“C’mon were going out to breakfast,” Phoebe said. It was the last day I was staying with her family in the middle of nowhere central Illinois.
“But the kids, Alex?”
Phoebe shook her head and waved her hand. “They’ll be fine.”
We drove into town and ended up at an old haunt, a mom and pop diner. I had totally forgot this place exsisted. Phoebe was still reconstructing her life, as her and Alex’s legal separation ended. The bump Phoebe sported was proof their seperation wasn’t as seperate as the legal papers say they were. It was unplanned, but Phoebe and her prophetic gift knew this was in the cards years ago.
“I hope I’m making the right decision by letting him come back. He’s changed, he’s good to me, the kids, he’s making amends, but I worry he’ll cheat again,” her voice trailed off as she gazed longingly at my mimosa.
I made the wrong decision by ordering huervos rancheros in a small farming town restaurant run by white people: it was an uncooked flour tortilla with scrambled eggs topped with tomato sauce. I was jealous of Phoebe’s breakfast of eggs, toast, and hashbrowns and her ability of getting pregnant with birth control.
“You have to go by the fruit they produce, but nothing is ever guaranteed,” I said. She knew I was fully supportive of her decision, to stay or go. If I were her, I’d have left and not looked back, but it was not for me to decide.
“How did we get here, Simonne? Why is marriage so damn hard?”
The weight of her words hit me like a sack of flour dropped out of the sky. I thought about my own heart wrenching struggles in my marriage and how it changed me and ultimately us. I thought about my friend who divorced a parasitic narcissist with an abusive streak a mile wide dressed up as a good Christian man. I thought of my other friend who appears to have the perfect marriage from my distant view, wondering if they found the secret that has elduded us, or if they’re as effed as we are and hide it better with their megakilowatt smiles.
“No one said it would be this hard,” I said barely above a whisper. “Problems, sure, thats life. But this – all this – why had no one warned us?”
“I don’t know, someone should have said something. I just never knew it would be this hard.”
I scoffed at those empty platitudes we shove on brides to be: never go to bed angry, laugh together everyday, put Jesus in the center and everything will be fine. Sometimes going to bed angry is better than having the same arugument an octive higher and an hour later. There are times when laughing is on the list below cleaning the grout in the kitchen after a long and tiring day: not happening. Jesus said He would be with us, not that bad times would be avoided by obedience and prayer. I doubt the second time Paul was shipwrecked, did he think, “Wow I must really be doing something wrong.” America with her prosperity gospel of smooth sailing and happy clappy Christians: gag me with a place setting.
Yet here we were.
We ate in silence. We both were fighters, women who followed after Jesus, and loved our husbands. We ate like we were gearing up for battle.
As we left the restaurant and headed back to the house, I reflected how on how Alex’s adultery changed Phoebe: she became less dependent on Alex and more dependent on God. Old Phoebe would have fretted over the kids and Alex for breakfast, but now she left him to be a father. Maybe something good came out of this mess.
I recently learned they’re moving to the east coast and will be within driving distance from me. They’ve decided to hit the reset button on their marriage by moving away from the cataclysmic damage. I’m excited to see where the Lord leads them in this new season.
And my heart is so full that I have a another Christian soldier so close to my heart and my city once again.