When I think about the title of this Blog, it reminds me of the movie featuring Brad Pitt. (if you haven’t seen it; it’s a pretty good movie)
However for the purpose of this Blog, I want to focus on a particular situation in order to help women (or men) if this applies to you.
We’ve all done it. We all fall. I like to think about how many times we get up instead of how many times we fall. But what I’m fixing to address will probably hit some nerves. Yet this story is not to bring condemnation... but hope.
I have a friend who graciously allowed me to share her story, in hopes that it will help others avoid the fall.
My friend, (who I will call Mary) is a divorced woman with grown children. She loves the Lord. She has walked through a long journey of mess, and has overcome many years of hurt. The desire of her heart was to marry again one day. Even though she is in her late 50’s, (which isn’t old by the way, that’s just what she said) she felt that the Lord was going to bless her with a mate sometime in the near future.
She has taken a vow of purity and has not been dating nor been sexually active during the time she’s been divorced (over 8 years).
Mary developed a friendship with a man at her job. He is married. He is also a deacon in his church. He is fully committed to his family, very engaged in his congregation and highly respected by those in church and in the work place. Mary established boundaries from the beginning for several reasons. First, he is married, and she was single (divorced). Second, they work together, and last, he is a deacon in the church. She didn’t want his reputation (or hers) to be tarnished in any way.
After about 6 months into their friendship, she noticed that something had changed. It wasn’t obvious, but something had shifted. She noticed that the man began communicating with her more. He would share stories about his family and the love for ministry. Mary loved hearing about this because she desired to have a husband one day and do ministry with him. (Now before I continue, Mary made it perfectly clear that she had no desire for this man. NONE. Because she knew that he was married, a huge boundary was set and she felt this was good wisdom.
But behind the scenes, no matter how careful anyone can be, there is an enemy of our soul who wants us to fall.
The more he shared, the more Mary listened. She always gave him good sound advice. She always kept God in the middle of the conversation. She also expressed to him how she was praying for her future mate. The man would pray for her. She prayed for him. She trusted him. She felt safe around him. She began to believe that it was possible for a man and a woman to be strictly friends; completely platonic and it be genuinely healthy.
However, since this man had hidden issues in his marriage, it was an open invitation for the enemy to gain legal access in his life.
As their friendship developed, he felt even more comfortable sharing about his wife and family. He began to share more intimately about how he and his wife had many serious issues. These issues were not known in the church arena as it would be very embarrassing to his fellow deacons and especially his Senior pastor. He and his wife were at odds all the time. She never appreciated him, his ministry or his goals in life. He would say that he wished his wife would share the love for ministry with him, but she couldn’t as she was interested in other things.
Mary continued to encourage him. Always putting his wife in the center of the conversation. Letting him know that she also needed love, support and prayer. She lifted them both up in her prayer time. She continued speaking life into this man and the ministry God gave him.
What Mary didn’t know, was because this man was not receiving encouragement, support or affirmation from his wife, this opened a door for the man to invite a spirit of fantasy. (Better known as a deceiving spirit 1Tim 4:1)
He began telling her subtle things like I wish my wife was as kind as you are. I wish my wife loved the ministry as much as you did. Then he began to tell Mary how he wished he could go places with her and see the countryside.
Mary always responded with kindness, but she never thought he was attracted to her because he was married. Yet the subtle messages kept coming.
Now I know those of you who are reading this are probably thinking, “Hellooooo-Mary, can’t you see what’s going on here?” But for Mary, she said she always felt safe because SHE had no sexual thoughts, desires or intents towards him. She felt safe because he was a Christian; an active member in his church and because he was married. Surely a married man knows better she said. And to be honest, a married man SHOULD know better. But again, there is an enemy out there, and his job is to steal, kill and destroy our lives. (John 10:10)
One day the man asked if he could take her out for breakfast. She thought, why not, its right around the corner and we’ll be right back? She got in the car with him and they went. Upon arrival to the restaurant, they saw several people from their office also sitting and eating there. Mary immediately asked them to come over and join them. The man, didn’t seem to happy about it but acted like it didn’t bother him.
So, let me stop right here. I asked Mary; “Why did you get in the car with a married man?” I know many of you are probably thinking the same thing. Well, she said, since I knew where my heart was, I guess I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I knew I had NO attraction to him.
Okay, so now let me ask this question: Why did the man (knowing he is married, ask her to breakfast)? There’s a myth that states that a woman and a man can be friends and it can be totally platonic. At least I’ve heard that MANY TIMES. However, this situation is very different. The man, is MARRIED.
So, now let me ask the question again. Should she have gone? Should he have asked her?
NO on both.
In Mary’s heart, she is not looking for him to have an affair. She is merely speaking positive things into his life, into his heart. However, for him, there is something deeply missing in his marriage. So with out thinking, he begins to seek what he is not getting.
So many times, people think that when an affair happens, its merely sexual. This is incorrect. Unless you’re a sex addict, affairs almost NEVER start with sex. They always start with friendship.
