Calamity Jennye

Monday, September 19, 2011

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid.

I'm still trying to sort out how to deal with that phone call last week.

The one thing I've never talked about here, for better or for worse, is that my husband is an Episcopal Priest. I know there is much that is inherently built in to any conversation around priests and misconduct and there are many ways in which his vocation does not matter to 90% of what I've been dealing with.

But last week, the phone call I received was from the bishop of the diocese that ordained my husband. He was calling because, while he was not the bishop that ordained my husband, while he has never met us, and while my husband has never actually served as a priest in that diocese, word had reached him of what was going on with my husband and he was concerned.

While it is clear that he is concerned because his job compels him to be, it also seems clear from the conversations that he's had with me and with others, that he is concerned because he truly understands that the things my husband has done give cause for concern. Both on a priestly and a personal level.

I felt stymied in my conversation with the bishop, too stunned to actually figure out what were the right things to say. I agree whole-heartedly that my husband is in no place to be leading, counseling, caring for any group of people, but I also feel that the degree of his dysfunction goes much deeper than that. I couldn't actually find any words (shocking I know, to those of you that know me) that would adequately convey the depth of my concern for my husband without first sounding like a vindictive, betrayed woman.
This is just not a situation that lends itself easily to genuine-ness of emotion, especially when that emotion is concern for the other party.

While I feel extreme concern for any "flock" that my husband would try to lead I also feel greater concern for him, for his girlfriend, for friends that are mislead by the diplomas and ordination certificates he has hanging on his walls in their expensive frames. I feel concerned because they don't know how we ate almost nothing for a week after he spent so much to frame those useless documents without telling me about it. And I feel concerned because that makes it so much clearer to me in ways almost no one else can see, the lengths he will go to for the preservation of that facade. Lengths he was never willing to go to for something so much more tangible and life giving.

I've heard rumors my husband is going to meet with this bishop and that leaves me with so much mixed emotion. It leaves me hoping that someone will see the depths of the help that he needs. And then it just leaves me depressed, feeling that this is just another person who will walk away dazzled by the stories he is able to spin into such convincing replicas of the truth.

I would be lying if I didn't admit that I want him to pay. But not exactly how that sounds. There has been no one yet who has been able to call my husband to account for his actions. Throughout a year long affair with a married woman, throughout all the lies and pain for so many people, there has been no point where he has taken even an ounce of responsibility for a single one of his actions. That is not healthy for any human being, in any vocation.

My husband should not have to be more perfect because he is a priest, we are all human and flawed and bound to make mistakes along the way. What he should be is more willing to take responsibility for his actions. I think that is what the bible calls us to over and over again in story after story. Accountability. Give what you can, throw the first stone if you are blameless, find the place in yourself where you so believe in forgiveness and God that you can be willing to sacrifice what's most important to you for the things you believe are right. Be honest, and true and God will provide.

Nowhere does it say life will be perfect or easy. We will all make mistakes.But over and over again the bible also shows how it takes a community to fix those mistakes. Life isn't something we were created to do alone. If you brush your mistakes away, lie about them, refuse to admit you've made any, you can't honestly contribute to a community much less lead one.

And I guess there is one way in which he does have to be a bit more perfect as a priest. He took a vow not only to our marriage but to the church and to all of it's sacraments. What he's done was a clear choice to violate multiple vows. Our marriage vow, the marriage vow of someone he helped to wed, and vows he took during his ordination. There is one section of the ordination service that sums it up for me:

Will you do you best to pattern your life [and that
of your family, or household, or community] in
accordance with the teachings of Christ, so that you
may be a wholesome example to your people?

 Could you all say a little prayer for the bishop as he hears my husband out, pray that somewhere in the midst of it all he will hear the truth?


  1. Prayers ascending, my dear friend. This is not a part of health for him or for you, and I hope the bishop can hear that he needs help. Yikes. Your strength is inspiring, and I'm here, however you need me!

  2. Jennye, you've got all the prayers that I can muster. It is no wonder that this phone call found its way into your dreams! I imagine that it was quite difficult to try to be honest without betraying emotions that might lead him to question your motives. Hopefully he possesses the wisdom to sort through the mess! ME

  3. oh, jennye. you are so magnanimous, as usual. i feel like all i can still feel is anger!!! if the bishop is a good bishop, he will hold andrew accountable for his actions. and i can't imagine he should ever be put in charge of a flock of anything. except maybe sheep? literal sheep, i mean. and even then...

    and man, what a good reminder that final prayer is for all of us, not just for those who are ordained. in some way, we're all ordained to be a wholesome example to all people. that's a big job. but most of it is actually really simple. like keep your vows. try not to hurt people. don't be too selfish, etc. some people make things way too complicated.

    i love you and miss you and think of you often.

    love, jess