In this “Control Girl to Jesus Girl Series”, I’m sharing stories of women who are on the path from Control Girl to Jesus Girl. Like me, these women would not say that they’ve arrived. They can’t claim to be perfectly Christ-like. But they are heading in a new direction.Here’s Kari’s story:
I didn’t realize that there would be two parts to my story of betrayal.
The first chapter unfolded over ten years ago, when I learned of my husband’s deep deception and unfaithfulness. Working through this was so hard. Initially, I wished that Peter had died instead of this. Then I wished that I could die. I felt like the victim, left to do all of the hard work, even though I was the one who was innocent!
Peter had some hard work, too, beginning with confessing his sin before our entire congregation. He repented and made some huge changes, but still I felt that the heavy lifting was really left to me.
But even through the hardest days and lowest points, I did the work God called me to, and His grace was sufficient. I was even able to see that God intended my great pain and suffering for good–just as He promises in Romans 8:28.
Slowly, God turned my bitterness and anger into joy, contentment, and love. We even share our story publicly, and every time we do, I’m so thankful for the hard road we’ve walked together.
Yet between the lines of that original story, there was another story unfolding. Part Two. This is the story I don’t often share with people. It’s the part of the story about her–the woman who temporarily stole my husband’s affection and attention.
We met Crystal after she began dating Sam, Peter’s brother. We double dated all the time, and she became a dear friend of mine. She was often at our house, playing with our son, and sharing meals with us. She would stay the night when it was too late to drive home. Our lives were intertwined. She was like the sister I never had. Until I learned that she wasn’t.
Sam, Peter’s brother, was aware of Peter’s sexual relationship with Crystal and gave his approval. It was utterly sinful, and completely devastating when it came to light.
Like I already said, In the months that followed that miserable day in February, God began to heal my marriage. But then Crystal entered my life for a second time. Sam began seeing her again secretly, despite originally seeing the need to end their relationship.
This was a new blow. Instead of humbly trying to heal the wounds that they had inflicted, Sam and Crystal were re-opening them! I was desperate. I could not have her in my life. More than that, I could not have her in Peter’s life! I craved control like never before.
I pleaded with Crystal and Sam to end the relationship. I begged them to repent of their sin, then, live out that repentance by living carefully toward me. I wasn’t wrong. I was the one wronged!
They never dealt with the original offense; now they were flippantly pursuing a new one. I wasn’t wrong, I kept telling myself. I was determined to be in control. I wanted them to repent! I wanted what was just and right! I wanted her out of my life for good!
Though I had originally seen the good that God was bringing out of the ashes, how could any good come from Crystal reentering our lives? I couldn’t conceive of it. I allowed this new hurt–this relationship that was entirely out of my control–to erode the good work God was doing in me.
When God Doesn’t Intervene
Sam and Crystal eventually announced their engagement. Sickened, I pleaded with them again to consider the pain they were causing. They would hear none of it.
I lost. Evil won. Why didn’t God intervene? Why would He want this inherently hurtful relationship in my life?
A cloud of bitterness followed me for years after they were married. I didn’t have to see Crystal, because she and Sam removed themselves from the family for several years, but still, she was present in my mind. My sister-in-law. The other woman.
Few people knew that this was all happening in the background of my life. In the foreground, my own family was growing and flourishing. Shortly after giving birth to our fourth child, I learned that Sam and Crystal were expecting their first baby.
How would I respond? I prayed for wisdom. And God carefully, gently softened my heart.
All Things Together for Good
God reminded me of the good He was doing in my life. Through all of the pain and devastation, I had been forced to find peace in God instead of my circumstances. He had been teaching me that His sovereign control over my life is better than my frantic, feeble (and false) control.
What they intended for evil, God intended for good.
Over time, I was convicted that I needed to respond to Sam, Crystal, and their new baby with the grace that God had shown me. I would love them, and live out forgiveness toward them. I would follow in the footsteps of my Lord, saying, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
It has been a slow, grueling process of surrender, but here is what I’m learning: I am called to live my life obediently, and to call others to walk a life of obedience. But I am also called to leave the results to Him.
I am not in control! How freeing to finally live under that peace-giving truth.
Amazingly, my enemy has become my friend, my sister. Our relationship certainly has some necessary boundaries, but it is good. It’s not how I would have written either chapter in the story of my life. But I can say with all sincerity that both chapters are far better that what I would have written. Why? Because these chapters are not about her, after all. They’ve been about surrendering control of my life to a good Father who loves me, and who is conforming me into the image of His Son.
That’s what it’s all been about!
Are You a Control Girl?
Take the Quiz to find out! Then come check your answers with the “Control Girl Quiz Series”. This series is meant to get you thinking about your own possible struggles with control. As a follow up, I hope you’ll consider my new book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible.
Control Girl to Jesus Girl
Have you checked out the inspiring, real life stories in the “Control Girl to Jesus Girl” series? Come learn from other women who are on the path from Control Girl to Jesus Girl. Learn from their mistakes and take hope from the future they are embarking on!