Over the past several months, Hubs has been undergoing some intense scrutiny. I haven’t written anything about it because, well, it’s been horrible and I haven’t wanted to. However, now that we are, THANKFULLY, coming down on the other side of this mountain, I’ve been doing some reflecting on the experience. Pen has come to meet paper again, so to speak, and I’m finally ready to share some thoughts.

The first image that comes to mind when I think of this word is of a knife spreading butter on bread. Weird, I know. But, it makes me think of “slather“, as in “slathering butter on bread.” And, what is slathering if not “smearing” or “spreading”? I think slander and slather are very similar, because slander also involves “smearing” and “spreading”; not that of butter, but the smearing of a good name and the spreading of lies and rumors. Here is what the dictionary says about it:
slan~der – noun: 
1. defamation; calumny: rumors full of slander.
2. a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report: a slander against his good name.
Slander is harmful in the best of circumstances and potentially devastating in the worst. We’ve been walking through what I would consider the “worst”. After 23 years with the same company, and not so much as a letter of caution on his record, my man was not only accused of “cutting corners”, but of breaking some laws that carry with them, at best, job-loss; at worst, the threat of long-term federal punishment. The reputation of character and integrity that took a lifetime to build stood in the balance of his word against theirs. 
And who was this accuser? Someone for whom Hubs has gone to bat countless times over the last few years. Someone into whom he’s poured countless hours at sales meetings, whom we’ve entertained in our home, whom we’ve supported at several community events and, someone whom I’ve even counseled through some tough times. No, this wasn’t just some random person; this was someone we trusted and counted as a friend.
When this first came about, we were, needless to say, stunned. It’s as if you’ve been sucker-punched and all the life is sucked right out of you. The gravity of the accusations; the what-ifs; the betrayal. But dazed-and-stunned soon gave way to hyper-focus. We threw ourselves into action, and while we were busy with the compilation of personal records that would prove Hubs’ innocence, we were also pouring through Scripture and on our faces before the Lord. These are some verses from Psalm 119 that especially spoke to us:

22 Remove from me scorn and contempt, 
       for I keep your statutes.

 23 Though rulers sit together and slander me, 
       your servant will meditate on your decrees.

 24 Your statutes are my delight; 
       they are my counselors.
We worked really hard at keeping scorn and contempt at bay, deciding to take these verses very literally.  I put scripture on index cards each day and placed them in Hubs’ shirt pocket. When the pressure was intense, he would pull out those “decrees” and meditate on them, pray them over himself, and allow them to counsel him. I wrote them down for myself as well, and prayed them all day long. I’m not sure I can say this often enough: Scripture is not just words in an old book. IT IS LIFE.

All of the investigation and interrogation culminated with one very long meeting. My man left the house that day, armed with a large box filled with every paper we owned that spoke his innocence and a pocket full of God’s promises. He returned to me that evening with a tired smile; patting his shirt pocket and saying “He was with me, and I think they believed me.”

As it turns out, they did

Certainly, there was immense relief and some heavy-duty praising. We were beyond grateful! But remember, slander is, at best, harmful. There is still damage done when your reputation is put into question. People still wonder, “was it true”? Rumors and lies spread like a virus, contaminating people’s perceptions and placing doubt where there used to be confidence. We were left to clean up a mess we didn’t make, and little by little, some of that hateful virus began to contaminate my heart.

Hubs had been exonerated. He was having to work hard to make up lost ground, but he was completely free – even in his spirit. Me? Not so much.

As angry as I had been at this person when this all started, I had been able to set it aside to help my husband through the ordeal. Ironically, however, wh
en he was pronounced innocent, that “scorn and contempt” boiled to the surface with a new vengeance. The virus took hold.

Strangely, his freedom ushered me into bondage. 

For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin. Act 8:23

Join me Wednesday for Part Two.