An After Christmas Story

An After Christmas Story

This story deals with an adult topic. The characters in this story are fiction. The details are based on multiple true events.

Christmas at the Bicker’s house was not going to be a happy one. In fact, they were pretty sure that despite the counseling, despite three years of arguing and fighting and even rational conversation, they were going to throw in the towel. Who wanted to live this way? Not they!
She could never forgive him for his foray into porn. When she imagined . . . well! It was not imaginable! She was disgusted by him. The very thought of the things he had done turned her stomach. He hadn’t ever been a liar; she trusted his word completely. But this was lying and adultery both of a sort. How could she ever trust him again? Her husband, who said he’d never cheated on her, had seen and done terrible things on the internet. She couldn’t bear the thought of him touching her. Not only was she betrayed, her heart was simply broken.
Yes, yes, they had gone to counseling. He was in a porn-recovery support group. Every text and email he sent now came to her as well. Their therapist called this the ultimate accountability. As far as that goes, he was entirely accountable now. He even had an accountability partner he could call from the support group if he were tempted. But still . . . how could she forgive such a heinous sin?
Even if she found a way to forgive him, how could he forgive her? Oh the things she had said to him since discovering his sin! She said things that were so horrible, accused him of things which were so far from his true character, he doubted he could forgive her screaming character assassinations.

She said she could never trust him again and acted like it. She looked at him with such loathing it broke his heart. So mostly he didn’t look at her. But the worst part was, for the past year, if they had to pass one another in the house, she would avoid touching him. Her affection, which had always been so free and lavish, was gone completely. It was obvious she no longer loved him. So here he was, giving up all his bad behaviors for her, and she was unwilling to give him any love. How could he go on? He knew he deserved her anger and distrust, but he was trying to remedy that. Would she reject him and withhold her love forever? Perhaps it would be best to begin again with a new woman, one he hadn’t hurt, wouldn’t hurt, in this way.

They had agreed to finish this year of counseling and go through the holiday season one more time. But would they stay together after that? They loved one another’s families as their own. How could they leave those others who loved them? Each family, to the degree of their knowledge, had prayed and prayed for this couple. It would be so painful for everyone if there was a divorce; it would break their hearts.

So now they were going through the weeks of Advent. This season’s scripture was from Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given. . . And he will be called, Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
They learned first that God, as Wonderful Counselor, was the only one who is SMART enough to save them. Really? Is God smart enough to untangle the complications in their relationship? It was kind of cool, thought one of them, that Jesus would be named a Wonderful Counselor. They’d had so much earthly counseling! Was God smart enough to figure out their problems?
On the second week of advent, they learned that only God is STRONG enough to save us! Really? It would take the strength of God to save the Bickers from the sinfulness of their current marriage situation. The other one saw a glimmer of hope.
On the third week, they learned that God is our precious, EVERLASTING FATHER. Ohhh. The precious healing love of a Father! The sensation of being held in his arms! Mrs. Bicker loved this image! And Mr. Bicker suddenly recalled a verse he’d learned once: Zephaniah 3:17. Now he applied it to himself. He reasoned that if God was his true Everlasting Father, then “God would take great delight in him! He would quiet him with his love, he would rejoice over him with singing.” Would God take delight in him, sinner that he was? Would God once again delight in their marriage? Finally. He had new words with which to talk to Mrs. Bicker about their marriage, and they were the words of advent, the words of God. He thought he could talk to her now about the possibility of accepting God as the perfect, everlasting Father, the God of their marriage. The God who would not only quiet them (ease their conflict) but rejoice over them! Because boy oh boy, if God saved their marriage, he would rejoice in God!

And finally, on the fourth week, they learned that Jesus came to be THE PRINCE OF PEACE. Yes, it would take the Prince of Peace himself to bring peace to their tormented, broken hearts, to forgive their sins, to heal their marriage.
With the words of their advent lessons between them, (instead of only angry and hateful words between them) they were able to talk about forgiveness, about healing, about peace, because, although they couldn’t do it themselves, or do it even with the help of earthly counselors, God really WAS the only one smart enough to save them, and strong enough to save them, and really was the only one who could be the perfect father to them, and who could, most of all, heal their broken hearts and bring them peace.
During advent, they talked a lot about Pastor Ron’s sermons. They talked about the possibility of making the Christ who came at Christmas the God of their marriage.

After Christmas this is what happened: The thought of God the perfect father loving him filled Mr. Bicker with such love he raised his face to his wife and looked at her full on. His body language told her he loved and desired her. She saw that he longed for her, and she went to him where he sat in his recliner and gave his knee a little nudge with her knee. They reached, simultaneously for one another’s hand the way they used to. And just as automatically, they stood and embraced. It felt natural, right and good to hold one another. It felt like a miracle! It felt like God had come, really come to them, and entered their marriage. It was the miracle of living after advent with the living God dwelling in their hearts—once broken—now healed.

Scripture: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (IJohn 1:14).

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