Alli’s Story, Part One

What you are about to read is not an account written by myself, Allison Carroll (fallenpastorswife), but one written by another fallen woman who God has connected me with throughout my journey.  Her name just happens to be Allison too.  She has many people who refer to her as ‘Alli’ and I chose to as well, hoping to avoid any confusion.  I am grateful for her willingness to share. To learn more about Allie,  you can visit her blog, “Life in the Ripples.”

Alli’s Story,  Part One

WARNING:  My story is not intended to give a green light to having an affair, divorcing your spouse, or doing as you please because ‘God forgives’.  Our story doesn’t end with a ‘happily ever after’.  We are daily living out consequences from our sin.  Precious little innocent lives were affected and we cannot undo what has been done.  We hurt many people and most of all, sinned against God.   Though we choose not to wallow in our past and allow it to define us for the rest of our journey on this earth; it has forever tainted our integrity and how others view us.  We are open with our children that we have made bad choices, and we are open with our children that God has forgiven us.  We will forever live in the ripples of our past choices…God’s grace alone is sufficient.  It always is. 

This is my life.  A life I never thought would be mine.  A life seemingly now defined by choices I never thought I would 1make.  I was raised in a relatively small Baptist church and was brought up in the teachings of God’s Word.  I enjoyed learning about God, had a huge heart for the elderly in our congregation, and felt like an ‘overall good Christian girl’.

Yet here I am, happily married to a wonderful man with a precious baby boy, as well as two of the sweetest step-children. We do not have a glamorous story, and I honestly cringe when asked how my husband and I met.  Our story consists of bad choices, broken relationships, isolation, and sin…ugly sin.

I married my first husband straight out of high school.  He was five years older than me, and I thought things would be great.  He was a great guy who was responsible and dependable.  We were married for eleven years.

During those years, I knew God had called me to ministry, and not just any ministry.  I had the absolute privilege of working with children.  What started out as a part time job became everything to me.  I had a passion so deep that I lived and breathed Children’s Ministry.  I loved teaching, leading in worship, and guiding children to that moment they realized life is not all about them.  I loved planning programs and aligning all we did to our vision for the church and their families.  I loved the church I worked with, loved the parents, kids, and all the interaction with others who shared my passion.  I had huge visions that made life worth living.

2Everything was great…that is except my home life. I had put so much work into my passion for kids that my marriage was no longer where it needed to be, and I honestly thought it would be okay.  We could just live our own lives and things would work themselves out.  I invested in friendships outside of my husband, many of which were male friendships.  I had very little female interaction throughout my week and never once gave it a second thought.  It seems I could justify everything because I was happy in every other area of my life.  I loved church, the families that attended, and my friendships.  I just didn’t feel like I loved or liked my spouse any more.  It was a heart issue for me, and I can honestly say that my ex-husband never realized how bad I thought things were.

I was able to go on like this for so long that I just buried it.  It was easy to make my life look any way I wanted depending on the company I was in and my mood for the day.  I was comfortable and knew that sharing too much of how I really felt would make me uncomfortable.  Who wants to be uncomfortable?

My first husband and I lived separate lives.  We had separate friends, schedules, checking accounts, and views on life.  I enjoyed hanging out with my own friends and chasing after whatever passion had a hold of me that day.  There were many ups and downs.  My first husband adored me, loved me and would have done whatever he could for me…even if it meant going into debt.  I was selfish, greedy and prideful.  I had no desire to attain to the Proverbs 31 picture of a wife.  With me it was all or nothing, and I knew that I would never attain to all of it.  I invested my time, energy, thoughts and passions into everything else except for my marriage.  We drifted apart. Worlds apart.  I left my heart unguarded and was never the same again.

I had struggled with infertility for nine years, and it had been a roller coaster of emotions.  Depression, anxiety, worry, 3fear and self-pity gripped me in a way I was blind to.  Month after month was one failure after another, and my dreams of motherhood were broken.  People that knew me well knew I was bitter…knew I was frustrated and hurt.  I took all my pain, frustration, and hurts and instead of presenting them to God, slandered them to anyone that would hear my complaints about my predicament.  Why me?  Part of my job was supposed to be visiting mothers in the hospital that had just given birth.  I chose not to go to so many of those visits because I was so wrapped up in my hurt and bitterness that the very thought of walking into a maternity ward made me nauseous.

