I first met Virginia “Ginny” through a close friend’s Bible study almost four years ago. She came into my life at the perfect time, right when God was stirring a new passion into my heart. That night not only did she pour Biblical truth, but she captivated, calmed and spoke right into my anxious soul. I knew I had to keep this woman in my life. I could not be more excited for you to read her story.
My dream life formed as a mental picture growing up. By cataloguing all my favorite moments of life, I wove together a scenario that included stunning red autumn leaves, sparkly snow drifts, family fun times, and lots of travel. Reading in 8th grade those ‘career based series books’ my inner picture got even clearer. I discovered a job ‘out there’ that exactly fit by inner dreams. No same stuck-life of my home town for me! I wanted a way more interesting life! Anything I had missed in childhood, I would correct. Chosen by me, my favorite life would happen!
In college, my sense of my future escalated. My twin sister had two guys wanting to marry her by graduation, but not me, no one was even interested. So it was up to me! I was off to my adventure, moving to my dream city. Even got my dream job, just exactly as in the book! Loving life yet becoming an adult I couldn’t figure out why people didn’t fit my idea of how we should ‘get along’.
One night, across a crowded room at a holiday work party, I saw him. Fun, witty and full of stories of adventure, we connected right away. He rounded up a group after that party and we had a blast walking in a snow shower and making snow angels in the twinkling Christmas lights.
Nine months later we married! Whirlwind! He fit every category I had thought of for a forever love. Except one. He didn’t love this place and wanted the other coast. No biggie. I was living my dream! We, with my closest friend, my twin sister, also married and living only 8 miles away, would work it all out for happily ever after! He would learn to love it here!
Only he didn’t. Four years into it, the irritating reminders were coming more often. Every-single-time I was having a lot of fun with my twin, he would lean close and say ‘remember, we are not living here all our lives’!. Now all his adventurousness was a complete drag and certainly a bridge too far for me. Maybe I wasn’t so adventurous after all? I had my dream job, a house, my sister. I loved the area. Why couldn’t he see that? This was Not getting any better; in fact, it weighed on me constantly. Feminism was the new and hot thing and fueled my anger. ‘‘Shut up’, I wanted to say! “Don’t you get it? I am JUST as important!” “This is too hard for me to do!” We weren’t doing well. I knew losing him was no answer. Divorce, so I could stay near my sister? No! I loved him and wanted a happy marriage too! That was part of MY plan, after all.
This impossible dilemma drove me back to church. Nominally Christian in childhood, I had stopped going when my non-believing husband notified me he refused to go weekly, or at all. Shocked because Church going had anchored the week growing up, but I hated going alone. Now, lonely and worried I had nowhere else to turn.
When Janet, a neighbor whose husband worked on Sundays, offered to pick me up on her way to the church on the corner, I gratefully accepted. She also invited me to drop over anytime. I did. Like several times per week. Basically she served me tea while I blabbed. At 26 and totally self-absorbed I paid no attention to her kids; but she was home and perhaps I offered a diversion.
Little did I know that Janet’s husband Bruce was a youth pastor on the side of his High School teaching job. One day Janet and Bruce invited us to dinner and then an info meeting; for a “Marriage-Communication” weekend. Never thinking hubs would want to go, he shocked me by immediately signing us up! Due to the fact we had no kids to plan for, when they called 3 days later with an opening the next weekend we said, Why not?
Jesus and the Holy Spirit began to lead us into the most exciting and adventurous life, which included for me doing ‘what is best for the marriage’ rather than following my own plans.
The next Friday night, the first talk of the weekend was “Are You a Married Single”. I was untouched and agreed that that was how we were living. Who didn’t? You just try to both get your own way, and work it out, right? Actually, they said, Marriage was supposed to look like something way different. OH!?!
We learned to write short focused ‘love letters’ and then share them in a short talk time. Those and talks by couples at every stage of marriage presented me with info I had never thought about. Little by little, reading amazing letters I saw a new part of my husband. His inner thoughts. They melted me and my selfishness; he listened as well.
On Sunday, our assignment was harder. A much longer time allowed us to focus on a more serious topic; but we were ready for it. Our understanding of marriage was deepening. Marriage was about ‘coupleness’ they said. ‘Doing life together’, they said. ‘Choosing what was best for the marriage, not just the self’, they said.
At the sharing of those letters, the long ones, my swollen teary eyes met the astonished face of my husband. While writing his letter, this man, raised by an angry atheist dad, crumpled as he told me ‘God had showed up’ to him! “HE is real”; he said! “What?” I said, “YOU believe there is a GOD? OH MY WORD!”
Big changes had also happened to me in that short morning. I now knew I wanted to do what was best for our marriage. I would go anywhere, move anyplace with this man, because I loved him more than my own dreams and fantasies of the dream life I had planned. My dream life was with him. I had no idea that God had far more in mind for us as we started off on this journey, that now included HIM.
Back in the larger group, they told us that couples back home had our names and had prayed for us all weekend. Love and awe hit me and no words could express my astonishment; they would do this for strangers?
Back home the next Sunday, awkward-but determined to-be-‘in-church’ my husband attended with me! By four months later, we had sold our home and were driving across country, without a job! Talk about living adventurously; this was way out of the box for me!” We had the names of a couple, believers, in our new city. Lonely, ragged and doubting, after one month of travel, we fell into that couple’s life shortly after we arrived. They introduced us to a vibrant group of Christians who lived their faith every day in their families and marriages. I became insatiable to hear about Living by Faith in God.
Five months later we both embraced Jesus and the Holy Spirit began to lead us into the most exciting and adventurous life, which included for me doing ‘what is best for the marriage’ rather than following my own plans. Difficult and challenging as it has been many times, this plan is by far better than the one I had.
Do you have a story to share? We would love to hear YOUR story. It matters.