I sat heavy in the booth, trying desperately to ignore the words. But sentence after sentence was ripping out my heart. Heat rose over me and I closed my eyes to keep from coming unglued. You need to leave your wife, buddy. She’s dragging you down. You can’t be happy with her. There’s no hope left.
Here in the middle of Panera the sacredness of marriage was being tossed around like trash. Nauseousness fell over me. I wanted to jump up and shake the man to death. I sat for a moment unaware if anything else had been said, until he delivered the crushing blow. Why don’t you come to church with my family this week?
Brushing aside all fear, I said, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but can I ask you something?” Of course, he obliged. I said, “do you think that you would be giving the same advice to your friend if I was his wife, sitting right here listening.” He looked a little puzzled, as I continued. “Of course, I’m not HIS wife, but I am a wife. A wife who’s husband sat across the table from a guy just like you 2.5 years ago. A man who didn’t stop to consider that damage, but only the alleged quest for self-happiness.” I continued on as I briefly recounted the devastation that our family has faced. Then I turned to the man who was given advice and said, “sir, I beg you on behalf of your wife, your children, and your God, PLEASE stay and fight for your life.”
Tears welled up in his brokenness and the room seemed to fall silent. I think the friend was so shocked at my boldness that he simply didn’t know what to do. I gave him my blog address and a promise. “If you decide to fight, I’ll help you.”
I don’t know where he is sleeping tonight, but I do know this. The thought of hope glistened in his eyes. Hope in something bigger than his own depravity. Hope that there is something worth fighting for. Hope that the creator of the universe is in the business of rebuilding the ruins.
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