the power of an initial


My phone buzzed, again. “What is Ben’s middle name?” it inquired.

I laughed dryly and turned to Ben. “Another person is asking.”

He shook his head, annoyed, and I texted back, “Why, because of the list? ;)” Because it’s not the first time someone has reached out to me in the last week after the Ashley Madison story broke.


There is someone with the same common name as my husband, who lives in this area of the country and whose name is on the list. A different middle initial and zip code is all that separates him from my husband. In angry resignation I told him, “Ben, you are going to have to update your Facebook profile with your middle name.”

That was a reactionary, self preserving act and since then my soul has been burning on this topic and at this point I feel the need to say something.

(Also, please read my friend Amber Haines article on the Huffington Post- she nails it.)

I’ll start with a confession first though. I confess when I heard this story break I was more amused than upset. I mean, “those people” deserved what happened. They signed up for a webside to CHEAT on their spouses. I felt more of a casual shrug towards it. Then unexpectedly, I was with someone at work who had a regionally filtered version of “the list” and glanced at it, in a second recognizing names. As I looked on, my heart had a stopping moment where I saw my husbands name, albeit a very common name, but with the different initial and zip code. Horror and instant relief.

First of all, thank you to all of you who have texted or emailed me asking if the persons name on the list is my husband. I genuinely appreciate it because I know it had to be hard to say something to me.  Thank you.

Secondly, I want to say something about this situation as a whole and our reactions to it as “Christians”.  Again, I confess my first was amusement. I’m not going to try to present myself as something other that a judgmental person off the bat and my change of heart only happened because it hit so close to home and I felt the gravity of the entire situation. If that hadn’t happened, I’m might still have an extremely judgmental mindset.

After a few texts over the weekend, I realized that rumors were coming up about Ben and I felt mortified, almost as if  it were true because NWA is a small, conservative area and we know a lot of people.  I didn’t want his name (and then, of course, mine by association) to be tarnished.

God forgive me. I confess for a moment I forgot and cared too much what those around me *might have thought* of me. I confess I can be a people pleaser. So what if Ben’s name isn’t on this list. I’m so glad it isn’t but that doesn’t make him any more or less of a broken, sinful person. I’m right there beside him, and I can assure you that we are on plenty of other “lists”, whether not they are real ones to publish or not.

We are all broken. None of us have it all together. Sure, there are varying consequences for different behaviors and that’s a fact. But let’s not try to present ourselves and our lives as something perfectly put together and better than anyone. Because.. we aren’t.

Let’s put down the stones for a second and take a hard look at ourselves. Don’t we all project to be something that we aren’t at times? None of us are perfect or without hypocrisy on occasion. Perhaps some of our deepest rooted hate spewing and judgment is to keep the eyes off ourselves and our own dirty secrets in our lives.

So, finally, I confess I’m on a lot of lists. Are you?









  • JulieK

    It’s a good point. What an eye opener! One of our pastor’s pointed out a few services ago that we get very upset about sins that are “horizontal” – that is, those that affect US, but we’re more wiling to forgive sins that are “vertical” – that is, against God, b/c they don’t affect US. This whole list blow up made me think of that again, how we’re all really quick to think “they deserved it” about that particular sin. But I like how you put it – we are ALL on plenty of other “lists”!