On the outside, Lydia Meredith appeared to have it all.
As the wife of a popular Atlanta pastor and the mother of three beautiful children, she was a well-respected member in her community. She also had several masters degrees and held a senior position at a Fortune 500 company.
But all was not as it seemed.
“I was one of those preachers’ wives who sat in the pew on many a Sunday morning while my ‘real’ life was a fraud,” Meredith writes in her new memoir The Gay Preacher’s Wife: How My Gay Husband Deconstructed My Life and Reconstructed My Faith.
Several years into her nearly 30 year marriage, Meredith discovered her husband was cheating on her with other men.
“But I stayed,” she writes. “I watched my husband stand in that pulpit on Sunday morning, preaching one message and living out yet another.”
Even after her husband was arrested for soliciting sex with another man, Meredith says she stuck by him, suggesting instead of getting divorced they go to couple’s counseling.
“I loved my husband,” she reveals in an interview with Rolling Out, adding that it was often easy to turn a blind eye because she was such a workaholic. “I was a professional woman working as a senior engineer for a Fortune 500 company. I was living my life, married with three children.”
The infidelities and the counseling went on for years. Then in 2005, everything finally crashing down when her husband said he was leaving her for another man.
“He told me he wanted to live the rest of his life as a gay man,” Meredith says. “At that time, I didn’t know he was in a relationship with a man. Most of the time when we were in therapy discussing his struggles 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.”
Meredith was devastated.
“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?”
As all this was happening, she also learned her middle son was gay.
Today, Meredith says she still loves and respects her ex-husband, who now preaches at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Atlanta. The congregation has over 1,000 members and is made up mostly of members of the LGBTQ community. Their gay son also works at the church as the minister of music.
“I want to share some topics that I feel need to be addressed for women who find themselves in situations like I found myself in,” Meredith says, “and to help them and to show them they can get through it.”
She adds that, while it took a long time for her to get over the pain, she doesn’t hold any resentment or ill-will towards her ex-husband today.
“The church needs a new kind of ministry,” she adds, “one steeped in the ministry started by Jesus [and] free of bias, discrimination, hate, or prejudice.”