Laura Lentz, the wife of disgraced Hillsong Church pastor Carl Lentz, marked their 18th wedding anniversary by breaking her silence – six months after his firing for “moral failures”.
In her first social media post since October, Laura shared a picture of palm trees and reflected on their symbolism.
"I have looked at these palm trees every day for the past few months and there are many symbolic meanings to these amazing trees. A few that have resonated with me during this season of my life: they are strong, can weather the biggest storms, they always grow upwards. Freedom, righteousness, reward, resurrection just to name a few," she began her lengthy post.
In November, Hillsong Church's global senior pastor, Brian Houston, announced Carl's termination, noting this action was “taken following ongoing discussions in relation to leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures”.
A day later, Carl took to Instagram to announce he’d been unfaithful to Laura. About two weeks later, a New York woman named Ranin Karim identified herself as his mistress in an interview with Vanity Fair.
Then in December audio was leaked to news sites apparently capturing Brian telling other church executives that he believed Carl took part in multiple “significant” affairs.
While Laura’s latest post didn't mention her husband’s cheating scandal specifically, it did paint a picture of how her life has been in the past few months. For instance, Laura (40) shed light on her social media hiatus.
The Australian native, who married her husband in 2003 and has three children with him, said she took time away from social media “because it was not good” for her soul.
“I have blocked & deleted more people & comments than I can count. Trolls are cowards, SOME ‘Christians’ are anything but kind, gracious, or loving . . . but that won’t stop me from growing upwards & getting stronger (sic),” she wrote.
She also revealed she'd learnt a lot about herself over the past months and had discovered who her “true” friends were.
“Now more than ever I know the kindness of God, His grace, forgiveness & strength. I have found true friendships – the ones who have been with me on the mountaintops are the same ones who are with me during my darkest valley!! I will not forget who abandoned us, but I choose to keep my heart free of bitterness & remain thankful for those that have stayed & loved us.”
In the aftermath of the cheating scandal Carl, who headed up the church’s trendy New York chapter before his dismissal, sold his family’s New Jersey home and moved to Los Angeles where he and Laura reportedly embarked on a journey of “rebuilding trust” via intense therapy sessions.
The move was made possible by Carl’s billionaire pal, filmmaker Tyler Perry.
The Madea creator reportedly forked out nearly $100 000 (about R1,5 million) to cover six months of rent on the five-bedroom Manhattan Beach home – valued at $4m (R58m) – Carl and his family moved into on the West Coast.
At the time The Sun reported that in addition to splurging on the $16 000-per-month rental, the movie mogul was a shoulder to cry on for Carl, who’d been “leaning” on the 51-year-old since his dramatic fall from grace.
Although he’s had Tyler’s support, Carl – who served as a pastor and spiritual adviser to a number of A-list celebrities – was abandoned by many members of his flock, including his most high-profile parishioner, Justin Bieber, who made a thinly veiled dig at Carl when he recently called out pastors who “put themselves on this pedestal” during an interview with GQ.
“And it’s basically, church can be surrounded around the man, the pastor, the guy, and it’s like, ‘This guy has this ultimate relationship with God that we all want but we can’t get because we’re not this guy,” the 27-year-old Holy crooner added.
“That’s not the reality, though. The reality is every human being has the same access to God.”
Concluding her post, Laura noted she didn't “want to judge others” nor did she want to be judged.
“One thing a friend told me during this time is, ‘I would rather be accused of being too gracious toward someone, over being accused of judging someone too harshly. I want to be known as a woman who sees the good in people & truly loves people unconditionally. #YouCanOnlyChangeYou #LoveWins #GrowUpwards,’” she wrote.
Sources: thesun.co.uk, eonline.com, today.com, people.com, pagesix.com, vanityfair.com