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Words from the Other Woman: An Interview with Rebecca Halton

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Rebecca Halton didn’t set out to have an affair with a married man. But for six months in her early twenties, that’s exactly what she did. The girl who grew up in a Christian home, attended a Christian college, and had always judged “the adulterous woman,” found herself in a situation she never anticipated.

That’s not where her story ends, though. Her story is, as she writes in her book Words from the Other Woman: The True Account of a Redeemed Adulteress, “the story of how I fell from grace, and then how graced saved me.”

In her book, Rebecca writes candidly about the affair. While she’s vague in specifics, in an effort “to protect innocent people directly or indirectly involved,” she speaks truthfully about how the relationship was wrong and the responsibility that was hers. Now, on the other side of the affair, Rebecca is an advocate for “Christ-centered relationships and boundaries in co-ed friendships before and after marriage.”

I recently had a chance to chat with Rebecca via email. We discussed the affair, how she’s learned to forgive but not forget, and what life looks like for her now.

Being “the other woman” wasn’t a role you envisioned yourself in. You grew up in a Christian home, attended a Christian college, and considered yourself a “good girl,” so how did you become entangled in an affair?

The main red flags I could see in hindsight are these:

  1. I had become really complacent. I had so much community and emphasis on spiritual discipline in college, that I thought I didn’t need to be as intentional after.
  2. I was prideful. It’s true what the Bible says about pride before the fall. I was prideful and thought I could never do what adulterous women were doing.
  3. I lacked accountability in my life. I lived alone, so I didn’t even have the “built in” accountability mechanism of a roommate, to whom I at least had to explain who this guy was and why he was coming over.
  4. I wasn’t seeking the Lord for the love, affirmation, etc., that I was so deeply craving. On a very simplified level, think of what happens when you go grocery shopping hungry: things end up in your cart that you wouldn’t normally look to for satisfaction.

For you, the attention you received from this married man, made you feel powerful. Can you elaborate on this and why it can be an area of temptation for us as women if we aren’t on guard against it.

Feeling desired can be very empowering. Empowerment isn’t always a positive, though, when in my case it empowered me to make wrong choices. I know this was wrong to think, and may be hard for some readers to “hear,” but to feel like a man desired me more than his own wife felt very affirming. And prior to meeting him, I was very in denial about how much I longed for affirmation. In denial about that longing, I was also in denial about how vulnerable I was to having it met in the wrong ways.

Something that stood out to me was your statement: “Thinking I wasn’t capable of making some of the choices I made was another one of my first mistakes.” I’ve talked to other women who have found themselves in a similar situation and have told me, “I never imagined this could be a possibility.” Why is it important for us to realize, as Rich Mullins once wrote, “we aren’t as strong as we think we are”?

What a great quote! I mentioned before that one of the “red flags” was pride. When we’re prideful, I think we more susceptible to making foolish choices because I think pride has this “false invincibility” effect. We think we’re above certain consequences, which can blind us to the riskiness of some of our choices. It’s like thinking we can carelessly walk right into a minefield; there are minefields in life and relationships that we shouldn’t even think about stepping foot onto.

You share the emotional strain and anxiety that became a daily part of your life as a result of your relationship with a married man. What finally caused you to end the affair?

A couple things: The man I was committing adultery with would periodically say he wished he could give me more of the relationship I deserved. It took me months, but I finally got to the point where I believed that for myself! The other thing was prayer: I had confided in several friends and a couple family members, and I know they were praying for me. I can’t take all the credit for my choice: I had people interceding for me, to have the strength and courage and steadfastness to finally, truly, walk away.

In one chapter, you write, “You can forgive and be forgiven, but I don’t think you should forget.” Why is it important to remember?

It’s the memory of my mistakes and pain, and God’s mercy amidst them, that inspire me to avoid making choices that could lead me down the same path. Why do children avoid touching a hot stove if they’ve done it once before? Their little hands heal, but they (hopefully) avoid doing it again because they remember the pain! I’m so thankful for the freedom of redemption and forgiveness: I’ve been liberated from any guilt or shame, but I’m also thankful I remember why it is I don’t want to ever make those choices again.

As I read your book, I not only appreciated the vulnerability with which you share your story, but also the responsibility you take for the decisions you made. You make no excuses for your behavior — and, in a day and age where so many do — I find that refreshing. Was that a hard place to come to?

I did have to overcome initial fears of what people might think if they knew, but the more I brought into the light, the more liberated I felt. And the more people I shared with, the more I saw God use my story to help others. The awesomeness of being used like that just makes me want to share as often as I can! Finally, I want to thank my parents here: I grew up being taught to have a strong sense of personal responsibility, and that did inform my decision to own my mistakes. And I think when we own our mistakes, they can’t own us.

How did you learn to accept grace and forgiveness?

In life, this is an ongoing lesson. Grace, in particular, is still a beautiful but sometimes baffling gift I can’t pretend to always or fully understand. But based on the case of my adultery, I think it’s really been a work of the Holy Spirit. What’s been within my power, though, is repentance. Repentance was essential. For me, repentance was the pivot point at which I willfully turned from guilt to grace, from bondage to freedom. It’s the point at which I acknowledged how much I truly needed the Lord. When that happened, I was receptive — no longer resistant — to actually receiving His grace and forgiveness.

If you could share one thing with another woman who either finds herself facing the temptation of an affair or in the midst of one, what would it be?

It really won’t be as satisfying as you think it will be; God has so much more and better in store for you. If I could get you to take me solely at my word, it would be this: It’s not worth it. I know it can feel difficult to walk away — I often tell women to brace themselves for “withdrawal,” like they’re detoxing from an emotional drug — but it’s critical that you do. The Bible is clear about the way of adultery and the wages of sin, both of which are death (Proverbs 7:27, on adultery — “Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death”). God is the Lord of life, and His ways are the High Way to restoration of a troubled marriage, of freedom from condemnation and shame, and of what will truly satisfy our heart’s cravings for love and affirmation.

Since writing Words from the Other Woman, what have you been up to? Share with us what life looks like for you now.

God is so good! He didn’t have to bless me and use me in the ways He has. I’ve been blessed to be invited to speak personally about my testimony at churches, small groups, and even back at my alma mater! I also finished graduate school and had some amazing work or travel opportunities.

For more information on Rebecca and her book, visit her website. Photos of Rebecca were taken by Lucy Jodlowska.

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Ashleigh Slater is the author of Team Us: Marriage Together and the editor of Ungrind. As a regular contributor at several blogs and websites, she loves to unite the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application to encourage others. She has 20 years of writing experience and a master’s degree in communication. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. You can follow her on Instagram here.

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When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

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Words from the Other Woman: An Interview with Rebecca Halton

by Ashleigh Slater time to read: 6 min
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