I was one of those preachers’ wives who sat in the pew on many a Sunday morning while my “real” life was a fraud. i discovered several years into my marriage that my husband was cheating on me–with men–numerous men. (And women too, I later found out). But I stayed. I stayed through the broken promises and the humiliation because I believed and hoped that things got better. I watched my husband stand in that pulpit on Sunday morning, preaching one message and living out yet another. I needed answers.
The first place I turned to for answers were God. I prayed. I wept. I prayed. I wept. I prayed and I wept. God woke me at 3 a.m. I sat straight up in the middle of my bed. … What did Jesus really say about homosexuality? What was Jesus’ message about gays?
I prayed my entire young life for God to send me a husband–God Always answers my prayers–why did I end up marrying a gay man?
This excerpt is taken from a book written by Lydia Meredith who spent nearly 30 years of her life married to Reverend Dennis A. Meredith. In Meredith’s deeply personal memoir, The Gay Preacher’s Wife: How My Gay Husband Deconstructed My Life and Reconstructed My Faith, readers will find out how a woman’s broken heart is mended by faith.
When this writer met Meredith for the interview, I shared with her that being a native of Atlanta, I found it strange that I’d never heard her story. I was familiar with the recent and highly publicized scandal at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church where their leader Bishop Eddie Long in 2010 was accused in a lawsuit of buying young men lavish gifts and cars, and giving them money in exchange for sex.
But her story was a mystery to me. It wasn’t that I doubted her credibility. It was more of a shock that she was so gracious to a man who betrayed her and her family, and she kept quiet.
“I loved my husband … I still love him,” she tells me as I stare in amazement.
In 2006, Rev. Meredith told Lydia he was in love with another man. “He left me for another man. He told me he wanted to live the rest of his life as a gay man,” she shares. “At that time, I didn’t know he was in a relationship with a man, a man that he’d fallen in love with. Most of the time when we were in therapy discussing his struggles with same-sex relationships, it was never a relationship; it was always [just] sex. This particular time it was very different. He had fallen in love with a man.”
It was a revelation that was years in the making. Lydia knew of her husband’s infidelity and bisexuality, but it wasn’t enough to make her leave him and break up her family.
The infidelity alone wasn’t enough to make her leave her husband. Lydia wanted her marriage to survive the infidelity. It wasn’t until he left her from 2005 to 2008 that she filed for divorce. He had abandoned her. She was left with no other choice but to wake up and start a new journey. “I filed for divorce. He wasn’t happy about it. The infidelity didn’t cause me to leave my marriage. I felt there was nothing in my marriage that couldn’t be fixed.”
As we continued the interview, I realized I actually interviewed her former husband a few years ago and found him to be a solid individual with a profound understanding of the teachings of the Bible. We concluded that we both have a great deal of respect for him and condemning him was not our goal.
Lydia, who has managed to step outside the box of pain and see things from a different perspective rooted in love, says she is telling her story not only for women, but also for men: “to inspire people to walk in truth and lead to a deeper understanding and loving relationship with God.”
Lydia Meredith is the founder of Beacon of Hope, Inc.—Renaissance Learning Center, with a mission to strengthen families and communities and lift poor children and their families out of poverty.
The Gay Preacher’s Wife: How My Gay Husband Deconstructed My Life and Reconstructed My Faith is now available for purchase.