Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chapter 5 - Time to Be Married

I had  had Asweethearts@ since first gradeB in reality just friends of the opposite sex to call Amine@ for a brief time. In high school I experienced my first loveB a dear friend from church whom I dated until I left for college. Our dates were usually with our whole group of friendsB to the bowling alley or a movie, or just going to Youth Fellowship and then a Adrive-in@ (the eating kind, not the movie kind!). I broke up with Steve when I went away to college, from some perverse sort of reasoning that we would no longer have anything in common. Yet he continued to be my best friend, the one I called when things got difficult at school, or when I felt lonely.  I was devastated when he told me he was dating someone else, but eventually they married and I got over my loss, moving on to Asmarter@ guys from my university.
         It was in college, I suppose not surprisingly, that another world began to open up before me, ways of thinking I had to this point been protected from, the world of intellectual curiosity where the Enemy is so likely to attack our belief systems.  I continued to go to church and participate wholeheartedly in Baptist Student Union, and most of my friends and dates were still more like me than not. Though I was almost always on the sidelines of the Ain crowd@ and their parties and activities, I began to crave the adventure that my more sophisticated peers seemed to be having.  Within my own circle of friends I was confident, just as I had been with my church group in high school; outside this circle I was wide-eyed and insecure. I was ripe to be swept off my feet by someone more worldly and seemingly wise, who offered the excitement and adventure of the unknown. 
I didn=t really choose Frank.  I didn=t even notice him across the dimness of the coffee house on the top floor of the college library.  Heaven only knows what made him pick me outB probably the bright tangerine tent dress I was wearing, or maybe the huge mound of acrylic Ahair@ piled on top of my head.  What can I say?  It was the sixties!  And at age twenty I was more naive than today=s eight-year-old.  I had had plenty of dates with Anice@ guys who were vastly more suited to me than Frank.  Instead of sameness, though, I craved adventure, and there was no one more exciting and different from me than Frank.  He was brash, self-confident, and loud.  And because he thought he was wise, and I knew I was naive, who was I to question his self-assurance?
Soon, before I had any idea what was happening, he was telling me not only what was right or wrong, but what to think, how to dress, talk, act, even what to say.  How many times did I go back to my dorm room and repeat the words he had put in my mouth to my roommate, or go home and regurgitate his words to my parents?  How shocked my friends and family must have been to hear such new and radical thoughts come from my mouth.
The long and short of it is, even though the only thing in me that responded positively to Frank was my hormones, even though little about our relationship felt good, it felt normal and therefore right, because like my father and my brother, even professors, he seemed so superior to me, so worldly, wise and in control.  And feeling so naive and stupid, a sentiment he took every opportunity to reinforce in me, I suppressed every Agut@ feeling, every instinct that was my God-given legacy.  My heart aches even now for the lost joy and innocence, for the pain I caused my parents and ultimately myself.
We dated through my junior year, typical collegiate dates: basketball and football games, movies, concerts, family visits.  I was proud to be on the arm of someone so intelligent, even though his harshness hurt me and my parents and didn=t really impress my long-time friends.  He was graduating and heading for law school there on the same campus.  I was impressed by his family=s wealth and worldliness: his father was a New York City executive, and the family lived in a beautiful Connecticut suburb. How flattering that someone like this could have an interest in me!  And besides, it was the end of junior yearB all the girls were hearing wedding bells!
We were engaged at the beginning of my senior year; we married one week after I graduated.  It was certainly not all bad, because we found common ground.  The happiest times were traveling, something I have continued to enjoy all my life. He even began going to church with me, and seemed to take a serious interest in it.  But if I had looked then, I am sure I would have seen the black hole, the hole in my heart.  For years, though, I was just aware of the fearB fear of failure myself (just as I always felt I never quite measured up to the other men in my life), fear of displeasing Frank (because of the shame he poured out on me), fear of his unfaithfulness (because I knew I was a disappointment to him).  I grew more and more depressed, felt more and more hopelessly caught in the web of my own powerlessness.  By giving over the reins of my life to another human being, I had taken them out of God=s hands.  Instead of being wrapped in the loving arms of my Heavenly Father, I had let myself be trapped in the cocoon of control I had allowed Frank to spin around me.

“For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”  (Galatians 5:17)

READ: Romans 11:32, Luke 16:13

PONDER THIS: Examine your heart for a major act of rebellion in your life which had serious consequences. Can you see times God tried to speak to you and you ignored His whisper? If you have not already, you can repent of your rebellion right now, as I had to do myself.