The Most Painful Confession: Coming Clean With God – and Myself

arms wide openIt has been said that man is the only creature who runs faster when he is lost.

Sure enough, that was me – trying to survive in an abusive marriage, striving and praying and trying – running ever faster but always headed in the wrong direction.  At long last I found myself backed into a windowless corner where decades of denial had finally run their course.  It was then that I had to offer up my most painful of all confessions.

You see, up until that moment, I had held to my story, the one I had fabricated about my marital destiny, the one that ultimately led to the nightmare from which my children and I now needed to be rescued.  The original account affectionately chronicled how and where my husband and I first met, the way he doggedly pursued me and how our courtship and marriage unfolded.  Surely I had presented an image where it seemed that God had brought us together.

But so many years later I found myself virtually suffocating under a wave of conviction so overwhelming, it felt as though my heart might explode.

 “I’m afraid to say it, Lord,” I barely whispered, my voice breaking while my heart beat wildly.  My fear only grew with the admission, fear that the revelation would leave me condemned forever.

“Just tell Me,” His spirit prompted. And in that instant, my pride shattered before Him.

“I should never have married him,” I blurted out as the dam of restraint that held back my tears gave way. “I knew then that You did not want me to marry him, and I did it anyway,”

I let every ounce of guilt pour out of me, wave upon wave of it, damning and despicable and shameful.

I had held fast to a secret that wasn’t, a lie I had told myself, a well-rehearsed cover-up.  The truth was I could not simply blame the man I married for the horrific life we had lived.  The responsibility was equally mine.  To cover my mistake I stayed.  I foolishly believed that, if I was faithful and tried harder and prayed more, the Lord would fix it – for His sake, for our kids’ sake.  No one would ever have to know what a foolish woman I was.

I had spent years and exercised every possible rationale to attempt to lock away the truth and find a way to make it work.  It was emotionally and spiritually devastating to finally admit everything, to lay bare the lie I had so carefully perpetuated.

I knew that all was not a complete loss.  I had four wonderful children with the man I married, but from the get-go our home was ungodly and toxic, and I had to be willing to look with clear eyes at what I had allowed him to put all of us through.  I could accept the price I was called to pay for my foolishness, but my beloved children had been severely wounded as a result of poor choices multiplied by more poor choices to attempt to cover those poor choices.  What an excruciating admission it all wrought.

Yet in the midst of my heart-wrenching confession, I was met with not a single moment of condemnation.  No, my uninhibited grief yielded no wagging finger of rebuke from the Almighty One, but rather an almost instantaneous outpouring of absolute forgiveness, acceptance and an indescribable peace.

“I know it all, My child,” the Spirit seemed to say.  “But, you could not be free until you confessed it.”   

How is it that I could expend so much effort covering up my own willfulness and confessing every little failure in my life except the one thing that held me in daily bondage?  All that time I was running into the arms of the one causing us harm and away from the One who longed to save me from it – all in a selfish effort to cover my own tracks.

Yet, my Savior did not abandon me but patiently waited until I finally fell before Him and lay the shattered pieces of my life at His feet.  He accepted my brokenness as a love offering, enveloped me in His grace and made me whole yet again.  In that moment, He held me so close I swear I could feel the warmth of His arms, His strong, nail-scarred hands wiping the tears from my face.

My Lord was there all along, waiting for me to see Him there, eager to free me from my past, and then pour over me His interminable love and grace.

I have grieved and grieved again, but the truth is that I cannot change what has been, but I can allow Him to change me through it.  And He reminds me to leave it behind, to  “… press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  [Philippians 3:14]

Just as He has done with those who have gone before me and others who will follow, my Savior fashioned my brokenness into something greater than my failings, bringing forth life where death had reigned.  So I stand before Him, arms wide open, ashamed no longer, overflowing with gratitude, willing to follow Him wherever He leads, and to  encourage others to seek Him and receive the grace that flows so wondrously from those outstretched, nail-pierced hands.

