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Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Idiot

"Jack, you're an idiot."

My friend sat across from me with his head in his hands. He had been sobbing for the last 45 minutes as he told me about his affair. We were sitting in the sun room, Annie and the kids away at the park for one of their friend's birthday party. A couple of beers sat in front of us, getting warmer as I listened to my friend's indiscretion.

"I know...I know...", he mumbled.

"So let me get this straight. You're in her dorm room, and she comes in from the showers with just a towel around her. She drops the towel, and you revert to a slobbering fool."

A mumble came out from behind his hands.

"What were you doing in her room in the first place?"

No answer.

"Look, we men are stupid when it comes to lust. Many men would have done the same."

Jack looked up with a hopeful look on his face.

"But that doesn't mean it's right! One, you're married. Two, she's a girl. Three, you've been avoiding your friends, who love you, since you've been 'tutoring' this girl. And finally, you believe in Jesus."

"But she's not a girl. She's twenty years-old."

I knocked him upside the head.

"You're an idiot. You'll probably be fired. You think just because a girl's eighteen and over, it's OK for you to turn on that Carey Grant, professor charm? Just because you feel something and it may not be against the law doesn't make your action good, or even right. A girl like that still has her future ahead of her. She still has her own path to figure out, an opportunity to experience fresh love with a guy her own age, and be able to work through those raging hormones so that she can learn how to protect her body AND her heart. She's turned her back on her friends and parent's advice for...what...a night with her professor?!" My voice was rising more and more. I actually felt sorry for the girl and the stupid mistake she made. Plus, I was feeling sorry for Jack's wife and what she would soon be facing.

Jack looked at me with his face twisted in pain and sorrow. "So, what was I supposed to do when she dropped the towel?"

I got up and pulled the bible off from the bookshelf. I flipped to Genesis and read. "'Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.'" I looked up at my friend and murmured, "Well, there's one difference. 'And it came to pass after these things that his master's wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, Lie with me. But he refused and said to his master's wife, Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not head her, to lie with her or to be with her. But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, that she caught him by his garment, saying Lie with me. But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.''"

"See..." Jack spoke up, "what was Joseph doing in the wife's house when her husband wasn't home? He should have known better."

"Yeah, you both belong to the same 'Idiots Club'. Congratulations. The bible tells you to 'flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.' You need your friends around you to keep you in line. That's why you were avoiding us; you knew you were out of line." I said.

A knock came from the front door. I got up, crossed the living room, and opened the door to see two very burly police officers standing there with stern and tired expressions.

"Excuse us, sir. We need to ask you a few questions. Do you know a Jack Stevens?"

"Medium built, messed up black hair, 5'10"?"

"Yes."

"Real hairy guy wearing a jean jacket and Bruce Springsteen T-shirt."

"Yes."

"Drives a blue, Toyota Prius with a license plate that reads 'EYE♥MTH'?"

"Yes."

"Never heard of him."

Ponch looked down at me from his police standard issued sunglasses. "But you just described him exactly."

"Lucky guess."

"Do you have any idea about his whereabouts, sir?"

"He's probably crying into a beer someplace."

"He was said to have had interactions with a Rebecca Hampton, a former student at Bridgemont Collect off of Newport. She's now missing. Would you have any information on her whereabouts?"

"I might have heard that she drove off in her Ford Focus and she could have headed down to Redondo Beach and is possibly staying with a friend named Sally Winters."

John, the other public servant, dutifully jotted the information in his police standard issued notepad. "Is there any other information you'd like to add, sir?"

"Yes, I don't think Kayne West should get back together with Kim Kardashian. She's just a media vampire and no respectable mother would want her as a daughter-in-law."

The police officers turned in unison, got into their standard issued police car and drove off.

"Who was that?" Jack inquired when I came back into the room.

"The master's guards" I replied. I sat back down. There was a pause, then he began to cry again.

I sat there listening, thinking about how a quick decision in the heat of a moment can tear a couple apart. Our pastor and his wife headed up a marriage class last year. He took two stickers, peeled off their backs and stuck the sticky parts together. "This is what happens when you get married. You become one. You don't belong to yourselves. Jesus said, 'For this reason, a man shall leave his mother and father, and be joined with his wife and the two will become one. What God has joined together, let no person split apart'. You belong to God, but your bodies belong to each other. Take care of what belongs to the other." He then ripped the stickers apart. Both pieces were torn. "That's what divorce does."

Jack settled down for moment. He sat staring at the carpet. "So what do I do now?"

