She came in and sat down at the nearly busy restaurant with the two of us already there. As usual, the conversation went around the table, asking about our twenty-something sons and daughters. All were well, doing the best they could. One in the military, another bar tending in Corpus, another in a recovery house trying to find a job. Any job. So on and so forth. Then, subtle as a whisper, the red flags were hurled in our faces, as she said things like, “I told my husband that it felt good to hear the bus drivers turn their head and look twice at me.” And, “He didn’t even respond. He doesn’t even care.” Whine.
I caught it, but didn’t do anything but pray at the time. Months went by. Pretty soon, it was clear, the marriage was suffering. My other girlfriend and her husband were coming over for Bar-B-Que. We invited the two of them. “No, Henry (not his real name) can’t come. I don’t think we’re coming tonight. Sorry.” Hung up. Whoa. What was going on? By the way, we never heard from Henry. And shamefully, neither of the husbands bothered to call him to check to see if he was even aware of the conversation.
Another time the three of us girlfriends gathered together with her (M) is all I can say right now, she pretty much told us she and her husband were living as brother and sister. There wasn’t any intimacy. Not any more. Not for a very long time. We prayed together. We asked her if she was getting counseling. Not really. Slippery slope got slipperier. Another couple of months later I got an email from her husband. Blinded as a deer in the headlights, he was sending me a letter that she and the “Fox” had penned for their spouses! We would rather be “happy” than married to our current spouses, it said. Hope you are happy for us. Bam. It was done. Right out in the open. We don’t care, the letter was saying, if we do break up two marriages for the sake of our personal happiness. We are doing it. I couldn’t believe it. I cried. I texted her. Do you realize what you’re doing. Yes, she eventually said, but counseling is too late.
Several months went by. She had not seen us. One of our friends was not willing to be with her if she was living with the man. I understood but hurt for her. I would send her texts asking her to get her relationship back to the Lord. Long periods of time would pass before she would respond, if at all. Thank you for thinking of me, she would say. I prayed. I sought counsel. There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, one counselor told me. Apparently, I had not told him she was LIVING with the fox.
Just a few days ago, one of our friends and I met with her in another town at a restaurant and talked. Again, the conversation went to how are the older twenty-something sons and daughters? Fine. God led the one in recovery to a job that fits him to a tee. God did it. Nice, she said. Basically, at the end of the long three hour visit, it seemed that all she wanted was to know we still loved her and that she really wanted her two sons and their families to forgive her; though, they were not only still shacking up together but they were engaged. “I’m struggling with this,” was all I could manage to say. Looking back, yes, we talked of the enemy. We talked of grace. We talked of the prodigal son and the Father running to meet the REPENTANT son. She just smiled.
Sadly, my friend and I never once asked her, “Have you repented? Are you sad about your behavior before Christ?” I feel like I watered down the gospel. I cheapened His grace that we so desperately don’t deserve.
See, we can’t say we have Christ in our hearts and still live in sin. Oil and water. It just doesn’t mix. The Lord led me to Colossians 3:1-17 this morning. Put off the old ways; put on the new. How do we say we’re a Believer in Jesus Christ if we keep behaving like the world around us? So, I’m going to talk to her again. Earnestly, compassionately. Truthfully. Seek your vertical relationship with the Lord, turn from your sinful life of living with a man not even your husband and then your family will forgive you. In time. Distance between them is a huge consequence you are paying for seeking your own “happiness.” Jesus calls us to a backwards life – living holy not necessarily happy. I still pray for her. I hurt for her. But I’m grateful for the opportunity God gave me to see that in talking with one who says they are a believer but not living like one, He will challenge me to get honest with that person and remind them that they are dealing with a Holy Righteous God and that His grace is for those who seek Him and want to obey Him and live fully for Him; and when we do sin, the Holy Spirit convicts us and we confess and turn (repent) from that sin and go another way. His way. And we experience His forgiveness and His grace. Amen.