The Healing Balm of Confession
About the Guest
Nancy Anderson tells how God began to heal her marriage after she confessed her infidelity to God, her parents, and her spouse.
Nancy and Ron AndersonNancy C. Anderson and her husband, Ron, recently celebrated their twenty-sixth wedding anniversary. Together they conduct couples’ retreats and marriage seminars to help others to predict, prevent, or pardon infidelity. Nancy is a contributing author to several books and the co-author of a variety of dramatic sketches.
Nancy Anderson tells how God began to heal her marriage after she confessed her infidelity to God, her parents, and her spouse.
The Healing Balm of Confession
Nancy: I can remember watching it like I was in a movie. I was totally disconnected. We were in our little condo and he was on the couch and I was in the bedroom packing things and I came walking by him to get to the front door and he said, “Please stop. Please stop.” And I said, “I can't.” And I was so set on getting what I wanted, which I thought was this other man, that that's all I could see.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday August 19th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Marriages die every day, but if the Christian faith is true, there can be a resurrection.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I think there a lot of couples, Dennis, when the reality of infidelity is-- well, when it's revealed in a marriage, I think couples wonder whether the marriage is strong enough to withstand that kind of a trauma. It's a level eight or nine earthquake in a marriage. It's up there on the Richter scale, isn't it?
Dennis: It is. I sat down with a couple just a couple of weekends ago and the husband admitted to being unfaithful to his wife and they're still in the pain. It was about 16 months ago and the wife is attempting to come out of that painful experience of realizing that the husband she had trusted with her life has not remained faithful to her, even though for 10 years she thought he was being faithful. But numerous indiscretions, betrayal, lots of emotions and feelings.
And, you know, one of the key things that occurred in that meeting I had with them is I took their hands and I placed them in the hands of another couple who had experienced something very similar about 30 years ago. And this older couple sat down with them and then had lunch with them, what turned into be, I think, about a two-hour lunch.
And, you know, in the midst of your pain, you can't go through it alone. You need other people to help you be real, to experience that pain, express it and then to help you out of the ditch and get your marriage back on the right road.
Bob: We've got a couple joining us today and, as we've already heard this week, this has been a part of their experience.
Dennis: That's right. Ron and Nancy Anderson join us again. Ron, Nancy, welcome back.
Ron: Thanks for having us back.
Nancy: Thank you.
Dennis: Nancy is the author of “Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome” and she's a homeschool mom. She-- in addition to writing, you all have led some small groups, as well, some marriage classes.
Ron: Yes. Yes, as a matter of fact, it's funny how life comes full circle. Twenty-five years ago when Nancy had an affair, we got back on track. It took a few years, but we did, and when the pastor asked us to teach a marriage class, he handed us the HomeBuilders series and said, “We want you to teach from this.”
Dennis: HomeBuilders is a small group Bible study that is built around the Bible, but it is intensely tied to couples connecting with other couples. And at that point in your marriage you all needed to relate to other couples who would let you be real and help process your pain with you, right?
Ron: Well, it's true. Our pastor always tells us as a congregation, sometimes it's harder to solve these problems if you have to come to an emergency room. But if you come to me early on, you know, we can read Scripture. We can study how Scripture wants us to handle this and we can deal with it. Not when you're coming in in an ambulance and it's the 11th hour and now we're putting the paddles on your marriage.
Bob: Nancy, you've already described for us this week that you were in a business setting with a co-worker and he brushed his leg up against yours and he didn't move and you didn't either and that was the first sign that there was some connection, more than just a professional connection, between the two of you. How long from that moment until the two of you were actually physically intimate with one another?
Nancy: It was a progressive type thing. It started out small. It started out with lunches and sitting by each other in the break room kinds of things and then a little bit after work and then eventually I moved out of my home, told my husband I needed a little space and then moved into a hotel and it wasn't really until then, until I had the privacy of my own room, that I invited him over.
Bob: You were in a marriage that was painful. You weren’t connected together as a couple. You were in isolation. When you moved out, were you moving out with the thought that this is going to begin the next chapter with the new person?
Nancy: Absolutely, I was. But I didn't tell anyone that. I told my husband that I was just discontent and had to think things over and it wasn't him, it was me and all the typical lies that people tell in that situation. He had no idea I had a boyfriend. I hid it very well, but that is what I was thinking, yes.
Bob: Now I have to ask you, because you grew up in a Christian home. You came to Christ in high school. Wasn't there a little voice just screaming in the back of your head?
Nancy: You know, it is amazing how you can quiet the voice if you ignore it. There were a few times when I was actually listening to the radio station, pushing buttons and a preacher came on the radio and he said, “If you will stop your sin, God will forgive you.” And I hit the steering wheel and I said, “But I don't want to stop.” So God was there, but I wanted no part of him because he stood in the way of me getting what I wanted.
