CONVERSATION: I Stayed With My Husband...But I Want a New Church

AUTHOR: Leslie

I have been married to the same man for 30 years. We have two beautiful, adult children together. Most of my life we have attended a church of close to 100 people. It really isn't too fancy of a place, but I enjoy walking into the building that I was married and raised my children in. That is until recently. Unfortunately, recently, I have been looking at other churches to attend. 

I feel guilty about "church-shopping," as many believers call it, but I also feel guilty about waking up each Sunday and dreading going to service.

Almost two years ago my husband informed me of an affair he was having. The whole event felt catastrophic for me. I was crushed, but I knew that if anyone could make it through this, it would be us. Quickly after I found out, we enrolled in marriage counseling and decided what was best for of us was to stay married. 

We were in such a close knit church, that we decided to talk about it with another couple when they were telling us about a marital issue they were having. We had hoped it would encourage them that if we could stay together then they could too. But, they did not agree.

A few weeks later, I was at our Women's Ministry Quilting Group. I tried not to let it bother me, but I could tell that women were avoiding speaking with me. Finally, I asked them what was going on.

"Do you feel like you forgave him too fast?" a fellow quilter asked. Many other questions followed, including, 
"We can not help but wonder if our husbands would expect the same easy forgiveness from us?"

I didn't know what to say. I wasn't sure why they felt the desire to compare situations.

I believe having an affair take place after thirty years of marriage is very difficult. I don't suppose there was anything easy or natural in regards to forgiving my husband. When I chose to stay in my marriage, I don't believe I was condoning his actions. Yet, after that unfortunate conversation with my quilting group, I spend many hours of my day wondering why I suddenly feel like a "bad guy."

I am not sure if I will continue going to church there or not. I am saddened at the thought of leaving, but I will admit that being in this position has opened my eyes. I do not cast judgement as easily as I used to. I no longer reside in a facade that the world is black and white. I now realize that when I forgive and accept people, heedless of their mistakes, I am not condoning any specific behaviors. Instead, I am ingenuously accepting someone the same way that Jesus has accepted me. I now spend more time reading Jesus' examples on loving others where as I used to spend more time understanding "right and wrong". In ways, I am thankful that this experience took place in my life as I feel I now have a broader understanding of the Word. Perhaps the issue at hand is not my church family's response to my choice to stay with my husband. Maybe the issue is that after going through this stage of my life, I have simply outgrown my church. 

LM ACTION: Wow, I loved reading Leslie's story. I know that it can be hard not to feel supported by people you have spent consistent time with during your life. However, I love the point she makes at the end, "maybe the issue is that I have outgrown my church". 

I am encouraged by this conversation to remember not to compare my marriage to other marriages. I feel inspired to be someone who takes my fears to the cross instead of putting them on someone else. I never want to discourage what God is doing in someone's life. 

Matthew 11:28-30: Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." 

Have you ever outgrown a church? What was the process like for finding a new church home? 

-- Cayla

Have you read LM's other conversation pieces? 


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