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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Steve and Angela

Recently, Dave McDonald and I collaborated on a story (Dave's brainchild) and I think the story is important in recasting the story of Hosea in a new light.

During our series "Fed on Lies about Love" at Westwinds, we used the fictional account of a young couple (Steve and Angela) to illustrate the relevance of the biblical text to present-day middle-America. This series, and the story of Steve and Angela was recieved well with Westwinds. We thought you should read it.

You can download all the podcasts of this series on our website

Steve and Angela, a young couple, have been married for about five years. Steve was a fairly successful young executive; he had a good job and made a lot of money. For most of their married life, though, Angela had been in school until recently. She graduated from school and had a problem finding a job. They only had one car and Steve took it to work everyday, so Angela was stuck at home looking for a job. You know how that can get really frustrating.

When you’re home alone, you can get irritable; you don’t have anyone to talk to. Angela didn’t have any friends and television only stays interesting for so long. She began to explore a little bit of the community life you hear so much about on the Internet. She entered some chat rooms, made some friends, developed a couple of online avatars and invested herself into online community as a way to try and find meaningful relationships. She began to explore further the online world, explore further her boredom, her frustration, her anxiety and irritation, her blame and anger at Steve. She signed onto an adult personals sight where she hoped to meet someone other than Steve. She began to trawl and began looking for potential partners, people she could meet for a night or a weekend.

Unbeknownst to Angela, Steve came home a little late from work one night. She had gotten involved in something else and had forgotten to log off of this website. Steve comes home from work and sees a personal website on his home computer. He sees his wife is logged on, has created a false identity and has created an online screen name. He’s taken aback, because as far as he knew, there was never anything wrong. Sure, Angela was going through a rough time, but he didn’t know she was looking around. He closes the window and is confused as to what to do. He decides he’ll think about it a few days. Should he confront Angela? Should he get mad at her? Should they seek counseling?

He decides he’s going to try a different approach. He logs onto the Internet, signs up for the same adult personals website and creates his own fake identity and screen name. He begins to look for Angela online knowing she’s out looking for new partners. Knowing what her personality is and what her interests are, Steve begins to drop hints that his fake Steve is interested in these same kinds of things. Eventually the two of them get hooked up. Angela is pretty excited because she has found someone online who is just what’s she’s looking for. Little does she know it’s her husband who is trying to seduce his wife online.

The time comes for the two of them to exchange photographs online so they know if they’re attractive. Angela sends fake Steve her photograph and Steve sends Angela a photograph of a fake Steve. They decide they should meet and meet at a supper club one night. Angela shows up early dressed to the nines; she looks like a million bucks. Steve shows up a few minutes late dressed casual like he is every day. He’s carrying a photograph of fake Steve, the photograph he emailed to Angela.

In the supper when Angela sees her husband coming towards her, she starts to panic; she thinks she’s been busted. She’s about to have an affair and her husband is going to catch her with her lover. Steve comes to the table, looks at his wife and gives her the picture and says, “Angela, you were running around looking for someone. You were looking for a one-night stand and were going to throw your life away. You shamelessly flaunted your married self online trying to get anyone to want you. You found this guy on the Internet and begged him to meet you for one night and all along it was me. Now let’s go home.”
* * *
Steve and Angela had been married about a dozen and a half years and weren’t happy. After years of misery in their marriage, they finally decided to call it quits; they just couldn’t take it anymore. They have three kids in high school. Steve was consistently angry and frustrated with Angela (primarily because of her many [and public] affairs). Beginning with her escapades on the Internet, Angela had met and spent time with several “fellows.” At some point she had ceased to hide her infidelity from Steve and her children. Steve had nothing but hatred for Angela; Angela had nothing but contempt for Steve.
At some point during the divorce proceedings the kids got involved. Kids, of course, come with their own range of emotions, sense of injustice and their own hurt and bitterness. They began to sling accusations at their mother, calling her names and indicting her. Now when Steve would do these kinds of things, it bounced off Angela, because she didn’t really care about him, but it was a whole different story to hear that kind of garbage from her kids–it cuts her badly.

Angela responded in anger and confusion and said, “Mind your own business. Shut your mouth and get out of here.” Angry at their mother, isolated from their father, these three young kids ran away and end up on the street. That was the last time Angela ever saw her children.
The story of Steve and Angela continues, but the story of Angela and her kids stops right here.
* * *
Steve and Angela were separated for quite some time. During that time, Steve—the pursuer— never lost hope. During this separation, they tried to restore some of what was lost.

There was a massive amount of counseling. And, it wasn’t all easy. Just when it looked like things might get better and the counseling was regular, Steve found that Angela had a boyfriend on the side. A boyfriend she had invested some time in. For Angela, even though she knew she should be back with Steve she had invested in something else as well that, right or wrong, had taken her time and energy and had given her some degree of pleasure. The boyfriend was a hard habit to break.
Straight out of a Hollywood movie, Steve goes to meet up with Angela one day and walks in on them . . . in the act. It is one thing to know your wife is sleeping around . . . it is quite another to see it firsthand.

Come to find out, the “boyfriend” wasn’t as committed to Angela as she was committed to him. He had used her up as his sex-kitten and was buying her jewelry and tossing cash her way to keep her around and satisfy his own fire.
Steve actually ended up paying the guy off to keep him away from Angela.

* * *
Steve and Angela were still separated and in counseling but, they started dating again regularly. Trying to capture some of that spark they once had, they took a counselor’s suggestion and made regular efforts at rekindling their romance. This went on for months.

One Friday, Steve got off work early and surprised Angela. He blindfolded her and told her they were going on a little trip. They get in the car and go for a little drive. First stop, their favorite restaurant. They sat and talked and laughed for hours.
Second stop, Steve drives Angela to a spot they used to go to and they look out over the city at all the lights. More talking.
They decide it’s getting late and they need to head back to their individual places—the house they once lived in and Angela’s apartment.

But, Steve makes one more stop. He stops at a park on the way home. He asks Angela to take his hand and walk with him. It was all too familiar. This is the park where Steve asked Angela to marry him.

In the middle of the park, Steve has arranged a small table with candlelight and a bottle of wine.

They sit and he asks her to hear him out. He tells Angela that he wants to make it work. He only has eyes for her. She has ripped him to pieces inside and it seems like it can never be quite the same but, he wants her to move back in to the house.
She agrees.

Honestly, it wasn’t quite a fairy tale ending. Angela did move back in but they didn’t make love for months. It was hard to become that intimate immediately. It took time. It took lots of “please forgive me” conversations. It took a lot of retracing and talking over painful experiences. But, eventually intimacy was restored.

The sad thing? The kids are still not in the picture.

The kids talk to Steve, but the family is scattered. It is not a family like it used to be. It is a partial restoration.

Steve has hope that someday, someday, all will be well.