We were in a room. A large room with nice furnishings. Shiny floors. Big windows. We were going somewhere, I don’t know where. Someone comes and tells us it’s time to go, and to follow her, she knows a quicker way. She opens one of the big windows, and steps outside. We follow.
I suddenly realize we are in a high rise building. Not just any high rise building, but one so tall that as I look out, I can’t even see the ground. Just clouds.
We are now standing on a ledge. The ledge is several feet wide, plenty wide enough to stay away from the edge. Yet suddenly I feel a wave of panic wash over me.
She continues to walk across the ledge, around one L shaped inside corner and then disappears out of my view as she turns the second corner to the other side of the building. I’m still standing there, frozen. Afraid to move. I don’t want to move. I don’t want to be here.
We are on a ledge.
Why did we come out on this ledge? Why would anyone think it was a good idea to come out here? What were we thinking?
We should not be here.
There are no rails. No boundaries. Nothing at all to keep us from falling. The only thing between the two of us and falling into nothingness and certain death is a few feet of an open ledge. What are we doing out here? Why didn’t we just take the hallway, the elevator, the stairs?
Anything but this.
I tell Jeff we need to go back. We shouldn’t be here. It’s not safe.
I have the worst feeling that something is going to go terribly wrong.
He says “Amy, you’re fine. We’re fine. There’s plenty of room out here. Just go. It’s going to be fine.”
I say, “No. I’m not going that way. I want to go back in. It’s windy. It’s not safe out here. What were we thinking? Why would we come out here? Let’s go back inside.”
Jeff says, “Calm down, you’re being silly. It’s not that far and there’s plenty of room. Here, I’ll come around you and show you that it’s not a big deal.”
“No!” I say. “Don’t do that! You’re too close to the edge! What if you fall?!! ”
He smiles again.
Lets out a little laugh.
He says, “Stop worrying. I’m good. I’m not going to fall. I’ll be fine. I know how close to the edge I can get without falling. I’ve got this.”
He begins to maneuver around me. I plead with him to just go back inside. He is insistent though. Sure of himself. A little too sure. A little too confident in his belief in his inability to fall, sure that it would never happen to him. So confident that he can get close to the edge without falling that he almost ignores the edge, as if it isn’t even there. As if it has no effect on him. As if he isn’t just mere inches from certain death. He really believes he’s got this, and he is intent on proving it.
He goes around me.
“Stop! You’re getting too close to the edge!”
He smiles as he starts to take the first corner, leaning just a little farther out over the edge and says, “It’s not a big deal, see? There’s even these little notches here on the wall you can grab on to.”
He reaches for one, and right about then he lurches, a little off balance.
I scream. “You almost fell! Stop getting so close to edge. It’s too risky.”
He regains his balance, grins at me and says, “See, I told you I’ve got this.”
But a burst of wind comes, and he loses his balance again. I see him wobbling. About to fall over the edge. At the last second he looks back at me. Just for a split second, but it was as if I was watching in slow motion.
No time for words, just a look.
A look of disbelief on his face.
A look that said “Oh no. Crap. I didn’t have this. That was so dumb of me to risk everything like that. I really thought I had it all under control. I thought I knew where the danger zone started. Crap. Oh crap. I screwed up. I really misjudged that. I got cocky. I was wrong. And look what I’ve done. It wasn’t safe. I’m so sorry.”
The look on his face, it was as if it somehow said all of those things in that split second.
And then, he fell.
And suddenly he’s gone, and I see nothing.
I’m screaming. I’m screaming his name.
Then it comes over me.
The realization of the fact of what just happened.
And there’s no going back.
No more second chances.
I couldn’t stop this terrible thing from happening.
And so I stopped screaming his name.
It was over.
And then there was silence.
So much silence.
No sound, except the sound of my pounding heart and my thoughts:
There’s no coming back from that.
You can’t survive that.
No one could survive that.
What do I do now?
I don’t understand.
Is this really how our story ends? What was the purpose of it all if this is how it ends?
This is it?
Oh my God.
God? I’m standing on a ledge. Alone. With no idea of what to do next.
And then I woke up.
I tell Jeff I didn’t sleep well. He says he woke up in the middle of the night because I was calling out his name.
I rarely remember my dreams. So on the rare occasion that I do, I tend to pay attention.
While I believe sometimes a dream is just a dream, all throughout the Bible, God used dreams to send messages.
Sometimes He used them for revelation, and other times, He used them for warning.
I believe He still does.
