A Two-Act Marriageby Christy Cabe
“Hey, we’d love to have you guys over for dinner!”
Adam nodded to the stranger he’d met in the lobby an hour ago, and who now sat beside him. The service had just ended. Everything was unfamiliar to them, their families’ first Sunday at this church called Emmanuel Community. Adam plastered on a smile and lied through his teeth, “Sure! That would be great!”
Going to the home of these enthusiastically friendly “church people” sounded terrible. But, he reasoned, they wouldn’t really follow-through with the invitation. Who actually does?
Two days later the phone rang. The date was on the calendar for the following week.
“I was sweating bullets,” Adam now confesses. “No one had actually followed-up with an invitation like this before. Our other friends would say such things, but didn’t mean them. These people did. I dreaded it.”
Why? Because of the act that would follow. The front that would be “put on.” More plastered smiles. More fake happiness. More pretend life.
The Ross family needed to come across as perfect. Nothing less.
“Our life was a lie,” Molly says. “We pretended to have the perfect marriage, perfect children, and the nicest stuff. But in reality, we were a mess.”
Though they’d been married for nine years, they were far from happy.
“We didn’t respect each other at all,” Molly continues. “He worked three jobs so we could buy more stuff and appear wealthy. I didn’t respect his work, and thought he was a terrible husband and father.”
“I worked hard, and yet we were still in debt,” Adam adds. “We drove a Mercedes-Benz we couldn’t afford. I didn’t respect Molly as a wife or mother, and I never truly listened to her. I had no idea how she felt about anything.”
The Ross’ showed up at the home of the “church people.” They were going to make a good impression. No, make that a perfect one.
But as Adam, who owns a cleaning and restoration company, looked around, he noticed their house was a bit dirty. And though you’d think this would look like a potential client to such a businessman, it did not.
It looked like freedom.
“They were so normal,” Adam explains. “They served a normal meal, and we had a comfortable conversation. The house was a little messy, and their kids were just kids. We’d never seen such a thing in our lives full of fake-perfect friends.”
It was an eye-opener for the Ross’. But, it was too little too late. After nine years of marriage, they divorced.
Act I had come to an end.
With joint custody of the kids, and lawyers to navigate the choppy waters, they lived separate lives for two years.
“It was an awful, lonely time,” Molly states. “We were completely isolated. We didn’t even talk to some of our family.”
“We had failed,” Adam continues. “Life hadn’t come with instructions for a perfect marriage or for being a perfect dad, so I messed up.”
But it wasn’t over. There was hope behind the curtain, and another act about to begin. This time, though, perfection was not the goal.
Because what Adam and Molly learned as they attended ECC separately, was that God, who actually IS perfect, chose to love us while we are not.
Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
God doesn’t wait to save and love perfect people. He reaches out to sinners. He loves and saves the imperfect.
“A church friend reached out during this dark time and asked if I’d want to share some of my feelings over a cup of coffee,” Adam laughs. “No way! This man thought Molly and I were still married. We had managed to fool people with our fake life even during our divorce. But, Molly and I started to hang out with him and his wife anyway. Eventually, we worked up the courage to tell them the truth. We shattered the ‘perfect life’ act, and yet they still accepted us.”
And two years later on a Wednesday evening, in that now-familiar worship center at ECC, Pastor Miller performed a wedding.
Act II began.
After Molly and Adam remarried, another man from church asked them to join a small group with three other couples from ECC. Molly and Adam were ready for more real friendships and honest conversations. They said yes.
“We have now, over the past two years, shared everything with them,” Molly says. “They know our whole story.”
Adam laughs again and says, “Yeah, now I’m one of those guys sharing my feelings and these men have heard it all. And come to think of it, they still like me!”
God’s love, and the love of His people, His non-perfect people, raised the curtain on hope.
This two-act marriage is shaping up to be imperfectly beautiful.
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