She was trembling and tearful as she said, “I know I need to forgive, I’m just so afraid to open up and love him that way again.”
*She courageously faces her fears rather than running or hiding in shame.
Women like Hayley, whose fierceness was seen as she faced her greatest fear and courageously stood where many women give way. Barely in elementary school, her parents divorced and she was basically lost in the shuffle between Mom’s new husband and Dad’s new wife. As a young woman, her only real companionship was found in her relationship with Christ. Because of the pain and rejection from her parents, abandonment was a life-long fear, but Christ was one who never let her down, who promised to be her unshakable constant.
Just four years into marriage, Hayley’s life was shattered again with the pain of betrayal and rejection. I’ll never forget the look of sheer terror on her face as I sat with her during the aftermath of shock from discovering Kevin’s affair. The one person she’d confidently relied on for marital fidelity had broken that trust. Her childhood fears engulfed her like a flood.
As the affair became public, she took on the shame and humiliation brought on by his sin. Broken and confused she tried to make sense of it all. “I’ve been faithful and kept myself pure, but I’m having to deal, not only with the rejection, the loss of our relationship, but also with the life-long consequences of his immorality.” The injustice was baffling, the betrayal brutal.
If you’ve walked this same path, you understand the temptation to run from public glare, to curl up in crumpled defeat, to close your heart and never open it to trust again. You understand the mental battle with rejection, the taunting words in your head communicating your worthlessness and encouraging you to give in to despair.
But Hayley stood for her marriage when every fiber in her being screamed, “Run!” She washed herself in God’s Word. She used that knowledge to battle the lies running through her head. She faced the public stares. She followed godly counsel, rejecting the world’s short-cuts. She supported the elders’ decision to proceed with church discipline although it meant embarrassment and the humiliation of public scrutiny.
And when her husband came to true repentance, Hayley worked her way through the rugged terrain of hurt and resentment to reach the place of forgiveness. She leaned hard into Christ and stepped into a position to start rebuilding her marriage with the man who’d broken trust and wounded her deeply. She went beyond just forgiving Kevin; she committed herself to helping him recover his walk with God.
Hayley demonstrated the tough courage and faith of a fierce woman fulfilling the “helper role” as a soft warrior.
You see, Hayley’s fierceness could’ve driven her to bitterness and revenge. She could have chosen to manipulate the situation to her advantage or poured all her energies into making Kevin’s life as miserable as possible. Even now she could choose to dangle Kevin’s past infidelity over his head as a means of control. But instead, her fierce loyalty to Christ drove her to grant Kevin the same forgiveness she’d been given (Ephesians 4:32) and to demonstrate to others the reality of God’s grace. Rather than hammering him as a moral failure, she seeks to use her power of influence to inspire Kevin to live out his calling as a godly husband and father.
More than a decade later, Hayley and Kevin are taking the lessons learned from their season of brokenness, and encouraging other couples who face some of the same marital challenges. What looked like the destruction of their marriage has become a platform of ministry to others. In a divorce culture, their story is rare; it doesn’t have to be.
A fierce woman’s courage and determination to fight for her man and her marriage may make the difference.
What courageous actions is God calling you to?
Excerpt from Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior Moody Publishers © 2012 by Kimberly Wagner