I am a thirty‑three‑year‑old woman, separated for the past year, with three small children. A while back, a man came into my life that I had known before I was married…. He showered me with words of love and flattery… and I ended up having sexual relations with him. I feel very badly: I feel dirty, and I don’t know how to ask God to forgive me.

At times I think that I don’t deserve to live, and I want to disappear from the world along with my three little ones. That way I’ll stop doing things that have done nothing but cause me a lot of harm…. I don’t want to sink into a hole that I won’t be able to climb out of.

Dear Friend,

We are sorry to hear about your separation and the heavy responsibility of caring for your three children by yourself. It is very likely that the difficulties and stress have caused you to feel some depression and hopelessness. Those strong emotions, together with the guilt, are overwhelming you.

Your words remind us of the words of David, King of Israel. Even though David had a personal relationship with God, he was not a perfect man. He had plenty of very serious moral failures. One of them was to have intimate relations with another man’s wife.(1) After he had committed adultery with her, David felt very guilty, so he tried to cover up what he had done. But God knows about all sin, and He certainly knew what David had done. Eventually David felt very badly about his sin, and he prayed the prayer we can find in Psalm 51. In his prayer, David tells God how sorry he is and asks for forgiveness.

You say that at times you think you don’t deserve to live. David didn’t deserve to live. And neither do we. All of us deserve extreme punishment for our sin. But Jesus Christ, God’s Son, took the punishment for us when he died on the cross. So when you pray a prayer like David did, God will forgive you and cleanse your heart. You don’t have to take your own punishment, because the penalty for your sin has already been paid by Christ. And God will give you a chance to start over.

After you have prayed and God has forgiven you, it will be time to take some precautions for your future. You certainly learned from this experience that you don’t ever want to make the same mistake again. So how can you prevent it? Most importantly, recognize that most sin doesn’t happen in an instant. Usually there are subtle steps that bring us closer and closer to making that wrong decision. You said that the man showered you with words of love and flattered you. The next time that happens, warning bells should sound in your head to signal that there is danger ahead. When you hear those bells, think about how you feel right now. Remember that, with God’s help, you can prevent yourself from repeating your mistake.

God loves you and loves your precious little ones,

Linda and Charles
1 2S 11:4