By John McNeil
The telephone conversations of four people show the contrast between the Christian and secular communities.
Four telephones of various kinds
Hey, Rick? It's Greg.
Hey, Bill? It's Richard.
Great to see you at the game last night.
Great to see you at the Promise Keeper's meeting last night.
Wasn't it superb!?
I don't think I've ever seen a crowd singing their lungs out like that.
RICHARD:ĂI don't think I've ever seen so many guys singing their hearts out like that.
It lifted the roof.
But weren't our players chronic! Yet another middle order collapse. It's time they sacked the selectors -; but who listens to us. However, we made up for it in the happy hour afterwards. Wow! What a time. I've never seen the Gluepot so jammed. Even the Aucklanders packed in. What a din, my ears are still ringing. Some great yarns though, when you could hear them. And the sheilas were the worst. (sly chuckle) I heard things that I never thought in my wildest imaginings I'd hear from a woman. (Pause) Like that in your group, too, eh?
And then the ministry time afterwards. That was powerful. Groups of threes and fours huddled together all over the arena, sharing and praying for each other. I don't know about you, but I heard guys revealing things about themselves that I never thought in my wildest imaginings I'd ever expect to hear from real Kiwi blokes.
(Pause) Like that in your group, too, eh?
One guy at our table was trying to get it off with the barmaid. Several were almost blotto before the evening was out. Brian was so bad, he fell in a heap under the table, and just lay there giggling for a good 20 minutes before his wife found him and dragged him off home.
One guy in our group broke down and cried over the way he's treated his wife since they've been married. Another asked for help over his alcohol problem. When we prayed for him, he went down in a heap under the power of the Holy Spirit, and then he lay there giggling for a good 20 minutes.
Hello, Cheryl? It's Liz.
Hello, Fran? It's Ruth.
Sorry I didn't get a chance to talk to you at the Mother's Support Group yesterday, but I got a telephone call from Kindy -; Jamie had thrown up over the teacher -; so I had to dash off early.
Sorry I didn't get a chance to talk to you at home group yesterday, but I got a telephone call from Kindy -; Katie had fallen and cut her knee -; so I had to dash off early.
Isn't it just the way! (Pause)
No, it's okay now, s/he's fine.
What's that? How was the game on Saturday?
Well, you know how I feel about cricket, Cheryl. I can't tell a maiden over from a short backward square leg. I've tried to show an interest for Brian's sake. You know how hard I've tried. But it's not working, Cheryl. I could stand being bored for a few hours if I thought it was really helping our communication. But he only talked to his mates because I don't speak the language, and after the game he got blotto again, and I had to haul him off home.
What's that? How was the Promise Keeper's meeting for John? That's what I wanted to talk to you about. You know how I've felt about men's meetings in the past, don't you Fran. As far as I could see, all they did was reinforce male macho prejudices. "The husband is the head of the wife" and all that male chauvenistic stuff. The husband is the head of the wife -; huh! You don't know what that phrase was used as an excuse for. I have to account for every last cent of housekeeping; he rides roughshod over every idea I have about anything, heads off to golf or squash with his mates, but never thinks to ask if I'd like an evening out -; I've been a second class citizen, a chattel, ever since we've been married.
No, I'm passed being embarassed, Cheryl, so far passed I've had it up to here. I just don't know where to turn. He won't accept he has a drink problem. He's in constant denial, not just about that, but about everything. Okay, I suppose I can be thankful that he doesn't beat me up when he gets drunk. But we've got nothing left between us, and there's never enough money to go round because he's spent it all on booze. This is not a life. It's a shell, and I want to break out. If I don't get an answer from somewhere soon.... But who can help us, Cheryl? Who can help?
I know I've not said much about all this before, Fran. I didn't want to seem disloyal, or a radical feminist. But I don't mind telling you, there are times I've been on the verge of walking out. We've prayed about some of these things at home group, but nothing seemed to happen. So I didn't have too many expectations for last night's meeting.
Well, would you believe it, when John came home, he told me he had suddenly realised how badly he had treated me all our married life, and would I forgive him so we could make a new start. At first I was dumbstruck, Fran! Didn't know whether to trust him. But we talked for absolutely hours -; well, to tell the truth, we didn't just talk -; and I think maybe he might just mean it.
What am I doing this weekend?
What am I doing this weekend?
We've got an away match in Dunedin, so we're planning to make a decent weekend of it. Taking the wives, you know to give them a break. And seeing as we need an umpire, I wondered if you'd like to come too.
A group of us are going over to Dave's -; he's the guy with the alcohol problem. Turns out part of the reason is depression that set in when his wife died, and his place is a shambles. So we're having a working bee there, and we'll finish up with a barbeque in the evening. Bring the family, they can all help.
LIZ & RUTH:
What am I going to do this weekend?
I think I've just crossed an important bridge, Cheryl. I've decided I'm not going to put up with this lifestyle any longer. I want change, or I want out. God know where I'll go if it comes to out. But surely anything will be better than the way we're living now.
I'm resolved -; I'm going to confront him with what's happening to us, try and make him see reality for a change. If he won't listen, then that's it.
I'm glad you asked that question, Fran. I hate to ask such a big favour, but could you be a real sweetie and look after Katie for the weekend? By one of those lovely "coincidences", there's a marriage enrichment retreat at Living Springs this weekend, and John has booked us in. You will!? Oh, many thanks. You know, this will be the first time we've been away together since we had Katie. We've got so much to work through, but I'm really looking forward to it.
Between you and me, it should be a riot.
© John McNeil 1998
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