I didn't want to be single, but that's where I found myself after ten years of marriage. When my husband left me, he said, "I don't expect you to live like a nun. If you want to go out to dinner with someone, it's okay with me." By this, I knew that he was planning to date other people and didn't want to feel guilty about it, so he was urging me to do the same. I knew it was wrong, but my ego was badly bruised. I wanted to again see a man enjoy being with me and hear him say that he thought I was pretty.
The Bible says that we make our plans, but God orders our steps. I am glad that my plans didn't work out. I was backslidden when my marriage broke up, and I went to a cabaret with my sister, Lorrie, in the hope of meeting someone who would be acceptable to me as a date. The weirdos sure came out of the woodwork when I didn't have a man with me to fend them off. But I met a schoolteacher that night, who impressed me somewhat, and he made a date with me to see a movie.
I had a cold on the appointed night, but I went on the date anyway. In return for the evening's entertainment, I invited my date to come to my house for dinner and he accepted, then hurried away to avoid getting a cold from my germs after having listened to me cough through the movie. What happened after that was a farce that ended my dating for the next five years.
A few days before the schoolteacher was to have dinner at my house, I suddenly remembered that I had also agreed to go out with my husband to see a movie that same night. My husband knew that I had dated this man and questioned me closely about him. He stated that he was jealous, but did not think that he had any right to complain. He was, however, dreadfully insulted when I told him that I had forgotten about his date with me. Though he didn't say much, he stormed out of the house with a face that looked like thunder clouds.
I called the schoolteacher, telling him that I had made a previous date with my husband, and could we schedule our dinner for another time? Realizing that I still had feelings for my husband, the schoolteacher declined to go on any further dates. I called my husband to tell him that I was free to go to the movies with him, but he was no longer interested in keeping that date, or any other date with me.
A rather boring stretch of time followed. My sister was not available to go to the cabaret again for a while, and I certainly wasn't going to go by myself. In fact, I wasn't sure that I wanted to go again at all, remembering how strange and scary some of the men were who tried to talk to me that last time. I thought to myself, "It sure is boring to not go to church. At least, when I used to go to church, I had a social life."
During this time, I visited a Christian neighbour named Debbie, who told me about a book she was reading. It was about death bed experiences. I asked her if I could borrow the book, recalling how edifying another book had been that related how children and Christians heard angels singing, and saw visions of Heaven and Yehoshua when they were breathing their last. My friend agreed to lend the book.
The book wasn't quite like I thought it would be. Sure, it told stories like those other ones, but it also told of people who resisted the conviction of the Holy Ghost for so long that He could no longer maintain His dignity in the face of their incessant stubbornness. I folded the book after reading the last story and lay on the couch, feeling rather stunned. I had always thought that where there is life, there is hope.
Now I finally realized that repentance is a gift from God, and sometimes He stops offering it. When that happens, a person knows they have crossed the line and that they will go to Hell when they die. The people in that situation whose stories were in the book could not repent, though people begged them with tears to do so.
They said that they just wanted to die and get it over with. They could not enjoy life anymore, though they knew that they were headed for a destination where they would always be deathly tired, hungry, thirsty, in pain, subjected to unspeakable stench, filth, terror, frustration, and torments that are beyond human comprehension. I pondered how those people must have been like the walking dead, just a dry husk, even if they lived for many more years, as some did. Their bodies were on earth, but their souls were already in Hell.
God spoke to my heart and said, "Lanny, don't take me for granted." I turned back to Him and didn't go out to cabarets anymore, and I got serious about wanting to get back together with my husband. Dating other men was out, even if my husband said it was okay with him.
My husband moved out in October 1986 and our 10th anniversary was coming up in December. At the start, we agreed that our separation was going to be only temporary, but when I asked my husband about us getting together to go out for dinner on our anniversary, he refused. I badgered him until he gave in to get me off his back, but he did it so grudgingly that I knew he would make it such a miserable evening that I'd wish that I hadn't gone out with him. One time when we went out for dinner, I became so angry at him for his negative attitude and griping that I got up and walked out. I could see that happening again.
It was devastating to realize that our marriage was over, but though I knew it in my heart, my mind couldn't assimilate it. I suffered a nervous breakdown a few days before the anniversary. It was like a safety valve releasing pent–up steam to keep a pipe from exploding. The day came and went with me being so drugged up in the hospital that I wasn't aware that it was my anniversary. If you wish to know more about that right now, then click the FIERY FURNACE link and find out how God was with me in that situation.
I would have been okay after I got out of the hospital, if I hadn't been meddled with by an ex–boyfriend who was out to exact revenge for having been rejected many years ago. He showed up on my doorstep and convinced me that I needed his help. I was confused by what had happened, not understanding that a blackout I'd had in the hospital had been a good thing because I was loaded up with more stress than I could handle. During the blackout, though my conscious mind said it wasn't "Christian" of me to talk about my ex–husband's faults, it stepped aside and let me tell the doctor about how I had been wounded in my marriage.
