Please welcome my friend Ashley Luciano to the fire. She is a writer and digital artist residing in Upstate New York with her husband and two stepsons. She’s spoken at churches across the state, a message of hope and redemption through Jesus. With humor in her writing she seeks to empower women to hold joy and grief together as she shares personal stories of God’s presence in stormy seasons.
It wasn’t long after the unfaithful breakdown of my first marriage, that I found myself in another’s grief. Grief that I didn’t agree with. Grief that I tried to pass off to someone else, so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. Grief that I didn’t deem worthy of grieving.
Not even a week had passed since I saw my world crumble in a way that was unimaginable. It was then I found myself holding the hand of a man that actively crumbled his own world and marriage. I spotted him in the balcony after church, weeping uncontrollably as people were scurrying to break down stations and clean up the venue in the hopes of catching the tail end of bottomless brunch, before heading to the evening service, spirit(s)-filled.
As a member of the prayer team, I approached him with a card to take down all of his info, thinking he was so moved by the service and we could say we got another salvation on the roster. As I got closer I could see that this wasn’t going to be the case.
I ducked my head down to get into his line of vision, how ever blurry it may have been from the tears, and got his attention. I gave him my prayer-team spiel, but before I could finish he grabbed my hand and blurted out “I cheated on my wife last night.” This revelation was laced with the smell of hard liquor and lime, which I previously assumed was coming from the rented club venue that was flipped into this church every Sunday for years on end.
My blood started to boil, and I hoped he couldn’t see it in my face, but my heart hated him right then and there. “Uhhhh… let me see if… uh… I can find…” I said, as my head swiveled for a male presence to pass this dirt bag off to. Mind you, this is the second confession of adultery I was getting in the last 7 days.
I was a mixed bag of emotions, but in that bag, the rage of a thousand suns was right at the top. Going against my want to snap every finger of the hand that I was now repulsed to hold, I started praying for this man.
It was not what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to feel his grief and his sorrow for making a mistake that he could have avoided, or feel the weight of his failing marriage compounded with the weight of mine. I saw myself as innocent and him as guilty.
What I wanted to console him with was something to the effect of, “You made your bed, and you let everyone lie in it”. But with a deep staggered breath, I gripped his hand tighter and said, “Holy Spirit, you are here now…” And we grieved together.
It was hard.
It was not want I wanted to do.
It was only possible with God’s strength.
I still don’t agree with what he did. But I know without love, I am nothing.
With so much division in this world, news, culture, etc. I have to ask…
When’s the last time you grieved with those you don’t agree with?
Read more of Ashley’s work. at http://www.ashleyluciano.com or follow her on instagram @ashleyrluciano