I get these sad notes from people who read something from this blog and tell me of some mess-up they’ve done and the unbearable pain they caused. My heart goes out to them and to their loved ones.
My role–from the Lord, I assure you!–is to remind them there is still time to get back up off the mat where life has sent them and to do something significant in the Lord’s work, that sometimes the work of a wounded warrior (even if self-inflicted) is of a higher quality than what it would have been otherwise.
However, from time to time, we get reminded of the high cost of unfaithfulness which those who love us are required to bear when we break our vows. This is one of those stories.
I was 5 years old when President Franklin D. Roosevelt died and still remember family members bursting into tears. Recently when we were back at the old homeplace in Alabama, I showed my sons where I was standing when we got that news. Some things leave a lasting impression.
That was April of 1945. FDR’s wife Eleanor lived another 20 years or more. She was a fine lady in a hundred ways, evidently, although admittedly not much to look at. People used to make jokes about her appearance, her protruding front teeth, etc.
Not long ago, a historian gave us a different take on Mrs. Roosevelt’s appearance.
Family photos reveal that as a young woman, Eleanor Roosevelt was tall and thin, with tons of magnificent hair piled on top of her head. A Gibson girl, if you remember the type. She was most attractive.
So what happened?
In 1913, she and her husband moved to Washington when he became the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Five years later, 1918, on FDR’s return from an overseas trip, he was so sick that she unpacked his bags. That’s how she came across the packet of love letters between her husband and Lucy Mercer, Mrs. Roosevelt’s social secretary. She was devastated.
FDR agreed to give up Lucy Mercer rather than have Eleanor divorce him, take the boys away from him, and ruin his political career.
But he never did give her up.
The historian–Blanche W. Cook–says that’s when Eleanor’s life changed.
She stopped eating and what little she ate she vomited. The stomach acid destroyed her gums, loosened her teeth, and caused her front teeth to spread and protrude more than ever.
For the rest of her life, she wore in her deteriorated physical appearance the cost of her husband’s adultery.
I find that one of the saddest stories I know.
Eugene Peterson wrote a book a generation ago called “The Myth of the Greener Grass,” about the lies associated with adultery. The big lie, of course, is that there is no cost associated with it, that “I can have the wonderful life I enjoy at the present and still have this exciting little action on the side.” Too late, the individual often discovers that his/her dalliance cost a price much bigger than they ever intended to pay.
Yes, there is life after this kind of self-imposed meltdown. Yes, the Lord can still use the believer who, like King David, does something truly stupid and betrays everyone who trusts him.
But let us never forget that the price for our iniquity is born not by us alone, and not even by Christ alone through His death on Calvary. When we betray our Lord and violate our marriage vows, we inflict pain on everyone who loves us in ways we could never measure.
Be faithful. Do not listen to the whisperer of lies and the agent of seduction. He is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).