50. An Affair And Answered Prayer - Sarah Peterson
May 25, 2022
Mentioned in this episode -
1 John 1:3 -2:2
Author Jamie Ivey
Laura: Hi, Sarah, and welcome to unsung stories. Thanks so much for joining us.
Sarah: Thank you for having me
Laura: just say that our listeners can get to know you a little bit more. Could you tell us a bit about you and your family and just what everyday life looks like?
Sarah: I'm Sarah, I'm married to Luke. We have three kids. There's Overdyke who's eight Flynn. Who's seven and Lacey he's five. . Nice.
Luke has just finished his apprenticeship in five, a furniture. And while the kids are at school, I've been studying to become a teacher aid. , that's
Laura: great. So that sounds like a really beautiful stage you're in and we have similar aged kids. So I'm going to assume that the last, at least eight years who've been physically draining. But before kids though, how long have you been married for and how did you meet your husband?
Sarah: We were not long out of school. I think about 20 years old and married for only 18 months before OB was born. Oh my goodness.
Not long at all. , we met as two. Both born in the same little town. Luke's family moved away when we were toddlers, we re reconnected in high school when Facebook came in and did its thing.
Laura: It's great.
Sarah: At this time, Luke had been working as a photographer. And not long after marriage decided that he wanted a bit of a change and thought he would give theology ago. He then applied at SNBC and did a year there. And after that, he then applied for MTS at the lakes EAV for the next two years. During MTS look got a bit of a taste for ministry life. And even though he was on the verge of burnout, about three quarters into MTS we started to think about Bible college full time. We decided to move our life to Brisbane so he could complete his Bible studies
Laura: there. That's cool. So did you have all your kids at that time?
Sarah: . . I had a newborn and the ones.
Laura: Yep. . So you've got three really little kids and you're moving into state and I'm assuming you get to have this keen desire to be equipped for a life full of ministry. What was going on for you at this time?
Sarah: I was trying to settle into a new state with a newborn as well as the other two kids. And I didn't know anyone. Luke had just gone off to college and he also had a student ministry position in a church here.
We were running growth groups and liquids doing some pre. We spoke about the possibility of church planting and the exciting, but big challenges that could bring. Think, seem to be going pretty well, at least on the surface.
Laura: How has your heart during this time what were you excited for as a Christian?
Sarah: Even though I was supportive of being in full-time ministry behind the scenes, these expectations of it started to weigh on me. I had some thoughts and doubts and I struggled to be at home all the time on my own with kids. And ministry really just started to take up a big part of our lives. I, I felt that I did not fit the pastor's wife criteria and the expectations that come with that
Sarah: what way? I was struggling to be a sympathetic person and I feel like that's a pretty important part of being in ministry and a Christian in general. I was feeling disconnected from God. I thought I need to get on top of this and I thought the only way to do that was pray. God did answer these pres but little did I know that he was equipping me for things that I was definitely not expecting.
Laura: You mentioned that you were feeling disconnected from God. Do you think that was also a little bit of the life stage that you were in? If any of you take it back before you had kids, you have quite young get married, have kids have three kids move into state.
Do you think that played a part of it or do you just think it was just something that was going on for you, with your relationship with God at that time?
Sarah: I think it definitely goes back before children. Growing up and grew up in a Christian family and so owning. Owning that connection to God for myself and my own relationship with God had always been a struggle for me. That's where the disconnection from God comes in.
Laura: It's it seems like you had this big lump of stuff all going on at once. So you're talking about this. Working out wrestling with your faith, but at the same time, your you growing up as your growing up children and it's all intertwined, right? And that's a lot for you.
Sarah: So amongst the, all of the doubts about ministry, I had deep convictions about my parenting style and how I dealt with my children's behavior. In particular OB, so he's being recently diagnosed with ADHD and odd. I was frustrated and I had tried nearly everything in the books about parenting children with big emotions and impulsive behavior. I would resort to yelling, smacking, sending him to his room. I can only pray now that by the grace of God, he protected his little heart because I'm worried that I might've traumatized him, but I do want to clarify that. . My sin is not Bobby's fault. That is that's on me. There's this vicious cycle of losing my cool and then feeling guilty. I was. Emotionally connected to my children. That was definitely something that I longed for.
Laura: That's really hard. I've wrestled with similar things, particularly with my first and have the same fees. But as my counselor likes to remind me all the time that it's just a chance that we can connect. And I heard the analogy once. I think it was in the circle of security parenting styles. What can't remember the book's called, but it's talking about relationship building, lack of muscle. So you rupture repair. And so I like to think of that time of my life. And you're right. It was my sin as well. It wasn't like he was hard, but my reaction was sinful.