My ex–boyfriend persuaded me that the reason I had a blackout was because there was something very wrong with me, and only he knew how to help me. Being in a vulnerable state, I came under his control for three months until I finally got annoyed with his bizarre ideas and said, "You nearly destroyed me fourteen years ago. Did you come back to finish off the job?" In injured tones, he said, "Well, thanks a lot!" and went off in a huff, feeling unappreciated.
A woman I hardly knew was praying twice daily for me, and she told other people about my situation. I had never met any of those people, but they felt moved to add their prayers to hers. God was stirring up intercessors. There were people in my life who figured that I was washed up, but God had other ideas in mind.
After three months of not hearing anything from her, my friend brought a lady from her church to visit. Along with my neighbour Debbie, the three of them spoke words that were like flaming arrows to my heart, burning up the satanic lies that had attached themselves to it like leeches to feed off of my self–pity and anger and despair. Everything those ladies said made sense to me, just like it should have because it was all quite sensible. The spirit of deception that convinced me that I was ill was put to flight. The next day, I started to live a normal life again after isolating myself from my family and friends for those three months. My friends prayed that God would cut me off from the man who was hovering over me, making trouble. He didn't come back.
I went to church again. I stopped letting my husband have everything the way he wanted it. I insisted on set times to see my children, rather than leaving it up to him to bring them over when he felt like it. That happened only four times when I was ill, which wasn't acceptable. He said that I was going back on my word, but, whatever. When I'd said that I would leave it up to him, I was in the middle of having a nervous breakdown. Now that I had my marbles back, I didn't feel obliged to stick to what I'd said when my brains were scrambled, and no reasonable person would have held me to it.
I wanted us to work out our problems; my husband wasn't willing to do that. That ball got bounced back and forth until finally he just up and left with the kids, taking them to Alberta.
Before that happened, though, I moved out of the house that we shared before we broke up. I could not afford the rent, so I gave my notice, but I did not know where to move. The only solution I could think of was to ask my friends Bud and Ruby, an older couple whom I had boarded with when I was nineteen, to take me on again as a boarder. Ruby said, "Well, Bud likes us to have our privacy, but I will ask him."
Weeks went by and I didn't hear anything from them. I had been listening to Luis Pilau on the radio talk about the exciting life of faith. One week before I had to vacate the house, but still did not know where I was going to move to, I laughed and said to the Lord, "So, this is the exciting life of faith, eh?" I thought it was a bit nerve–racking, but there was still one week to go. Then Ruby phoned and said I could move in with them.
I learned later that Bud said no at first, because he didn't want anyone else living in their house, but then he got angry about things that were being said about me and told Ruby, "Nobody is going to treat our friends like that! Tell her that she can move in with us!" Praise the Lord! He really does work all things together for our good. He can turn things around even when we are slandered and use it to give us a safe place to live.
It was wonderful to live with Bud and Ruby. They lived their faith. They got along so beautifully with each other. Ruby was the extrovert and Bud the introvert. Bud never grudged Ruby that God put her in the spotlight with her prophetic ministry; he was content to stay in the background and be quiet. When he held her back, it was only to be protective of her poor health. Eventually the Lord took him Home, so that Ruby could be released to travel on missionary trips that would have worn him out with worry, if he had still been alive.
We hardly ever had to do housework. All three of us were not inclined to be messy. And I never had to cook! Just like before when I lived with them, they spoiled me. When I lived with them when I was young, Ruby did my laundry and all the cooking. It was fun to get up in the morning to see what was for breakfast. She also made my lunch for work. All I ever had to do was help with the dishes after dinner. It was so nice to have someone love me like that, to have the experience of getting babied. I am the second oldest among six siblings, so it was expected of me to help out with the younger kids when I was a child. When I was a toddler, I tended to be rather independent, which discouraged people from wanting to cuddle or baby me, but I still needed to be cuddled and even be a bit coddled, regardless.
When I lived with Bud and Ruby the second time, one day I felt that I should help out more. They had left a chicken on the counter to defrost. I got home a few hours before them, so I cooked the chicken and made potatoes and something else. It all turned out okay, but Ruby was not pleased. Looking grim, she blocked me as I was about to leave the laundry room and said tight–lipped, "Lanny, I would appreciate it if you would leave the cooking up to Bud and me. We had different plans for how we wanted to cook that chicken." I nodded and meekly said okay, but inside I was laughing and shouting, "Okay! No problem! Ha ha. If you want to do all the cooking, you can have it!" That was the best scolding anyone ever gave me. Hallelujah!
