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Loved, Betrayed, Healed

All I ever wanted in life was to be Jamie's wife. We began dating when I was a sophomore in high school. Both of us had been born in the same little Florida town of Vero Beach. He was a year older, a high school athletic hero and class leader. We dated steadily through high school. On our third date, I knew he was the one I wanted to live with for the rest of my life.

Jamie's parents worked actively to keep us apart. They encouraged him to attend Mercer University, a Baptist college in Macon, Georgia, many miles from home. When he left for school he promised to write me every day. He also gave me an engagement ring. However, his father, fearing early marriage, convinced me to hold off wearing it until Jamie finished his freshman year.

I was finally able to follow him to Mercer. In time, his parents came to accept me but wisely encouraged us to hold off the wedding until Jamie graduated. We were married one week after the graduation ceremony. It was like a fairy tale for me as we drove off into the sunset to live happily ever after.

Those early years were tough-but wonderful. We moved to Ft. Worth so Jamie could enter Southwestern Baptist Seminary and I could finish my senior year in college at Texas Christian University. He had no specific goals. He knew he was called into "full-time" ministry but had no idea where that should be or in what capacity. I had already achieved my goal-to be Jamie's wife.

Jamie worked long hours-early morning and late night-driving a city bus. The rest of the time he was attending class or studying in the library. Jamie's future as a Southern Baptist pastor and leader seemed bright. My infatuation and love were all tied together in one package. My heart was full, my dreams fulfilled. I had no idea of the heartbreak I was about to go through.

Jamie was success-oriented-determined to reach the top of the ecclesiastical ladder. Everything seemed to fall into place. We left the seminary and moved to Greenwood, South Carolina, where Jamie was called to pastor the South Main Street Baptist Church, one of the larger churches in the state. At 26 years of age, he was moving toward the top-rapidly.

Those were busy days. By then we had four children, and a fifth on the way. Jamie was deeply involved in church activities. We both know now that it is impossible to do God's work without God's power. Then, however, it was a matter of "leaning on our own understanding." The result was tragic. Although the church was thriving, Jamie gradually grew away from me. A vacuum was created-a perfect setting for an affair.

It started when my closest friend, the wife of one of our church leaders, told Jamie she was "in love" with him. He couldn't handle it. Instead of confiding in me, he relished their "relationship" and let it grow. In a matter of weeks, it was a full-blown affair.

The sordid relationship lasted for more than two years. I knew something was wrong but was not sure what it was. I began to pick up on the signals being passed between my husband and the other woman. I tried to back off-no more dinners together with this family, no more socializing, no more vacations with her along. Jamie insisted we keep them as friends. Her husband seemed oblivious to any wrongdoing and I had no positive proof, but my woman's intuition was working overtime.

I pleaded with Jamie to tell me the truth. "I can handle it," I wept. Instead of leveling with me, however, he lied. He knew that the truth would end the affair. It's something Jamie has taught on many times since-that all adulterers are also liars. They lie to their wives, to their partners, to the world, to themselves and to God.

It was too much for Jamie. No man can ride three wild horses at once and retain his balance when they are all going in different directions. Jamie was being torn apart as he tried to ride marriage, ministry and mistress. He broke off one illicit relationship only to find himself sucked into another. He was as addicted as a man on drugs or alcohol. Our home was a battlefield. My heart was broken.

In the end Jamie was discovered. He was exposed because God wanted him exposed. The board of deacons, which was the controlling element in the church, demanded his resignation. We were given three months salary and three months' use of the parsonage. We were not welcome back in the church. As painful as it was, however, I somehow believed God was in this surgery. It was His way of amputating the cancer.

We moved back to Florida, just a few miles from home, and started all over. Things were tough. We had been on top. Now we were on the bottom. But healing had begun. Within a short period of time-on a trip to Washington, D.C., where he was researching his first book, Run Baby, Run - Jamie received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The night before he came home, he called me, weeping. He told me he loved me. For the first time in many years, I sensed he was telling the truth.

The following night we sat up until dawn, talking. Jamie opened his life to everything he had been planning to do. He told it all-the lies, the deception, the immorality. It hurt. It hurt deeply. But I had told him all along the lies were more hurtful than the action of his sin. All I wanted from him was the truth. I knew I could forgive-but not unless he confessed. When he did open up, the pain was intense for both of us. But it was the hurt of a lanced boil. It was the hurt of healing.

