Laura Lentz, the wife of former Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz, is marking their wedding anniversary by speaking out for the first time since her husband’s cheating scandal went public.
Laura posted to Instagram on Wednesday for the first time since October, breaking her silence on the day that the couple is celebrating 18 years of marriage.
The post featured a photo of a blue sky and several palm trees — and while the caption did not explicitly reference Carl’s scandal, which made headlines in November, it made multiple allusions to familial strife and resilience.
“There are many symbolic meanings to these amazing trees,” Laura wrote. “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…”
The mother of three explained that she took a break from social media over the past few months because it was “not good for [her] soul,” and that she’d had to block and delete many users and comments from her posts.
“Trolls are cowards, SOME ‘Christians’ are anything but kind, gracious, or loving…but that won’t stop me from growing upwards & getting stronger,” she wrote. “I have learnt a lot about myself over the past few months. Now more than ever I know the kindness of God, His grace, forgiveness & strength.”
Laura added that her family’s struggles had led her to “true friendships,” but had also marked the end of others.
“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. I don’t want to judge others nor do I want to be judged,” she wrote.
She ended her note with a quote from a friend that she said had stuck with her in recent months: “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,” she concluded, adding the hashtags, “You Can Only Change You, “Love Wins” and “Grow Upwards.”
Laura did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, and attempts to reach Carl for comment were unsuccessful.
Carl was fired from Hillsong Church in November due to “moral failures,” the megachurch’s founder Brian Houston told PEOPLE in a statement at the time.
One day later, Lentz announced that he had been “unfaithful” in his marriage to Laura.
About two weeks later, a woman named Ranin Karim identified herself as his mistress in an interview with Vanity Fair.
Audio leaked to Page Six in December allegedly caught Houston telling other church executives that he believed Lentz took part in multiple “significant” affairs before he was terminated by the church.
Despite the scandal, a source told PEOPLE at the time that the couple was “working very hard” to make their marriage work, and that Laura “has stood by his side” amid the turmoil.
A source previously told PEOPLE that the Lentzes were going through “intense” counseling together amid Carl’s admitted infidelity, but that Laura was standing by her man.
“His wife is a boss and yes, realizes this was a major miss in the trust of their relationship,” a friend of the couple told PEOPLE in November. “He loves how she cares for the kids. She is incredibly kind, smart and has always been supportive.”
A source close to Carl told PEOPLE in December that he would be seeking “treatment at an outpatient facility that specializes in depression, anxiety and pastoral burnout.”
He is known for running in celebrity circles and notably baptized Justin Bieber years ago, according to a GQ profile published in 2015. He had been a pastor at the New York location of Hillsong since 2010 and previously attended Hillsong College, the church’s training program, which is where he met Laura.
See her post below.
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