When to Walk Away: Showing Courage in the Face of Betrayal

By Debra Wallace

God's Brave Women - Debra's Story


Several years ago, when my son joined Boy Scouts, memorization of the Scout Law was a requirement. The law states: A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. In Scouting, to be BRAVE means to be able to show courage in the face of adversity. Little did I know then just how brave I would become later.


I recall when my two kids, ages six and twelve, were brave. We all had to be – our world had just crumbled. So there we were, the three of us on our drive to school, belting out the lyrics to a song they’d learned in Vacation Bible School.


“Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous? Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord, your God, will be with you wherever you go.”


Tears rolling down my cheeks, certain Joshua 1:9 was a command – not a request, there was no choice. Faced with what I now knew, we were all needing bravery. We became brave on that day – and we’ve remained courageous today – by God’s grace.


Let’s revert to 2007. D-Day. Discovery Day. The day I discovered my husband’s double life. (It presented itself ten years into a 22-year-long marriage, one established on holy ground.)


Mind blowing, earth shattering, unthinkable – that’s how I would describe my D-Day. It was shocking enough to learn of my husband’s infidelity, but a husband who was having affairs with other men? A double dagger ripping through my heart and an additional heaping of shame to address.


"It was shocking enough to learn of my husband’s infidelity, but a husband who was having affairs with other men? A double dagger ripping through my heart and an additional heaping of shame to address."

Keeping quiet for years, too embarrassed to confide in anyone, stuck in a downward spiral of shame and silence, I could have secured an Emmy with my acting facade.


My husband promised he would do anything to hold our marriage together and keep our family intact. We tried everything. Counseling, intensives, dynamic marriage classes, mens’ support groups, wives’ support groups, just name it!


Daily living became insanely difficult! We weren’t just maintaining, but rebuilding a marriage from ground zero. It seemed an impossibility. Learning to trust after repeated betrayal edged into my new normal.


"We weren’t just maintaining, but rebuilding a marriage from ground zero. It seemed an impossibility. Learning to trust after repeated betrayal edged into my new normal."


Be brave. Never quit. Have faith. Persevere! My daily mantras. But with each act of adultery, it continued getting increasingly unbearable to pick myself up by my bootstraps.


Over the next twelve years, I couldn’t dislodge myself from the emotional roller coaster of hope and despair. Hopeful when I believed my husband to be on a path of healing and recovery, but full of despair when I would yet again learn of another infidelity. The deceitfulness never ended. Words never matched actions. The dark place in my husband’s heart just continued getting darker.


Some days I didn’t feel like I could get out of bed, but I knew I had a family to care for. I’d put on a cheerful brave face, and hold it together the best I knew how.


Being a doormat – persevering through abuse, wasn’t right, but I remained confused as to what the response of a Christian wife should be. Over and over I’d hear how much God hates divorce. Over and over I’d been told I needed to forgive and forget. Try harder. Have faith. Submit. “Is this really the life God intends for me?” I kept asking myself.


"Being a doormat – persevering through abuse, wasn’t right, but I remained confused as to what the response of a Christian wife should be... “Is this really the life God intends for me?” I kept asking myself."


In 2013, I engaged in a Beth Moore Bible Study. Beth encouraged us to memorize two scripture verses per month, ensuing in 24 memorized verses over a year. I latched on to her challenge, and it transformed my life – God initiated the plan of refining me through His Word!


The first verse committed to memory was Proverbs 31:25. “I am clothed in strength and dignity. I can laugh at the days to come.”


Initially, I couldn’t believe this verse was about me. Clothed in strength? I wasn’t strong – I was weak! Dignity? What was that? There was no dignity or self-worth left! Laughing at the days to come? It appeared my future would only be filled with tears, not laughter. I felt hopeless and helpless.


Grasping Proverbs 31:25 wasn’t easy, but after committing it to memory, I practiced repeating it out loud. Over time, God accomplished something astonishing! His Holy Spirit whispered to me, breathing in new life, and prompted me to realize this verse was about me! I established trust in my Sure Foundation.


"I established trust in my Sure Foundation."


Perseverance and bravery were necessities during all those years, but I’ve concluded my departure required substantially more courage. Leaving wasn’t a hasty decision – months and years spent crying out to God occupied my days and nights. (My husband’s behavior and choices were not changing, but I so desperately desired keeping my family unit intact!)


When praying, I’d