The Love of a Good Woman
A mega-church super-pastor of national renown recently got into trouble over an extra-marital affair, and the wise guys with whom I almost daily commune had a long virtual conversation about it. I would not, for anything in the world want to expose these guys to the judgment and righteous admonitions of their peers so they will remain nameless.*
There was a lot of wisdom flying around that group about the sanctity of marriage and the holy orders of ministry and grace and forgiveness, and the triumphant power of the love of a good woman. Indeed, there was so much wisdom piling up by the time I joined this particular conversation on the email chain, a farmer could have spread the wisdom three feet deep, plowed it into the field and watched a bumper crop of corn grow up next spring. Some wisdom is just that fertile.
I joined the conversation at the point when Don Frampton praised the love of his good wife Colleen for keeping him on the straight and narrow. His tribute was so beautiful that I believe we all shed a tear and bowed our heads in gratitude for our own good wives. But, being a Calvinist, I felt I had to burst the bubble of shared (and sincere) sentiment by reminding my friends that the straying of men has nothing to do with the beauty, intelligence or resourcefulness of their spouses. Men are foolish, lustful idiots, and their faults are all their own.
Which reminded me of something my own loving wife once said to me. But before telling you that story, I have to give you a little background.
I’m just a simple Southern country boy. And when I brought the young woman I hoped to marry home to visit my parents for the first time, it was only natural that I took her out to the old farm to shoot with me. It’s what I always did when I came home from college. First thing in the morning, after I rolled in from college, I always gathered up some guns and headed over to the old farm on Seed Tick Ridge not far above the Angelina River dividing Nacogdoches from Angelina counties. Down below the dam of the pond, I set up a range.
I decided to show my soon to be fiancé Debbie how to shoot, she being a city girl who’d never (Never!) held a gun in her life.
We blasted away with a shotgun for awhile. But any fool can blow away cans with a shotgun. So I decided to make things interesting. That, as Lyle Lovett has written, was my first mistake. I pulled out a handgun, set up a row of Coke cans and showed her how it’s done. Meaning, of course, it’s done about three times out of five, because I’ve never been that good with a handgun. So I set up some new cans, handed her the gun, and stood in shock and awe as she proceeded to blow away every single can.
I mean it, folks. Every. Single. Can.
She turned and asked me, “was that pretty good for a first try?” And, taking the gun from her hand, I said, I’m not sure I want to be associated with a woman who can shoot that well.
Let us scroll forward many many years. That woman and I had married and raised a family by then. Bill Clinton’s errant ways had become big news. And, like many Americans, Debbie and I were trying to absorb it all.
One night she turned from the television and said to me, “If you EVER do what Clinton did, the last words you will ever hear will be me standing over your writhing body saying ‘how do I reload this damn thing.’”
That’s love, my friends.
But so is this.
About twenty years ago one of my cousins called me. He and his fiancé wanted me to perform their wedding. His father was like a big brother to me, and I can still remember my cousin when he was just a baby crying for his bottle, and the only thing we had in the car to give him was white bread that I rolled up in little balls and fed him one after another as we waited for the ferry to take us over to the island where my Big Daddy had his beach house. Of course, I was pleased to do the wedding.
The wedding photographer came to the rehearsal. And, in the course of our run-through of the worship service, he explained to me the camera and video angles he planned for the wedding. For example, he explained, he planned to stand right behind me and videotape over my left shoulder the faces of the couple as they exchanged rings.
So, I stopped the rehearsal at that point, and he and I went outside the sanctuary to talk privately for a few minutes.
Now, I have some funny ideas about weddings. I think they are worship services, not photo opportunities. So I explained to the photographer where he would be standing for videos (In the back of the sanctuary) and when he would be taking still pictures (Posed, right after the service ended). He was furious, and I wouldn’t budge. So, from my perspective, the outcome was good.
Having reached our understanding, we came back into the sanctuary and to the waiting wedding party to continue the rehearsal.
As we rehearsed at the front of the sanctuary, the photographer skulked away, and found a seat in the back of the sanctuary where he could sulk and mutter. He spied a beautiful blue-eyed brunette sitting alone on the back row and surmised that she looked sympathetic and so he sat down beside her.
‘I shoot weddings all the time.” He said.
“I’m a professional. I don’t know who that preacher thinks he is telling me how this wedding will be shot.” He muttered.
To which the brunette nodded sympathetically.
‘I’ll tell you what! I’m complaining to this church.” He continued.
To which the brunette nodded again.
Sensing that he had a hearer who understood him, he then said, “I’ll tell you what. THAT preacher up there is a Son of a Bitch.”
To which, the brunette smiled and said, “You aren’t telling me anything. I’m married to that Son of a Bitch.”
And that too, my friends, is the love of a good woman.
* but if you want to know the names of this band of thieves and reprobates, they are Fred Lyon, Bill Banta, Don Frampton and Ed Lupberger.