"But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife... And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife." Genesis 20: 3, 14
We heard this story this morning at church. Interestingly, I had never heard this story before. I'd heard the story of the first time that Abraham told Sarah to pretend she was his sister rather than his wife. I didn't know it happened more than once. Anyway, I found Abimelech's response interesting. Once he found out that Sarah was Abraham's wife and not his sister, he took many steps to make the situation right.
I've been struggling with something recently. Seven years ago, my then-husband had an affair with a woman in the church. Since then, although it hasn't been an easy road and many times it's been a few steps forward and more steps back, I feel like I'm genuinely in a place of forgiveness at this point in my life. Although the relationship is severed on both sides for me, I don't have any ill will for either of them. I don't think, anyway.
But there is a piece I still struggle with at times. The woman at the time was somewhat of a friend. I was also pregnant during the affair which added extra hurt and hormones to the situation. When it all came to light, it was a strange and difficult time for me. At the time, I didn't feel as if the church handled the situation well. It felt like more of a covering up of what happened, honestly. Whether or not that was the intent, it was how I felt. Almost immediately, the woman was restored to not only fellowship but service within the church. She did write me an apology letter around that time, however she left it on my desk while I was away and we never spoke of it. That was the extent of any contrition that I observed. She was soon serving in the children's ministry once again (the same one my own children were a part of), and also singing in the choir in front of the congregation that I was a part of. It was really hard for me while the overwhelming emotions I was feeling were so raw.
I don't attend that church any more, however I am still friends with many people who do attend there regularly. I've heard that she has felt remorse and made changes in her life since then and is involved in many areas of ministry since I left. I don't doubt that she regrets what happened. And it's been seven years. I'm sure she has grown up a lot since the young adult she was then. Honestly, my life is so much different now and the thought of it doesn't come up often.
We have one close friend in common. My friend is very hospitable and enjoys having friendly gatherings at her house. Our kids enjoy playing together. I enjoy spending time with her family. But it often comes up that I am invited to the gatherings... and so is the other woman. I wouldn't ask my friend to choose sides. I simply decline the invitations politely and get together at other times. It's just awkward and no matter how far removed I feel from that old situation most of the time, that always awakens those old emotions for me and I hate it. There have been several times that I have accepted the invitation and planned to go and just get it over with. Maybe it wouldn't be as awkward as it seems it would be and we could make peace and not worry about it anymore. I really don't usually have trouble getting along with people. I guess I just feel like the whole situation was never handled very well and there was never any type of restoration efforts towards me. I'm not talking about restoration of the relationship with the woman. But just the way that the whole thing seemed to just be swept quietly under the rug and now it's almost as if she is a celebrity in that church while I am a single parent of two young boys. It still doesn't feel right and I hate that it still gets to me sometimes. There, I said it. I don't usually talk about it but now I've said it. Abimelech wasn't even a righteous man and he still tried to make things right in the eyes of Abraham.
Such is life, I suppose. We live in a sin-cursed world and these are some of the effects. Things were never made right with that whole situation. I just moved on. I don't want to deny the emotion that does spring forth from time to time, though because it's something that must be worked through. That's how I came to a place of forgiveness in the first place. It's just tough when situations bring it to the front of my mind again sometimes. One day God will make all things new and wonderful. There will be no more sorrow. No more pain. Until then, I do feel a bit better expressing the emotion inside rather than bottling it up. I'm thankful for Godly teachers who have taught me the importance of doing that.