Confession of Adultery
"Lori, there's something I have to tell you"
by Lori Buck
Chuck joined me for a marriage seminar and workshop exercise on Friday afternoon, December 12, 1975. It marked the beginning of our fiery trial.
||Chuck and Lori Buck on their wedding day.
"Healthy relationships need to cultivate emotional intimacy, the ability to share our innermost thoughts, needs and feelings with each other," the leader explained. "Because your eyes window your emotions, it's very important for each couple to maintain direct eye contact with each other the entire time."
Chuck took my hands in his and looked deep into my eyes as we locked our gaze and temporarily shut out everyone and everything around us. Neither of us spoke, but emotion quickly surfaced.
At first Chuck's brown eyes reflected familiar warmth and I sensed his deep love and appreciation for me. Then suddenly they filled with tears. He tightened his grip on my hands and his eyes took on a pained look of fear and desperation.
"WHAT'S WRONG?" I asked.
He said nothing to me, but his emotional response intensified and he held onto my hands even tighter.
"You're holding on to me as though if you dared let go I'd run away forever," I said. And with that his emotions broke.
"I don't know what's wrong." His words came in choked sobs as he struggled to regain his composure.
"Chuck, it's OK. I'm not going anywhere."
He was not one to talk with me at a deep level, but God opened the doors of communication for us that afternoon. I followed him home in my car, and then I seemed to lose him in traffic. I pulled into our driveway surprised that his car wasn't there and went into the house wondering where he was. About half an hour passed and he still hadn't come home. On the edge of panic I went back outside just as his Corvette pulled into our driveway. He sat in the car his eyes red and swollen.
"What happened?" I asked.
"When I passed the turnoff from the freeway to our house I suddenly burst into tears and had a strong impulse to get away from it all. I stayed on the freeway and headed east to the mountains; then I realized I could not run away from myself and I had to come back home."
Over the next 36 hours nothing I said or did eased his consuming fear of losing me. It remained a mystery.
||Chuck and Lori Buck today.
Then on Sunday morning (December 14, 1975) he came to me with a contrite spirit and confessed the thing that had tormented his soul for more than a year.
"Lori, you're so honest with me, there's something I must tell you," he said. "A year ago I had an affair." And then he told me her name. "I confessed my sin to God," he continued, "and vowed never to do it again. I know He's forgiven me. It's been over for a year. I planned to take this secret with me to my grave, and you would never need to know. But I also sinned against you, and now I must ask you to forgive me."
His words cut through my heart like a knife. I stood there stunned, unable to believe what I was hearing. To complicate things further, the woman was no stranger to me.
A strange metallic taste filled my mouth as shock spread throughout my body. I felt betrayed and embarrassed that I had been so stupid and naive. I never suspected anything.
Right at that moment, however, I felt nothing. "This is not going to be a secret; she's going to know that I know," I said without emotion.
"I'll tell her," Chuck said. He picked up the phone and told her what he had just told me.
A few minutes later, I headed for the bathroom and locked the door. The sting of betrayal went deep; my emotions erupted in gut-wrenching sobs as I concluded that 17 years of marriage had ended. What would I do?
For the next 18 hours I struggled to make sense of what Chuck had told me. My emotions vacillated from stunned disbelief to confusion, denial, anger, rage and pain. But before going to bed that night I threw my arms around my husband's neck and sobbed. How could I stop loving someone I had loved for all these years?
That night as I lay in bed, I realized this was greater than I could forgive. The reality of what had happened gave way to overwhelming despair. I silently cried out to the Lord, Where do I go from here?
A soft glow filled the area over our bed and a black line came down separating Chuck and me. On his side of the line these words in black letters hung suspended in space:
"Vengeance is mine."
Those were not angry or vindictive words, but rather words bathed in tender compassion. I saw that God's vengeance is different from ours. He does not destroy to get even, but He breaks that He might restore. He did not take sides, but was working in both of our lives at the same time.
In that moment I comprehended an aspect of forgiveness through Christ's death on the cross that I had not grasped before. The powers of darkness seek to destroy us by using those we love the most to inflict devastating wounds that we find impossible to forgive. Christ defeated Satan and those powers 2,000 years ago through His sacrificial death on the cross and paid the penalty for all sin big or small. It matters not the size of our sin; we all stand in need of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a gift direct from the heart of God through His Son to all who come to Him in repentance. I realized forgiveness was not something I had to muster up in my own strength; I need only be a vessel willing to share a gift that God has already given. As I examined myself I could not help but think, If God has forgiven my sins, how could I do less than share that same forgiveness with Chuck?
