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Charisma: And how has the church treated you?
Ted Haggard: Individual believers have been exceptionally supportive and have seen our situation through the lens of the gospel and have had the courage to risk their reputations with others by associating with us. A few churches were kind and supportive during our darkest hours, most notably pastor Chris Byrd and Open Bible Fellowship, pastor Tommy Barnett and Phoenix First Assembly and pastor Keith Craft and Celebration Covenant Church.
Since my repentance interviews, a growing segment of church leaders are choosing to publicly forgive us and welcome us. I have been told that some of the silence and distance from church leaders was because they were led to believe that we were being taken care of and that we wanted to be left alone to heal. But with the documentary and the interviews, they learned that their role in our lives was very much valued and needed by us.
I am no longer a church leader, so naturally there are fewer reasons for leaders to communicate with me. I am irrelevant to some and, I think, embarrassing to others. Others haven't known what to do, so they have done nothing. For the vast majority (not all) of my old co-workers in His kingdom, the silence has been deafening. I think that because I disappointed them so deeply and violated their trust, they felt too hurt or conflicted to communicate.
My guess is that they justifiably don't trust me and would rather not be in relationship with me any longer. I have to guess about the reasons because there has not been adequate communication. But I am responsible for this situation and don't blame those who have chosen to go silent in my life. I created the mistrust and dislike by my actions.
When people are quiet, mean, judgmental, ignorant, angry or distant, I think that is justice, and I don't blame them. When others are kind, gentle, loving, helpful, supportive and gracious, I consider it a gift and am grateful.
Gayle Haggard: After our crisis, the leadership of New Life Church gave us a year of severance pay, which included health insurance, and the truck Ted drove while he was senior pastor. In addition, they contributed to a fund that was set up by Pastor Mike Ware of Denver, which enabled our disabled son, Jonathan, to stay at the special school he was in at the time. We were extremely grateful for their monetary assistance during our transition.
Since returning to Colorado Springs, we have discovered many church people who were as eager to reconnect with us as we were with them. In this atmosphere of love and forgiveness, true healing and restoration is taking place.
We have also experienced restoration as kindness and grace is being extended to us from churches around the nation who have invited us to come and do interviews. We feel more genuine love and acceptance from those who welcome us than we ever have.
Charisma: How are your children doing after walking through this scandal with you?
Gayle Haggard: Our children are remarkable people, and each has won my respect as they have walked through this process. Perhaps because they have been raised with a disabled brother, they understand the value of pulling together as a family during our difficult seasons. Ted and I have drawn tremendous strength from their commitment to our family and their love for us.
Sure, it was painful, but we all knew to process our anger and sorrow face-to-face. I believe our family is stronger as a result. I know each of our children has their own story, and I hope one day each will write that story. I believe others would benefit from the wisdom they gained and exhibited in their process.
Charisma: During the early days of the scandal so many women watched you from a distance, Gayle, and wondered how you could stay with Ted. What do you tell women today whose husbands have had affairs?
Gayle Haggard: Certainly every relationship is unique so I would not presume to have a pat answer for everyone going through such a difficult trial. However, I would encourage women, as much as they are able, to do what Jesus has told us to do—forgive and love. You still have to process through your pain, your anger, your sense of betrayal, and this will be hard at times, but set your trajectory toward forgiveness and love. In the end you will be better for it, even if the outcome of the marriage is not ideal because of choices your husband may make. As in all relationships, never lose sight of that which is good. Remember everything you appreciate and respect about your husband, and remember these things continue to be true about him.
You have no control over the choices or behaviors of your husband and the pain he has caused, but you do have the power to choose how you will respond. You have to determine what is truly valuable and worth fighting for and decide who you are going to be in the midst of your pain.
The reason I could stay with Ted was that I settled in myself that he is worth it. Sure, I was hurting. I felt totally let down and betrayed. My heart was thoroughly broken. But I had to believe that in spite of all the pain, Ted loved me and I loved him, and that our relationship was real. He was and is so much more than this one battle that raged within him. I determined that he was worth fighting for, our marriage was worth fighting for, and the honor and dignity of our children was worth fighting for.
I would encourage other women with the words that encouraged me: Love covers a multitude of sins. When I pressed myself to forgive and love Ted, I healed. When I judged him and scrutinized him for all the pain he caused, I would spiral down into despair.
Love never fails—if we choose love and let it do its work, we are all better for it. Not only does Jesus instruct us in the way of forgiveness and love, but His Spirit empowers us to do it. Then what we have is a relationship that is strengthened through fire. For Ted and me, this means we have each other, we have our family, and at the end of the day, we win.
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