Now, the reason I am sharing Mary’s story is to bring wisdom and HOPE.
The man, continued seeking words of affirmation that he was used to getting from Mary.
Mary on the other hand, began to feel something was off and finally decided to confide in her mentor with her story. With love and correction, Mary's mentor told her that the friendship had gotten unhealthy. Her other mistake was accepting his invitation and going with him to breakfast. As she listened to the correction (which she emphasized was all done in love and no judgement) she felt disappointed and ashamed. She felt she had failed God and those around her.
The truth is, Mary did not fail herself nor did she fail those around her. She was on the other hand naive in thinking that this man could not be attracted to her just because he was married or because he was a deacon.
The man continued to fall. It wasn’t noticeable at first. It happened a little at a time. He continued reaching out and wanting Mary's affirmation. He continued to share his heart and told Mary how thankful he was for her being there to listen to him. Mary on the other hand, had a decision to make. Either tell him off and make a scene, or gently put up boundaries to set the record straight.
Mary explained that she stepped back from talking to him so much. Their conversations became less and less. She said he tried to engage in any kind of conversation as he felt her pulling away. The man used to send her text messages with strange comments that now made sense to her. She had brushed them off before because she thought he was being nice, but now she could see through the facade that the enemy was trying to blind her with. Mary encouraged the man to seek other men to talk to about his situation. He explained that he didn't have anyone he could truly trust except for her. (BIG RED FLAG)
Mary winded up moving and taking a job in another city. He tried a few times to contact her after she left, but she never responded to his text messages.
The myth that a married man can be friends with a single woman and there is no danger in it because they are not doing anything to jeopardize their relationship, is false. Now I'm not saying that married men can't be friends with single women, what I'm saying is, there are boundaries that need to be set in order to maintain integrity.
As I listened to Mary’s story, I can only imagine that there are many of you out there who have experienced a situation like this, except maybe you did fall. Maybe you fell into the trap of an affair and not out of anger, but out of desperation because of the missing affirmation, love or support you weren’t getting from your mate. Maybe you fell because you needed to hear that you were appreciated, loved or respected.
The fact is, no affair happens overnight, it happens over time. During this time is where deception takes root. The fantasy of thinking that you married the wrong person. The fantasy of feeling excited when you see that person instead of when you see your spouse. The fantasy of thinking that one comment, text or breakfast won’t hurt, when in fact you are giving the enemy access to your mind and heart to come in and deceive you. Then when you least expect it, the affair happens. Whether its an emotional affair and you are dreaming of having a knight in shining armor coming to rescue you or maybe it’s the mental affair of you fantasizing that you could be with someone who would satisfy your needs better than your spouse. Then finally the fantasizing that you could be with this person sexually.
No, an affair doesn’t just happen overnight.
In Mary’s story, she did not fall into the affair. She just failed to see the deception. God did rescue her because her heart was merely to sow the hope of Jesus in his life. The man was battling his own issues, which no one knew about. This is the dangerous part. When you keep something in the dark, there’s no room for the “light” to come in and shine truth. This man was a deacon, who was surrounded by many men of sound wisdom. Yet he told no one of his feelings, of the marriage issues for the fear of being looked down upon. This is pride. Pride doesn’t want you to get under accountability. Pride keeps you in a place of “I’m OK” “I don’t need help” “I can change on my own”. Because this man never reached out for help and let everyone think he had the perfect family, he opened the door for the deceiving spirit to come and operate in his life. (Prov 16:18)
Now there is hope. If you were the “deacon” in this story, there is hope for you. You can be free from deception and there are loving MEN who can walk along side with you and build you back up. You are NOT the Lone Ranger. Its OK if people know you’re not perfect, and remember, what you hide in the dark, will only bring more darkness.
If you were Mary, there is also hope for you. You were deceived. You thought that by talking about ministry and God didn’t leave you susceptible for attack. Now you know. The enemy is cunning like a snake and he is always there to try to get you to fall and lose your testimony for the Lord.
During this time of year, with all the romance movies playing and talk about Christmas miracles, it’s easy to become discouraged with the disappointments you are facing in your relationships, family or even marriage. Loneliness is very real whether you are single or married.
If you are one of the thousands that fell into an affair; mental, emotional or even physical, you can be free from the shame you are carrying. If you are thinking of having an affair because you feel someone else can give you what your spouse isn't, you have time to walk away before things get to a point of regret.
God wants to restore you to himself so that you can be healed. None of us are perfect. In fact, to think that your mistakes are not as bad as others, is pride. As you begin to step out and receive solid wisdom, remember that you are not alone. Maybe you can't change your past events, but you do have the power to change the present and future.
We all fall short of the Glory of God (Rom 3:23) but it’s the getting up part that makes us stronger.
~Broken Beautiful Ministries
Chrissie Moore is a mother and grandmother from Keller Texas. She is a survivor of mental, emotional, verbal and sexual abuse. She has a passion to help other women who are seeking freedom.