A few weeks after I moved in with them, I went and got my stuff that was being stored in a friend's shed to move it into Bud and Ruby's garage. By this time, I had bought an old beater Pinto stationwagon for $100.00. I loaded it up and drove home. As I was backing into the driveway, I forgot to watch the front of the car when I turned the wheel. Suddenly I realized that it was hooked on the corner of Bud and Ruby's house. Horrified, a stream of profanity poured out of my mouth. I immediately stopped the car and got out to look at the damage. The aluminum siding was only slightly bent, hardly noticable, but my car bumper was latched onto it.
I had no idea how to get that car unhooked. Bud and Ruby weren't home to ask. I thought, "Who do I know who is smart enough to know how to deal with this?" My former landlord Bill came to mind. Bill and Heidi were only a few miles away. I thought, "He's going to think I'm an idiot, but I can't let Bud and Ruby's house get ruined." I called him up and Bill and Heidi came over right away. Right enough, he thought I was an idiot. He didn't say so in words, but the amusement on his face told the story. He directed me how to move the car and we got it unhooked without further damage to the house. Bill was smiling smugly as he drove away afterwards. I think that he and Heidi enjoyed coming to my rescue; it gave them a bit of a laugh.
After they left, I stayed sitting in my car and spent some time pondering, now that the crisis was over and everything was calmed down. I thought about how my first reaction had been to swear. I felt really bad about it. I had stopped swearing after I turned back to the Lord. I asked the Lord despondently, "What was all that about?" He replied, "Your heart isn't pure, but don't worry about it. As you abide in me, that will clear up. This time next year, you will be better than what you are now." I was amazed that there was no condemnation; just a statement of the facts and a solution. Yehoshua is really nice. God is not the bully that people think He is. He isn't itching to clobber people when they make mistakes.
I went to see a Christian psychologist after I recovered from my breakdown, so that I wouldn't have any more breakdowns. My counsellor was a tremendous blessing. I don't think that he recognized the reality of the demonic realm, but there had been too much emphasis on that anyway in the Christian circle I had been in. My counsellor's approach was that light displaces darkness and he is right on about that. He said I needed to learn Truth, and that would take care of a lot of problems. I needed to learn to correctly interpret the Bible. I took some things in it too literally, though there are a great many things in it that should be taken literally.
One of the things that came up was how I view life. One day I said to him disconsolately, "I see everything in black and white." He replied, "Well, that's how you're supposed to see." I looked up at him in surprise and said, "What? You mean it's all right?" He nodded and said, "Yes, that's how God made you. He made some people to see in black and white and He made other people to see things in shades of grey." My jaw dropped open. My husband used to get furious and scold me for seeing things in black and white, and I would get angry at him because I thought he was wishy washy. It was a great relief to find out that God meant for me to be this way as part of my spiritual giftings, and I was able to balance justice with mercy. I could see what was right, but have compassion on others because I knew from my own failures that it isn't always easy to do what is right. My counsellor tested me and said that my highest gifting was perception, which is called prophecy in some circles; exhortation and teaching were next.
Though this gift of perception is called prophecy in some circles, I would not say that it is what the Bible calls the gift of prophecy or the gift of discerning of spirits. I have no doubt that it has a spiritual quality, because I am a Christian, but I am also by nature an INTJ. An INTJ is someone whose personality is classified as being an Introverted iNtuitive Thinker Judger, which is also known as a Rational Mastermind. That does not mean that I am a genius, because I most certainly am not; my IQ hits only the high end of average. It just means that I make decisions based more on logic than on feelings, and that I am able to see the big picture, rather than only being able to comprehend a small part of it.
People can be observed as matching more or less sixteen various personality profiles. I learned about this when I took Business Management and have found it very useful for being patient with others, realizing that some things that come easy to me are hard for others, not because they are stubborn or stupid, but because God made them different from me. Likewise, there are things that come easy to others that are hard (but not impossible) for me to do because I do not have those personality giftings, or at least not as much as others do.
The Introverted part of my personality likes to collect data, ponder it, and then make a decision, whereas Extroverts tend to ask their friends and acquaintances what they think and make a decision based on popular concensus, because they thrive on being around people. Introverts can be friendly, but after a while, they feel worn out by other people and need solitude to recharge their batteries. They don't need other people as much as extroverts do, and prefer to make up their own mind, rather than go with the general flow of humanity, particularly if others are headed for danger.
The iNtuitive aspect of my personality indicates that I can assimilate data so quickly sometimes that it seems that I can just automatically "know" things, without needing to take in information through my five senses, as most people do. Only 25% of the population are classified as iNtuitive. It is not a gift of discerning of spirits or psychic ability. It is a natural ability to pick up on clues that are obvious to an INTJ, but would be missed by most other people. For instance, sometimes when I meet people, I automatically know that they would likely prove to be toxic, if I were to get involved in a relationship with them. How do I know? There is something about them that reminds me of the guy who led me to Yehoshua, who turned out to be really bad news, though initially he introduced me to the Good News.
