If I knew I would never tuck my kids into bed at night again, if I knew I didn’t deserve a second chance after catastrophic sin choices in my life, if I thought my life was ruined beyond repair, if my shame made me feel as if those I loved truly would be better off without me because of the pain I had caused them, if I thought that quick temporary pain would fix the unending raw pain of my every day life, if I had no hope, I just might kill myself.
This last week I contacted a woman in my community who I heard had an affair. I knew from observing her at a distance, and from the stories being circulated, that she had to be in excruciating emotional pain as a result of her mistake. In the course of just a couple weeks, good friends were snubbing her, her husband wouldn’t take her back, her kids were taken away from her, she lost her home, and her previously good name was marred forever in our typical small-town mentality.
When you mess up your life like this, it doesn’t matter how sorry you are. Many people don’t forgive. People don’t forget. People decide you are only sorry you got caught but you aren’t really sorry about what you did, or you wouldn’t have done it in the first place. People throw stones. I knew the pain only too well, which is why I reached out to her. We had no association other than occasional social contact, but since I had been in her shoes many years before, I knew the black hole that she groped in. I called to tell her that I would be available to talk to her and be her friend, without judgment or condemnation, and that I believed my life and testimony now would be a beacon of hope to her in this dark time.
Finally, a couple days ago, she called me to talk. She was sobbing uncontrollably, telling me how she wished she could turn back time?how she missed tucking her babies in at night (I know she was a great mother!), and how she wished she could undo her mistake. I offered that night to get together with her and encourage her, but she was nervous and restless, and I didn’t want to pressure her, especially since she didn’t know me very well. She told me there were things going on and it wasn’t a good night for her to come. Before hanging up, I told her that there was hope and forgiveness for her, and that her life could be made new again, just as mine had. “Please call me soon” I urged, offering to get together at her first opportunity.
I wish I had known that night how desperate she really was, because less than 48 hours later, she took her life.
When Satan offered her the bait of adultery, he never told her about the grave consequences. He never told her that there was a cup of poison mixed in with the teaspoon of pleasure. He only told her that if she listened to him, her hunger or pain deep inside would go away and she would find fulfillment.
Why did she have an affair? Why did she seem to carelessly throw away a beautiful life? All I can say is that Satan truly is a roaring lion stalking around us every day, looking for holes in our hearts and lives where he can get in and destroy. Sometimes there are holes left behind from childhood, or empty places that are vulnerable to attention from destructive forces at a certain period of our lives. Sometimes we don’t even know why we do the stupid things we do?there’s no explanation.
If there is one thing I’ve learned in my own life, it’s this: “But for the grace of God, there go I.” I am no better, stronger, or more virtuous than the worst of sinners in this world, except by God’s grace. To throw stones only shows that I have not fully come to understand who I am without Christ. Only those who have experienced God’s redeeming power and restoration from their own brokenness can offer the grace and redemption to such a person. How I hoped to help her find that truth for her own broken life through my testimony.
But now it is too late.
Many people would scoff and say, “She was selfish committing the sin of adultery, and now she committed the ultimate act of selfishness by taking her life. What a waste!”
Oh how I wish we could bear up more compassion for people hurting that deeply. Throwing one more stone of shame and condemnation will never in a million years compel a person hurting that deeply to search for grace. A person that devastated by their own choices can truly believe they are doing the world a favor to exit the stage.
As I think about this woman who was so much like myself many years ago?.deeply sorry, lonely, barren, desperate, regretful?I wish I had done more to lavish the grace of Jesus on her heavy shoulders. How I wish I had pushed more persistently and boldly two days ago for her to see me and hear me out. Now she leaves behind more despair and darkness for her children, who will never understand why mommy was so sad she had to leave this world.
I urge you to be bold and compassionate as you bring the grace and light of Jesus into the dark lives around you marred and devastated by sin. Don’t throw stones, instead offer The Rock. Jesus died for every single sin, no matter how horrifying or destructive, and in the way only He can do, their lives can be made beautiful again through His redeeming power. With His forgiveness, anyone can have a second chance, anyone can have hope, anyone can have a restored life that is better than before. I am living proof.
And don’t wait?you might not have until tomorrow.
Copyright © 2007 Julie Ferwerda, Used with permission.
Read more from Julie at julieferwerda.com