The first time she cheated on her husband didn’t count.
She was on an overseas tour, a pilgrimage of sorts, and she was in a foreign country.
Israel to be exact. The Holy Land.
In Jerusalem, one of the most sacred cities in the world.
She was 29 years old, she’d been married almost seven years, and she had two small children—little boys, four and six.
The best thing was that she felt alive. Like herself. She wasn’t a wife, a mommy, or a teacher. She felt a wonderful sense of self that she hadn’t felt for so long. She got to be the grown up version of herself. She was a woman.
The worst thing was the guilt. So strong, so consuming, so raw. How could she have done that? Was that really who she was? Did that woman feel better being so selfish, so out-of-control, and so…
But she hadn’t been. And she wasn’t.
He called her room in the wee morning hours after they had spent all night talking in the hallway. His roommate had fallen asleep in another room he said. “Come down to my room,” he said.
And she did. In just an oversized gray t-shirt and panties.
They started kissing the minute she walked into the room, and within seconds, he was lying on the twin-sized mattress in front of her. Naked.
It was happening so fast.
A knot formed in her stomach, and saliva gathered in her mouth. She felt warm, so warm. She might throw up.
She couldn’t do this. She shouldn’t do this.
He reached out.
Compelled by a force she didn’t recognize and couldn’t resist, she fell into him and guided his grip to her waist. He moved into her, she moved against him, and they moved together. Slowly.
She was having sex with another man. She was cheating on her husband.
And it felt good.
Until the guilt set in. Along with the partnering emotion of satisfaction—she was wanted.
“It’s funny how God answers prayers, isn’t it?” she later wrote in her journal. She hoped God was still listening to her. She also hoped she had changed. She thought she really was a different person now.
At the time, it felt like love, pure and simple. But it wasn’t. Not even close. He took advantage of her, the young mother, the inexperienced lover, the shy, self-questioning/self-seeking her. And then he forgot about her.
In retrospect, she herself knows that what the 29-year-old woman needed that summer reflected a larger need to be fulfilled. The need to belong, to be free, to travel, and to learn…
A social scientist might point out that she was the classic case of a young wife and mother who had lost her sense of self.
A historian would see that she was not really following a familial pattern, but rather, trying to find her own independence.
A pastor could offer her guidance and prayer for ultimate forgiveness.
Of course the first time she cheated on her husband didn’t count.
She just wasn’t so sure about the others.