By Laura Adams
We were unbelievers when John and I met. And the well of my capacity to love had been almost completely filled in by the sewage of my broken life. I loved being with John… he was fun and intriguing and we had a good time together, but I was definitely not the traditional girl with visions of diamonds dancing in my head. I was a “realist”. Love was not a “safe” concept.
I really believed I loved John at that time, but it was a very reserved love. I had never experienced love that had not abused or abandoned me. Therefore, I felt that I could never completely trust the words, “I love you”. I longed for love, but I was afraid of disappointment.
Thankfully, John’s creative pursuit won me over and in November, 1984, I became Mrs. Adams. We became parents to a beautiful daughter in May of ’85. You might think this could be the happily-ever-after at the end of the story, but real life doesn’t work out that way. Instead, our life together that had begun down the aisle of “I do” began to swiftly trot towards the pathway of “I told you so”… I was now trapped in my most feared scenario.
Four years later, I was pregnant again. Instead of building a home together, we were living in a hot, sticky mess. We certainly weren’t having fun anymore. The realities of home and family had completely overwhelmed each of us in different ways. A miracle of divine intervention was the only hope of not completely destroying each other or ourselves.
One night (without giving too much detail), I began to reason to myself that maybe John would be better off without me. Quite startlingly, God broke into that self-talk.
In a millisecond, the Uncreated One revealed Himself and opened my eyes to an eternal reality that made my reasoning seem treacherous and shameful. It really was as if Light, pure and tangible, invaded my inner darkness. For the very first time in my entire life I felt that Someone genuinely loved me…
This sudden awareness of being intimately known radically altered me at a core level. All my self-reasoning went out the window. I now had someone to guide me and correct me. I was no longer alone.
Even though I had never been to church, or read the Bible, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was God and He was with me. He was inviting me to put down what I was thinking as well as how I’d been living and join Him in what He was doing. I readily received His invitation!
I gave my whole (unreserved) heart to Him that very moment. I have to say, I was rather giddy! The hope and excitement that filled me was electrifying. It was almost as if I had fallen in love for the first time…
All of this took place in our dark bedroom with my sleeping husband’s back to mine. It was all so poetically ironic.
Suddenly, I felt like I belonged to someone else– someone who wanted to protect me and provide for me as a “husband” should. But this someone was God and it was pretty clear that He would require something from me.
Although I had not yet heard the gospel message, one thing was made obvious to my heart. If this God was capable of being my rescuer, He was worthy of my entire allegiance. Of course, He would ask me to hand over the authority over my life (not that I minded, since I had totally screwed it up). But I knew He was also asking for my marriage and my family. Now that God had entered my life, my relationship with John had been completely compromised.
Nothing between us would ever be the same.
The next realization was that this wasn’t going to be a “secret love affair…” My Lover wanted to be known! Truthfully, I wanted to make Him known! I wanted to learn and to share as I grew in my understanding of this amazing, gracious Savior. Yet, even as I tried to explain what had happened to me the next morning, it seemed as though John was completely frustrated at my newfound joy and irritated at the deliverance from my lifestyle. He grew more distant and even angry.
As time went on, I obtained a bible and found a church. It was my thought life that was being challenged first. I was becoming more and more influenced by the biblical reality I was learning. I saw things as “wrong” that I would never have had a second thought about before. I wasn’t entering into new practices… I was developing a new paradigm.
One day I was trying to explain a principle to John that I was trying to understand and obey. It seemed irrelevant to John and he became irritated with me. He said, “Laura, I feel like there is “another man” in our marriage.” I responded, “Yes, there is… and if you let me love Him first, I’ll love you better.” He grumbled as he walked away, “We’ll see…”
I thought, at that time, (quite erroneously) that just understanding Truth was the gateway to living in the Kingdom of God, in much the same way that education was the entrance of worldly success. I was hurt and confused when John (as well as the rest of my family and friends) did not appreciate my new lens on life.
God would use the next few years to teach me the counter intuitive reality of depending on the Holy Spirit to reveal Truth to others and to give me the grace to have faith in what seemed impossible. What began for me, as the most intimate soul mingling with my Maker, now seemed to be the catalyst for impending division.
I became private about my Bible reading, and I literally caused myself an ulcer as I fretted week after week about attending church services. John would be angry if I took the kids, spouting that Sunday was his only day off, and if I suggested leaving the kids with him, He accused me of using him as a babysitter. I was doomed either way. So I began “hiding” my faith altogether. I was begging God to forgive my compromises and feeling ripped apart by the convictions in my heart.
The Lord was merciful with me. He seemed to “allow” me the decision to not go to church for a few weeks. I would be wrestling, I would pray, and then feel released not to even bring it up with John.
But one week I didn’t really wrestle. I was sliding into a slippery place of complacency. I just assumed that God understood my plight and was satisfied to be my hidden Love. This wasn’t so much about going to “church” but about what I trusted in for my life! My newfound exuberant faith was now turning into fear. But not fear of God- it was clearly the fear of man. My mother-in-law had told me plainly that she hoped this religious thing was just a fad. If not, I should be prepared to lose my marriage. In this season, I saw that she could very well be right. I was trying to walk two different paths at the same time. God was preparing me to count the cost of this relationship.
He intended to draw a line in the sand. I could not “keep” my old life, and live as a new creation. In order to grow in my walk with God, I would have to live in line with the truth and trust Him with the outcome. I needed to realize this was an, “all-in, no-plan-B” deal. Yes, I could lose my marriage. I could lose everything. Was I willing to lose in order to gain Christ? It isn’t an easy question when your whole reality is on the line.
This is when I came to 1 Peter. In particular, chapter 3…
God’s Word had already become so much more than a textbook to me. The narrative was alive! The Voice that broke into my darkness was the same Word that put on flesh and dwelt among us! I listened as He spoke. I longed to be able to believe with my actions as easily as my heart received what was written.
As I read Peter’s instruction to the wives of his day, I felt as though he was speaking into my present circumstances and giving me reason to move forward in faith! No matter what happened, Jesus Christ had saved me. I was safe in obeying Him. I understood that conforming to John and his preferences was wrong. But I also needed to learn a quiet meekness that would respect and submit to his headship as my husband. I felt empowered by the promise that I did not need to “tell” John in order to enlighten him to God; I just needed to be fearlessly obedient in my faithful conduct.
Woe was me if I didn’t trust the Lord!
Genuine Salvation is a hard walk… but worthy of EVERY sacrifice.
I have learned.
And I am learning still…
Our story is one of transformation…
Beauty out of brokenness, but also because of it!
John came to know My Savior as his own 7 years into my walk, but even so, my expectations for John were often unrealistic. John’s salvation was never intended to replace my “first Love.” I needed to prioritize and pursue intimacy with this “other Man” between us.
Ultimately, John is my gift… not my glory.
Some thoughts to consider…
- Is Jesus really my first Love?
Many of us look to Jesus to fulfill our desire for other relationships. Are we pursuing Jesus as our all-sufficient love? Is He truly enough when other loves fail?
2. Am I willing to suffer the consequences in loving Jesus obediently both privately and publically?
There is a cost to discipleship. Am I learning to trust God with the disappointments I may face?
3. Is my love for Jesus marked with duty or devotion?
Joy is contagious! Would I look at my declaration of faith as a love affair with God or price I must pay to please Him?
Our story has been written eternally into His! May we find ourselves in awe of His love!