Bob: The Holy Spirit starts speaking to your heart, you just adjust the frequency and go to another station.
Nancy: You know, it's painful for me to admit now, because I long for His voice to help me and guide me [choking up] and I regret that I did not listen, but I did not.
Dennis: This all occurred in the second year of your marriage. I mean, the pain of no relationship at home was so great that you were being repelled from Ron at home and this other guy, Jake, was fishing for your affection at work.
Nancy: I was ripe for the picking.
Ron: The honeymoon phase didn't last very long.
Bob: And when she came to you -- and this was several weeks after this first encounter with Jake -- when she came to you and said, “Our marriage is over. I want a divorce,” had you smelled that coming?
Ron: Toward the end I had friends who had seen her and said, “She doesn't love you any more. She doesn't have any feelings toward you any more. She doesn't care if you live or die any more. It just-- you're non-existent to her in any way, shape or form. You're in big trouble.”
Bob: Were you doing anything to pursue her, to try to win her back? Were you sending her notes or cards? Were you calling? Were you saying, “Let's get together. I want to talk to you. I want our marriage to work?”
Ron: When I-- no, because it wasn't 'til after she said she wanted a divorce that I realized that I was in deep trouble, because that span there in the beginning, I'm thinking, “Okay, she's a woman. She just needs some time alone.” Where it hit me with a ton of bricks was when she said, “I don't want to be married to you any more. I want a divorce.” Well, at that point, you're begging for a second chance. You're crying. You're on your knees trying anything and everything.
Dennis: You were literally on your knees before her?
Ron: I'm literally-- I was literally on my knees and I was-- you know, I was crying like a three-year-old and it got me nowhere, because I'm telling you, I'm talking to somebody that I had never met. The distance was like the Grand Canyon emotionally.
Dennis: Nancy, when he was kneeling before you, crying like a three-year-old?
Nancy: I can remember it exactly. I can tell you right where we were. We were in our little condo and he was on the couch and I was in the bedroom packing things and I came walking by him to get to the front door and he said, “Please stop. Please stop.” And I said, “I can't,” and I walked out the door.
And it was as cold-- I can remember watching it like I was in a movie. I was totally disconnected. I was so set on getting what I wanted, which I thought was this other man, that that's all I could see.
Ron: There was such an emptiness in that house.
Dennis: One of the most moving parts of this story, in my opinion, as I read this, was the phone call you received from your mom. And I want to set this up by saying we need more moms and dads like Nancy's mom and dad. Today there are moms and dads who are backtracking, who are frozen in silence, who are joining in people's sin by saying nothing. But they risked their relationship with you in that conversation. Tell them about that phone call and how that all occurred.
Nancy: I had come back to the condo just to pack a few things and in that-- I hadn't been there in weeks and in that few minutes that I was there, the phone rang.
Dennis: Just so happened.
Nancy: Just so happened. And my parents had no idea that I had moved out. They were in Minnesota; we were in California. The phone rang. It was my mother. My worst fear had come true.
She said, “What's wrong?” I lied, “Nothing. I'm fine.” “No, you're not,” she said. “Something's terribly wrong. I can't sleep. I can't eat. I'm praying for you. At three in the morning, I'm praying for you.”
I continued to lie. I told her, “I'm fine, Mother.” She said, “No, you're not.” And she said, “Let me put your dad on the phone.” And I could never lie to my daddy and my dad said, “Your mother says something is wrong.” He didn't feel it, but he knew enough to listen to his wife.
Bob: We need more dads like that, too.
Nancy: And he said, “Your mother is rarely wrong about such things. Tell me.” And I began to tell him. Now I did not tell him the whole story. I did not tell him about Jake, but I did say, “I'm leaving Ron.”
And he said, “Has he committed adultery?” I said, “No.” He didn't ask if I had. I'm sure that didn't occur to him. He said, “Does he beat you?” “No.” He said, “Then you don't have Biblical grounds for divorce. You made a vow to him. You made a vow to God and you need to stay and talk to Ron about this.”
And then he began to list, have you gone to a marriage counselor? No. Have you read some marriage books? No. Have you talked to another mature couple who's had marriage trouble and reconnected? No. Are you going to church regularly? No. Have you talked to your pastor? No.
And then he said that verse you just read about a wise woman builds up her house and he said, “I think you've been tearing down your house.” And I had with my own hands. And basically, in a spiritual way, he held a mirror up to me and I saw myself and it was pretty scary.
Very ugly. And I didn't want to face it right away. And then he said a prayer that I believe, spiritually -- we had talked about a spell, me feeling like I was under a spell -- and spiritually he broke that by denouncing the power of the Devil that had risen in my life as I walked away from God. And he broke the chains of the things that had been binding me, the sin.