All of this led to a slow fade.  A slow descent into a pit I would not wish on my worst enemy.  I opened up my heart.  Not to a girlfriend I trusted.  To a man I worked with.  A man that listened to me and cared about my hurts and fears.  A man I had been in ministry with for over five years and even became part of his family.  I was Aunt Alli to his kids.  I loved my friendship with his wife.  She and I enjoyed each other’s company when we could find time to catch up with all that was going on in life.  I loved her mothering, her creativity and purposeful 4living.  I admired their family.  He was a great father every time I saw him with his kids and they were the perfect team.  At least to the naked eye.  That’s the problem with sin.  It happens to us all, and then we feel we cannot be real, we cannot share our times in the pit and figure that we can act like it isn’t a pit at all in front of others.  We begin to think it isn’t really as deep a pit as others.  If there is ground beneath our feet, we could be lower than we are.  So we believe we can keep things together and just get through our days.  If we can take one good day at a time, we can take one bad day at a time.

Adam and I became close friends.  He made me laugh, my husband didn’t.  He noticed things about me that my husband hadn’t noticed in years.  He loved leading worship, I loved leading with him.  I began the comparison game…which never ends well.  I opened my heart to the possibility that I had made a poor choice at much too young an age in choosing God’s man for me and was no longer in a spot to admit it to anyone or ask for help.  Adam and I got 5closer.  Nothing physical, but we enjoyed hanging out and being around each other.  I enjoyed his company more than my own husbands.  So many warning signs along the way, and I saw them, but chose to look the other way.  I was happier this way.  Adam and I then got closer.  It was no longer about friendship but we added in flirting and making jokes that we should have never made with each other.  We spiraled into an affair.

I was happy again…at least during the moments.  Then the time came for him to go home to his family and me to go home to mine.  That was never easy.  I had broken my commitment to my spouse, to the family and friends who witnessed our vows and to God who saw us as one flesh.  I had messed up and could not fix what had happened.  Then the time came to figure out where it was going.  Were we just a fling?  Did we want to just leave our spouses and be together?  Would that ever work? Would we lose our salvation and spend eternity in hell if we pursued what we knew to be wrong?  Then things got worse…

Continue reading by clicking  Alli’s Story,  Part Two

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Does Someone Like Me Deserve to Be Happy?

Does someone like me deserve to be happy?  It depends on who you ask.  To be honest, depending on my particular mood on any given day my answer to that question will change.

There are many who live by the “You’ve made your bed now you must lie in it” code.  I agree indexwith that statement to a point.  I believe there is nothing wrong with accepting the consequences of your actions.  It is something that all of us have to do. But are we destined to lie in that proverbial bed forever?

I sinned.  I admit that.  What I did was wrong and it hurt a lot of people.  There were consequences for my actions.  I accept that.  Do I have to live with those consequences for the rest of my life?  Yes.  So when is it okay for me to expect people to stop punishing me?

When we have accepted and are living with the consequences of our actions does that mean that we don’t deserve compassion when those consequences turn out to be hard ones to suffer and difficult to live with?  The bible tells us the answer to that question is no.

compassionWebster’s dictionary defines compassion as “sympathetic of others distress together with a desire to alleviate it”.  Based on that definition feeling or showing compassion to someone does not mean you are condoning their behavior.  That is something I wish I could make some of my old friends see.

There are days when I feel like Martin Luther.  I punish myself over and over and over again for the terrible things that I have done.  I feel like I am worthy of compassion from no one and especially not from God.  I feel like all of the people who believe I don’t deserve to be happy ever again are right.  Why should I be happy?  Why should I expect grace and mercy from all those out there who are staring down at me?  I shouldn’t.

Sometimes I tell myself that I don’t deserve a single blessing from God.  I deserve to not have a friend in the world.  I deserve every single terrible thing that anyone says about me.  I deserve every single bad thing that happens to me.

And then…….. I remember.

God has already forgiven me.  He has taken my sin and He has thrown it as far as the East is from the West.  I am the one throwing my sin up in my face continually because God forgcertainly doesn’t.

So what does that say for others who just won’t let my sin go?  I don’t know the answer to that.  I wonder if they can’t see my repentance.  One of my favorite quotes from Ray’s book is, “your repentance has to be more notorious than your sin”.  My sin was huge.  Has my repentance not been?

When you ask God for forgiveness and you move in the direction of doing your best to live a life of righteousness from that point forward, how do you show that to other people?  We can’t get a signed and notarized Letter of Forgiveness from God.  We don’t get a patch or a pin or a banner saying that we have been forgiven so what does it take?  I really wish I knew.

Living in social exile is not fun.  It is sad and it hurts.

CampbellJonahandthewhale147I am always looking for God’s hand in my situation.  It has just occurred to me to that maybe God has led me to this place so that I might get closer to him.  Instead of grieving the loss of the people in my life who have turned their backs on me I should be rejoicing in the relationship that my Father is trying to have with me.

