Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Wife's Testimony

It was June, 1979. Sweetheart and I were living in a little one bedroom apartment and I had just started going to Lincolnwood Baptist Church. His sister was a member there and I had been tagging along. I had never attended church with my family. My Grandma Grace sometimes took me to church with her when I was little, but my life was far from a Spiritual journey. Did I mention I was not married at this time? Nope. Living with Sweetheart, unmarried, but so much in love it did not matter. I felt no guilt what so ever, and felt it was fine. It was not the first time we had lived together. Just one year before, a couple of weeks after we graduated from High School, in June of 1978, we ran into each other at a bar. I was 17, he was 18. The drinking age was 18 then, and I was a bit panicked walking in there, afraid I would be "busted". Sweetheart was there and shouted "Hey" at me. We knew each other from High School. I did not look to see who it was and, with my girl friend, ran to the rest room to get my courage up. When I came back out, there he was. Sweetheart. Waiting for me to come out of the ladies room. He bought me drinks all night long. I lived in my first apartment, I shared with a girl I worked with. She was not a "fun girl" like me and we had little in common, except the need for a second person to pay the rent. I told Sweetheart that night, as I downed my umpteenth slow gin and orange juice, to please not take advantage of me. He didn't, though we spent the night together passed out on my apartment floor. We started dating and within 2 weeks were living together. That lasted only 3 months and we broke up. From September til January, we saw each other once in a while, as I had become close friends with his sister (not Sherry). In January he called me. I was living at my parents home, and my parents hated him. He had long hair and was what they would consider a "hood". Well Sweetheart was never a hood, but probably not someone, from outward appearances, that you would want dating your daughter.
Note the Miller beer and ciggies next to him...that was common place at the time. I still look at that "man" of 18 and swoon. That hair was so soft and he was (still is) gorgeous to look at and so much a knight in shining armour. He treated me like I was a queen...his queen. He was not allowed on our road. Yes, not in our subdivision at all, so I had to meet him at the highway. He got tired of that. At midnight (my curfew), he would have to drop me off at the highway and I would walk home. One night he turned onto our road. I was so worried that my parents would be mad. My mom met us at the door and told him to get out! He told her he loved me (he had yet to tell me that) and that he would drop me at the door like he should, or I would go with him. I stood there frozen, still not past the "I love her" part. My mother went on some tirade about "cut your hair and get a job!" He left without saying another word. I was SO mad at my mom!! (Remember, Sweetheart and I had lived together for 3 months in the past...we were not a new couple) I did not hear from him for 2 days. When he showed up at the door with a haircut, a shave, and a job, he asked me to move into an apartment with him. I said yes. That was April 1, 1979. Sweetheart had gained my mother's respect in all of this, and her attitude towards him changed. She knew we were living together, but my father did not.
I began to attend church with Sweetheart's sister and her family. Sweetheart worked on Sunday mornings, so it was something to do. It was a small Baptist church with a sweet little Pastor named Herman King. Pastor King and his wife Miss Mabel, were about the sweetest people you could ever meet. Years later, Pastor King was at the hospital when Bud was born...they became very important in my life. Well, I did not have a Bible and told Sweetheart we needed one. We bought the Paraphrase Bible (I did not know the difference back then) in the picture at the top of this post. It still has our names and address in it. My maiden name, of course, as we were not married. As I attended church weekly, I began to feel uncomfortable about our living situation and told Sweetheart I thought I should move back home. It did not feel right. He was not happy about that, and I wasn't either, but I remember his mother spouting to me "They won't buy the cow if they can get the milk for free!" She had such a way with words!! LOL The next day I came home from work to find a letter sitting on the top of that Bible. It pretty much said "Let's just do it." I know...but it was all I needed to hear. We were such babies!! The wedding was set for 2 weeks. Pastor King could not (or would not) marry us, so we went to another Pastor and set it up. Only our parents would be present. I had just bought a cute yellow dress. It would be my wedding dress.