Jamie kept asking me if I wanted details. I didn't need them. Not any more. All I had wanted was my husband. It was as though Jamie had given me the firing pin of a grenade and said, "You hold it. You can blow me up at any time if you want to, but you need to know everything about me. I know the risk I am running in telling you everything, but I will never again let anything come into our lives that I cannot share with you. Not anything." When he said it, I didn't need to hear more. My husband had come home.

I knew Jamie was a changed man. I wanted what he had. After all, the problem had not been all his. My reaction to his sin had been as bad as his sin. I was filled with resentment, bitterness, fear and a sense of unworthiness. I asked Jamie to lay hands on me that I might also receive the Holy Spirit. He said he didn't know how-that I would have to receive as he did, by asking God.

Day after day I got in the car and went to people in the community I knew to be Spirit-filled. Many of them prayed for me but nothing happened. I read the copies of Voice magazine Jamie had brought home from the Full Gospel Business Men's Convention he attended in Washington, but I couldn't identify with any of the testimonies. I got on my knees and begged Jesus to baptize me in His Holy Spirit. Nothing. Yet as I read the Bible, it was alive as never before. I had never noticed all those stories of miracles, deliverance from demons and the marvelous power those early Christians must have had to perform "signs and wonders." I knew it was for me, too.

One night as I was sleeping, I dreamed I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. I woke up feeling as though electricity were running through my body. I woke Jamie, but he was too sleepy to comprehend. I got up and spent the rest of the night wandering through the house praising the Lord in the dark, so great was the experience.

I shared the dream with those friends who had been praying for me. They said I had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Indeed, I had. I wanted to saturate myself in the Bible. Jesus became close and real. For the first time in my life I was not afraid to die because heaven seemed so glorious.

Several days later I made a special visit to see Woody (Mrs. Bob) Johnson, the wife of a local Southern Baptist pastor who had also been filled with the Holy Spirit. As we prayed, I received my prayer language, speaking in tongues for the first time in my life. That opened another door for healing to come in, allowing the Holy Spirit to pray through me, cleansing my mind and healing my broken heart.

There were several people who lived in our community who ministered to me during that time. I am grateful, in particular, for Elbert and Mary Jones, Kent and Diana Busing, Glenda Corley and several others who knew what I had been through and how deeply my self-esteem had been shattered. These friends spent countless hours praying with me, helping me through my feelings of guilt and rejection. I went through intense deliverance as they took authority over the demonic spirits which had tormented me, setting me free from the fear that had consumed me. For years it had seemed as if a cloud of darkness and heaviness had filled my head. As my friends prayed for me, in private and in the small prayer meetings I attended where they were teaching, I felt the cloud lift.

For the first time in years I felt worthy to take my place beside my husband. God had opened the door to a future far more wonderful than Jamie or I could have ever imagined-a door which keeps swinging wider each day.

Of course, there were a lot of lessons to be learned. I discovered that healing doesn't happen overnight. But it starts with truthfulness, as painful as that can be. And it does get better. Now, though, I focus on the happy experience of our recent years instead of on the bad memories of the dark past. When an echo of the past reappears, as it does ever so often-a memory triggered by a song, a smell or a chance encounter Jamie may have with some woman he used to know-we can face it together, with openness.

Because I believe marriage is forever, God enabled me to hang in there. Now He has blessed us beyond our imagination. Jamie and I have become one. Jamie and I are no longer two people living in the same house, two bodies sleeping in the same bed. Something has happened in our spirits which has made us one. This oneness of marriage necessitates that each partner have total access to everything going on in the mate. That does not mean constantly dredging up the past, and certainly not living in the fear it will repeat, but it does mean living in an "open now" relationship.

Adultery alone will not destroy a marriage. It is the lies which destroy the spiritual union. Therefore, all things must be done in the light. To allow a feeling-or a fact-to grow in darkness always breeds deception.

Some things I did wrong:

  1. I used the children. I had no other weapons. I never confided in them (they were too small), but on occasion, when I felt I was being ripped to shreds, I would say to them in Jamie's presence, "If you only knew what a hypocrite your daddy is. . ." Instead of convicting Jamie, however, my words would only infuriate him. Sometimes he would leave the house, slamming the door behind him. When that happened I knew I had driven him into the arms of another woman, but the pain was so deep I seemed unable to keep from lashing out.

  2. I confused love with infatuation, in my life and in Jamie's. I assumed he was "in love" with another woman. I did not know that real love is monogamous. You can only love-agape love-one person at a time, else you will, as Jesus said, "love the one and hate the other." A man can no more love two women at the same time than he can love God and mammon. In Jamie's case, he loved me. That was evidenced in the fact he did not want a divorce. But he was infatuated with others. Had I recognized that difference, I would have been able to handle it better.