But to recognize that was probably a big rupture in our overall relationship journey when we can repair that. And I dunno I come to the same place as you it will be by the grace of God that I haven't traumatized him, but I also hope that it's just part of that rupture and repair process.
And it's that humble repentance and apologizing. I dunno. I do pray that. .
Sarah: Oh , for sure. It's just scary to think, what your actions have, the consequences. . But , I can only, his life is in God's hands and not mine, thankfully. So , God
Laura: can work through our failures. If anything, I don't want to sweep my behavior under the rug and ignore it and pretend I was never like that. And if he, if it has traumatized him and he comes to me as an adult, or even now I'd like to think, then I can apologize and work on it with him. And we do the repair part of our relationship, whether that's now or in 20 years. I'd like to think that we both have humble hearts to work on that with our kids. Yes.
Sarah: Yes, absolutely.
Laura: How has that reaction that time of your life playing out in other areas of your life?
Sarah: that sinful part of me really started to cause tension, I think, in relationships, friendships . And in our marriage as well.
Laura: In what way?
Sarah: So while all this was happening as well there was Luke dealing with some of the pressures of ministry and expectations, those issues and his extended family as well. And that led to his mental health rapidly declining. , it resulted in severe depression. He was very distant. From myself and our children. And , he ended up pulling out a Bible college and eventually having an affair.
Laura: Oh, wow. Sarah, that's really a big where did you go to from there?
Sarah: We spent a few very intense emotional weeks really processing it all. we talked for days about where to go from there. What we needed to work on and what to do. We both loved each other. We knew that and we wanted to work through the effects of the affair. So , we called on our families and closest friends to pray for. We attended months of marriage counseling.
And I guess this is where we really started to say the value of being intentional in our marriage. Something that we didn't have prior to that,
Laura: I'd imagine that you've learnt a lot through this experience. What stood out to you in all of it. What have you learnt?
Sarah: So a few things my marriage was not as solid as I thought. It seems we would just coasting and had become complacent, which I think is a huge danger. I saw firsthand how damaging scene is. And yet, because this was quite a public scene and it became public quite quickly. It did hurt a lot of people involved and hurt God and it hurt sinned against, and it hurt everyone connected as well as the church. , and we became aware very quickly that some Christians not all can be quite judgmental. they think, oh, I could never do something like that. And so , we thought church was going to be this safe place for us. The place of gracious and forgiving people. But , unfortunately it was a bit.
we felt judged and I'm welcomed like we've been cast out from the church. So that really intensified a lot of the feelings of guilt and shame that were already there for both of us.
Laura: That's really hard. Sarah reminds me of I don't know if you've heard of Jamie Ivy she talks a lot about sin shock and how the church is often so shocked by sin that we're not welcoming sinners. And in one of the chapters in her book, she was talking about how. We'll often take on like this posture of someone who would think that we could never do such a thing that this person who's confessing their sin has done and will push people away with either our words or how we act. And whether we intend to or not, we actually don't welcome confession.
And I love Hashi talks about how we. I want to be creating a culture that people can repent and people can confess their sin because we have Jesus and he's not like that, but how hard it is to be like Jesus, when we are shocked by sin
Sarah: and churches for sinners. . Yes, we shouldn't be, we shouldn't be a shy of coming in and, confessing our sins.
Laura: And to take it further don't we want to be like Jesus. So don't want to be saying that Jesus is like he, he hates us in and we should hate sin, but I think more often than not, we don't share our sin because we're scared of that reaction that you have. As people pushing us away or not welcoming us or judging us. But wouldn't it be amazing if like we as Christian women or as our churches could value repentance and confession more than secrets and like this perceived perception? I don't know. Yep.
Sarah: Absolutely. It would make such a difference to be able to walk into a church and know that you have people there. I think keeping you accountable. Loving you through hard things. And instead of feeling like you have to hide your sin. .
Laura: Yes. And as you said, churches for sinners and I'm so guilty of this. I think there is this element of being shocked by seeing when we're probably not as exposed to it much when I made it, we, of course we're exposed to it.
We're all sinners. But as in I think he can get used to sin very quickly and maybe you can get used to not having some sins around. I get shocked when I hear, friends who have us wrestling with the shock value seem, but to keep reminding myself that Jesus isn't shocked by it, but he came for and. I'm really sorry that you went through that because it is going to be that thing that either drives people away or draws them closer to Jesus, right? Yep. We want our churches to be a welcoming place for seniors. .