When God pins you down in the belly of a fish it sends a pretty strong message.  If you have read the book of Jonah you will know what I am saying.  God will use whatever means necessary to get our attention.  Thank goodness He chose to pursue me and not forsake me.  I also thank God for using my husband, Ray and his sermon on Jonah this week to deliver this message to me.

Lisa’s Story, Part Two

This is part two of Lisa’s story. Please read part one before continuing. All names have been changed but this story is very real.

When Pastor Dave found out about the note (because Jack told him) he became ballistic. He made us come and meet with him immediately. It was imagesnot a private meeting. Two others from the staff met us there in a neutral place. It was like me against THREE others. It was awful.

Jed was still reeling from the hurt of the betrayal from me – and actually bought into a little of what our pastor was saying – when he said I was sick – like I had cancer. And didn’t I know any better? He underlined everything I wrote in the note that I had written IN FRONT OF MY HUSBAND and accused me of flirting and still wanting the relationship.

It was awful. It was sabotage in it’s truest form and I will never forget how his huge form became even larger and his face seemed to turn green in his rage – like an alien creature. I sat numb – did not cry – which I know now made him even angrier. He was trying to break me.

imagesCAXGVD93He threw scripture verses at me, I think “create in me a clean heart” was thrown in there. Meanwhile I was suffering from separation anxiety from my friend and brother. Couldn’t understand why he sided with our pastor and would not tell me why he did what he did and then went into hiding.

I did get an answer to our note that evening by Jack. But with Pastor Dave looking over his shoulder writing it – it was not written like Jack. Gone was the easy “give and take” and cheerful lighthearted banter. Totally gone. I was blamed for everything. It was stiff and condescending in its tone.

In the months and years to follow I have heard from Jack a few times. Once when he wanted validation for feeling bad (told me he cried for months) – and to tell me that he was okay – never asking if I was (after what he pulled on me). Another time to open communication up and forgive and forget – only to shut it down again.

When questioned he became agitated and accusatory – again blaming me – untitledtelling me I must not be “over it” and telling me how inappropriate the whole relationship was – I mean “it was you who wanted to leave your husband and had thoughts for me”. I had never said that. I had leaned on him pretty heavy and told him I had doubts and thoughts about my life – and that I wish things were different – but never said what he accused me of saying.

Ugh. It’s hard to write this and remember it. In fact I know I’m leaving out many details – but you get the general idea. Why did he turn me in? Turn everything around? When I had ended it? I will never know.

One female counselor that I saw only one time really helped me. She validated me. She herself had been involved in a physical affair years before and she knew what I was feeling – even though mine was emotional. She believed the pain and hurt from anything emotional is even worse.

imagesCALLYE2OWhen I shared my story with her she did not condemn me. She gave me healing words of love and validation. She told me I was not crazy – even though my pastor and this man had made me feel like I was. She told me that Jack must really have loved me. I don’t know why – but I needed to hear it.

It was truth that everyone else who knew our situation were afraid to say. She said, “they will never tell you the truth because they are afraid it will perpetuate the emotions and drive you right into his arms. But it doesn’t, does it?’ No it didn’t. All I felt was terrible overwhelming sadness. And I missed my friend.

What would have helped me? If my pastor would have been able to see through this. To validate that we are all human and this can happen to anyone given the right circumstances. To have been able to see a troubled man scarred from a bad relationship and that he was very responsible for much of the drama and communication.

I felt scarred for so long after this. He also should have said, “hey we’re all cindy7sinners and capable of great mistakes”. To tell me that I was not totally to blame – that I made bad choices and should not have trusted so much but that it’s not the end of the world and can be fixed.

He made me feel dirty and small. He wanted my facebook account closed. I felt like I had people spying on everything I said and who I talked to. I was afraid to talk to anyone of the opposite sex – fearing they would think anything I was saying or doing was inappropriate. Jed said that was going a little too far and never supported him in this. And no, I never stopped talking with people and finding those who also had a story to tell.

I started writing a blog and found many who could relate with my “general” state of mind – and many took a journey of healing with me back then even though I never mentioned any specifics or named any names. My facebook account was never closed.

imagesCAMS06H4I am happy to report that in spite of these very sad events I am well and happy today. My marriage is stronger and better. Jed showed me incredible grace during this time. He has come to see that our pastor was wrong to jump to the conclusions he did. We are no longer associated with that church or pastor.

He has come to understand what drove me to seek the attentions of another man – even though I did not look for it. He sees how easy it was for me to be flattered by the attention and even feel powerful for helping someone. It has taken this long path and these sad circumstances in order to help our rather dry and emotionally dead marriage and to WAKE US UP out of our slumber and complacency.

