Angel

by | Jun 18, 2024

 

I was in fourth grade when I went to the wedding of my childhood pastor. I was enamored with the couple in front of me. As a nine-year-old, I sat at the reception table after the ceremony and silently prayed, “Lord, I want to be a pastor’s wife one day.” I started planning my wedding right away. In sixth grade, I made a list of all the characteristics I wanted in my future husband and started fervently praying for them. At the top of that list was a man who would love the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. I understood that a man who loves Jesus would be a man who could truly love me. 

However, my obsession with being a wife someday fueled a false identity. 

I was just 14 years old, and John was 16 when we first met: a freshman and a junior. We went to the same high school and the same church. The first time I met him, I thought, “That’s the man I want to marry.” We married at 19 and 21, respectively, and we were what most people thought was the “perfect couple”. 

Fast-forward a few years. John began ministry as a pastor, and I was a counselor. I was really excited about the idea of ministry. I envisioned a life where John would prioritize our family and would work normal hours at the church during the week. I anticipated being together, as we could use our gifts of hospitality and host people in our home. It was a life I was truly looking forward to. 

My identity as a pastor’s wife was wrapped up in trying to create the image and life I wanted to have.

It was a form of control. When things were going my way, I was good. But, when it seemed like John loved the church more than he loved me, I felt my identity as a pastor’s wife was robbed of me. People assumed I had it all together, with the perfect marriage and happy family. But, because I worked so hard to keep up this image and please everyone, I created a marginless life. I grew tired of feeling like I only had John’s attention on vacation. I began to resent the phrase, “It’s only for a season.” I wasn’t honest about my own hurt, and I essentially gave up. I thought if this is what ministry is and what it means to be a pastor’s wife, I wanted nothing to do with it. 

Deciding to go my own way and do my own thing was a defining moment for me.

An angry heart toward God, my husband, and the church, combined with a false identity and a lack of discipline to say ‘No’ was a perfect recipe for disaster. I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it, and how I wanted it.

I first found sanctuary at the gym. I developed a relationship with a trainer who eventually became a safe person for me to confide in. This relationship turned sexual, and once that happened, I didn’t just despise my husband, God, and the church; I hated myself. I pulled away from everything and had a series of one-night stands. I quit my counseling practice and took another job. John asked me if we could go to marriage counseling. He tried to woo me. He was present in ways he hadn’t been before. However, my heart was hardened. 

But God pursued me into the depths of my rebellion.

He never stopped loving me, even when I turned my back on Him. He was relentless. I regularly felt the Holy Spirit’s conviction, and He was so patient with me.

A week before I confessed my infidelity, I became very ill. My spiritual sickness was being manifested physically. I knew I had to break the power that my sin held over me. I felt compelled by God to live in truth. I had been trapped by the fear of losing John and our kids if the truth about my infidelities came out. But the conviction to repent of my sin ultimately trumped my fear of losing my family. 

With all of my being, I realized that my only hope was in trusting God with everything while being willing to lose it all. I was broken.

While John and I were away at a ministry retreat, I started shaking and sweating uncontrollably. John asked me if I was okay and it was the first time in a long time I chose to be honest. 

It started with the simple confession, No, I am not okay. I’ve been having an affair.” 

I spent most of that night pouring out the details of the two-and-a-half-year affair I had been in. This was just the beginning. I didn’t realize, at the time, how much I had compartmentalized my sin in order to “hold it all together”. Over the course of the next few months, there would be numerous counseling sessions and conversations of me confessing my sin and asking forgiveness from those who I had lied to and hurt. When the Lord called me out of my own darkness, He called me to live fully in the light. The life of keeping secrets was over.

When we understand we are sinning against God, our hearts become ready for confession and repentance. 

This season of confession was absolutely difficult but simultaneously healing because I knew the Lord was changing my heart from being comfortable keeping secrets to despising them. I knew God would take care of me and whatever I had to walk through. 

During this season, I powerfully learned the difference between a true need and a want, and I had to submit and completely trust my desires to the Lord.

I spent time writing down my sins and visualizing the blood of Christ spiritually cleansing me as I knelt before Him, confessing and receiving His forgiveness. In Isaiah 1:18, the LORD says, “…though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” 

The more my heart was ready to confess and ask for forgiveness, the more I knew shame had no place in my life. 

I knew my heart was being healed when I could receive the Lord’s delight over me, and the opinions of others ceased to matter to me. This is what it means to begin walking in the freedom of Christ. I also knew there was no reason for John ever to trust me again. That was something only the Lord could restore. My job was to walk in repentance, honesty, integrity, and humility. God’s job was to restore John’s willingness and ability to trust me. And praise God, He did!

We now have the marriage and ministry life I always dreamed of because I removed the masks hiding my God-given identity.

Where I once found identity in being a wife, placing the fullness of my security, happiness, and comfort in my future husband, I now place my identity in a foundation that can never be moved, no matter the circumstance—Jesus Christ. He alone has the power to define me and give me purpose and hope.

In 1 Peter 2:9, Jesus says that I am “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession….”  So much of scripture speaks to who we are in Christ. Jesus gives us language to define ourselves and when we receive it, it brings true security, safety, and joy that can never be shaken. 

I encourage you, dear reader, that the Lord loves a surrendered heart.

He longs for your dependence to rest fully in His power. Brokenness is nothing to fear. The Lord is ready to meet you with His grace, His mercy, and His presence. His Word is very clear: Do not fear. Walk in obedience; it is there you will find Him. 

~Angel

Angel Beeson is the Founder and Biblical Counselor at Whole Hope Counseling. In their book Trading Faces: Removing The Masks That Hide Our God-Given Identity Angel and John consider ten identities that masquerade as truth and challenge readers to trade those labels for the ones Christ offers. 

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