The miracle that God had begun in our lives would take time; it did not magically happen overnight. I had only a tiny spark of the life left in me; and shock continued to take its toll on my mind and body and emotions over the next few days.
By Tuesday morning I knew I needed to get away to sort things out in my mind. Chuck bought me an airline ticket to see my mom in Little Rock, Ark. At first I was going alone to see my mother, but because of a difficult relationship with my stepfather I asked Chuck to go with me.
An airline strike prevented us from purchasing another ticket, so we drove. That put us together in the small interior of his 1974 Corvette where we did a lot of talking over the three-day trip.
My parents had recently visited the Prayer Tower on the campus of Oral Roberts University, and I wanted to stop there on the way to their house. I began to know that the Lord would fix things for us there. I never imagined His means.
We drove all night. We arrived in Tulsa midmorning on Friday and drove to the ORU campus, but we were too exhausted to take a tour. We found a motel and slept for a few hours. When we woke up, bizarre things began to happen to me. I had slept very little for a week. With all that had happened, coupled with sleep deprivation, I began to lose touch with reality. It was as though I was locked in a life-and-death battle with evil.
Chuck became terrified as he watched my body become stiff with eyes dilated and locked in an unblinking stare. He said my eyes were angry with a look-right-through-him stare. I could no longer reason. I refused to believe that anything going on around me was real, and I didn't trust anything he said to me. I didn't believe him when he told me an ambulance was coming to get me. I knew that I was Loraine Buck, I was 33 years old and I was in Tulsa, Okla. I knew God was with me but beyond that nothing was real.
I heard the ambulance come. I saw the sharp finger jabs coming at my eyes from the EMT as he tried to evoke a blink reflex. I know that they put me on the gurney and covered my body with a sheet and wheeled me into the ambulance. I also heard them tell Chuck that the hospital was a pink palace on the hill, which only proved to me that this was all part of my imagination and my mind was playing tricks on me. (The St. Francis hospital in Tulsa is known as the pink palace on the hill.)
On the way to the hospital the attendant asked me questions, but I answered only what I knew for sure. "I am Loraine Buck, I'm 33 years old and I'm in Tulsa, Okla."
They wheeled me down the hall to a trauma room. There I saw operating room lights and all the other paraphernalia necessary for emergency treatment. Because of my nursing experience this scene was familiar to me, so once again I concluded it was not real and that my mind was tricking me.
I waited knowing Chuck would come. At that point there was nothing the medical staff at St. Francis Hospital could do to bring me out of the catatonic state so the doctor was in the process of making arrangements to move me to a long-term psychiatric facility.
Back at the motel Chuck had watched as the ambulance hauled me away, sirens blaring. In the agonizing silence of our motel room he realized he was 1,800 miles from home and family and friends. He sat on the bed and wept, feeling certain that I'd lost my mind and would never be normal again.
He later told me, "I got down on my knees and prayed for our marriage and asked God for direction as to what I should do but my prayers seemed to bounce off the ceiling. I didn't think God heard me. I felt nothing."
He decided to call my parents and explain what happened. My mom assured him that I was in the Lord's hands and would be taken care of in the hospital. She told him to come on to their house in Arkansas and they would come back with him to Tulsa the next day.
A few minutes later he got a call from the hospital telling him the ambulance attendants were waiting for him and needed to be paid. They gave him directions again to the hospital. He glanced at his watch and an hour had passed since they'd taken me away.
He did not see God's hand of direction in his life at that moment. In his despair it had never occurred to him to go to the hospital. He packed our things, checked out of the motel and headed for the hospital having made a decision; he'd sign insurance papers so I would be taken care of and then drive over a cliff and end his life.
At that very hour in San Diego his dad, with an overwhelming burden for us, got down on his knees determined not to get up until he had the victory. That "victory" came for him in San Diego the same time that Chuck walked into the emergency room in Tulsa.
