As a “redeemed adulteress,” Rebecca Halton knows the pain of compromised purity. Even after repenting of an adulterous relationship in her early 20s, she still felt like “damaged goods.” She shares here how she ultimately learned to reclaim purity in her life – and how she believes others can, too.
When I asked Jesus into my heart at five years old, I didn’t know to what extent I could still make a mess of my life. I hadn’t even mastered handwriting, but that day I did my best to pen “Rebecca,” beneath my Christian-school teacher’s commemoration of the date and my decision.
At five-years-old, I barely knew what a signature was, let alone what I was signing on the inside cover of my Bible. As a child, I never pondered the fragility of purity, and I couldn’t envision how I would actually need a savior. I certainly couldn’t envision then that 17 years after that profession of faith, I would need a savior to rescue me from – me.
Me: the girl who grew up in a Christian home.
The girl who graduated with honors from a Christian college.
The girl who knew at five-years-old that she wanted Jesus in her heart.
And the girl who became a married man’s mistress in her early 20s.
It was then that I attempted the slippery slope of temptation, and faltered my way into a six-month relationship with someone else’s husband. I was baited by physical attraction and emotional intimacy I was missing in my life. And I was trapped by fear and the shameful feeling that I’d gone too far down the wrong road.
I still remember hyperventilating because of crying uncontrollably. I remember restlessly staring at the ceiling, on the nights I laid alone in my bed. All the while wondering how I got myself into that mess. And wondering even more inconclusively how I was going to get myself out of it.
If I couldn’t undo what I had done, then what did that mean for me?
Therein lies the flaw of how we face purity – specifically, the loss of it. As long as my eyes were fixed on me as my own savior, I couldn’t see that my way to freedom was in surrendering, not struggling. Surrendering to God, waving the white flag of repentance and inviting His rescue. I especially realized I needed God’s rescue when he—the married man—told me he was going to divorce her.
Months later, he changed his mind. More importantly, God changed my heart. I finally believed again that I deserved better. And I was finally repentant, to the point that I decisively walked away. Among steps taken, I subjected myself to the emotional withdrawal of detoxing my heart of adultery. And I haven’t looked back longingly since.
Even the best day with him wasn’t worth the worst of the sin.
Though I was repentant, by no means did I feel instantly redeemed. In the spiritual, yes: we are made clean the second God forgives us. But in the practical, I didn’t feel redeemed right away. In fact, my adultery left me feeling ruined. On some level, I wondered what it mattered if I messed up more, as long as it wasn’t another extramarital affair.
For at least the first few months after my adultery, I was uncharacteristically careless. After the affair, and before forgiving myself, I punished myself some more. I risked and reduced myself to a charming, but impurely intentioned, young businessman I’d met in a bar. I’m not shamed by it now – just saddened by the thought of other women who feel now how I did then.
Before the adultery, I would have thought myself above flirting and fooling around with a relative stranger. As I look back now, though, I see how such a severe loss of purity through adultery triggered an identity crisis. If I defined myself by how “good” I was before my adultery, then shouldn’t I re-define myself by how “bad” I was because of it?
But that’s not how God sees us. It’s not how He loves us.
And it’s not why Jesus came, died and was resurrected for us.
Reclaiming purity after the affair began with an ember of hope, that what the Bible said about redemption was true. And not just true, but that it could be true for me.
Could my scarlet sins be made white like snow, the way God speaks of in Isaiah 1:18?
Would the God I pledged my heart to at five-years-old really make me as pure as I was as a child?
There didn’t need to be a question about whether He could or would do it. There was, however, a question of whether or not I would accept it. What I realized then, is that we can know the Bible is real, but still doubt that it can be reality – our reality. My reality then was that I was the “other woman,” in an adulterous relationship. A relationship that hurt people I cared about. A relationship that left me feeling like “damaged goods.”
I finally dared to believe that God’s power and promises were for me, too.
And I boldly started to believe the Truth more than the enemy’s lies.
My reality now is that I am redeemed in the way you can be redeemed, too, regardless of your past. There is no mistaking that God means to still give me His best for my life. And there is no question in my mind that He can – and wants – to do for you what He’s done for me.
Rebecca Halton is the author of Words from the Other Woman: The True Account of a Redeemed Adulteress. Currently, she also co-leads TeamRedeemed.org with fellow Author and Speaker Shelley Hendrix. In her spare time, Rebecca likes hiking, having coffee with close friends, or volunteering in her community. To learn more about Rebecca, visit www.RebeccaHalton.com.