The Power of Forgiveness
Cindy Beall has a strong and happy family but getting to this point wasn’t easy. It was a journey that required a lot of patience, growth and overwhelming love.
Beall and her husband Chris were married for nine years and had a 3-year-old son when they moved to Edmond from Tennessee nine years ago. Chris got a job as a worship pastor at a local church and the family was looking forward to their new life at the new place. “Up until that point we had our issues; we didn’t have the perfect marriage, but not an awful marriage, either. I thought we were OK,” she said.
Nothing was out of the ordinary until the day her husband confessed his big, dark secret. Beall was still unpacking boxes when he approached her. He told her he was addicted to pornography, had been unfaithful and that a baby was going to be born from one of the affairs. “I went from just total excitement and contentment to despair and devastation within literally 60 seconds,” Beall said. “It was just awful. I didn’t know what to do. I thought this can’t be happening, this is a dream.”
It was the first of many dreadful days to come. Beall knew the day after wouldn’t be any better. The evening before his confession, Chris had a staff meeting at church and the lead pastor talked about integrity. Beall said that was the last drop that triggered him to make the confession to her and to the church staff. Beall felt she was trapped in misery. She decided to visit her mother in Texas and figure out what to do with her life.
Beall’s mother convinced her to talk to another pastor and that was a big turning point. “I remember he finally just said, ‘Cindy, I understand what you have gone through in your heart, and people would understand if you chose to leave your marriage, but you are not a fool to stay and be a part of the redemptive work in a man’s life.’ That sentence right there is really what grabbed ahold of me,” she said. Beall knew ultimately that forgiveness is not only a command, but those who don’t follow it live in a prison of bitterness. She didn’t want to live that way and decided to save her marriage.
Beall remembered hearing her husband crying on the phone when she told him she was coming home. “He was scared I wasn’t going to come back,” she said. “He was just a man who was fully aware that he did not deserve that, and he was so thankful for it.”
The next three months were the hardest, but with the help of friends and counselors the couple could feel the healing begin. “It’s easy to say the words ‘I forgive you,’ but you remember what happened and the pain comes back and just floods you,” Beall said. “That’s where you have to learn forgiveness. You have to remember ‘I forgave them and I know it hurts.’ ”
The relationship was already at a different level– one of respect, honesty and complete disclosure. It was stronger than ever. “I never regretted marrying him,” she said. “I never doubted he loved me. I knew that in his heart it wasn’t that he wanted another woman; he was just a sick individual who needed help.”
After confessing to the church, Chris lost his job as a worship pastor. He started working at a local store while undergoing extensive counseling with members of the church. About 18 months later Chris and Cindy felt they had truly dug into healing and grown as a couple, and Chris was rehired by the church. Cindy serves with him, leading the women’s ministries. They are using their testimony to counsel other couples who are facing difficulties in their relationships. When there is a marriage in crisis, Beall said, both spouses have to be willing to do whatever it takes to make it work. “Chris and I, we see a lot of couples where one of them is willing and the other is not,” she said. “It’s probably just not going to make it when that happens. You both have to be in it.”
Even though she considered herself a good wife, Beall still had to look inside her heart and see what she could have done differently. She says the best advice she was ever given was during that period. Her mentor asked her what she was going to do if nothing changed, if things didn’t get better. “That phrase made me realize that I can’t change anything but me,” she said. “I can change how I respond to a situation.”
Today, Beall and her husband have three sons, one of them from his extramarital affair. The boy lives with his mother but visits often. “We all want what’s best for him,” Beall said. “I love him, I call him my boy.” Beall has written a book about her experiences called “Healing Your Marriage When Trust is Broken.” The book will be available in August and she hopes it will bring insight to many couples. She also has a blog that offers advice and encouragement. “Healing is a lifelong journey,” Beall said. “People who won’t forgive, I think they forget that they need forgiveness, too.”
For more information about the blog and the book, visit http://cindybeall.com.