Don walked in to SPF7 energized with commentaries in hand. The routine of following Chris into the library, taunting Lurch, and smelling the academia enthralled him. His adrenaline pulsed as the excitement of learning a whole new language and a whole new world that he had never before experienced unfolded before him like a rose receiving the sun.
He sat down at the horseshoe table and surveyed the regulars. PJ Dunn, a freckled 40 year old mulatto man who had strong opinions and seemed to always have answers with which Type A always agreed. Scott Michael laughed and hit Michael Riley on the shoulder. Don noticed that Michael Riley had come a long way in his faith. Michael Dryer stepped in the room and his voice penetrated the noise making it distinct above the roar. He had an edgy sense of style and a confident air about him. He had a son in San Antonio that he kept making prayer requests about and he wondered why he didn’t just move down there. It seemed to Don that he had an overconfidence that was covering up something. What it was, he couldn’t say for sure.
Watching the chaos of Monday night before Chris got everyone’s attention made Don smile. Type A was in usual form smiling and encouraging everyone in the room, it was slightly sickening, but everyone knew it was just Type A. Brit came up from behind and put his arm around Don and Don smiled.
“Hey Brit, great to see you this evening.”
“Hey,” Brit smiled. “How’s Marion?”
“Great.” Don said and smiled. “Thanks for asking.”
The other men came in and sat down. Chris looked like he was back to himself. He opened the meeting talking about how bad it was with Zoe and what happened and how he had not been fully forthcoming with all of his sin and hurt. He then looked over at Don and thanked him in front of everyone.
Don didn’t feel like he had done anything special, but there was a bond that he shared with Chris that went beyond the tears of this week. It was based on a mutual trust and admiration they had for each other. It was strange that Don wanted to be close to a 30 year old straight Republican who was young enough to be his son.
Don noticed Steven looking down at his Bible and being uncharacteristically silent. Don wasn’t sure what to make of Steven. He had an incredible intellect, but Don felt he lacked the capacity to implement what he had learned. Steven caught Don staring and he tried to smile.
Ah ****. Don knew he was hurting. He had seen that look before.
Type A prayed the Bible study in and the book of Matthew was discussed in detail. When prayer requests came around, Steven shared his heart.
“Guys, I hate my wife.”
“What?” Don asked.
“I hate my wife. I’m tired of her ****. She has no ability to be intimate with me whatsoever. I feel like a complete failure for ministry and I just want to do something where I am wanted and loved.”
All eyes were on Steven.
“I can’t remember the last time we had sex. It feels like she always wants me at arm’s distance. Close enough to keep me desiring her, but never close enough to satisfy my manly desire. And believe me, it’s a big desire.”
Collective nervous laughter filled the awkwardness.
“My wife is battling depression, she had been in abusive relationships up until me and has a daughter whom I adore, but I feel trapped. Trapped with a woman who can’t love me—****! I get her back by not talking to her at all. She won’t give me sex and I won’t give her cuddling. She is also going through chemotherapy for cancer. I don’t know if that makes me a monster, but she is a ***** to me.”
“Thanks for sharing that, Steven,” Chris said.
Don had known these moments before and he had learned in AA that whenever someone shared an intense moment, no one should coddle the person or hug them or anything, because there was usually more to follow—and any intervention might quell that person’s desire to share.
Steven put his head in his hands for a moment and then just stared straight ahead. “This just sucks. That’s it for me.”
The Bible study went on with prayer requests, but Don couldn’t stop thinking about Steven. As Chris finished praying Steven walked toward the door and Don stopped him.
“I’m sorry for all that you are going through, Steven,” Don said.
“Thanks Don, I am not very good at being married. There is so much that I am clueless to, and I need God more than ever to love my wife.”
“I can understand that. You have committed to her and there are certain pains that come with commitment, treating each other well is one of them. If you can’t do that, then there are plenty of divorce lawyers who can set you free.”
“I could never do that, Don.”
“Because I am a Christian and you can’t just go to 1-2-3 Divorce anytime you have a problem.”
“Sounds like you have a disaster, not a problem.”
“No offense, Don, but what the hell do you know?”
“I’ve been in a relationship for 18 years and it may not be perfect, but it sure as hell has been satisfying. I may not be straight, but I don’t give a ****, there is no reason why two people should be going through the hell that you both are.
“Don, relationships aren’t perfect and God hates divorce. I won’t even entertain that thought. Maybe God wants me to be miserable for the rest of my life.”
“****, why would anyone want your God.”
“Look Don, God is and I can’t deny that. Right now I can’t feel Him, I can’t sense Him, but I know He’s there. What that means to you, I don’t give a ****. I won’t even try to poke fingers into your relationship when mine is as you say a disaster. I know you are trying to help Don, so thanks for that, but I need to go.”
“Okay, well you know that I’m always here if you need to call.” Don said goodbye to Type A and the rest of the men. He got into his jeep and drove home. Don unlocked the door and stepped out of the cool air. He went into the kitchen and grabbed a water out of the fridge.
“Hey baby,” Don said.
“Hey,” Marion said and kissed him on the cheek.
Don turned around and went upstairs to his computer and tried to peck out an email. However something inside told him to pray. So Don pulled out his journal like McGregor and Type A had told him and started writing to God to help Steven.
Marion walked by the study and looked at Don furiously writing. He paused for a moment to watch, and then went to bed.
The next morning, Don woke up with an intense desire to pray. Was this the Lord? Don tiptoed downstairs and squinted at the clock on the wall. 4:30am. He started to journal again and he kept writing until his hand cramped. ****! He wrung out his hand.
He then went upstairs and pecked out a message to Steven.
Don Dent wrote:
Good morning Steven, You were a pleasure to talk with last night. I wanted to tell you that nothing is impossible with God, [look me telling you that—that’s ironic] I wish I could scream and holler and curse at you and that it would make a difference, but you evidently don't need any more stress. And all my rage would just enrage you. If you think it will help, I’ll jump up and down and curse the hell out of you. I'll scream and holler—only to help, I can also give you a huge tight bear hug and you can cry on my shoulder, without feeling insecure. [How's that for an offer]. I will do anything to help you—that is some me—but mostly God talking.
I wasn't a horrible non-Christian, I cared for people, but God takes caring to another level. There’s nothing I can do to make you love yourself, that's a process, I've been through, believe me, I know that process intimately. But the other side is great. Self-approval wow! Self-worth is nice. It’s not pride in a bad way. I prayed for you last night and this morning. I am so empathetic with you. I don't know you well, but your openness to share is such a huge deal, that expression is letting go of what's eating you, it's a big step, keep it up—Keep sharing as honestly as you did last night, I have a feeling you’re very close to a huge crying for forgiveness episode. I don't know what issues need forgiving—it’s not important, but you know, and I have suspicion that God knows, what the **** do you have to lose?
[BEWARE: I’M GOING TO SCREAM AND HOLLER FOR A MOMENT] YOU’RE BEING AN ASS TO YOUR WIFE, HELL MAN, SHE’S GOING THROUGH ******* CHEMO,YOU SAID IT ALL LAST NIGHT, YOU ADMITTED IT. IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU, I DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU COME FROM, BUT FROM MY HOOD, WE CALL THAT SELFISH. I’M NOT THE ANTAGONIST HERE.
I’m being supportive the only way I know how, to offer physical comfort or to scream and holler, and I now offer my prayers. Don't forget Steven, you are a winner, I don't apologize for coming on strong—I will apologize if you tell me I’ve over stepped boundaries, but we said last night we would be honest, I'm new to this, so please know my intent is sincere and not one of blame.