And as my father, he can do that, and I submitted to his prayer and then when I got off the phone with my mom and my dad -- they were both on the phone -- I said my own prayer. Now you've got to understand, I hadn't prayed in a year. Except to tell God to get away, I had not spoken to God.
Dennis: Before you share that prayer, I want to read you what you wrote in your book, what your mom said. “Nancy, we love you and because we love you we will not support your leaving Ron. You're a Christian woman who went to five years of Bible college and you know what God's word says about marriage. It's a holy bond. Since Ron has not committed adultery, you have no Biblical grounds to divorce him. You would be out of God's will if you did.” Wow.
Nancy: It was just that simple. And all of a sudden, it was a clear line between light and dark, a clear line between good and evil. And I saw which side of the line I was on. I had blurred the line and when I saw myself, like I said, I went to pray.
And when I prayed, those years of studying God's word where I had gone to Bible college, it's amazing, because God spoke to me all in Scripture that I had memorized for different classes and for Sunday School awards. All the scriptures still remained in me, even though I had run from them, and He spoke in Scriptures to me. And the one that stands out the most was John 8, where the Lord talks to the woman who had committed adultery.
And if you recall the story, there were men around who were going to stone her. She had been caught in the act, obviously guilty, and He said, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.” And, of course, the men had all sinned and one by one, they walked away.
But that night, I remembered that Jesus could have stoned her, because He was without sin. He could have, but He didn't. He looked at her. She looked up, because, of course, she was expecting to be killed and at some point she must have looked up and He said, “Woman, where are your accusers?” And she saw that there weren't any and He said, “Neither do I condemn you.”
So I knew that I could be forgiven for this, but then He said some of the hardest words in the Bible to live by, “Go and sin no more,” and I knew that's what I had to do. But those words, for me, had such a weight and such a consequence, because to get my life untangled from this sin, I thought was going to be impossible, but I knew that I had to do my part and confess and repent and sin no more. But what I didn't know is if I could ever put my marriage back together, because that decision was going to be up to Ron.
Dennis: Those five words that Jesus stated, “Go and sin no more,” are stated by the one who not only forgives the past sin that you have committed, but He is the one who enables us to fulfill the command.
Ron: That's where the power comes from. That's right.
Dennis: Exactly and because of the Easter story, the tomb is empty. Christ is alive. He's not a dead man commanding us to go do something, He is a living God, who is commanding us to go do something. And the issue for us is, will we hear His voice and then will we heed it?
Dennis: And will we submit to the Master to enable Him to enable us to go and sin no more.
Bob: You know, we don't have any idea who's listening, but in a listening audience the size of our audience, we're talking, undoubtedly, to some folks who are right in the middle of what Nancy was in the middle of 25 years ago. They are wrapped up right now in a full-blown extra-marital affair. There have been lies. There's been cover-up. They've been enjoying the pleasure of sin for a season, but by divine providence they had the radio on today. And by divine providence, they haven't tuned out yet. And those words of Jesus would apply to them, wouldn't it?
Dennis: You said the word, Bob, I was thinking about: “divine providence.” God is in Heaven and we're on Earth and he is after us. He has a love for us that pursues us and chases us and there are folks listening to us right now, there's a man, a woman, some single, some married, some divorced. They need to hear Jesus' five words, “Go and sin no more.” The question is, will you do what Nancy did?
You know, to turn from sin, because it's alluring, it's fun, it's exciting, it's-- it's addicting--
Dennis: To turn from sin and to go and sin no more, only Jesus can help break that addiction.
Dennis: Only he can help you out of that path of destruction, that way of death and choose the way of life.
Bob: And we'd like to think that in the same way that your parents' phone call was a turning point for the two of you, perhaps this radio program can be a turning point for a listener. It can help them move to a place where they can begin to rebuild and reestablish their marriage relationship. We want to help you with that. We want to help provide the tools that can strengthen and rebuild a marriage relationship. Tools like Nancy’s book, Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome, which we've got in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.
Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and you can request a copy of the book we’ll send it out to you. Again the website FamilyLifeToday.com, or call us toll free at 1-800-FL TODAY. 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. Ask about the book, Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome, and we’ll make arrangements to get a copy of that book sent to you.
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Again, that’s for those of you who have never made a donation to FamilyLife Today. You’re a first-time donor, and you can make a donation of $100 or more. Just ask for a Weekend To Remember® Marriage Getaway certificate and we’ll be happy to send it out to you. Let me just say thanks again for listening and thanks for your support of the ministry. We appreciate you and we look forward to hearing from you.
We hope you can be back tomorrow when Nancy Anderson and her husband Ron are going to be here again. We’re going to talk about how a couple rebuilds when a marriage has collapsed as a result of an affair. I hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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