The week before I got married, Pastor Pitney, who ran the Rescue Mission in our town, and attended Lincolnwood Baptist Church, pulled me aside and took my Bible out of my hand. He opened it to 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, which starts out by saying:
"Don't team with those who do not love God..." (the paraphrased version) It is the famous "do not be unequally yoked" scripture. Well, I had not "officially" turned my life over to God yet, though that morning was to be when I "went forward" and made my profession of faith. After Pastor Pitney MARKED UP my new Bible with his, in my carnal mind, hateful pen, I decided I would wait.
My 18 year old mind told me that if I got married FIRST and THEN got saved, I would not be breaking any rules. I loved Sweetheart more than I loved God.
We were married on July 7, 1979. I continued to attend church, and waited what I thought was an appropriate 3 months before I gave my life to Christ. Sweetheart came to the service in which I was baptised. I was certain he would follow along and turn his life over to my God too! How could he not??? Who in their right mind would refuse salvation and a one on one relationship with God??? I have come to find out that LOTS of people would. Sweetheart did not attend church with me. He really did not have to. I would come home and re-preach the entire service, adding in my own ideals on top of Pastor King's. Shortly after that, Pastor Pitney pulled me aside, once again taking my Bible in his hand...this time he had a RED pen! He opened my Bible to 1 Peter 3:1-6, which starts out saying:
"Wives, fit in with your husband's plans; for if they refuse to listen when you talk to them about the Lord, they will be won by your respectful, pure behavior. Your Godly lives will speak to them better than your words....."
You can tell by the picture, he was not as kind with that red pen as he was with the black! Though I did not heed the first warning of Pastor Pitney, I did the second! I stopped preaching and started living. Sweetheart stopped social drinking, and only has a rare drink. He has been a wonderful husband and support for me. I continued my church attendance throughout the years of raising my boys. There have been many times I have wrestled with God about living this wonderful life in Christ, unequally yoked, but I had free will and used it. God has honored me in spite of myself, and if you could get to heaven by being a good person, my husband would be first in line. I have learned that regardless of the state of my husband's relationship with God, my purpose is clear...I am to be his helpmeet. I am to honor him and submit to his authority, as long as he does not ask me to sin. He has never done this and values my opinion in all things. He has allowed his children to be raised and brought up in the admonition of the Lord, and has encouraged me to attend church, when in dry periods, I have stopped attending.
As a woman who has been married for 29 years, to an "unsaved" man, I have been judged. Women look at me and assume I have done something wrong, because surely he would be saved by now. Well the Word of God does not promise us a saved husband in a certain amount of time. It does, however, promise me that my husband is sanctified by me, and our children are clean, meaning they are "of a blessed union" (I Corinthians 7:14) and that my household WILL be saved (Acts 16:31) There is no timeline, and I have found those people who have little sin, have little need. By the world's standard, Sweetheart is a righteous man and heaven would be lucky to have him. Until the veil is lifted, that is the way it will be. Both my Grandmother and my Father in law were saved on their death beds. If that is the way for our husband's, then so be it. It does not change what God has called me to be. I ramble on this, because I struggle with it at times. This is one of those times. When things get tough, it would be such a blessing to have a Spiritual leader to take charge. I read blogs of ladies who actually have PASTOR's for husbands. I begin to covet...not another husband, but Sweetheart as this Superman of God! His Spiritual muscles are bulging with strength from above. He has a Bible in one hand, and a sword in the other, ready to slay any demon that would attack his family! He knows this...it is no secret I am bearing here. We talk. In the end, I remember that regardless, my calling is high...just as high as that of a Pastor's wife. I also remember that my God is sufficient to meet all my needs according to HIS riches in Glory!!
Me and my Superman.

