Like a coating of glaze over earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart. A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit. Though his speech is charming, do not believe him, for seven abominations fill his heart. His malice may be concealed by deception, but his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.
Ticking Time Bomb from Toledo’s question to Dear Gabby in this issue of Single! reminded me of days gone by when I was in a similar situation with my own mother. I totally sympathize with TTB and hope she’ll pray for God to reveal her mother’s boyfriend for what he really is. And if he is a creep, I hope it will be found out sooner, not later – like was the case with my stepfather.
My mother has a certain j’ne sais qua that fishes out hypocrites from an assembly. She’s a very beautiful woman with a sort of natural flirt about her and for decades it has driven men wild. She was one of these poor secretaries that was actually chased around the desk by her boss – the mayor!
In her “single mother” years, many a married church leader fell for her. It makes me sick now and it did then to think of the flowers that arrived at our house signed by the fathers of my church and school friends. These same men were head ushers, deacons, members of the choir. If I didn’t learn from them that you can’t judge a book by its cover, Olin “Ted” Lewis drove the point home.
Ted was my mother’s second husband, a retired Sergeant Major from the Army, Ted had a tall stance, a take-charge manner and a quick and easy laugh – he had charisma. However, as the months of their marriage rolled by, he seemed to lose that charisma and ended up shuffling around the house like a miserable geezer. But on Sunday mornings, he came alive. Everyone thought highly of Ted at church, even if he did smoke. Ted was so charming to everyone that it made my upper lip curl. “If they could only know him like I know him,” I thought many times.
Ted served as an usher in our church and he occasionally graced the congregation by singing and playing his guitar. I can still remember him singing, “One day at a time, Sweet Jesus. That’s all I’m asking from you. Give me the strength to do every day what I’ve got to do.” Little did I know at the time that he was pleading with God for strength to face his stepdaughters.
It’s true that my sisters and I were a free-thinking lot that didn’t mesh so well with retired military routine. Our relaxed manners drove him nuts and he didn’t believe we gave him the respect he deserved as head of household. I think a big part of it was he was from South Carolina where it’s customary to say “Yes, Ma’am” and “Yes, Sir,” and we were from Houston where it’s customary for kids to call adults by their first names as if they were peers. Irreconcilable differences between the kids and stepfather contributed to the demise of my mom’s second marriage, but I won’t take all the responsibility. I believe that Ted had married my mother hoping to repair the hurt he felt from his first marriage – that’s always a formula for disaster.
To the very end, Ted acted like a perfect husband and dad in church. I don’t know how a person is supposed to act in church when they are unhappy at home, but there is something wrong about having a personality transformation in a parking lot – from dreadful to dandy in less than 50 feet – and then back again after church is over! It didn’t feel fair to me that no one else knew Ted as we knew him. But these things tend to come out in the wash. Sometimes it takes years, but in this case, only months.
After 18 months of marriage, Ted left us. That would have spoken loudly enough – people in the church could have figured out there was a lot more to him than met the eye – but Ted really showed his true colors in the choice of vehicle he left us with. When he married my mom, she drove a light blue ’65 Chevy Camaro with a real spoiler – we used to call it a shark fin. It was a cool car and we loved it. Ted drove a newer (early 80s) model Monte Carlo. Ted talked my mother into trading the Camaro in for a new truck. I still don’t see the logic in that – we lived in the city and weren’t prone to hauling things and only three of our five-person family could fit in the truck. Why did we need a truck, especially at the expense of our beloved classic car?
When Ted left us, he took both his Monte Carlo and the new truck, and in exchange, he left us with a 1974 Impala. If you know anything about cars, you know that nothing attractive came out of the 70s. This car was an abject beast and the worst of seaweed green colors. It was instant and perpetual shame. Ted was giving us a kick in the pants on the way out and doing it for everyone to see. He was gone and he didn’t care anymore what anyone thought of him.
I could fill an entire book with my stories of posers who later revealed themselves, and Ted is one of the milder examples. Others have turned out to be compulsive liars, addicted to pornography, child abusers, infidels. I wish I knew an inordinate number of dysfunctional people, but I have probably only met an average number – about the same as you’ll meet in your life. The sad truth is there are a whole lot of people out there who are living lies. Even sadder, many of them are in our churches. Don’t ever think that just because a person professes Christianity or attends church regularly that they are a safe person. Some truly possessed individuals will be singing in the choir this Sunday at a congregation near you.
Hold this thought: I would be surprised at who is really a liar.