If you’re sad about Ashley Madison

By Samantha McClintock

It’s not often that I weep for humanity. In fact, it’s probably never happened that I’ve sat down and literally sobbed for the state of the world. Maybe that’s because I have tunnel vision for things that hurt; I’m one to pinpoint a perceived problem and attack it – through confrontation, structured conversation and prayer. I try not to let my heart wander to the giant, aching problems that I can’t solve.
But today, reading about the Ashley Madison security breach, I had to close my office door and cry. Not just a few tears, but big old chest-wracking sobs. I didn’t even realize that an infidelity service like Ashley Madison existed, especially one so large-scale. On top of that, discovering that more than 32 million people are registered cheaters, or potential cheaters (which is honestly just as bad), blew me away.
Almost exactly one year ago, I found out that my husband was cheating on me. His cheating was different in many ways (emotional and physical, rather than Ashley Madison’s hook-up only purposes,) but also the same.
I will never, never forget the feeling I had when I blindly came across the letter my husband wrote to his girlfriend.
You don’t need all the details. I often justify (or disclaim or expound or clarify) the situation by explaining how wonderful my husband was. I fiercely remind people that I didn’t see it coming, that he was led astray, that we dated for six years, that he is a Christian, that I swear we were happy. We were happy. We were happy. We were happy.
And these are the defenses 32 million spouses will have to spew over the next few months. They will build walls around their hearts and question their self-worth. In many cases, they will look for value from new people who can’t grant it, they’ll become bitter and broken and distrusting of everyone they love. They’ll struggle to sleep and eat and function in a way that used to come easily.
My heart is aching for the millions of men and women who will find out over the next few days that the person who promised fidelity and unconditional love has betrayed them in a very public, deceitful manner. But it’s also aching for the people who decided to cheat. Marriage can be such a beautiful thing. We choose it, for goodness’ sake. It’s a union blessed by God and in it we can experience life with another person, which is one of the greatest gifts.
Those who registered for Ashley Madison have turned their face from the promises they made on the altar – and have hardened their hearts to the people who they once loved most of all. Is anything sadder? Not to me. They are suffering on a heart-level, deep in their souls.
We’re all sinners. We’re all susceptible to temptation, and we pursue sin every day – whether that’s cheating, or lying or stealing, or any multitude of daily sins. But the best news is that God pursues us. If your soul is hurting like mine, if you’re troubled by the lack of sanctity remaining in relationships, if you’re doubtful that any person can stay faithful – take heart.
Just as God will pursue the hearts of the hurting men and women who will learn a painful truth this week, he will also pursue the cheaters. He’s running after them, waiting to welcome them back. He’s totally capable of restoration – not just of relationships, but of people.
In the past year, God has brought me closer to Him than ever before. He used the painful lessons of a broken marriage to hem me in and build me up. So, that’s what I’m praying for today.
Will you join me in praying? Pray for the men and women who will learn some of the hardest news of their lives – that they use this opportunity to hear God’s voice saying “come to me, and I will give you rest.” And that they will learn to guard their hearts from future hurt and dishonesty, (believe me, I’m not saying that any person should let their spouse cheat and look the other way), while still remaining open to the blessings that God can bestow.
[And I want to be clear that those blessings might not include a patched-up, squeaky clean marriage; they certainly didn’t for me. But they did include new friends, a new church, a new job, a bunch of new hobbies, two half-marathons, healthier relationships and a much deeper understanding of my own needs.]
Pray for the children of these broken marriages – that they learn to model their relationships from God instead of the chaos around them. Pray for the cheaters – know that their sins are seen equally bad as ours, and that those sins are wiped clean by the blood of Christ. Pray that they might turn around and face their transgressions, and that they might begin a process of personal restoration. And please pray for marriage, and our relationships with each other – that we, sinners of the highest variety, can glorify God in our love and interactions.


Earlier this summer, I wrote a post about my fear and how it’s kept me from too much in my life. To remedy this, I began to make changes I never imagined, including becoming a runner. More specifically, my plans to run a half marathon.
At one month away from the race, I’m here to tell you that won’t be happening.

