We’re living the dream and our life that should be stress free! We all know life is not stress free, but we really don’t have much to stress over. Sure, a tire blow out while going 60 mph should cause a little stress, but we handled it!
We’ve made it a habit to start our day with a prayer before breakfast and then normally a Bible reading and devotional after we eat. We started this habit after missionary friends gave us a few wonderful devotional books. But it wasn’t always this way.
It’s no secret, our marriage fell apart after 13 years. There was trouble at 7 years, but we thought a baby would be the glue to hold us together. She became the center of our world and things were good for a while.
But after 10 years of marriage, things got rocky again. I began to job hunt. Maybe a change of scenery would help. So we made a major change to our lifestyle. But that didn’t help, either. So finally, we succumbed to that thing God detests, d-i-v-o-r-c-e (Malachi 2:16). You see, we forgot our wedding vows. We vowed to love each other in good health and bad….What happens? Why do couples who are seemingly so “in love” finally break apart?
We’ve blogged a lot about our marital trials and tribulations (click to read more), but nothing recently since we have been living the dream: traveling full time in a magnificent motor home, retired and making plenty of visits to be with our grandsons….and their parents. We should have no reason to be stressed, we should be living “happily ever after.” Right?
We’ve said often we are sorry we divorced and wasted all that money with lawyers and caused a deep wound in our relationship. BUT we are so GRATEFUL we serve a mighty God who healed our relationship and restored our family.
God is not a genie and He only works miracles in His own way. We had so many people praying for us as we went through the divorce. My very dear sister-in-law, who became my spiritual mentor, talked herself blue in the face, trying to get me to see Jesus was the only Hope we had, to get me back into the Word, to get me to really seek HIM and not the worlds way to solve a problem. I know she fasted, prayed and even had her entire church praying for us. But my heart was hard and cold. I heard nothing and I didn’t want any advice. I was determined to get out of what I thought was a bad situation. And what was my bad situation? No matter what anyone’s bad situation is, you feel you have absolutely no alternative but divorce. Or for some, it’s even worse. I know, I’ve been there.
Ours was a spiritual war. Plain and simple. We both put our own needs above the other. We certainly weren’t looking out for the best for our daughter. Did I really think breaking up our marriage was the best for her? Really? How dumb was that?
My husband didn’t abuse us, he went to work every day, he didn’t get drunk (anymore), he was faithful, but he was not the spiritual head of our household. When we divorced, our daughter was six years old and had never been to church. I met Jesus when I was seven. Something was driving me to make things right but Bill refused to turn back to God. It was crushing me spiritually. And when someone is in that situation, everything looks hopeless, everything black.
We’ve blogged about how we finally forgave each other, click here, and we began to rebuild our family. We eventually began to lead a young marrieds ministry after we worked with youth for nearly 7 years. We moved and began attending a new church. The pastor said he would like us to work with young couples. We said yes after he and his wife lead a course on marriage. It helped that they were honest and said they had their share of troubles to overcome! Heavens knows it is very stressful to be a Pastor and the wife of a Pastor. They looked so perfect to me! We knew God had given us a powerful testimony for a reason….
Remember I said earlier we really have no reason to be stressed? Well, life is full of stressors (trouble) and for some reason, we do let stress sneak in and get the best of us. After all, Jesus said,
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
When we have a change in our daily routine, it can create a few problems. As you age, you see how your habits have a way of being a good thing (like habitually reading your Bible or as ordinary as brushing your teeth after every meal) or a bad thing (like “needing” a drink to relax, or smoking cigarettes). It’s best to practice good habits when you are young as it helps you as you age because your body does begin to wear out. And that is about the main stressor in our lives. We are becoming forgetful or we do dumb things, like have “senior moments.” We are close in age, Bill just 8 months older than me, so it has helped that once one of us begins to have a health concern, the other is right there and can emphasize. Usually!
So this past Sunday (June 12, 2016), we were visiting lots of family in Missouri. We were excited about attending one family’s new church and in fact, everyone decided to go and then, we would all go out to eat afterwards. Then we would be on our way home (at that time, Illinois). It was the Sunday of the horrific massacre in Orlando. We normally never have the news on, but we wanted to check the weather. We were in a hotel since it was too far for us to bring our motor home for a long weekend trip. Maybe that set the tone for the day. We were focusing on the bad and not thinking of how our Lord is in control in spite of evil ruling one man’s life to the point of mass murder. There were beautiful stories of survivors helping others and the outpouring of support not only the city of Orlando showed the victims, but the entire state stepped up to help as well as support from all over the US and world.
We didn’t have our prayer time or devotional. And we lost track of time and were running late. It was a 20-25 minute drive and we didn’t know the area. We had set the GPS in the car the night before so we sort of knew which way to go…or so we thought. And in setting it, I guess I was the one who forgot to turn out the “map” light. We rushed out to the car, Bill getting in first while I checked out of the hotel. The car had a hard time starting. Then I get in the car and notice the map light was still on. Bill mentioned the battery seemed to be dying….and our GPS had started acting up a few days ago. Our tempers were fragile and we had a spat. I accepted responsibility for leaving the light on, but Bill didn’t pay attention to which way to go….so off we went in the wrong decision.
After being together for over 40 years, we don’t yell at each other. We did in our younger days and before we returned to the Lord. We’ve had spats along the way, but northing serious. And we go to church no matter what else is happening. But not this day….
We both went silent and it was a long 5 hour trip back to our RV …. and the worst part was that we missed an excellent church service and more time with the family. It’ll probably be a year before we see them again. 😞
What is the moral to this story? Bill is actually very wise. While he majored in Psychology in college (he thought he’d go on for his PhD and become a marriage counselor), he minored in education. One thing he learned and taught me, Biblically, as well as from his education, was when one has thoughts (and they did to me) was to control your thoughts and to say, “Get thee behind me satan.” And you know, that has helped me control my temper!
As it turned out, our GPS (part of what they now call and Infotainment system) went bad as did our battery. Our car was in the shop for two days. Was it anyone’s fault? No, just that batteries now only last three years with all the electronics but leaving light on helps it die faster! We both make mistakes and we just need to extend grace to each other. It’s hard enough feeling the aging aches and pains….we don’t need to rub salt in each other’s wounds.
So lessons we learned while we were being prepared to work in a couples ministry, don’t ever let the sun go down on your anger, don’t sweep problems under the carpet, don’t stuff your feelings, don’t every say the “D” word, love and forgive each other daily!
If you are having your own “problems” or situation that seems unbearable, one of my favorite authors, Max Lucado, wrote this wonderful post that really says what I know is true and has helped me, at least, keep control of my anger at certain life situations.
We have the hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure….Hebrews 6:19