The week following Angel’s (her words will be italicized) confession of adultery I was in a state of shock. I was still trying to navigate the situation with my identity as a pastor intact. Even when we came to our Senior Pastor, I said that I could still preach Sunday (just a few days away) as I was scheduled. Fortunately, wisdom prevailed.
I was asked to take a leave of absence, which was difficult for me to accept. The next six months would be the most difficult months of my life. Angel’s confession of her affair would be peeled back. Her confession of one affair became confession of a series of affairs and I would have to come face to face with the ugliness of my own heart. From the time I was ten, my understanding of my identity was inextricable from my calling as a pastor. I was about to not be a pastor any longer.
Days after we met with our Senior Pastor, we met with the Ministry Director at the ministry where Angel was working. They graciously allowed her to shift her job and stay on as their book store manager.
Our church’s leadership was not only generous enough to support us with counseling, but they also brought in a conciliation ministry called Live at Peace. The partnership would initially be difficult for me, in particular, as our conciliators recommended that my leave of absence become semi-permanent, with a two-year reconciliation period. “How is that fair?” I questioned. “Why am I being punished for what my wife did against me?”
Counseling was really rocky as well. I thought we would be working to repair our relationship and work through the damage, but what our counselors quickly became aware of is that Angel had compartmentalized a significant amount of the previous two and a half years. Every session peeled back more hurtful layers.