I thought Anna and Don Walker* had the kind of marriage I wanted – maybe they did at the time.
That was 15 years ago, when I was in college. Back then, Anna and Don were the kind of couple you never dreamed would divorce. They were steady, salt-of-the-earth folks who effortlessly served others and gave the impression that they really liked each other.
After I graduated from college, the only contact I had with the Walkers was through Anna, and that was just through Facebook, where she wasn’t very active. But it was through Facebook that I noticed something strange the other day: her name wasn’t Walker anymore.
I sent a message to a mutual friend and asked if something had happened to Anna and Don. He replied, “I am sorry to say that Don divorced Anna last year. It is a long and bitter story that broke my heart. Please lift them both up in prayer.”
I went to Anna’s Facebook page and found a cryptic post that provided a little more detail. It said,
“[O]ne year ago today my world came crashing down around me. I felt like life was taken from me – that a part of me died. I was in a place in life I never thought I would be. I felt hopeless. There was darkness all around me, BUT GOD WAS THERE. I am telling you this to let you know that no matter how dark it gets, His light shines. He has sustained me. I am still standing because I serve a wonderful, loving God.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future. Sometimes we don’t understand the things that happen in our lives, but we don’t have to understand, we just have to trust the one that does.
I pray that this is an encouragement for someone. Sometimes you just need to hear, ‘It’s going to be okay.’ You will get through this no matter how many times the enemy tells you that you won’t make it. I’m here to tell you it will be okay. Just keep your eyes on Jesus. He is working on your behalf! He loves you! He has a hope and a future for you! He will never leave you! I know this to be true!”
I was inspired, but I also grieved for Anna, especially after I later learned that Don left her for someone else.
There was a time when I thought I could never do what Don did to Anna, where I truly believed I was above that kind of mistake. I am no longer so foolish.
Don didn’t leave the house, meet someone new, and pack his bags. He didn’t wake up one morning and say, “What the heck – I think I’ll destroy my family and my good reputation today.” I’m sure, as my mom once said about another man, “he did it one bad decision at a time.”
I just wonder what that series of bad decisions looked like for Don, and what they would look like for me. Maybe I would stop flirting with my wife or start dabbling in online porn or just go to bed angry. But the interesting thing is, in a recent conversation with Anna, she offered this explanation for why her husband left: “He fell out of love with God long before he fell out of love with me.”
As I thought about all this, about how far Don had gone in the wrong direction over the last 15 years, I realized it’s not that hard to make a series of poor choices, and it’s not that hard to disengage from fellowship with the Lord. And that’s why, outside of God’s grace and making good choices, I too am the kind of spouse who cheats.
*Anna and Don Walker are pseudonyms I have chosen after receiving permission from Anna to post this article.