Likewise, I meet a lot of men who remind me of my ex–husband, and I know that things will be okay as long as I just remain friends with them. My ex–husband is not really a bad guy; he was just an ordinary guy. I helped turn him into something worse by not being the woman God called me to be, and also because I let him get away with too much. I felt so guilty about my own failings that I did not feel that I had sufficient leverage to inspire him to change his ways, so I let things slide by that I should have been more forceful about confronting. Men like my ex–husband are fine as friends for people like me who have high standards regarding what they want in a marriage, but their problems with control, though they are not as severe as my ex–boyfriend's, are a hindrance to having a healthy, romantic relationship.
If an iNtuitive person were to sit down and think things through, they would probably be able to point to logical reasons for their perceptions. But why bother? God has given them a computer type brain that can work quickly and it saves time. Introverts tend to be slowed down, as it is by their tendency to analyze, so why analyze even more, when it isn't necessary?
One thing that INTJ's have in common, whether they are Christians or not, is they have the ability to spot trends and predict where they are headed. Many INTJ's experience a lot of frustration because impending dangers, that they have no trouble perceiving, are often discounted by others who are headed for disaster. INTJ's know how trouble and grief can be prevented, but they are frequently dismissed as being "paranoid" or "worriers", and the problems that could have been avoided usually happen, with a resulting big mess to clean up.
The Thinker part of an INTJ means that they base their decisions on logic, rather than on feelings. INTJ's are not impressed with a person's university degrees and other credentials, or their celebrity status, if what the person is saying does not make sense. They are information people, so they usually have a lot of information to draw from when they consider an issue. INTJ's who have a moral code care about doing what is right, even if it upsets someone they esteem or love. A Christian INTJ operates that way, but they don't lose sight of the Word of God that says that the letters kills, but love edifies, and those with a high degree of maturity find a way to blend doing what is right with being gentle.
The Judger part of an INTJ does not mean that they judge people. Its counterpart in other personality types is Perceiver. Some people are Perceivers who like to go with the flow, "play it by ear", and they dislike structure, whereas Judgers need structure to feel "safe" and to motivate them. They prefer scheduled activities to spontaneous ones. In my case, I am probably on the cusp between being a Judger and a Perceiver. It would drive me nuts if my life was completely scheduled. I like some flexibility and I enjoy surprises, as long as they don't interfere with some other activity that is very important to me.
I was pretty excited when I first learned about personality profiles, which is typical of an INTJ, not only because INTJ's love to analyze, but also because INTJ's are so rare that there is a tendency among us to wonder if there is anyone else in the world like us. Before I learned about personality profiles, I thought to myself, "I sure am different. There must be other people like me, but where are they?" It was a relief to find out that I was not the only one of my kind, and I am sure that a lot of other INTJ's feel the same. How do I know? I found a blog! It seemed like all 1% of the population who is INTJ was flocking to that blog, comparing notes, joking and laughing about our odd similarities.
It is also visited by an occasional ENFP, which makes sense. ENFP's are one of the two personalities that get along really great with INTJ's and we are very fond of them in return. One of them playfully teased us about losing our intriguing inscrutability by exposing so much about our personalities on that blog. Wasn't that so sweet of them? Normally, people are either indifferent to what we think or they find it maddening to try and figure us out, but this delightful ENFP found our inscrutability intriguing.
Maybe I don't seem very inscrutable because I have shared so much about myself on my website, but I have rarely met anyone whom I feel comes close to really understanding me. Sherlene is one of the few, but we've locked horns over misunderstandings in the past, like when she thought I shouldn't want to get back together with my ex–husband. There were a lot of people who thought that, but I wasn't ready for a new relationship anyway.
Of course, there are people who think that they understand all about a person because they are well acquainted with their faults, but judgmental people like that don't understand hardly anything about the person at all. A person is much more than the sum of their faults. The good aspects of their personality also have to be figured into the equation, and not only that, but also the plan that God has for their life, and the gifts that God has given them to help them fulfill that plan. Additionally, the people who think that they know all about a person because of their faults rarely think about how they have contributed towards that person exhibiting their faults.
I considered the aspect of how God has made all of us unique, and yet He has made people to have certain psychological traits in common with other people. I came to the conclusion that He has fashioned us to fall into recognizable groups so that we don't find each other utterly bewildering. If we have trouble dealing with certain types of people, we can read up on what their strengths and weaknesses and motivations are so that we can avoid unnecessarily offending them, and find some bridges to friendship.
I also considered my own profile and realized that just as our body has a physical skeleton, personality profiles are psychological skeletons. It is the underlying form of the personality but, similar to how people who are small–boned and short are all petite, they can be different in many ways. INTJ's and other types can have a multitude of differences within their own type because of varying life experiences and interests and tastes.