Sarah: And , I think it has changed the way that we approached it and how much we trust people into it. Down to where we sit. And how we make friends. , it is a sad reality, but we're trying to navigate those things and praying that God would heal us from that because we do want to be able to do those things in church. And
Laura: And I'm sure it was the last thing you needed. I like you've had this big, huge crack in your family and your marriage. And then this whole other element of like church. On top of it.
Sarah: Where do you go from there?
Laura:that's really hot. I'm really sorry. Sarah, is there anything else that you learnt through all of that?
Sarah: I think even though there was a lot of negative things that came out of that, I think we also learn a lot of beautiful things. . Truths that we get. We already know these things, but Jesus. So forgiving. And there is hope in Jesus for people who are struggling with the weight of their sin and carrying burdens he has the power to change and grow us if we come to him in prayer willing and open.
Laura: that's really beautiful. What does the Bible say about these things or what have you clung to from God's word in everything that you've gone through?
Sarah: Especially as Christians it's important to show grace and forgiveness to fellow sinners. We didn't have to agree in support sin, like you said, But God does meet us where we are and cause us to be like, Jesus, we are all sinners and we all fall short and none of us is better than another.
And so a Bible verse that resonated with me here was James chapter two verse 13, and it says. For judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful for mercy triumphs over judgment. . I think this really sums up how God would like us to respond to sin.
Laura: That's really beautiful. And it is how Jesus responds to us reading through the gospels that lately and. I've not seen a time where he's been shocked by someone sin. Like he he was disheartened by it or broken about it and eventually died for it, but we don't ever see him not showing mercy. We don't ever see him shaming someone, or, I'm surprised he loved everyone in the midst of their sin.
And he's always merciful. Thank you for that. At
Sarah: super comforting as well,
Laura: I'm sitting and he does it again, no matter how hard we try, we are people who are going to be sinful for the rest of our life.
I just can't believe that is that good to us? He just
Sarah: keeps doing it. That'd be sick of it. A basic of that person.
Laura: Even as a parent, don't you get that? How many times do I have to tell you, this is for your good, don't do this and you're not listening to me.
Sarah: And he just continues to show grace again and again. And it's
Laura: I don't understand. . It shows that I'm not God. But I'm so thankful for him. What did you learn about God in all of it?
Sarah: So , to put it simply. I learnt that God will never lead me where he's grace can't keep me. , his promises are true. I always felt like God knew what he was doing. And I just had to trust that even though that wasn't easy, but , just
Laura: trusting in him. . Just right at the beginning, you said that you just wanted to grow and you're praying that God would grow you as a Christian. Can you see that he's changed? You're grown you through all of it?
Sarah: Yes. Even though it was very unexpected. I feel like God did answer my prayers.
Laura: I'd imagine you're going off to Bible college. God make me these holy person through studying your word. Make me a pastor's wife made me that beautiful Christian woman. It's just not how it turned out.
Sarah: But he did
Laura: do it. Like he didn't do these good things in you.
Sarah: He worked through brokenness and suffering to bring good and glory to him. And that's, I think that's all we could really ask for. , and for the first time in my life, I finally felt connected to God in a personal way. I had seen and felt him at work in my.
I've always known. I've always known God and what he can do, cause you've read about it in the Bible, but now I've seen and experienced it for myself.
But , amongst this as well he strengthened me and put a new hope in me. I know that I can trust God in all my circumstances and he will carry me because he has again. , and the last thing that I feel like he's helped do is grow that emotional connection to my children that I so longed for.
And in all my relationships and friendships, which is lovely. How did he do that? So I think during during this hard time where Luke liquids, so mentally absent, I just had to. Really survive. Good. Threw me into these situations, but I didn't really have a choice, but to rely on him, to pull me through each day and trust in him, he would put it on my heart to just talk to him and bring my burdens and worries to him.
I did this through journaling. So many people have talked about how good journaling is. But . . I didn't know. I didn't even know myself what was happening. I couldn't speak to anyone else about it. Journaling, it was, , that's great. Go to also groom. I connected with my children over this time and I think they saw how lonely and sad I was and often comforted me.
Like the clay in the hands of the Potter, God molded and shaped me for his glory and he continues to do that's really
Laura: beautiful. I think you've gone through a lot in the last few years, and I'm sure it's been a few years of this recovery process and while I'm sure there's a long road ahead, as you look back on where you've come from, is it feels silly to ask, but is there anything that you're thankful for in everything that's going on?
