Pastor # 6 – South Dakota
PASTOR F IS AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT CHRISTIAN LOVE, RIGHTLY APPLIED, MEANS.
Peter took a business trip. When he returned, he liked country music instead of rock music. He said God had suddenly given him such a great love for his wife that he required marital intimacy at least twice a day, and cried crocodile tears when I told him that when he yelled and badgered me he might as well be bashing my head against the wall. Model, loving behavior, except that my sleep and, shall we say…my physical limitations, with respect to his new-found love for me, was, well, irrelevant in the face of his new-found “love” for me. Model behavior disappeared when I got sick and couldn’t or wouldn’t, shall we say….keep up with him.
A few months later, a good friend passed on anonymous information from friends of hers (“that she would trust her kids to”) that they had seen him with a prostitute (time and place omitted), and were concerned for my health. (I paid hundreds of dollars to be tested for every disease under the sun – nada….all is well). Anonymous rumor? Lovely. I asked him. Of course, he acted horrified that anyone would tell such lies about him. I looked for documentation, but never found it. His best friend claimed to know nothing, admitted that he probably wouldn’t tell me if he did – but suggested I have said testing. He had Peter’s back, I guess. How noble.
Very soon after that, Peter had a serious “reaction to a drug for gout” that resulted in the weirdest behavior I had seen yet. We were out of town, and he was so far into the twilight zone (publicly, embarrassingly) that I snuck away and called the hospital to ask about his symptoms given the medication he was taking. They said bring him in. I tried. He got out of the car. Scared (this time for him), I called the police for assistance. Long story shortened, the police officer thought he was on meth, the ER doctor said he was agitated and uncooperative and wouldn’t give a urine sample and that if he was having this type of reaction to that drug, he had some serious psychiatric issues. I said we had been for counseling many times. The M.D. said, “YOU AREN’T UNDERSTANDING ME. THIS IS NOT A YOU AND HIM PROBLEM. IT IS A HIM PROBLEM. AND GUYS LIKE THIS WON’T GET HELP.” Some wake up call! Peter berated me for calling the police. Not one bit of concern that it was his behavior that scared me, or that I was scared for him, or that something should be addressed. Just blame, shame, blame, shame. And anger. I asked him if he was using drugs. He said no. I asked if he would tell me if he was. He said no. Where do you go with that?
I really – really wanted to die, and I wasn’t sure God wouldn’t just let me do it while He stayed silent. I was trapped and exhausted. It was time to act, right or wrong. The girls were 18 and 15 – old enough to have some means of control of their circumstances when with him. I knew I couldn’t be the buffer, or do it this way anymore. So, I told him I had to divorce, or I would die. He cried, but had nothing else to offer. In his mind, he had tried everything, but he just couldn’t please me.
And I began the broken record speech I gave him over and over for the next couple of months: “I love you. I want to be with you. I am not looking for anyone else. I don’t want anyone else. But you have issues you need to get help for, and if you won’t deal with them, I have to go.” His broken record speeches consisted of strategies for maintaining the status quo, and the statement that “I just need a woman who loves me.”
I prayed for restitution. For this course of action to motivate him to get help (Chuck Swindoll’s “isolation with restitution” concept). In a KIND of faith, I had taken a tough stand and prayed that it was what God would use to produce a healed marriage. Through and after the divorce I prayed this (even after I found out that he had replaced me before I was gone; I stopped praying after his honey moved in, and was going to get married).
The night before our divorce was to be finalized, I was so distressed that I called Pastor F (which stands for FULFILLING THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS – LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR !). Pastor F was a regional youth pastor/director, from another town, who I didn’t know well, but he was acquainted with Peter and me through Bible Quiz for youth, in which our family was involved. I told him my story very briefly.
He had seen us.
HE COULD TELL WHEN A WOMAN AND KIDS WERE WALKING ON EGGSHELLS!
That something WAS going on.
That I was taking the right course to make a stand.
My RELIEF was not because he supported my course of action or thinking. IT WAS BECAUSE HE COULD SEE!
HE COULD SEE THE PROBLEM.
HE COULD SEE ME!
AND HE HAD THE GUTS TO SAY SO!!!!
HE SPOKE THE TRUTH IN LOVE.
HE DID NOT ADVISE ME WITH LIMITED INFORMATION.
HE HAD THE COURAGE TO HEAR.
HE DIDN’T “FIX” IT – HE LIFTED MY BURDEN JUST A LITTLE – AND STRENGTHENED ME.
HE WAS AWARE, AND SPOKE THE TRUTH OF WHAT HE HAD SEEN FOR HIMSELF.
HE BELIEVED ME.
HE GAVE THE BENEFIT OF HIS LIFE EXPERIENCE BUT DIDN’T GO DEEPER THAN A PHONE CALL WARRANTED.
HE WENT BEYOND THE HYPE, DOGMA AND DOCTRINE, TO SPEAK WHAT IT REALLY WAS, NOT WHAT WE ALL WISHED IT WAS.
HE DIDN’T PATRONIZE ME BY QUOTING SCRIPTURE I ALREADY KNEW, OR TAKING A NOBLE PASTORLY STANCE.
HE SPOKE TO PROTECT ME AND THE GIRLS, RATHER THAN GUARDING CHURCH DIVORCE STATISTICS OR DOCTRINE.
We haven’t had contact since then. It was as though he ministered to me by giving me a cup of cold water, and kept on walking….in the footsteps of Jesus.
Matthew 22: 39-40 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
James 13:17-18 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
As I write this, I feel such gratitude, for Pastor F and others whose care, ideas and words give strength rather than condemnation, limitation, fear. And yes, faithless one that I am, I thank God for them.
I hope you will pass this on to pastors you know, even though it is uncomfortably revealing (for ME especially – I almost couldn’t post it), because maybe they will be encouraged by Pastor F to act as wisely and courageously when it is their turn to offer such counsel.