There are also degrees of how much they conform to the type, just as some people are small–boned, some medium–boned, and some large–boned. A "large–boned" INTJ would be someone who exactly matches the profile, whereas a "small–boned" INTJ, like myself, has a lot of similarities to other INTJ's, but not to a strong degree on some of the usual traits.
Learning that some things that are deemed spiritual giftings tend to come natural to some people, whether they are Christians or not, puts the perception/prophecy thing into better focus for me. Currently, any prophetic gifting I have is in what I would consider the baby stage, though I am sure that the natural talent that God has given me for being perceptive is a blessing to the Body of Christ. It helps me see some things that need to be prayed about that are often overlooked by other Christians. God has also used it to sound out warnings and to help me write poems that are based on historical information that I was able to assimilate, and see how it related to the record of the Bible and to Scriptural principles.
Dave, my counsellor, also gave me some faith affirmations to combat a tendency to conform to other people's expectations, due to how I was raised. I did not look much like an INTJ in my younger days because a lot of my spunk was crushed in my youth. I had two parents who were very determined that things should be done their way. I developed a tendency to let myself be overshadowed by strong personalities, but God healed me of that. It started with finding out that I didn't have to do what other people expected of me, if what God wanted me to do was different from what they wanted me to do, or how they wanted me to be, if it was different from how God has made me to be.
I also had to be healed of a tendency to let myself get into relationships with people who made my life miserable and learn that I was worth it to be happy, and get accustomed to being happy. This included being able to set healthy boundaries, so that people did not overstep themselves so much with me, which also results in people being happier with themselves. Nobody really feels good about themselves when they act like jerks. We do people a favour when we insist that they behave themselves.
I looked at the list and scoffingly said, "I can't base my life on this! I have to base my life on Scripture. I'll have to look up in the Bible the Scriptures that relate to these." Dave crowed with delight and said, "Spoken like a true prophet!" Again, though this is how the Old Testament prophets were, it is also an INTJ trait. Regardless of whether they are Christians or not, INTJ's value facts and they tend to be rather blunt when stating the facts.
I found all the Scriptures for the affirmations that my counsellor gave me and then he asked me to do the same for other hand–outs that he had for other conditions because he hadn't had the time to do it himself. At first I said no, but then changed my mind. It was only right that I should do as he asked because I was charged on a sliding scale according to my income and had to pay only $5.00 a counselling session. I wrote down corresponding Scriptures for the other affirmations and got tremendously blessed by the extra Bible study.
I attended meetings called "Covenant Keepers". We were Christians who wanted to get back together with our ex–spouses and encouraged each other with Scriptures, counsel, and prayer to build our faith in that direction. I hadn't understood when my friends kept telling me to "stop striving". What did that mean? Isn't faith dead if it is unaccompanied by works? We are supposed to rest in the Lord, though, and flow with His will rather than force on others what we think is best.
I thought that it was God's will for my husband and I to get back together. After all, God told me to pray for the restoration of my marriage. Initially, after I recovered from my nervous breakdown, I felt really happy at the thought that I didn't have to be married to my husband anymore. He had lost a lot of his appeal. I eagerly anticipated getting married to someone else. I thought of that proverb "God chooses the best for those who leave the choice to Him." I said in my heart, "Okay, God. Who is Your choice?" The reply came back that my own husband was His choice. I thought, "Well, that sounds like God. The Bible says that if we are married, we're not supposed to seek to be married to someone else." It was a bit of a let down, but when a person makes their vows, they need to stick by them.
I assumed that because God told me to pray for the restoration of my marriage that He fully intended to restore it. You can't pray for something without believing that your prayers will be answered. Later I discovered that my heart really wasn't in it because I didn't want to be hurt anymore, but I got myself worked up into thinking that my desire for restoration was genuine. I didn't want to pray for the restoration of my marriage simply because it was the right thing to do, without believing for it. That seemed insipid and fake.
It would be like when my mother–in–law prayed for me when I was ill that God would heal me, because it was the Christian thing to do, but she really didn't want me to be healed. I think that she wanted me to remain a mess so that people would not blame her son for divorcing me, and also remain helpless so that they could both do what they liked with my kids, without interference from me. When I recovered, she refused to accept that I was recovered. It made me glad that God raised up total strangers to pray for me; I would have been sunk I had only her prayers to depend on.
I listened in church to my pastor preaching about how Yehoshua said, "Let us go over to the other side." The disciples were on the sea of Galilee and having difficulty getting across because there was a storm. They thought that they were going to sink, but Yehoshua had said to go to the other side, and that guaranteed that they would get there, regardless of opposition. I applied this to my own situation. As it turned out, it was just a matter of God wanting me to do what was right. He already knew what my husband was going to do.
