Why does every woman desperately need a message series like SHAPE?
Anger, rage and righteous indignation.
I thought I was going on a business trip. I had three major activities to accomplish in five days, each of them central to my job and all critical to the success of the company. It was all planned out. I had everything under control and had contingencies for the potential landmines. It’s what I do. It’s what I am good at: leadership, strategic planning and communication. I am in my element.
Apparently, God had an entirely different plan for me for the week.
Oh, the business part of it went well. Everything was almost perfect. No one would have suspected that most of the week I thought I was going to throw up.
In the midst of my Monday morning coordinating, communicating, organizing, assuring, meeting, fixing, and orchestrating, the young woman pulled me aside. How hard it must have been for her to tell me, both of us new to the organization and with only a couple of interactions between us, that the night before her husband had asked for a divorce. The air was immediately sucked from the room. Fighting back tears, she admitted she wasn’t handling it well and apologized in advance if she failed to carry her weight for her part of our activities this week.
Hit pause for a moment: I will not provide many details here and some of them are changed a bit because it is not my story to tell and I know we live in a global information village. Someone reading this will probably know her. Let’s call them Amy and Steve.
Steve departed on a business trip that very morning, leaving a wake of devastation. They have two children under seven. A previous affair he had promised to end was ongoing. Amy watched her phone as their joint bank account was being drained at that very moment from a distant city, the money from her paycheck. He told her he wanted to keep the house and “let” her stay in it. He told her he wants to live in the house so he can be with his children but he also wants to live with his girlfriend. The next day he pulls his whole paycheck out of the joint banking account the moment the direct deposit hits, leaving Amy without sufficient money to pay childcare, car payments or the mortgage. He promises to call the kids and then doesn’t. He uses psychological and verbal abuse to convince her it will be his way or she will lose her children. When she finally takes legal steps to protect herself and her children, he calls her a ________ for “ending the marriage.” This all goes down in four days.
Anyone been there? I truly wish this story was the exception and not the rule. I am watching this smart, beautiful, young mother try to hold together her job (which now will become critical to her and her kids’ survival) as the person who vowed to provide for her and protect her, steals and destroys.
I thought about the SHAPE series Jim and Scott are teaching and here is what I see through that lens: another selfish little boy wreaking havoc in the life of a woman and two children where a man should have stood. And another woman who needs to know how a real man acts.
Anger? Rage? Righteous indignation? You bet. These types of situations are the only times in which I have ever wished I was a man, because it wouldn’t take much for me to take this guy for a “talk out behind the barn” as we say in the south. (Mercy has never been my spiritual gift.)
I could only offer to Amy the insights of a woman who walked the same path years before she was born. It is going to be rough. Single parenting is the toughest thing you will ever do. The situation will get uglier before its gets better. It can and will get better over time. God promises to walk through the fire with you. He loves your children more than you do.
Watching Amy’s pain made me feel like it was just yesterday and it was my pain. Oh, that I could magically make this go away for her. I can’t. Again, and for seemingly the millionth time, I have to trust God for the future of this family using the only help I really have to offer: prayer, prayer for Amy, her kids, and even (shudder) Steve.
I guess I could also forward the link to the SHAPE series, but just once, I wish God would let me take one of these “men” out behind the barn…it would be an attitude readjustment of epic proportions.
Deb Nickell is a grandmother, physician assistant and teacher. She has an evolving passion for communicating truth and grace.