A week before I found out about Jeff’s affair, a friend of Jeff’s told him he had a dream about him. Jeff was driving a car, and going too fast. And there was a dangerous sharp curve coming up ahead that Jeff couldn’t see. Beyond the guard rails was a cliff, and he was headed for it. His friend told him that he had never had anything like this happen before, but that he felt like God wanted him to tell him about his dream, and warn him that a dangerous curve was up ahead, and that how he handled that curve would determine how his life turned out.
So I’m a firm believer in the messages God sends sometimes through our dreams.
My dream stayed fresh in my mind all day that day. I couldn’t shake it. There are dreams in which you are conscious of the fact that it’s a dream, and then there are these kinds of dreams. The ones where you feel everything. The wind on your face. The sensations, the emotions, are so real.
Maybe it was just a dream. Maybe it was just my mind processing everything that has already happened.
Or maybe it was just my subconscious working through my innermost fears. That Jeff would fall again. That I give him more of my life and he turns around and betrays me again. Or that we put all this work into rebuilding our marriage, and for whatever reason it just doesn’t work. Fear that I made the wrong choice. I hear that voice of fear from time to time. Telling me that I’m a fool.
I don’t believe that. Believing in the changes he’s made, believing in the man he has become, believing in what God has done in him, in what God is doing through us, that is not a mistake and I’m no fool for believing in forgiveness, for believing in redemption.
But I know he’s still human. And I guess somewhere deep down I still worry. I worry that I could ever have to feel that pain again. I don’t dwell on it. I push those fears back and choose to believe the best.
So maybe that’s what my dream was about.
But what if it wasn’t.
What if it was a warning.
A warning for him to always mind the boundaries.
A warning not to take stupid risks. Not to step beyond the guard rails. Not to become so confident in his commitment to being this new person that he believes he can make good choices without the boundaries.
That because of the things he has learned he is somehow immune to the danger now.
A warning not to get so relaxed or comfortable that he forgets.
Not to ignore the warning signs.
A warning not to get so confident that the boundaries seem unnecessary.
Because without those boundaries, the edge gets blurred. You can’t always tell that you’ve crossed into the danger zone until it’s too late.
That’s how affairs happen in the first place after all. Ask anyone that has had an affair how it happened, and more times than not their response is, “I didn’t mean for it to happen, it just kind of happened.”
But that’s not true. Not really.
It happened because of one of two things. Either you never put any guard rails up and you didn’t have the boundaries in place to stop you, or the guard rails had been there but you decided you didn’t need them. You took them down, confident that you could handle it without them,because you would never cross the line. You think you are safe out there. But all it takes, when you are out there on the edge, is one puff of wind. Just one small unexpected puff of wind can send you right over the edge.
Jeff thought: “we are just friends. This is just a friendship. We aren’t doing anything wrong. Amy wouldn’t like it, us being this close. But, we aren’t doing anything and what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.”
But everyday they talked just a little more. Texted a little more, and before he knew it he was talking to her more than he was talking to me. And the flirting kicked in, or really just kicked up a notch. It had always kind of been there. But they were “just friends”, so it was harmless, right?
And then the nude pics start coming.
“Well”, he thought, “this is probably crossing a line. But we won’t take it any further. I know my boundaries. We’re just having a little fun.”
And then the invitation.
And the acceptance of the invitation.
And the line is crossed.
There’s no taking it back.
But the line was actually crossed way before the act itself occurred. He just couldn’t see it because he had convinced himself that he didn’t need the actual boundaries, that he knew where the danger zone was. But without the boundaries, the line is blurred. He couldn’t see it for what it was. He thought he had more room. Right up until the moment he went careening over the edge.
So we had a talk about it.
And he said that he does feel pretty confident in his progress and how he handles himself now. That he did still know the importance of minding the boundaries and not putting himself or our relationship at risk, but that he would heed the message, and make sure he stays alert and mindful.
So maybe it was just a reminder. A reminder to be aware, and to be intentional, and not to take anything for granted or let his guard down.
Or maybe the warning wasn’t necessarily for him.
Maybe it’s for one of you.
Don’t go out on the ledge.
Don’t put yourself in a danger zone. Be mindful of the boundaries.
Protect yourself. Protect your relationship. It could be the difference between living a life of happiness, and falling into something you may not be able to come back from.
Put the guard rails back up.
Don’t let the seemingly lovely view beyond the rails distract you. Because while you are putting your focus out beyond those rails, you don’t see the drop off. You don’t see the danger. You don’t see that you could lose everything that really matters.
Mind the boundaries….
Step away from the ledge.
Amy Thurston Gordy