Back to the Other Woman
It has been over 2 months since Mark’s affair was exposed. Gossip spread rapidly and widely, varying with each new telling. The simple truth of his story should have been attention-grabbing enough, but each version that came back to him included its own unique embellishments. Mark was accused of leaving the state, fathering other children, having numerous affairs, and even stealing money from his job. Even the people in his social circle weren't sure how to act around him anymore. Many of them didn't know what to say and may have been scared of having to take sides in the conflict of his marriage.
Anne remained hurt and mad. Mark seems unworthy of her grace or forgiveness, but he still wished for it. A deep part of him wanted their marriage to survive. It can be believed that he could love his wife again, but their constant fighting kept pushing them apart.
If there had been no emotional ties to Linda, perhaps Mark could have stood strong through all this. Maybe he could have endured months or years of Anne's anger and ruthlessness. Maybe he could have held on until his public shame diminished. Maybe he could have wanted in something better for his family.
But Mark’s heart was still pulled towards Linda and he did not know how to sever the ties. Smart people, who understood the power of this kind of relationship, worked to keep them apart. He had not seen or overheard from her during all this time. The details of her situations were kept from me so that he would not be tempted to contact her again.
With time, Mark thinks that it would have become easier to let go of these feelings. But time never had its chance. During a conversation with a former coworker, he unintentionally mentioned the name of the family with whom Linda had been staying. His coworker did not even recognize what he had done. In that instant, Mark had been given two hazardous facts:
Linda was not living with her husband,
She was staying in a home less than a mile from Mark’s place.
If an affair is like an obsession, he had just been told how to get his next fix. The desire to connect up with Linda flooded him. A silent but dreadful battle raged in Mark’s head…wanting two things…scared to move in either track.
Mark finally made a choice. A few days after he had learned Linda’s location, he called the house. Linda answered. They talked and afterwards met. The affair was renewed. For the next 18 months, Mark and Linda would swing back and forth between heaven and hell.
Authenticity and Grace
Mark had learned that he needs to ask himself an important question: Am I living authentically? When my life lacks authenticity (genuineness, honesty, transparency, truthfulness, trust), I lose respect for myself and start becoming "undone" (a state of decline from whole, healthy living).
When he violated his moral values, he started living a life of contradiction that almost assured an unsatisfying ending. Even when he tried to convince himself that his values had changed—that he no longer believed the affair was unavoidably wrong—his lies and shame validated a lack of true principle.
He can't change the choices he already made, but he learned from them. This idea of living genuinely has become foundational to his life. Nearly every choice can be measured by whether or not it is consistent with being a real and honest person. Mark is convinced that the failure to live authentically leads to all kinds of consequences: emotional, relational, spiritual, and even physical.
Living genuinely isn't enough, of course. A person can be "real" and still be a jester.
But to experience a full amount of healing, Mark needed more than a new perspective or new direction. He needed something that he couldn't provide himself. He needed grace. Luckily, he was able to finally found it… in his children, in their mother, in his wife, in God. Grace covers a multitude of sins.