I'd heard them say that my husband was there and I'd asked to see him. When he came through the door I turned and saw his eyes and they were the warmest and most loving eyes I'd ever seen. Immediately I felt the stiffness leave my body from the top of my head to my feet. He said my eyes were no longer angry; they were the soft blue eyes he knew and loved.
I looked around the room and, sure enough, I was in a trauma room. All the objects I'd seen were real; I was hooked up to a heart monitor and blood pressure cuff; they had taken blood from my arm. All of it was real. But I still had a ways to go before I would be completely recovered.
With the change in my condition they admitted me to the psychiatric ward at St. Francis Hospital that evening. When they finally gave me something for sleep, I slept for nearly 30 hours straight. Chuck left the hospital that night knowing I was better but still not normal. I was very frightened and nontrusting and my conversation a bit strange at times.
He checked into another hotel encouraged yet deeply troubled that something was still wrong. Again he prayed but this time he sensed God's presence in the room and he said, "Lord, I know You're here and I want everything that You have for me." And with that a warmth hit him in the abdomen and spread both ways through his body and he said he slept like a baby.
On Saturday, I was sleeping so he went to the Prayer Tower at ORU. Alone with God in one of the prayer rooms, he sought the Lord for healing for my mind and again the warmth spread through his body. Then he prayed for our marriage and a third time the warmth spread through him.
For me with sleep came healthier thinking. By Monday morning they released me from the hospital so we could continue our trip and get back home.
Healing broken relationships
Things changed in Chuck's life that encouraged my heart. I saw a new commitment to the Lord that was genuine and had nothing to do with me. He had truly met the Master. There were some tough times ahead of us. I didn't recover in a few days or weeks, and lots of things needed to change.
Chuck and his family wanted me to forgive and forget what happened as soon as possible, but I couldn't seem to do that. I'd earnestly put into practice what I'd learned about forgiveness, but I kept wondering, If I've forgiven Chuck, why does it still hurt so badly?
In church one night a reference given in Luke 4:18 reminded me that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. A further reference to the Amplified Bible's rendition was that Jesus came "to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed (who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed and broken down by calamity)."
Bruised, crushed and broken down by calamity seemed to describe exactly how I felt as I lay in bed late one night with tears streaming down my cheeks. I asked the Lord what it was that I was doing wrong. About a month had passed. Someone had reminded me yet again that Chuck was forgiven and I needed to put it behind me and not let it bother me anymore. It seemed that I had experienced the deepest wounds in this situation, yet I was required to do the most work in repairing the brokenness.
A mental image suddenly began to form in my mind. I saw Chuck and myself as represented by two broken hearts in need of repair: one broken by sin in need of forgiveness and one broken by grief in need of healing. I saw a cross between the two broken hearts that once again represented God's love extended to us through Christ's sacrificial death. The message of the cross was twofold: forgiveness and healing.
I realized that my need for healing was as great as Chuck's need for forgiveness. As two broken hearts, we needed to come together and kneel at the foot of the cross. Because of Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we could freely share God's gifts of healing and forgiveness. We could become vessels for the Holy Spirit to use to convey forgiveness and healing to each other. I could share God's forgiveness with Chuck, and he could extend God's healing to me as he stood by me while the hurt healed.
I jumped out of bed and drew the picture that was in my mind. There was hope for me, too, at the foot of the cross. I wanted to share divine forgiveness with Chuck, and he was willing to stand by me while the hurt healed.
In the weeks that followed, Chuck and I talked. He would hug me and let me cry. Even though our conversations got a bit strained at times, we would stay with it until things resolved.
There were times in the beginning that I struggled to trust, but I discovered something that helped a great deal. I had hoped that Chuck loved me enough before this happened to be faithful, and that trust was broken. But I saw changes in Chuck's life; I saw a commitment to the Lord that had not existed before; I saw tenderness in his eyes and tears of appreciation for what the Lord had done for us. And one day I realized I trusted my husband because he loved the Lord enough to do the right thing.
Chuck's repentance opened the door for healing in our marriage. Had Christ not asked me to do the impossible I would never have grasped the price that He paid that I might be set free from unnecessary burdens that I carried.
God in His great love looked down in my hour of need and saw everything from His perspective. In tender compassion He also looked down and saw everything through my own eyes of pain. With great love and wisdom He reached down and met me right where I was. No demands. No cliches. No heavy dogma. God simply opened my prison doors and set me free.