My husband is the pastor of a large local church. Everyone loves him, heck, I even love him. We have three children, one boy and two girls. Our family unit is strong and we put on an excellent front. I have caught my husband cheating multiple times with women in the church and most recently someone that he is doing business with. I am a fairly attractive 40 something year old who has managed to keep her body in check. At least that is what the men in the church tell me behind my husband’s back.
Last week my husband had a medical emergency while preparing for his Sunday’s message. I ran into the room after I heard him gasping for air and called 911. In the chaos of it all, I didn’t think to look at what my husband was preparing on the computer. My only concern was for his safety. A week in the hospital revealed a weak heart that needed immediate surgery for survival. I was scared. He was my life. We married right out of college. Miller got drafted in the NBA and I had gone to nursing school. We knew we were the right one for each other when we meet. He was a handsome basketball player with long legs and equally big feet. On campus, every girl dreamed of being his one and only. I knew he would never notice me. We had two classes together and I would always see at least three girls walking with him in class. He had a huge following back then. I was always shy and I looked the part so I knew that I would never have a chance with a guy like that. Besides, I didn’t dress like all the other girls and I sure didn’t look like any of them. My mother had worn me about wearing miniskirts and short shorts. Although mom wasn’t around her voice still played like a radio in my head.
One day while heading to the professors office for a review of my test scores, Miller walked out of Professor Johnson’s office. He said, as I passed by,”Hi Jordan”. I looked in amazement. How in the world did he know my name? Without speaking back, I walked in Professor Johnson’s office and to this date, I don’t remember any of the conversation that I had with the professor. My mind was on Miller Thomas. I didn’t know it, but Miller had waited for me in the hallway as I spoke with the professor. As I left his office, Miller stood there and said, I’ve been waiting for you to say, “hello back to me.” I apologized nervously, and said, “I didn’t think you knew my name.” He began to tell me how he has looked for me around campus and that he thought I was smart. Miller said that day that as a athlete he is permitted to miss class and be tutored but that he has never missed the two classes he and I share just for an opportunity to see me. I thought I was in a dream.
Miller and I would be the biggest news on campus. A shy unassuming girl and a handsome athlete. Miller was always gentle and respectful. I ignored the rumors of the many girls who said that they slept with him. Of course he always had throngs of girls with him, but I knew and he reminded me often that it was me he wanted. He was never afraid to hold my hand, and he always managed to call me daily and to proclaim his love each night. Not one time did Miller ever act or say anything inappropriate while we dated. He said that he loved the fact that I was a virgin and that our wedding night would be magical. He kept his promise. Our wedding was glorious. I recall the day I knew that we were pregnant. Every time we would make love, Miller would say, I hope you are pregnant with my daughter. I want her to look and be just like you. I looked forward to the nights that we would be intimate. Miller would always start the morning off by romancing me with little notes and surprises. Our love was perfect. He was perfect…..until.
Several years into our marriage, Miller’s career as a basketball star was shortened by multiple injuries. I had nursed him back to health emotionally through all the stress of being at the height of your career and being side-lined by injuries. But, Miller was a trooper. The world marveled at our marriage. We were the poster family for great marriages. I never paid any attention to the news articles of his womanizing. I knew that wasn’t true. Miller had his pick of any woman and he chose me. So, why would he cheat? I didn’t make sense so I never believed the tabloids. After Miller retired from sports, he decided that he would go into the family business. His father and grandfather were pastors. Miller’s sisters and brother were all pastors, so one would think it was quite natural for Miller to be a pastor. Actually, that was one of the reasons I fell in love with him. We would stay up nights and talk about the bible. He loved teaching me and I loved learning. I found nothing sexier than when he would preach from the pulpit with such fire and passion. The same passion I saw as he looked in my eyes the nights we made love.
It’s 1:00 in the morning and I can’t sleep. It’s been difficult to sleep while Miller is in the hospital. I decided tonight that I would go home and not stay the night at the hospital. After tossing and turning, I went into the study to write. That’s what I do when I can sleep at night. I sat at Miller’s desk to journal and I hit his computer screen and I saw an email that Miller had been writing prior to his medical event.