I think He hardened my husband's heart against me because He knew that my husband was not willing to grow up yet, and He wanted to spare me the pain of living with him, which would have exceeded the pain that my husband subjected me to as his ex–wife. If a man decides to divorce his wife, he does not have to follow it up with additional cruelties. If we had gotten back together, my husband might not have done deeds that were worse than what he did after our separation, but just going on year after year in the same vein as before would have been too heart–breaking. At least when he was doing all his post–marriage antics, I didn't have to live with him.
My husband said that he went to the Lord about the matter of our marriage, and God told him to divorce me. I thought, "I don't think he heard from God on that one; the Bible says that God hates divorce." My pastor taught on what happens when people set up idols in their heart. He referred to Ezekiel 14:2 – 5 that says, "And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them? Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus says the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that sets up his idols in his heart, and puts the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and comes to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that comes according to the multitude of his idols; That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols."
My pastor said that when a person goes to God looking for an answer, having already decided what the answer will be, they will hear the answer that they want to hear. God might say no to their request, but if there is an idol between them and the Lord, the answer gets scrambled when it passes through the idol, and the person hears it as a yes. If we really want to hear from God and do His will, we need to cast down all our idols, which will make us neutral about the answer, and then embrace the answer when it is given. We also need to tear down the high places, the insecurities that enable idols to get a foothold. We need to go to God to heal our broken hearts and let Him pour His love into us. The better we get to know Him, the more we will trust Him because God is good, totally good, all–knowing, all–wise, and all–powerful. He can be utterly trusted.
I knew that I was supposed to pray for my marriage to be restored, which led me to assume that it would be restored, but everything was so confusing. I was doing all I knew to do to try to persuade my husband to give our marriage another chance. How was it going to happen unless someone did something to make it happen? I tried guilt; I tried sweetness, whatever came to hand. All of it annoyed him. My friends could understand why my husband was annoyed, but their admonitions to stop trying to make it happen didn't make any sense to me. The Bible says that faith without works is dead. However, we are supposed to get direction from God about what to do, instead of assume that our ideas will do the job.
I didn't understand what it meant to yield to God until one day when I was visiting the Hen House (so–called because all the residents were women) where the Covenant Keepers meetings were held, one of the women who lived there tossed some books on the table in front of me and said, "You can take these books, Lanny, if you feel like it," before she made a quick exit. One caught my attention, which is the one that I think she wanted me to read. The others were just books she wanted to get rid of and threw in the pile, so that it wouldn't look like she was being critical of me by implying that I needed to get some more counselling.
I think that she felt sorry for me because there were some people who thought they needed to be tough and give me some straight talk, but it was like getting punched in the head over and over, without being able to figure out what they were trying to accomplish. I was wounded by my husband's rejection and trying to gather my dignity together, but they felt compelled to put me down.
The pivotal book was called, The Pleasers: Women Who Can't Say No and the Men Who Control Them by Dr. Kevin Leman. I had read other books written by Dr. Leman and liked them, so I read the book, though I thought I was too outspoken to be a pleaser. That was when I found out that I had been just a squawking doormat. Thank you, thank you, thank you, gentle, gracious Zoë, for giving me that book!
The book put things in terms that I could understand; pleasers and controllers. Pleasers are also controllers. They try to control others by pleasing them, even when they aren't happy about complying with what is expected. In my case, I pleased my husband by not nagging him about staying out all night, though I annoyed him by nagging him about his drinking. And though I annoyed him by nagging him about his drinking, I pleased him by not kicking him out of the house for letting his behaviour get out of hand, until the day when he went way too far.
All types of controllers' efforts to control backfire on them because trying to control others makes one vulnerable to being controlled. The Bible says that the wicked fall into their own snares. We are supposed to do what God expects of us, and if others don't like it, we need to stand up to them. It is wicked to let anyone have a higher place in our heart than God. That is idolatry.
I needed to see how I was harming myself by trying to please people, when what I actually needed to do was set healthy boundaries that would protect me and keep others in their proper place. I wasn't helping other people grow up when I let them take unfair advantage of me.
Then God convicted me that I was also a controller who took advantage of the weak when I had the upper hand, as in the case of my children. Sometimes I was quite rude to them. When my children wanted to know the reason for my orders, I'd tell them, "Because I'm the Mom, and I said so." That didn't make them feel like cooperating. It's a typical response even for good parents to talk that way to little kids, but we've got to smarten up and make it easier for children to obey us. The Bible tells us to be considerate of our children's feelings (not provoke them to wrath).
Parents should, whenever possible, explain the rationale for what they tell their kids to do, so that the children know there are logical reasons for tasks and rules, and that it is for their benefit that they learn to cooperate with reasonable expectations. The psalmist said to the Lord in Psalm 119:34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; yes, I shall observe it with my whole heart." Rules are always easier to keep when one knows there is a good reason for it, and what the reason is.