Embodying the idea of Chelsea ‘No Chill Ever’ Cummins, I dived right into running with the lofty goal of doing 13.1 miles the day after my birthday. After I signed up, my sister pointed out I should start with smaller races and work toward a half marathon. Obviously this is logical, but once I make up my mind it’s quite the challenge for logic to break through my thick skull.
Last night I set out for a three-mile run and contemplated the idea of doing more. The thought of all the miles to come, both that night and beyond, was daunting. I still wasn’t comfortable with short distances despite relatively consistent training over the last six weeks. My defeatist attitude began to overwhelm me, but then I realized something incredible: I’m still running.
I began running in early May with the Couch to 5K program. I began officially training for the half marathon the second week of June. As I finished up my final grad school project, there were weeks I didn’t run as much as I was supposed to, but I still averaged at least a run a week. Now in mid-August, I’m still running. Sure, I can’t run the full distance, but I almost did six miles once and that feels pretty great.
My life is a series of kicks dedicated to whatever I’m currently interested in or obsessed with. I start out strong and then they fade when I get bored or something else interesting attracts my attention. In the past, running would’ve been a kick that I maybe tried for a month but left because I wasn’t seeing results or it was still too hard. Typically, if something is hard, I shy away.
Saying that, I’m nowhere near where I should be to run a half marathon. Most of that is my fault because I didn’t prioritize the time when my life became busy. But I kept running, and now instead of the half marathon at the Montour Trail, I’m going to do the 5K. Three miles compared to 13 seems like a breeze, but I wonder what my training would look like if I hadn’t initially signed up to do something more challenging. Would I have shrugged it off as easy and not ran as much? Would I have put it off until the last week and then panicked when it was hard?
The likely answer is yes to all. If I hadn’t committed to the magnitude of a half marathon, I wouldn’t have taken a 5K seriously. I think I needed the drive to get me to this point where I could realize it’s ok to take it slow. If I gave up running, then I’ve lost what I set out to achieve, but by being realistic, I believe I’m achieving what I set out to do. I’m not giving up. The day after I turn 25, I will run my first race, a feat I literally never imagined for myself. And that is my motivation.
Other than running, I’ve tried to be present in every moment of my life and enjoy it without the fear of ‘what if.’ At the beginning of August, I drove to Tennessee by myself to see my friend Linzy. I picked up a few extra jobs to help with my financial insecurity. I started making really fun plans for September (aka a month long celebration of turning a quarter of a century old).
Most importantly, I’m seeing God move in myself and the people around me and it’s amazing. I feel His power working through me and driving me to something. I’m not wasting my life because I’m relying on His plan. Being led by His purpose provides the motivation to enjoy my life wherever I am. And it’s a good life.
In case you’re wondering, my sisters’ first response when I told her about the 5K decision was essentially ‘I told you so.’ Instead scowling emoji here.


Remember what you want most

My dog Gomer is an escape artist. She’s managed to break two screens and push a fan out of a window to find me after I leave. Every morning, I go to work and without fail she loses her mind as if this is new and I’m abandoning her forever. I always come back, but you try reasoning with a puppy.

 Seriously she looks so pleased, ugh.
I wish I could explain to her that she stays in the house because it’s safe. She can’t spend the day with me so inside is the best option. Blinded by her instant panic, her tiny brain thinks finding me is the solution, despite the inevitability that I’ll be back. It drives me insane. Then I realized I’m just like my stupid dog.
Right now what I want is to make plans without examining my bank account to make sure I can afford the expense. To not rely on credit cards to purchase things but to be a good steward of the money God gives me. As much as I want this, I can’t stop sacrificing what I want most for what I want now.

Being fiscally responsible is no easy feat. Life as an independent young adult is rough. I make a fair amount at my job, but between car payments and insurance and rent and utilities and my iPhone, I’m wiped out. I make my budgets and swear to live within my means, but then it feels so unfair. I want new things; I like new things! Why must I wait when everyone else gets cool things? I want it now so I charge it, raising my credit card debt totals even higher.
Like Gomer, I leap out in the oblivion in an attempt to find happiness on a path that only leads to discomfort. Instead of fulfillment, I’m left alone waiting for someone to come and save me. Luckily, I have an even better savior than Gomer.
Despite years of reckless spending, I’m still here. I’ve made thousands of promises to be better with money, yet I still find myself buying another piece of wall art I can’t afford (and quote frankly don’t need). My bank account typically ends up with a little more money than anticipated and I rarely need to ask for help from my parents. (Notice I say rarely. It does happen and thankfully I’m blessed with parents who can help me when necessary).
It’s such an amazing reminder of God’s grace. I’ve done nothing but show God I’m not responsible. Sure, I pay my bills, but only a tiny fraction of what I have in debt was necessary to buy. I pay a hefty chunk each month to credit companies because I needed another new dress. Or lipstick. Or movie. He sees my greed and materialism and loves me anyway. He refuses to give up on me, knowing that with Him I can be responsible.
I want what I want when I want it, but I’m learning to wait for God’s timing because my interference basically ruins everything. While there are many verses that cover this topic, right now Galatians 6:9 comes to mind:
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
What a powerful reminder. It’s an acknowledgement that doing the right thing is hard compared to the easy way out. But with the struggle, we have this amazing promise to receive an entire HARVEST of blessings if we keep it up. By waiting for God’s timing, we are living our life in a way that is pleasing to Him and setting ourselves for something more amazing than we can imagine.
It’s hard to see past the financial hardships. When people casually talk about dropping a couple hundred bucks on something, I get suspicious. I don’t understand a life where money is readily available and not kept in an account praying a mysterious benefactor will call me to a higher destiny or something. It’s a challenge, but I’m promised this amazing gift if I continue on the God-approved route.
Saying this, I don’t think I’m going to win the lottery or become a millionaire, but I trust in what God has planned. Maybe it’s just someday I will get my credit cards paid off which will be amazing. Maybe it’s simply the promise of Heaven and the life when I’m not focused on earthly problems. No matter what it is, I know it’s from God, which makes it greater than I picture.
Yesterday I took all the credit cards out of my wallet to remove temptation. I unsynched all my accounts from the computer. I trust God will always make sure I have enough, even if it’s less than I would like. It’s a little scary without my safety net, but that’s where God likes us – afraid and leaning on him with everything we have.
If I can get better with my money, maybe there’s hope for Gomer too.