    Also, I did not realize at the time that I had my earlier infatuation with Jamie confused with real love. I had set my husband on a pedestal. I never imagined he would treat me in any way other than the way I treated him. I thought he could do no wrong. I was really trusting him more than I was trusting God. When I discovered his flaws, I was devastated. Not only was I hurt, I was disappointed. Yet this forced me to turn to God in my pain. My relationship with Christ began to deepen. Since I had no one else, He became more real to me.

  3. I did not understand the real battle was in the heavenlies, not on the earth. I thought I had to fight the battle alone. I did not realize Jamie was under demon influence, and those same demons (or their cousins) were attacking me as well. The harder I battled, the more I was bloodied. Now I know the power of intercessory prayer and the power of spiritual authority. I know I can literally take authority over the demons which try to bind my husband, my family, myself. In the name of Jesus I have the power to rebuke them-without having to rebuke my husband.

  4. I had no pastor, no one to advise me, encourage me. My pastor had been my husband, and when he went bad-when he became the source of my problem rather than the answer to it-I was left uncovered. I literally had no one to turn to.

  5. Even though Jamie had broken off the relationship and we had moved to Florida and were in an exciting, new church, I still felt the anger and pain of the old wounds. I knew he was capable of falling right back into an affair. Even after he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and began to show evidence of radical change, I was afraid to believe God had changed his basic character. I lived with constant fear that Jamie would return to his old life. As a result, I remained fearful, suspicious and extremely jealous. As time went by, God began to reveal to me my self-righteous attitudes. I was still judging my husband critically and feeling sorry for myself, and I reached out to possess him, to control him. If I could just hold onto him, not let him out of my clutches, he couldn't go wrong anymore. That possessiveness also caused me to try to change him so we wouldn't have any more trouble.

    I finally saw that God had started this new work in Jamie, only God could complete it. So with all my will I relinquished him totally to God-I turned him loose. "He's yours. . .he really doesn't belong to me." That is when the real healing started.

Some things I did right:

  1. Although I used every means available to fight, I never backed off on my physical affection to Jamie. I knew that to turn frigid sexually would drive him even deepen into his illicit relationship. I did not sleep with him out of duty; I slept with him out of love.

  2. We never considered divorce. As the word got out and the rumors spread that Jamie was being unfaithful to me, some of my friends said I ought to divorce him. That never entered my mind, however. Nor did Jamie ever consider it. We might deeply hurt one another, but we were going to remain together-until death parted us.

    I have discovered, by the way, that most Christians who seek divorce on the grounds of their spouse's infidelity have been wanting out of the marriage for a long time-and simply use infidelity as a justifiable excuse. I do not believe Jesus justified divorce by His statements in Matthew 5. In that passage the Pharisees attempted to trap our Lord into some statement with which they could take issue, but He declined to interpret Moses' words, simply stating that if they were looking for a reason for divorce, the only one that would stand under the law of Moses was fornication. When I married Jamie I vowed to stick with him for better or for worse. This was the worse, and I was trusting God for the better. But even if "better" did not come, I was married to Jamie for life.

    I do not condemn those who choose divorce. That is their decision, and I know God understands and restores and continues to use them in ministry. But in my case, I chose to stick it out. I have never regretted it, for I have seen God honor my decision in my husband, my children, my grandchildren, our wonderful church and our ministry around the world. I am so blessed.

  3. I never went public, never went before the church or the board of deacons. Despite what my husband was doing to me, I was still his wife. When others accused him, I stood up for him. The night he was exposed in a deacons' meeting and told he had to resign as pastor, he called me from the church office, weeping. I rushed to him. His enemies-even though he had driven them to be his enemies by his foolishness-were my enemies also because he was my husband. He was in trouble and needed help. When he asked for it, I was there to give it. In fact, giving help was part of my own healing. When you love someone, it is easy to forgive.

Failure is neither fatal nor final. God is a restoring God who picks us up where we are and gives us a new beginning. Jamie and I have walked through hell together. Our children accompanied us. That is part of the price we paid when we committed to love forever. But we stand as a testimony that regardless of how dark any marriage situation is right now, or how much of a cloud may hang over you because of past failure, God can forgive completely. When the locusts came they ate not only the grain, but the weeds as well. Now God has planted new seed, and our fields are wonderfully restored with beautiful crops.

Healing the Wounded Heart, Jackie Buckingham (excerpt from Help! I'm a Pastor's Wife by Michele Buckingham)

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