I suppose it is true that pride does come before a fall.  It is not always the pride of tyrants and kings, for I know that something as subtle and secret as denial can lead us far from our intended path. Admitting that you have been running in the wrong direction is extremely humbling, but it makes far more sense to stop running and assess where you are headed than to simply continue on in the wrong direction.  At least then, course corrections can be made to begin moving toward the destination God has for you. It may mean letting go of your own plans and expectations and allowing Him to lead you there.  I can joyfully confess that I much prefer His path to my own.

“Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28 

Cindy Burrell

Copyright 2014

All Rights Reserved

17 thoughts on “The Most Painful Confession: Coming Clean With God – and Myself”

    1. “I should never have married him,” I blurted out as the dam of restraint that held back my tears gave way. “I knew then that You did not want me to marry him, and I did it anyway,”
      I was very confused as a young ‘bride to be’ … I can honestly say that I thought the church would be there to make men accountable not to ‘man-made rules’ but to Christ’s authority in our lives. There were promises of change … oh, so many promises …

      1. Oh, yes, the promises. Talk is cheap. Abusers understand the power of words, even if they mean nothing to them.

        Generally speaking, the church is inclined to defend the office of marriage while neglecting the sanctity of it. Sad, but too often true. Nevertheless, although the church may not stand for abuse victims, God does.

        Thank you, as always, for stopping to share.

        Cindy

    2. I am happy for you, that you have found freedom. Those words were not easy for me to write, but I’m sure I am not alone and, for that reason, some things just need to be put out there. Very humbling for me…

      Thank you for sharing. I sincerely appreciate it.

      Cindy

  1. I represented perhaps the other side of the “shouldn’t have” coin back in the day I got married: I was a teenager, unsaved, immature, self-centered, looking to this man as god-like. And was completely under the influence of the skewed notions about man/woman relationships of pop-culture back in the day. But what prompts my response, here, are two things:

    1. After salvation, as God began to “clean me up,” as it were, and I changed to become slowly closer to what a loving spouse should be over much time, in the end, at least the end of my marriage, that final mean season, it didn’t influence him all that much, apparently. People should note this well: all the “do this and he/she will surely come around….” talk and preaching and exhorting and criticizing, may not, in the end, encroach much at all on another’s fundamental bent and their own free will.

    And consider: WE didn’t come to Christ because of the turn-around of our spouse…rather, often in the midst of the trouble, or because of it…

    However, of course, in most of the corporate church, women are seen as the ones who hold much greater responsibility to “behave” their unsaved and/or abusive spouses into the fold…which is one of the reasons why, in my opinion, there is far more domestic abuse than there should be in the families in the church, particularly churches that hold to a form of non-biblical patriarchalism that teaches that the husband and father is a veritable demi-god in the relationship and in the home….

    2. I also think of the focus on the preservation of the INSTITUTION over the INDIVIDUALS who comprise it, the MARRIAGE over the MEMBERS of the marriage, or the “things of the flesh over the things of the spirit.”

    And what did Jesus come to correct, anyway, in ALL “institutions”?

    Blessings and peace today to all who are in recovery.

  2. I’ve had to say those words myself, Cindy. “I should have never married him.”
    But God has blessed me with four amazing boys….my oldest is now a youth pastor….my youngest, at 14, severe anxiety and OCD…after his dad’s affair was discovered.
    I was able to cover up for my husband for many years, our boys never really knew of any problems…they saw things, yes, but I was able to cover up for my husband…I was an enabler on steroids!! A Peacefaker.
    But the affair….I tried to cover that up also…for 4 long months…but I just couldn’t do it…and now my youngest son is paying the price…I should have asked him to leave the day the affair was discovered, but I was convinced I could overcome this, like I overcame (not really!!) his first emotional affair 2 yrs after we were married!
    I’ve grown a lot in the last 4 yrs, God has shown himself real to me in ways I’ve never known…and I know he will continue to take care of me and my boys.