Later on as a grandmother, when I tried to get my grandson Connor to drink juiced vegetables, I got a children's book from the library and read to him about the digestive system, in an attempt to establish healthy eating patterns for him. He would not eat raw vegetables, so I figured that if he swallowed them in a drink, it would be all done and over with in a minute, and he would get the value of the vitamins and enzymes to help build up his system to ensure that he was healthy in his teens. Also, if he could accustom himself in childhood to the taste of raw vegetables, then when he was middle–aged, he would be more likely to eat them and less likely to become paunchy, and it would help him to maintain mental acuity.
We contended with each other in battles royale about those juiced veggies. Connor is quite strong–willed and his fun–seeking personality type tends towards bad food choices, so it isn't easy for him to eat healthy foods. I refused to make him French toast for his breakfast until he drank his juice. Eventually, I gave up because it is counterproductive when eating is accompanied by stress. But in spite of how much Connor hated drinking that juice, he knew I wasn't making him do it to be mean, but that I had his best interests in mind, and he never showed any resentment towards me for putting him through all that. Hopefully, when he gets older, he will remember what he learned from that book and let it influence his eating habits.
For years, I had been hearing in church about yielding to God. I hadn't understood exactly what it meant. Different people have different ways of thinking, so it is a good idea for teachers to use several different analogies to make their points, to help a wider range of people understand what they are trying to teach them.
Yielding seemed like a nebulous concept to me. The wires in my brain didn't connect that term with what God wanted me to do. I had domineering parents who demanded submission. Their parenting style made me much more introverted than how God designed me to be. To me, yielding meant to crawl into a corner and clam up, to lose my personality, to no longer be a unique individual. It meant that the person to whom I yielded did not care about my feelings. I knew God loved me, so I couldn't figure out why He wanted me to lose my personality and become some bland, boring individual.
I understood now that yielding to God does not mean that we lose our personality. What He plans for us is in line with our unique individuality. We may need to have some rough edges sanded off, but whatever He has called us to is what He designed us for. God isn't in the business of producing cookie cutter Christians.
We see in Nature how God loves diversity. He has made a great variety of animals and plants. We see His love for variety in how He has made people with their different colouring of skin, hair, and eyes, and differently shaped features. He likes variety in our personalities, as well. It would be a dull world if we all liked the same type of music and art, and held the same opinions, and reacted the same way to various events.
Being of an analytical nature, putting things in psychological terms was the path to getting through to helping me see what I was doing wrong. After I read that book, I realized that yielding to God meant that I had to stop trying to be in control of my life and to control others to fit into how I wanted my life to be so that I could keep it predictable and completely free of stress. (Actually, it would be really boring, if we could manage to make total puppets of the people around us, and a person would have to be very evil, in order to accomplish it.) I needed to give things over to God to work out as He thinks best, and rest in Him. Resting in God means to do what He tells us to do, and leave the results with Him.
It also means to be willing to deal with any adversity that obeying Him brings to us, rather than trying to appease the tyrants in our lives so as to avoid unpleasantness. Resting in God doesn't necessarily mean that we enter into a state of inactivity. It causes us to stop being passive or aggressive, and instead become assertive about doing what needs to be done. But sometimes we shouldn't do anything at all, if that is what God wants.
I didn't get to read that book until after my ex–husband took off to Alberta with my children. It certainly opened my eyes about a lot of things. I still thought that I wanted my marriage restored, but eventually came to realize that I had been deceiving myself.
The truth was that I had been hurt so much by various men in my life that I had given up on having romantic relationships. I was wearing my wedding ring to fend off men who wanted to ask me for a date, telling myself that, as far as I was concerned, I was still married. It was my way of making men keep their distance because I really didn't want to be married. I figured that I would never find a man who would treat me well because I wasn't worth it to be loved. Being such a young woman, though, and having a lively libido, and wanting to take advantage of my attractive looks while I still had them, I hadn't been able to accept that I would be single for the rest of my life.
Circumstances in life and my own mistakes contributed to low self–esteem, but when I realized that I didn't think that I deserved to be loved, I pondered that nobody ever really deserves any of God's blessings on their own merit. Sometimes we do good things, but all of us are sinners. If we got what we deserved, we'd all go to Hell. Every one of us has broken God's laws at some time or other. If we had committed only one, tiny sin in our lives, it would be enough to banish us forever from the Presence of God because sin cannot exist in God's Presence. It has to go somewhere that it finds compatible with its Self nature.
God reminded me that Yehoshua paid the penalty for my sins. My sins had placed me in debt, but Yehoshua paid for my debts on the Cross, and now His righteousness was credited to my account. Not by my merits, but by His, I have been made worthy to be loved and to receive the blessings that God abundantly wants to pour on me. It's the same for all of the redeemed.
What about people who haven't received Yehoshua as their Saviour? Does that mean that they should get nothing but trouble? No, Yehoshua paid the same price for them as He did for the redeemed. He gave His life so that all humanity can be restored to God. He thinks all of us are worth it.
