would stay in the tent alone long after. Moses would leave the tent and return to the people–who had been standing and worshiping during the exchange.  Joshua did not return to the camp with Moses. He stayed inside the tent. Perhaps he was soaking it all in. Reading this prompted me to sit in the tent with what I had read throughout the passage.  Tears came to my eyes as God used the same passage for my comfort that He had revealed in my convictions.

“I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion”

God is the one who chooses on whom He will shower His mercies and compassion. We want to beat ourselves up for the mistakes we have made, and oftentimes we can do more damage to ourselves than anyone else is capable.

Sometimes others in our lives want us to suffer more shame for our own sins. Shame is somehow supposed to insure that we will not sin again. However, shame is not powerful enough to have a lasting impact in a person’s life–shame will only bring temporary outward behavior change.

Mercy and Compassion are the tools for heart change. It was always God’s plan to show mercy and compassion to His children–that is why the words He spoke to Moses are echoed in the book of Romans. God’s plan includes mercy and compassion, and as those attributes wash over us we are drawn to His Spirit and we long for His Spirit to be drawn out and revealed in the lives of others.

 

affair recovery · spiritual growth

The Secret Life of a Tattle Tale

As children we were quick to learn the pros and cons of being a tattle tale.  We learned that sometimes we could be a hero when being a tattle tale, especially if the behavior of others might have unintentionally caused someone to lose a limb.  In these instances, the parent often chose to overlook the tattle-telling that was occurring for the safety of others.  Other times it didn’t fare well to be the bearer of  disappointing news.  When there was a small injustice, and the parent was 7 weeks into summer vacation a tattle-telling instance may have been met with rolling eyes and sharp words from an exasperated parent.

Over the last couple months, I have been learning a great deal about being a tattle tale.  The person I am telling on is myself.

In a marriage where infidelity has occurred, there is a change in what accountability is required for the betrayed spouse to feel safe.  It isn’t unusual for couples to share an email or Facebook account to help maintain safe boundaries.  I can only imagine that every couple will deal with relearning trust differently.  There are different trigger points for everyone, and the couples will have to learn what those triggers are. According to affairhealing.com if accountability isn’t freely given, it’s going to be much harder for the couples to move forward towards lasting intimacy.

…if a cheating spouse has a genuine change of heart, he/she will want to prove their sincerity and will take the initiative in opening up the hidden areas of their lives to give assurance of their honesty.

Prior to my having an affair my husband was inquisitive to knowing what was on my mind.  He was always interested in knowing my heart–I was the one with the block, and I chose not to be honest.  I understand this differently than I did prior to my affair being disclosed, and now I want to open up to my husband–not because he stands over me watching every move I make.  I have a greater understanding of my triggers, and a better understanding of the reasons why I should not only listen to my thought life–but share it with him.  I have an understanding of how hiding small things will eventually grow to hiding larger things.

So…that’s all fine and dandy…but, what does that look like for the person who has nothing to hide? Ahhh…see, this is where the enemy gets us. There is always something to hide. Sometimes it appears harmless, but there are moments in all of our lives where we are in the position to open up and share–or keep silent. Keeping silent is a step towards isolation.

Our tendency is to try to conquer our demons on our own. We don’t see the monster we are facing as the GIGANTIC, SHARP TOOTHED, BLOOD-THIRSTY, EVIL CREATURE that it is. We see it as ‘a struggle’. We see a half truth as less offensive than a lie. We may even have the best intentions, “I don’t want to cause him to feel insecure…” Sometimes, we may even want to avoid a fight.

Not being completely honest may not be the same as having a secret cell phone, but withholding any part of ourselves from our spouse is the first step to giving ourselves to someone else.

4951204501_9e8a5ba3d2_zFor myself, I am learning to “tell on myself” when I am struggling with the emotional after affects of the affair.  I tell on myself when I am feeling sad. That may seem harmless, even silly, to some. Why would I struggle with telling my husband I am sad? Well, quite simply, since I am the one who caused all the heartache, I feel guilty when I am sad about the trials we are now facing.  The guilt I already felt for my betrayal was compounded when my husband lost his job due to my behavior. If I am not open and honest about my sadness and guilt, those emotions have the ability to morph into something more unpleasant and even sinful. Over time they can become a wedge between us.

When possible, I concentrate on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. But, when what I am facing is not one of these things–I quickly become a tattle tale.