This email was an email describing the fun that he had while away on a trip last month. It detailed some of the most sultry and sensual things that I had only imagined in my mind. I was hurt and betrayed. Miller had been cheating and this had been going on for months. As I begin to go through his email, I found emails from women in the church who Miller was either flirting with or had affairs. I had to be a laughing stock of the entire church. I didn’t know. I didn’t see it. I wondered how could such a loving man betray me.
Streams of tears began to roll down my face. My perfect world was shattered. What was I to do? I couldn’t confront Miller because the doctor has warned that he could not be upset or he would go back into cardiac arrest. But, I was angry. How could I go out and public and face the congregation. What about our children? He had no right to put them in harms way like this. I crawled on my knees and I begged God to take away this pain. I had poured my life into my marriage. I had quit my career to be his wife and the mother of his children. I worked endlessly to maintain my shape and my looks so that he would have a wife that is worthy of being called his. I sacrificed me so that he could be all that he could be. I even wrote his sermons that everyone thought he wrote so that he could travel and be so many places at one time. I was a fool.
As I contemplated whether to live or die, the phone rung. It was Miller. He was calling to tell me to come to the hospital right away. In that moment, I forgot what I had discovered. I hung up the phone without asking questions. On my way to the hospital, I cried and begged God to let him live. I knew in that moment that I was willing to forgive him of anything if he lived. The 15 minute drive to the hospital allowed me to replay the first day that Miller and I met. His excitement when our children were born. The many night of love making that I knew touched the inner part of his soul. I was reminded how complete I felt in him and how he chose me all those years ago. God, please let him live.
I opened the door to his room at the hospital and I was disappointed to see only him in the room. I had envisioned doctors in white coats bring him back to life. I stood and looked at him. Tears were rolling down his face. I asked, what’s wrong. He said, I’m a liar and a cheater. I didn’t interrupt. I silently listened. He explained for the past year that he had been having affairs with multiple women in the church. He explained that it wasn’t my fault, but that he needed to feel like an athlete again. He said that I would never understand when the crowd is calling your name and that you get sucked into thinking that you are super human and that the praise will continue. He explained that he had felt less than a husband and a father despite having a meaning career as a pastor. He went on to say how he never thought he was good enough for a woman like me. That he was sorry that I had sacrificed so much of my life to live his dreams. Miller cried for 30 minutes before I could open my mouth and say, “I love you.”
What? I love you? What in the world was going on? How those words came out of my mouth, I couldn’t tell you, but I knew that wasn’t what I was thinking. I was thinking how could I pull all the IV’s out of him and watch him grasp for breath as he died. Miller said that he would take whatever consequence that I had in mind, but he would like to rebuild his marriage. I asked, why tell me now. He said, I saw you in my dreams tonight reading my emails and crying. I felt you wanting to die and I knew that if you died that I wouldn’t want to live. This may not agree with you, but I had to let you know that there was nothing you did to deserve this. I’ve been selfish with your love and I will spend the rest of my life restoring your faith in me as a man. I will step down from the church, I will go to counseling, but please baby, let me try and fix this. Before I could answer, Miller began praying. He prayed to restore our marriage, he begged for forgiveness and he requested consequences. His voice soared like I have never heard it before.
That was 5 years ago. Today Miller and I are a temple. He no longer preaches in a pulpit as a part of his own accountability. We share one email address and we’re inseparable. This recipe may not be for everyone but it was the ingredients required to make us whole again. Some people may say that you have go through the bad in order to get the good. That’s just a saying. But, trials will come to test you and your faith. Forgiveness is not an event it is a journey and God can do the imaginable to your heart. It wasn’t Miller’s heart that was transplanted that night in the hospital, it was mine. God gave me a heart that only He could give. There would not have been forgiveness if it was left up to me. When you’re looking at death in the face, always choose life. I did and I got my life back!