17 comments:

Linda said...

Well said Bren, those who have unsaved husbands need to remember that God's timing is ALWAYS perfect, never late, never early, but always on time..... His time.... He knows your heart and hears your prayers...

Julie said...

That is a beautiful testimony. I have a burden for wives of unsaved men. I feel their hurt and longing. They are some of the strongest Christian women I know. I will definately add you to my prayer list in this situation. You are proving to be a wonderful wife.

Copper's Wife said...

Sweet testimony. Keep clinging to 1 Peter 3!

GrammaGrits said...

Thanks for sharing, Bren, even though I am in tears as I type. Your blog is one of my favorites, and yes, I've been a pastor's wife for 37 years - ha!! Your obvious love and respect for your man is a wonderful testimony. Keep it up!

P.S. Have you read any of Margaret Jensen's books? Please read Lena - it'll bless you !

Sweet P said...

What a wonderful tribute to you and your wonderful husband! That photo looks like I remember 1979!

Susan said...

Dear Bren, you have a wonderful husband, and you are doing a great job of being exactly what he needs, a wife who loves and honors him and prays for his salvation. I don't understand why anyone would look down on a woman because her husband is unsaved; I've never met anyone who did that, that I know of.

As for a pastor being Super Christian - my pastor-husband is no more Super Christian than I am or you are. He's a man with the same good and bad points as any other man. Only difference: saved!

Keep praying for your dear husband, and keep on loving him and living Christ before him!

Alesha said...

Aw, Bren! What a sweet post about your sweet-heart! And that last picture is just perfect.

Today, as my "preacher" husband and I were...ahem...discussing some things...I thought, "If only Bren could hear me now!"

LOL!!!!!

I love that you mention God's timing about your hubby's salvation! You are so right! Sometimes I forget that He has a plan for all of it! I just want to rush it along...{sigh}

Thank you for sharing your testimony. It is a powerful story! It speaks of God's mercy to call your heart again after you decided against salvation; and it speaks of His longsuffering that His timing is not yet perfect for your hubby's salvation. It also testifies to the strong love between 2 young people, and how God has allowed it to grow!

Thanks again for sharing,
Alesha

Katie said...

Bren,

As always, your post is very much appreciated. You know... sometimes I think it's so necessary to write a post like this; and sometimes I think it's so necesary to read a post like this. It's so very encouraging and helps countless others out there who might run across it ~ God will use it for encouragement and refinement in others' lives. As for you ~ I love your genuine, sweet spirit and your dedication to the Lord and your husband. When I read your posts, I have no doubt that you are in the very center of God's will ~ and that is the safest, most rewarding place one can be. I have so many struggles of my own that sometimes I feel called to post about too. I think I'm gearing up for one of those. You are a great blessing. Even though we've never *met*, God has used your obedience and love toward Him to help me in my life. Thank you for sharing, Bren. And bless you and your hubby ~ I'm praying for you both.

Blessings,
Katie

Idaho Quilter said...

Thank You for sharing.

One Christian Mom said...

Thank you for your testimony. Mine is backwards in that I was saved first, then went ahead and married an un-saved man whom I had been dating for years. Your post is an inspiration to me in so many ways! Too many to list here :-) Thank you!
Shellie

Angie said...

Hi Bren,
I LOVED this post. You do such an incredible job! I didn't realize, at first, you were talking about you and your husband ... I thought it was a story of someone else. Finally things started to click. We are human - my hubby and I had a similar start to yours :) It warms my heart to see the love you share for each other! You're both meant to be together. God has a plan!
Blessings to you and your family!

In Pursuit of His Call said...

Praise God for giving you the strength and perseverance to trust and obey Him in your submission and role as helpmeet to your husband. Thank you for your transparency and I am encouraged by your example!

Donetta said...

:) There is nothing on this earth like being loved and loving another. It is the introduction to LOVE himself (Jesus)

shelia said...

oh Bren!

Thanks so much for sharing your testimony. I'm going to be praying for your superman. What a lovely couple!
Thanks for being so open and honest..what an incredible example your are to your family and to us..your sisters in Christ. It's so exciting to look back and see what a work HE has done in your life.
Thank you sweet blooger friend :)
IHN
Shelia

Valerie said...

Hello, I tried earlier to leave a comment on one of your other posts (specifically the one about Charlotte accepting Jesus :D) but my computer froze and wouldn't let me send it. I just wanted to say that I found your site about 2 weeks ago and I have slowly been working my way through from the beginning and I LOVE your writing, your insights and your testimony. You have really challenged me. I especially enjoy your spiritual updates. It is so hard to find women of like faith that are not ashamed of it. Anyway, I was overjoyed to hear about little Charlotte's salvation. The Lord is so good! Bless you for sharing your life with me! Sincerely, Valerie (from Southern Missouri, formerly Central Illinois).

Sandra said...

The honesty of your testimony is touching. I'm sure your story will encourage others. Be encouraged! (Psalm 37:4-5)

Barb said...

What a sweet story, you two are a very lovely couple. In time, you will see...in time.