My Reaction to Wendell’s Story
I am about to admit something very vulnerable to our readers about a struggle I had this past week on our blog. It is not easy for me . . . I’m not entirely proud of this. But, God had something He very much wanted to teach me, thereby healing a little bit of the woundedness in me. And maybe it would help one of our readers, if anyone else struggled in the same way.
When Wendell wrote his second post about how he struggled with and overcame pornography, I had a strong reaction to it. (That post can be found here.) I noticed there were a few comments and I went in to read the article and respond. I admit I could not get through the entire post. I felt angry with Wendell. But, Wendell had done nothing to me! I was also angry that his post had been published. (I am so sad to admit this!) Here on this blog, we have a haven for victims and this man was coming onto the scene admitting the neglect of his wife and daughters . . . admitting his porn addiction . .. and then talking about how he received forgiveness and healing. The pinnacle of my frustration was that his dear wife forgave him and was clearly able to move on. In fact, she hardly remembered all he had written about! Was I supposed to just forgive over and over? And FORGET?
I found myself angrily telling myself things like this, “How nice that HIS wife forgot about it all!” and “SURE. I’m SURE he repented . . . he’ll do it again . . . . just like —”
My emotions were confusing me until I realized that something had been very triggered. But it wasn’t a trigger that God wanted me to walk away from this time. It was something that I needed to face. I wrote Barb and the Jeffs and told them of my struggle with the post. Jeff Crippen wrote back, explaining to me that, at some point, we need to allow another person to repent. He said, “At what point do we allow room on our blog, or in our lives, for genuinely repentant sinners, including porn users and/or abusers, to tell their stories to the glory of Christ?” Although the team was compassionate toward my triggers, it was obvious that I needed to think and pray through some things. Dear readers, I cried most of the afternoon. I took it all to God in prayer. Jeff Crippen had brought up Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. I thought about Saul/Paul. I wondered how skeptical the new Believers were about his conversion. I wondered how the Christians who had lost family members (thanks to Paul) felt when he chose to follow Christ? And, yet, Paul walked victoriously. And the people he had hurt surely had to learn to forgive him and move forward in love . . . admitting that they are not perfect, either . . . and Wendell did not even do anything to me at all. And there is nothing for me to forgive in Wendell.
God showed me that Wendell was not my ex. He showed me that Wendell’s wife was not forced to stay with Wendell by the “c”hurch. He showed me that Wendell did not expect that she should. He showed me that Wendell was a true, repentant brother of mine. My ex repented over and over for show. Wendell repented one time . . . and has stayed clean. My ex was entitled and lied to me about what God desired from me (to stay in the marriage). Wendell was grateful his wife stayed with him. My ex’s grip tightened on me when he realized I was thinking about leaving for good. God showed me that Wendell’s wife was free to choose. My ex and his family held my reluctance to be his wife over my head. Wendell loved his wife so much and so well that, eventually, she forgot about what he did. And, with a lump in my throat, I decided right then and there to love Wendell, whole-heartedly, as my brother.
God wanted me to see and know that there are, in fact, men who belong to Him, who have hurt His precious daughters . . . and chose to repent, deciding to move forward in victory. And I want to accept that. After all, I am accepted by my true brothers and sisters. And I have failed and let people down in the past.
Something changed and healed in me that day. A part of my anger broke off. And I saw, clearly, the difference between a man who was a false believer, a taker and an abuser . . . . and a man who humbly genuinely repented and who has chosen to share his story to help others.