He leads one of the largest churches in Greenville, South Carolina, but Pastor John Gray said he doesn’t believe prayer is enough to handle all the problems that can emerge in marriages.
Gray, who leads Relentless Church and has previously admitted to being on the verge of divorce, made the declaration on a recent episode of Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook Show “Red Table Talk,” co-hosted by Pinkett Smith’s daughter, Willow Smith, and her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris.
The episode, in which Gray appeared with his wife, Aventer, was billed “How Your Relationship Can Survive Quarantine.”
“The reason why this conversation is so impacting to me is because as a man of faith, what sometimes happens with the theological construct is that we think that our higher power will somehow fix it all. And sometimes prayer is not enough. You can sometimes talk to somebody that has walked through things that you don’t know. I needed this because there are some areas of unattended manhood that need to be addressed,” Gray said after receiving advice from relationship counselor Michaela Boehm, which he and his wife both found illuminating.
Pinkett-Smith started the conversation by highlighting how she realized during the pandemic how little she and her husband, movie star Will Smith, knew about each other.
“Will and I are in the process of him taking the time to learn to love himself, me taking the time to learn to love myself right, and us building a friendship along the way. And let me tell you that’s been somethin,’” she said. “To be married to someone for 20-some-odd years and then realize, I don’t know you and you don’t know me. But also realizing too there’s an aspect of yourself that you don’t know either.”
Gray explained that he was also learning to appreciate who is wife is during the pandemic.
“And that for me is the biggest revelation. I think Aventer, she’s had a consistent role in this marriage, while I tried to figure out what my role was. That’s not just in a marriage. I’m talking about as the man. I have been forced into intimacy over the last four weeks. And when Willow said, ‘you can’t spell divorce without C-O-V-I-D,’ well what I think is that I don’t think people are willing to divorce because of these four weeks. I think truth is being presented and we’re finally revealing and being revealed for who we actually are,” he said.
“There’s a distance between who we thought we were and who we actually know. And so for me, I can be honest to say that I didn’t understand all of the value and the gifts that my wife carried. Even if I could sympathize with her, I have not empathized. There’s a difference between sympathy and empathy. One is I feel sorry for you, you’ve done a great job. The other is, I’m putting myself in your shoes. And I have never stopped to say what does it mean to be a wife, a mother, an executive who’s doing all these different things and for me; I don’t know how to stay. I will travel a quarter of a million miles a year so for me, I know how to leave, not stay.”
The pastor’s wife quickly interjected that while he was trying to understand her in all her roles, he failed to see her as “a woman.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair