To George, Bert and Jerry

To George, Bert and Jerry:

These thoughts have been ruminating in my head for a long time. Years. Decades even for some of them. And while I was swimming today and thinking while doing laps, they all came together. So I decided to write you an letter.

You were mentors of mine, two of you, and one of you a peer. Sunday school teacher. Church leader. Pastor. Youth pastor. Mentors to me and one of you to my kids. Friends, all of you. Heroes of mine, each of you. Christian men who I looked up to. Warriors I thought. I wanted to be like you.

And each of you have something in common. You all left your wives and families for greener pastures. Other women. Different lives. You moved on. And your wives and children were left in your wake.

Not saying you abandoned your kids…well, I guess I am saying that. That happened. Dad wasn’t home anymore. No matter how much you saw them or visited, it just wasn’t the same. It never is.

Your kids probably turned out great. I can’t speak for them. I don’t know many of them anymore. But I think about them all often and wonder what could have been. What hurts do they have that didn’t have to be there? What wounds are they carrying in life that may or may not have been healed? What kind of hole did you leave? And what are the ramifications of that? For them, for her, for you…in this life or the life to come?

I’m not better than you. I’ve thought about leaving. Checking out. Starting over. On my worst day, I stayed because of the kids. I won’t do to them what you did. I refuse.

We all go through cycles in our relationships. Sometimes I think my wife is crazy and sometimes I’m the crazy one. But I’m committed. There’s too much at stake.

I feel sorry for you. I’ve had anger. Mostly though, I’m just disappointed. When I see your kids with only their mother and realize the time they missed with their dad, it pains me. When I helped your family move into their new home and you were nowhere around, it pained me. New memories were made in your absence.

Hopefully you have found peace in your new relationship and your new life. Hopefully your kids have forgiven you and have healed from any wounding. Hopefully grace and forgiveness surround you and you both give and receive both.

My disappointment in your decisions have helped me make better ones. Good friends remind me that it’s worth it to hang in there and battle through when life and marriage gets tough. To not take the easy way out.

Marriage is tough. Raising a family isn’t easy. We give and give and sometimes it feels like it is for naught. We have to balance work and home and money and sports and date nights and one on one time with the kids and family time and commitments and maybe some times for ourselves occasionally. But it’s worth it.

I needed to write this to you to close the door on our relationship. It’s been a long time coming. I felt somewhat abandoned myself when you left. I think when you move on like you did, not only are your wife and kids left in the wake, but a lot of your relationships are as well. Including this one. And it hurt. Sometimes it still does.

I pray to God I won’t do what you did.

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