If any of you are involved or have been in an emotional relationship with someone – here is what I would tell you:

1. You are valuable.
2. You are not a bad person for wanting connection with someone who really understands you
3. Just remember those feelings of validation and connection can seem “heightened” when it is done in “secret”. I am sure that my friendship would not have crossed into inappropriate feelings (and I had plenty) if those around me did not disapprove so much – even forbid it.
4. The feeling of “you and me against the world” can actually make the relationship seem like it is something that it is not.
5. Create ways to make the relationship with your spouse “fun” and playful.
6. Go back to the time when things were in their early stages with your spouse. What did you like – what were you drawn to about them?
7. Ask yourself, “Would my spouse ever find emotional connection with someone else because I’m not emotionally available for them”?
8. Be that person you are seeking.
9. Forgive yourself.
10. Forgive others.

Here’s something else you can do. Mourn the sadness and loss and then move on to new challenges and things that excite you.

Talk with your spouse about your plans, thoughts, dreams and fears.

You may be surprised what you find – right within your own marriage.

Find people you trust and talk things through with them. Don’t isolate yourself and feel like no one understands. You are not alone – and there are plenty of us that do understand and have been there and lived to talk about it.

Get involved with helping others who are not as far along on the journey of sadness, betrayal and loss. This may be just what you are created to do. Be an inspiration and blessing to others.

How can you help someone involved or vulnerable to emotional relationships?

1. Validate them
2. Don’t shut them down when they try to talk and express themselves
3. Try to create an atmosphere of safety
4. Remain constant and steady
5. Quickly diffuse a volatile situation by being accepting of friendships your spouse may have with the opposite sex
6. Don’t shut down conversations because you’re jealous and threatened (remember things heightened and got to a crazy place because Jack and I both felt the disapproval to our “friendship”)
7. Keep asking questions and stay tuned in
8. Do you understand how your spouse likes to communicate? Ask and get involved!
9. Remain calm when things look and feel scary to you
10. Be that person your spouse wants to talk to – don’t let someone get the job!

I will always miss Jack and be forever grateful for what he added to my life. He helped me open up and address some deep dark things in my past and in my present life that I didn’t want to talk about. Because of him I was able to clearly get an understanding of what I needed to do to stay healthy – NOT STUFF.

I am not happy how he chose to “throw me under the bus” when he got hurt – but clearly my marriage and my life are in so much better a place because of him. So Jack – I bless you. I miss your friendship and what you taught me. I wish you well. A part of me will always love you.

If you need someone to talk to – I have been there and I would love to talk to you and it can be arranged through Allison and Ray just let them know and they will make sure I get your message.

Blessings!

Lisa

Call for Stories of Fallen Women

For those of you who have been following my story there will be more to imagesCAP715PFcome.  Soon I will be taking a brief pause to share another story.  This past week I have been contacted by more than one person telling me how brave I am and that they are proud of me for sharing my story.  Those people will never know how their messages touched me.  Hopefully they will read this post.

I want them to know that each of them is special to me and that I love them from the bottom of my heart.  They are a sweet and special blessing in my life and I am thankful to God for allowing me to know them.  Whether they realized it or not what they were ministering to my heart.

My response to some of those messages triggered something.  Those people saw me as brave?  I don’t consider myself brave at all.  Then I realized that because I am covered by God’s forgiveness, love, grace and mercy I am suited with the armor of God.  With his protection I can do anything.

God used those women as tools to do his good work.  He used  them to send me a message of encouragment so that I might use that encouragment to help empower other women to share thier stories too.  So that I might reach just imagesCA3N0QJEthe right person at just the right time.

The purpose of my blog in the beginning was to simply tell my story.  God has given my husband an amazing ministry for fallen men.  Every day he is contacted by men who have fallen or are about to fall, the wives of those men, their deacons or other church leaders and members but very seldom does he get contacted by the “other woman“.

I have said from the beginning that there are hundreds of those women out there.  Who do they look to to identify withor to talk?  Adultery is not a stranger to our generation.  Everyone knows someone who has done it.  But when you have committed adultery with a pastor you are in a unique situation.

Don’t hear me discounting the significance of adultery no matter what the situation may be.  And please don’t hear me dismissing the signifigance of the impact those affairs cause in the “other women’s” life.  I am reaching out to them as well.

Every story is unique.  Every journey is different.  I have talked to other women who have crossed the moral line just as I have but they have a different story to tell.  In order to help as many women as possible I feel it is imagesCAN68SI1important to share those stories.  If you don’t identify with me, I hope to find someone you can identify with.

I have made some sweet and special friends through this process that I may have never had the chance to know had I not fallen in love with my husband.  I have reached out to some of those women and have asked a few of them to bear their souls for the cause of my mission.  In my next post I will be sharing one of their stories.

Thank you to those of you who are reading my blog and supporting my ministry.  I give God all the glory for the blessing it has been.