Sarah: Yes. I am. I'm super thankful. God saves Luke. And he saved him from his sin and brought him out of that dark place. And he saved me and down marriage. And I'm super thankful for that. And without those hardships get, we wouldn't be where we are with our marriage and my faith. Wouldn't be, I don't think where it would, where it is today. I wouldn't try. There's heavenly treasures for anything. And I'm thankful for the healing God has done and continues to do in our lives. . That's
Laura: beautiful. Do you have any encouragement or warning for those of us who are listening to your story? What can we learn from what you've gone through?
Sarah: Yes. So courage, mint pray would be the first thing. . Generally, if it helps you talk about it God doesn't really care how you do it. Just, he just wants you to talk to him. As well as seek counseling. I don't think it's healthy to wait until something challenging happens in your marriage. Gotta get on top of it, before, these big things happen.
One thing that we really benefited from it was seeking an older, wiser, married Christian couple to learn from and be mentored by keeping Jesus at the center of your life first and at the center of your marriage. Lots of people tell you that at your wedding, but you don't realize how important it actually is.
And then. Something that I did find really encouraging was visiting my old church knowing that the pastor there knew about our situation, I was quite anxious and nervous about what he might've thought and , just that judgment feel. But he came to me and he acknowledged my hurt and pain and saying to me, I grieve with you. And , he hugged me and I just remember crying. Those words were quite comforting to me. So , if you know someone who has been through hardship, any type of hardship take the time to acknowledge they hurt because it can be quite healing. I think
Laura: that's really beautiful, particularly when you're bracing yourself for condemnation or judgment. How beautiful did he model Jesus in that moment with you?
Sarah: It was such a Jesus moment. It was like
Laura: Sadness here and let's acknowledge it. Then how would you encourage the woman who's walking a similar road to you in fighting for their marriage? Whether that's recovering from an affair or just, the multitude of other ways that we wrestle and struggling.
Sarah: So I'm no expert in this area, even though I've been through it. But I think being reminded that everyone's experience is different. But the things that I would encourage, ah, seeking to forgive, because Jesus calls us to forgive. And not only helps heal the person who sinned against you, but it also helps.
It takes time. So if you're struggling, then pray and ask God for the help. When something like this happens, there's a lot of feelings that come with it. Doubts feelings of unworthiness, I guess people's views of you and their judgment as well. Rumors and gossip say being reminded that.
Your identity and value are in Christ alone. Not in anything that has happened to you or that you've done. , you're not alone in this broken mess. It happens so much often even within the church. in these moments, look to Jesus for confidence. Share your pain with someone, you can trust because you will need support around you.
The secrecy, it can be quite a big white to carry on your own. So definitely be open to someone you trust that can help you carry the white. And then lastly , I think seek counseling, just be honest about your hurts in that counseling. They'll teach you how to share your hurts within your marriage.
And make it a safe space without your spouse feeling attacked or blamed and . Just help you to work through any hurts that are there.
Laura: That's really beautiful.
Sarah: I think a beautiful first to leave here with is one John one five. Three to chapter two, verse two. This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you. God is light in him. There is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his son purifies us from.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin, but if anybody does.
They have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ, the righteous one. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and not only for ads, but also for the sense of the whole world.
Laura: That's so beautiful. Thank you so much for encouraging us today, Sarah, and being vulnerable with your story and . For you and Luke, to be willing to share your sin publicly so that you might encourage. To clean to Jesus and be reminded that there is no sin that he hasn't died to forgive that he wants us to come to him to be repentant.
I was wondering if you could finish up today's show by praying for the moms who are listening both the ones who are wrestling with their sin, no matter what that looks like. But also for the mums who. I might be wrestling with their own marriages or walking a similar road to you and Luke.
Sarah: Cool. I can do that. All right. Let's pray. Heavenly father. We thank you that you love us and we thank you that you care for us. And we thank you that we can come to you where we are and that you meet us there. , love. We pray for the mothers out there who are struggling with the weight of their sin or by those who are struggling with hardships and sufferings yellow, we pray that you would be a comfort to them, and we pray that you would be growing them and loving them through these times.
Though, we pray that whatever their situation , that you would just hold them in the Palm of your hand and surround them with people who love them and care for them. And people who will pray for them. And yellow, we just pray that that you would just be a real life. In their darkness and we pray all this in your name.