I Didn't Know How to Tell the Truth Anymore

“I thought I would leave Trey as soon as I could and sort the rest out later. I was blind, really. I believed all the lies because I wasn’t spending time in the Truth. I’d been so deceitful that I didn’t know how to tell the truth anymore.” – Shera O’Neal

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.’ (Psalm 139:23-24)

“There was a lion out there, ready to devour me,” said Shera O’Neal. “Hiding in plain sight, he was ready to consume my family, my life and my walk with the Lord. But I thought everything was just fine. I didn’t think about guarding myself every day. I was totally unprepared.

“I grew up in a Christian home. My parents taught me about the Bible, about sin separating me from the Lord and about my great need for Jesus as my Savior. I trusted in Christ when I was five years old. I never really doubted my faith, but I also didn’t learn how to walk with the Lord consistently.

“I met my husband, Trey, when we were in college in Wisconsin and knew pretty quickly I wanted to marry him. But the wheels blew off of our lives when I got pregnant. As an athlete at a Christian college, I was asked to leave the school. There are no hard feelings about that at all. There was a rule, and we broke it. Later, Trey went back to school and finished his degree.

“By the time we celebrated our 5th anniversary we had three kids under four years old. Trey got a teaching job in the Dallas area where he grew up. We bought a house, found a church and were expecting our fourth child. He was a teacher. I was a stay-at-home mother, but I did a little work on the side. It was a very busy time.

“For most of my adult life, I studied God’s Word regularly. But as the demands of being a wife and mother increased, I stopped consistently reading the Bible. It wasn’t an intentional choice. Time in God’s Word just fell by the wayside. I did not worry about it really – we were both Christians and our marriage seemed fine, right? But I was not putting on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), and that opened my mind to the lies of the enemy.

“The relationship with a family friend started pretty innocently. I didn’t intend for it to turn into anything, and he assured me that everything was alright. But eventually that friendship turned into an eight-month affair. “The truth came out one week when the kids were out of town visiting my parents, and we were on a date. It was a ‘Jerry Springer’ moment, and we said words we never wanted to say. It was the worst time of my life.

“I was absolutely convinced Trey would never forgive me. I thought I would leave as soon as I could and sort the rest out later. I was blind, really. I believed so many lies because I wasn’t spending time in the Truth. I’d been so deceitful that I didn’t know how to tell the truth anymore. I couldn’t sleep or even think straight at that point.

“I was still threatening to take off, so the next day Trey took all the keys, phones and electronics out of the house. I was stuck at home all by myself. That day, something prompted me to open the Bible to Psalm 139. In that passage, David cries out for the Lord to search him and lead him in the way of righteousness. That’s when the Holy Spirit broke my heart and helped me see both the weight of my sin and that with God’s help, our marriage could survive.

“Trey came home from work, took one look at me and could tell that God had truly broken me. I felt such incredible pain and guilt. But in the midst of that, the chains of sin were beginning to break.

“Trey and I began the long journey of healing and forgiveness at that point, and it was not easy. But receiving forgiveness from my husband changed my life and my perception of God’s grace. My natural inclination was always to give grace to others, but never receive it myself. I know now that by giving and receiving grace, I discover more about God’s love and mercy for me.

“There was still a lot of healing to be done. But after the initial shock and anger, Trey chose to love me. That was humbling. Together, we met with mentors from the church we once attended, and that was very helpful. But the people we met with encouraged us not to talk with anyone about the affair. We did speak to a handful of people, but otherwise, we hid what had happened. It’s clear to me now that by keeping ourselves isolated, we missed out on the opportunity for more healing and growth. But the Lord continued to work powerfully in our lives and our marriage, and we discovered that greater healing was still to come.”

Next week’s Watermark News will feature Trey O’Neal’s story. To read more stories like Trey and Shera’s, visit watermark.org. For information on Watermark’s marriage ministry, re|engage, click here.

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