By Brenda Cannon Henley
We began our study of the fruit of the Spirit as found in the Book of Galatians, Chapter 5, and covered love, joy, peace, and started on long-suffering. Long-suffering has many meanings to many different people. Merriam Webster dictionary defines long-suffering as, “patiently enduring lasting offense or hardship.” Another resource book defines it as, “having or showing patience in spite of troubles, especially those caused by other people (his long-suffering wife).” I started a rather lengthy illustration of how I came to deal with long-suffering on my own turf. Ted had escorted a very nice, attractive woman to an event as a favor to his sister. She did not want to let go even after she married and Ted and I became engaged.
At the lunch Ted arranged in the restaurant, he returned a couple of expensive gifts and told the woman that he did not feel comfortable keeping them. She seemed distressed, but he left them with her and told her goodbye, all the way being a perfect gentleman. Lo and behold, within the next week, she had called three times and left messages. I don’t know if she did not understand the modern communications we have and that every call is recorded as to date, time, and duration, and that voice mails can be heard by anyone that picks up that phone. He had asked her how she could call when she was married and her husband was retired. She answered, “Oh, I just send Billy on an errand to the grocery or the post office or out to work on the roses,” as if that were normal.
Ted and I had this wonderful trip planned to Mexico and we had packed the vehicle and were ready to leave. I was so excited. I had a few days off from work, a little jingle in my pocket, and we were headed out of town when the phone rang. I recognized the voice immediately and just looked at Ted. He was a very wise man. He answered the phone and then said, “Just a minute, Pat, there is someone I want you to meet. Brenda and I are on our way out of town for a bit of vacation, and I know you will like her.” With that, he handed me the phone and I stumbled through a hello and introduced myself. She did not have much to say to me at all and every time I have seen her in a shopping mall, restaurant, or even at a church service, she practically runs from me to keep from speaking.
We continued dating and were engaged on a happy Easter Sunday morning on the beach and later married at sea. Guess what? She continued to send cards and small gifts and called from time to time. I realized somewhere along the way that Ted was happy with me, and that this woman was apparently miserable. She was very active in her church and the community and was well thought of by many. Please do not tell me men and women can be good friends with no romantic interest. I agree with that. I have many male friends and have always enjoyed working with men in business environments. I would not agree that it is decent and acceptable to contact happily married men and offer dates to meet, eat, and even to say those three little words, as she put it in a card, “I love you.”
It took a lot for me to continue to be long-suffering with this particular woman. And, I felt so sorry for her husband who was a good man and apparently loved her very much.
There are some principles that one just accepts in life. If a man is married and has a wife or partner, or vice versa, he or she is off limits in my book. Other women should not call, text, make offers, hint, or come on to them in public or private on a personal basis, and especially so after midnight or at 2:30 in the morning. When fueled by alcohol and/or drugs, the things that are said and done can come home to embarrass the person making the advances. I fully understand that people communicate in business matters, but a wise woman has a second sense about this kind of thing and does not give the devil a chance to tear up lives.
We are called on as Christians to be long-suffering and kind to folks who do not play by the rules, but Jesus does not expect us to be doormats. We are not to lie down and play dead. If we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything. Had this behavior continued, I fully intended to call the woman in my case on my own and go for a meeting with her. As my daughter says, “I was going to ‘splain it to her real well.” Thank God, I did not have to do that, but it did require patience, kindness, and quite a lot of long-suffering. After Ted died, when going through his things, I gathered up the cards, note, and gift cards and put them away in a big brown envelope and debated about mailing them to her. I decided against that and simply threw them in the trash.
One of the things that ruffles my feathers the most is a troublemaker or a pot stirrer. Some folks seem to get their kicks by stirring up trouble, repeating, gossip, and making the molehills giant mountains. Stand up for what is right and what is yours, but for Heaven and earth’s sake, don’t cause difficulties. There are usually three sides to every situation—his, hers, and the total truth.
Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788, or