I took a big breath. "Well, first you need to break it to Emile. You can't live a lie."

"She'll leave me. She'll leave me and hate me for the rest of her life."

"It might be a while before she forgives you. It's her choice on whether or not to leave you. She has every right." Jack looked up with surprise in his eyes. "Hey, I love you pal, but you screwed up big time. What did she promise on your wedding day? My heart is no longer mine, and everything that's mine...blah...blah...blah..."

"...belongs to you." he finished. Huge tears fell from his cheeks and hit the floor.

"You go to her and face the music. But you're not going alone. You screwed up, but God's forgiven you, and He'll lead you in the right way. And He'll guide her. If she takes you back, you'll learn how to love together again. You'll probably be her personal punching bag for a while."

"And if she doesn't?"

I hated this. I hated seeing my best friend like this. I wanted to hit him and hug him at the same time. But I made a commitment right then to stay with him through it all. "Then you continue getting together with your friends, seeking after God's way, and your relationship with her will probably look different. Things won't be the same." I paused for a moment, then suggested, "Why don't we pray over what you should do next?"



Eight months later...



"Thanks for tailgating with us on Saturday."

We were sitting outside, enjoying the sun. I had mowed the lawn earlier that morning, and the backyard had that freshly-cut smell. My pug, Felipe, lay at my feet, absorbing the sun and making odd noises through his nose.

"No problem." I replied. "I always enjoy attending college games at schools I've never attended."

Jack cleared his throat. "So...we had a counseling meeting this last Thursday."

"Did she see you together or separately?"

"Together. The lady started going over some one of Emile's defense mechanisms. Emile will charge out of the room when we argue and things start to get heated. I've changed my language a little. 'I want to work this through with you' and 'I can see why the way I acted upset you' and 'I was wrong, and wasn't thinking about your feelings.'" He pursed his lips and started wringing his hands.

"How the restitution?" The counselor had suggested that Jack be responsible for restitution for his infidelity. It didn't have to include money, but something that would compensate for what was taken away from her. Emile took a couple of weeks to think about it, then asked Jack to read The Love Dare. The book required him to do or say something each day to Emile, even if it meant just noticing her in a different way.

"Good. Last week I complimented her on something new each day. It seems a little more natural now. I'm beginning to see how I've fallen short over the last few years."

"Do you still have that quote I gave you from Edwin Cole?"

"Yeah, it's in my wallet. I still pull it out and read it from time to time."

"I still keep the quote in my wallet, too. We men can be stupid when dealing about our sexuality. People talk about how natural everything is, and how they're born that way. But a lot of it's just smoke. They don't want to change, so they build up all these arguments to allow them to keep sleeping around, or looking at pornography, or showing affection to other women when they should be devoting themselves solely to their own wives. Or honoring God with their bodies." I stopped for moment. "Sorry. Short editorial."

Jack smiled. "That's OK. I need to hear it. I start catching myself. Emile actually appreciates me calling during lunch. I take a break from job hunting to call her up. She's even come home a few times to have lunch together." Jack looked up at the bird feeder. I had stuck it onto the tree four summers ago, and ivy had begun to curl around to its roof. "We've been talking about me moving back into the bedroom. I've been kind of anxious about that."

We sat in silence for a while. He was in one of those "desert journeys", going through some refinement. Jack had become a little more humble. We were talking on the phone at least twice a week, not just about his marriage but just keeping contact. He was in an accountability group with other men, and he and Emile were going to our bible study each week. They even set aside one night just to sit and talk about what each one was going through, and pray over one another.

"I've learned a lot about faith. I feel my faith in God was pretty much dead, and I was just going through the motions. It would be simple to just visualize what our ideal marriage would look like and work towards that. But I think real faith and real hope have to have an object that's real and strong." Jack leaned back and stared at a squirrel making it's way over our telephone line. A blue jay was swooping down and pestering it. "I've been going back to the bible and asking God to guide me in what loving my wife looks like. Ephesians 6 talks about how we should care for our wives, just like Jesus does for us day and night. I'm trying to treat Emile more as a partner in our faith rather than just a 'part' in my life." He paused, then smiled. "Sorry. Short editorial."

I laughed. "I appreciate you, pal." I said. "I'm thankful for how things are changing for you."

Jack gave a wane smile. "Thanks. I appreciate how you've given your time for me." I leaned over and knocked him lightly upside the head. "Hey! What was that for?!"

"No reason. It's just fun to do every now and then."

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