That We Might Have Joy: Jean's Story

April 7, 2017

I have felt prompted to sit down and write my experiences over the past 8 months.  In September 2016, my husband confessed to an affair with a co-worker.  We had been married 21 years in July.  When we married, it was for “time and all eternity,” so marriage was not entered into lightly.  The last year has been tumultuous, to say the least, but what I want to share is how I have felt the Lord’s love through this whole process.  I don’t think my husband could have done anything more hurtful or vengeful than what he did, bringing her into our home, a place I have always treasured and tried so hard to protect. There were so many lies, so much deceit, anger, and sneakiness; essentially he became a whole different person.  He lost interest in the boys and everything else that was good in his life.  He started drinking, which from the very beginning when we were dating was something I didn’t tolerate, and he was aware of that.  I grew up with an alcoholic dad, and alcoholism runs in his family.  I was determined to keep it out of mine.  Unprotected sex (on his part) exposed me to elements against my will I avoided my whole life.  I lived a clean life and lived it for the person I would marry one day.  To me a sexual relationship is sacred and should only be shared with your spouse.  I think one of the hardest things for me to understand is how easy it was for him to throw it all away.

Through this process I have not been bitter, or wanted to seek revenge, or felt overly angry.  I have experienced a complete and utter sorrow that I’ve never experienced before.  However, because of the gospel, because of my faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, because of people in my life who have listened to the spirit and acted on promptings to reach out to me, I have been able to get through this.
I have been blessed as Alma and his people were in Mosiah 24:14: “And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage: and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.” I know it’s because I have lived a worthy life and built my foundation on Jesus Christ that my personal burden has felt lighter.

Helaman 5:12 “And now my sons, remember, remember that is it upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”

I have complete faith in what I have been taught just as the young men in the army of Helaman did: Alma 56:47-48 “…they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them..." ”...we do not doubt our mothers knew it.”  I was raised by a strong, faithful mother who taught and showed me how to live the gospel of Jesus Christ.  She taught me to have faith, she taught me to serve, she taught me to pray, and she taught me to read the scriptures.  As imperfect as our lives were, she exposed us to a gift more valuable than anything, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There have been more prayers uttered on our behalf, our names have been added to temple prayer rolls across the country, and people have fasted for us.  I have had friends take me out to lunch, friends randomly mail me packages, treats show up on my doorstep, friends bring me flowers, friends just stop by to see how I am doing, friends have brought in dinner and given my kids rides to and from church.  I have had people text me or call me just to see how I am doing.  This is almost a daily occurrence.  I have felt the love of Heavenly Father through my friends and family.

One night when I was inconsolable, my mom felt prompted to share with me my grandma (who passed away when I was 2) was with me.  Doctrine and Covenants 84:87 “I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” I believe there are angels around us both seen and unseen ministering to us.  One of my all time favorite quotes by Spencer W Kimball is: “God does notice us, and he watches over us.  But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.  Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other in the kingdom.”

I have received blessings from my dad and a member of the bishopric.  In those, the words that stuck out to me were to serve, that this would be over quickly, and I would continue to be a light and example to those in my ward.  When I told the bishop what had happened, I asked not to be released as young women’s president.  The youth and the leaders I serve with bring such a spirit of joy into my life.  They are a support and a light to me.  The kids’ teachers at school have been supportive, many of them telling me they are praying for us.  My hope with this experience is that I will be able to help someone else someday.  I had a friend stop by one day, and she told me I would be asked to “succor” someone someday.

I have gained such a deeper understanding for the Atonement through this process.  I attended a youth “face to face” event with Elder Holland and President Eyring, and they talked about the Atonement and how it qualified the Savior to change our hearts through the gift of the Holy Ghost and how that can give us the ability to perceive our situations differently.  So many people have asked me how I have handled this situation so well and have been so strong.  So many people have asked why I considered letting my husband come back after all he has put me through.  I have made it through the last year because of the gift of the Holy Ghost, because of my Savior.  Moroni 8:26 “And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.”

I was able to stand up and bear my testimony last month at church and testify that families are forever.  I know with all my heart that I was meant to be a wife and a mother.  I know my boys were meant to be mine.  I feel like I have been blessed with the gift of obedience and made good choices all my life.  When I finally decided I wasn’t going to change my husband’s behaviors or make him want to choose his family, I felt such a relief and knew I would be O.K. regardless of what my future with or without him held.  A friend who is a parent of one of my kid’s friends from school stopped by one day, and she said she was impressed with how I “knew” I would be O.K. regardless of what the outcome was. She had been through a similar experience and stopped to check on me to see how I was doing one afternoon.

I know we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and knows us by name.  I know we have a Savior who died for us.  I know families are meant to be forever, and we need to do all we can in this life to protect and love them. I know comfort comes through prayer, reading the scriptures, serving and the Holy Ghost.  I know if we do what is right, we will be blessed.  We won’t be exempt from trials as they are our refining process.   I have learned to share my burden with others and not suffer alone.  I am a private, self-reliant person who rarely asks for help.  I have been so blessed by all the acts of kindness shown to me over the last several months. I have also had people open up and share their personal struggles with me.  I know the best thing I can do for my boys is to help them build their faith and gain an unshakable testimony. I know the adversary is real and is doing all he can to destroy families.  I am thankful for good parents, siblings and extended family who would do anything for me.  I know miracles still occur today, I know some things only come through fasting.  There have been so many tender mercies in my life this past year.

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