  3. [I prefer His plans to mine. Finally. 27 years later.] I am back Lord Jesus. I am back. Well, I am coming back. And you know it and are welcoming me back. On my way. signed, your beloved.

  4. Dear Cindy,

    WOW! This too is the prison I made for myself. My pride would not allow me to admit I married when I shouldn’t have. (The verse God gave me back then: “do not go with an angry man least you learn his ways.) ”

    Unconfessed and unforsaken other sins (and not believing that God would forgive and I could move on) were part of the recipe of disaster in marrying when I shouldn’t have. Admitting my wrong would mean having to humble myself and face the questions, admonishings of friends and family. Oh how I tried to make it all better, but the current of hiding my sin dragged me under for more than 20 years. The guilt also kept me from being able to say I was being abused. It led to the lie that because I married when I shouldn’t have, then the abuse was what I deserved. Confessing in my mind meant God would relegate me to this life forever; an accusing finger in my finger for the rest of my life.

    I am hoping God will make a way out for me.

    I agree, it is knowing my children have been affected that is worst of all.

    Thank you for being so vulnerable and helping us come to a place of coming clean.

    Ann

    1. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and some of your story, Ann. It is very humbling for any of us to admit where we have been – and how we got there. But, as I trust you have discovered, our Lord is gracious and merciful and accepts our confession and leads us out of our insanity.

      Yes, Ann, I believe that God will make a way for you. Watch for the open doors, His hand at work. I’ll be praying for you, and I am confident of His intervention on your behalf. You are welcome to write to me here or on my private e-mail. I hope you will keep me informed.

      Cindy

  5. “I should never have married him,” I blurted out as the dam of restraint that held back my tears gave way. “I knew then that You did not want me to marry him, and I did it anyway,”

    Cindy, I could have written this quote myself! I’ve been so ashamed for so long for going the opposite way of what God wanted for me. It was relief for me to realize that I’m not the only one who feels this way. Thank you for this website and the encouragement it provides. I’m still in my marriage for now, but I’m seeing a counselor and seeking God. I covet your prayers.
    Andrea

    1. I will gladly pray for you. I hope you will peruse the site and educate yourself about what abuse looks and feels like. You are welcome to write to me with your specific questions. If you are interested, I also provide phone consultations for a fee. You can read a couple of letters from women with whom I have counseled recently. You might also want to consider getting my e-book, which provides a wealth of information at your fingertips for only $8.95. There is one caveat that I must mention. I no longer support couples counseling. That correction will be made in my second edition – to be released soon. I will gladly provide my detail if you’re interested. You can also e-mail me privately from my Contact Cindy link.

      I hope to hear more from you.

      Cindy

  6. I have said those words many times. I felt at the time that I shouldn’t marry him but it was out of convenience, I had nowhere else to go. Your words are my life. I knew in my heart that I wasn’t alone but to actually see someone write down my life, its amazing. I’ve prayed for God to heal our marriage but its always the same. Thank you for writing it out.

  7. Thank you for writing this. I have thought the same things. Seeing our courtship in a new light and realizing that the lack of peace then should have been a warning sign. Confession and forgiveness from God. Right after I told God I was truly sorry for fearing him, for doubting him and running its like so many things are coming clear. It’s scary. It’s exciting, but scary. Please pray for me.

    1. Hello, Princess.

      I pray that you can see this as a new day, a new chapter in your life. Yes, it feels good to wipe the slate clean and move forward, but now you are facing unfamiliar territory. Before you had a role, even it if was a painful one. You had a project, a way of proving your worth, even it if was unhealthy. Now you have the opportunity to live in the reality that you are loved and you do not need to prove yourself. You are accepted just as you are.

      I will be praying for you. You are also welcome to e-mail me, if you’d like. You can contact me through the Contact Cindy link on the website.

      I wish you well.

      Cindy

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