Monday, August 18, 2014

FOR ANYONE TROUBLED BY MY RELATIONSHIP WITH STAN


Someone communicated to me recently that several couples whom Stan counseled are "disillusioned" to learn that Stan had a relationship with me while he was still married and was warning them of "such relationships."  If that is really true and not just a way of repackaging judgment into something that will more clearly occupy the moral high ground, I would like to suggest that such suffering has a remedy.
I am quite certain that Stan did not warn of relationships like ours.  As I have expressed, we did not have an affair.  Explaining why that is the case and why our relationship did not threaten Stan's marriage is not something I can do on the internet.  But if you are genuinely struggling with how to put those pieces together, I sympathize--though shunning me will not assist you in resolving that struggle.  You simply lack the information necessary to draw any conclusions.

Truth is often way more difficult that we think.  All of us have had experiences where we are certain that we have all the information we need to make a judgment, only to learn later that we were lacking key facts that change the picture entirely.  I have a good deal of information that most people who are judging this situation don't have and couldn't imagine.  Ignoring that fact doesn't make it any less true.
Stan was who you thought he was. As I expressed at his memorial:

"He was indeed a person of fierce integrity.  He loved God with all his heart.  He loved you with all his heart.  He was a complex man, and a courageous man who worked hard to create space for all of the truth, not just the parts that fit into the dominant paradigm.  He was out of the box himself and he responded lovingly to the parts of you that could not be easily catalogued or categorized.  So perhaps it's not surprising that some of his own relationships simply didn't fit into any familiar boxes."
For the many of you who know me and have been cared for by me, I also am the person you thought I was back when you respected me.  I did ministry alongside Stan for nearly 20 years at great personal cost and out of a deep sense of calling.  I am still that person.  The conclusion that you have reason to be disillusioned depends on a conclusion that both of us lack integrity or a moral compass.  You really don't have a basis for that conclusion without talking to me.

The truth is just more complex than such judgments about our integrity allow.
Stan also really loved me.  That is not because I am a manipulative, selfish, conniving woman who tricked him into betraying his marriage vows.  I am not such a person.  And Stan was no fool.  That story doesn't square with what you knew of him.

I don't expect that you would be able to put the whole picture together yourself.  But if you are honestly struggling with how to put the picture together, concluding that Stan failed you or that I failed you without talking to me is not a principled shortcut.  And doing that may well lead you to suffer disillusionment unnecessarily.  I encourage you not to let your faith depend on such flimsy evidence.
Although I am suffering, I am committed to helping people to keep and build on the comfort and the teaching that Stan offered to them.  That means that if you approach me with sincere questions rather than judgment and condemnation, I will sit with you and do my best to help you make sense of your experience.  That's not an offer to defend myself to you.  It's an offer to help you understand the truth.  I will do that for Stan, and for you.

4 comments:

Jessica Baker said...

From someone who did go through premarital counseling with Stan, I do not feel disillusioned. I might have at first, but I quickly realized that it is not my place to judge. I don't know all the circumstances and my relationship with my husband is not his relationship with his wife. His teachings were sound and we still (after 7 years together) still use many of the tools he taught us. I just wanted you to know that there is a friendly voice out here.

Hobbit Mom said...

Wow.

I could have written this same thing, about being unfairly judged based on incomplete information about the end of my first marriage and the beginning of my second one, and whether and to what extent those two relationships overlapped.

I try hard not to make judgments on others based on what little glimpse I have into their lives. Both my husband and I are fiercely loyal by nature, and to imply that either of us was careless with our first marriages is deeply hurtful and completely ignores the herculean (if clumsy and misguided) efforts we each put into trying to keep those completely irreparable relationships together as long as we did.

But sadly, people will make assumptions, fill in the blanks where private information has not been shared, and will pass judgments. I try to be understanding and forgiving of that. After all, I am sure I fall into that trap from time to time also.

pablo paz said...

Dear Darlene,

Thank you for as articulate an explanation of "Judge not lest you also be judged" as i have ever seen.

My relationship with Stan did not depend on any of his private relationships, and even if i had known his family or you, i trust it would have been a point for honest communication, not for resentment. For those who criticize, i simply say: the Truth is the truth even when it comes thru people whom you may not like. Make that between you and the G!d of all Truth and leave the people out of it; that is whre your faith should be anyway.

Roy Gathercoal said...

For the record, Darleen, you did not hide the relationship particularly well while Stan was alive. It was clear to anyone with functioning relationship radar that something was happening.
The first time you visited (still awaiting your next visit) I asked you straightforward about your relationship with Stan. You answered my question to my satisfaction.
I am perplexed by why so many people find a need to nudge God out of place of judgement so that they, with limited information and perspective, can decide instead of God what is right and what is not.
We are called to love everyone and so no matter what their relationship, we are commanded to love Darleen and Cathy and all of both families. Just think how much better we are as Quakers without bearing that heavy burden! Our tradition is rich with examples of people being accepted even though they did not fit the prevailing societal norms. How much easier it is to love someone who is eminently love-able!
We also have moments in our history when meetings read people out for such "sins" as performing theater or (gasp!) marrying a Baptist! Think on this. . . we have the same God now who was God then. Even if we assume that our perspectives and current cultural fads are "right" in an eternal way, how could we imagine God as we understand now reacting to a meeting which expelled someone because they married outside of Quakerdom?
I hope this perspective makes it clear just how we should not ever adopt our cultural expectations and practices as if they belonged to God. Humankind creates culture, God has nothing to do with it.
What has not ever changed is this single command, found throughout the entire Scriptures, repeated over and over again. The most important commandment is for us to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength, and the second most important is to love each other.
Friends, cultures and practices and sensibilities will change, but this command does not change.
So will you tenaciously cling to man-made culture while glossing over that which God himself, in the person of Jesus, told us directly is the most important? Will you let some relational status of someone else get in the way of your loving them, whether God ultimately approves or not?
There is absolutely no reason why people who say they love God ought to be attacking anyone about race, gender, sexual orientation or relationship status. If someone's current relationship is getting in that person's way of loving God, then we may, in love, confront them directly, in prayer and asking constantly for God's leading, and motivated entirely out of love for that person, to help them in their struggle.
This is NEVER shunning someone, or deciding they are sinning if they have prayerfully brought the issue before God. And it is never, ever done so that we can be right--only to help someone we love, love God better.
I just don't understand how people who profess to love God can allow themselves to get so worked up about someone else's perceived sin. Folks, it is none of your business. Your business is to love God and to love other people. Your business is not to be right. That is God's job.
So quit this pettiness. You don't have the complete picture, unless God has spoken to you in a divine revelation. If this is the case, then you have an obligation to share that revelation with whoever God has personally instructed you to share it. But it must be tested by other believers in prayer.
And until and unless you have a revelation of this import, isolated from your own knowledge and reasoning, get busy loving one another.
If you have run out of people to love, come see me. I have some friends who definitely need to see more of God's love expressed to them.