How should a pastor react when he catches one of the deacons from his church out with another woman? My wife and I pondered that question over a candlelight dinner for two at a romantic restaurant on the riverfront.
I first saw them when the hostess seated the deacon and his lady friend at a table near the door. We were about halfway through our meal in the back of the darkened room. I was sure the deacon had not seen us.
I quietly asked my wife, “Isn’t that our deacon?”
“Yes,” she answered. “I’m sure it’s him, but who is that woman he’s with?” She didn’t look familiar to either of us.
“Maybe she’s just a business associate.” I suggested, “and they’re working late?” But that didn’t seem likely on a Saturday night, and in such an out-of-the-way place.
Then, as we watched, our deacon put his arm around the woman and gave her an all-too-friendly kiss on the cheek. “Perhaps she’s his sister,” I ventured.
“I know the man’s sister,” my wife replied, “and that woman is definitely not she.”
We both agreed the body language between the two seemed inappropriate for a married man out with another woman. And we told ourselves that surely there was a reasonable explanation.
We finished our dinner and lingered over coffee until it was time to go. The couple’s table sat between us and the exit. We considered detouring around it to avoid embarrassing them in a public place. Then we decided to just act normal and walk right past.
As we neared the table the deacon’s eyes caught mine. “Good evening, Stephen,” he greeted me cheerily.
“Hello,” I responded. Then turning to the woman a great sense of relief came over me. I saw his wife had cut and colored her hair and had lost several pounds. “You look lovely tonight,” I told her truthfully. “I hardly recognized you with your new hairstyle.”
As we walked out the front door I reminded myself of the old adage, “Don’t believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see.”
Some people may counter, “Seeing is believing.” But a person’s interpretation of what he sees can be totally wrong.
A minister friend shared with me the story of Mildred, a church gossip, and self-appointed monitor of the church's morals, who kept sticking her nose into other people's business. Several members did not approve of her extra curricular activities, but feared her enough to maintain their silence.
She made a mistake, however, when she accused George, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his old pickup parked in front of the town's only bar one afternoon. She emphatically told George and several others that everyone seeing it there would know what he was doing. George, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just turned and walked away. He didn't explain, defend, or deny. He said nothing.
Later that evening, George quietly parked his pickup in front of Mildred's house, walked home....and left it there all night.
Don't you just love old George?