The more a person realizes that they are worth it to be saved from Hell, the more likely it is that they will be saved. When I have the opportunity to speak to unbelievers who are making bad decisions, I tell them that they are worth it to be happy and have good things happen to them. It helps groom them towards receiving Yehoshua as their Saviour, and possibly helps their lives to become more wholesome in the meantime.
What led to these cogitations was meeting a man who really impressed me. I used to think that very handsome men never had high quality character because they were conceited and tended to take advantage of their opportunities to fornicate. But then I met a CO in the U.S. Navy who stood head and shoulders above most men, both morally and physically. He was extremely intelligent, stood 6' 6", and looked really fine in either street clothes or uniform. I met him at church and he told me he was from a ship that was docked in New Westminster. I thought, "Wow! And he came to church! That's not what sailors usually do when they are in port." I rounded up some friends to go out to coffee with him because I could see that he wanted some Christian fellowship. One of my friends chatted with him while I spoke to the others about heading over to The Pantry. She said, "He's the captain of his ship." I hadn't known that. Actually, he was one rank above the captain and the highest in command on the ship.
He told us about how things are run in the navy. One of my friends at the table was really gorgeous. He looked at us suspiciously and said, "But you both already know a lot of these things, don't you?" We grinned and shook our heads and told him we never dated sailors. Actually, I did go out on a date with someone in the navy when I was twenty, but Jerry never stepped foot on a ship. He was assigned to a missile base, and we didn't talk about his work. I had forgotten all about him for the moment, though I always remembered that date as being funny. You can go to BLAND DATE, if you want to read about that. All the stuff the CO was talking about was new to us and he invited everyone at the table to take a tour of his ship. I figured I would take him up on that. I was doing outside sales at the time and my schedule was flexible.
I went down to the Quay the next day for the tour. It was fun! As the CO's guest, I was saluted as I walked up the gangway. I thought, "What a rush! No wonder officers insist so much on being saluted." There was a big line–up of people waiting to tour the ship. I had wanted to see it earlier in the week, but hadn't bothered because the line–ups were so long. Now I was at the head of the line, so to speak, and the CO let twelve other people come on board to take the tour that he led. It was a super duper tour; we got to see areas of the ship that were not normally included in the regular tour. Afterwards, I had a cup of tea with the CO in the Officer's Mess and gave him a motivational book that I thought was pretty good.
I saw this gentleman again later in the week when he came to the Wednesday night Bible study at my church. We went for tea at the IHOP before the meeting. He told me that he had read ¾ of the book already and realized that there were some things he needed to change about how he ran his ship. He said, "Who knows? That book might change the whole US Navy." I thought it was pretty cool that me lending someone a book could possibly have such a far–reaching effect. It reminded me of how my friend Debbie's book about death bed experiences had snatched me back from the brink of Hell. Loaning or giving people a book can be a powerful thing.
After the meeting, I drove my new acquaintance back to his ship. It was funny to see how he looked like a grasshopper sitting in the front seat of my car because his legs were so long. The car that I was driving at the time had only a bench seat in the front and I always pushed it forwards as far as it would go, so that my feet could reach the pedals comfortably. We talked about God and the CO confided that he had plenty of opportunity to mess around, as sailors normally do, but he didn't because of his committment to the Lord.
I figured he was married because he mentioned that he had a son, but he never talked about his wife. I surmised that he wasn't getting along with her very well at the moment. That isn't hard to understand; it is really tough on a marriage when a man's job takes him away from home for long periods of time. If love for his wife did not keep him pure, his love for God kept him from committing adultery. It was really refreshing to meet a man who must have had a lot of women falling all over him trying to get his attention, but didn't behave like a dog.
He asked why my husband left me, as he couldn't figure it out. I told him that we both were responsible for our marriage breaking up. I had found that it is absolutely essential for me to walk in the Spirit because I am not a good person to live with otherwise. He did not try to argue with me when I told him that I was believing for God to restore my marriage. He just shrugged and said it could happen. I appreciated that he respected the choice I had made and didn't give me any flak about it like most of my friends did, who thought it was a stupid, futile thing to do.
One friend in particular was really annoyed that I wouldn't let her persuade me to give up on that idea. A Christmas phone call from my kids was set up to be received at her place because I didn't have a phone. The day of the expected call, my ex–husband phoned my friend at 8 a.m. and when she picked up the phone, he rudely snapped, "Who's this?" Having just been awakened from a sound sleep, she snapped back, "Who's this? How do you like that for a question?" He then went on to tell her the kids wouldn't be calling me later that day because they were going to a Christmas concert.
My friend zoomed over to my place snorting mad, told me what happened, and said, "Do you really want to get back together with that guy?" We argued about it back and forth a bit and then I said, "Hey, I don't say anything to you when I see you doing stuff that I think is stupid." She asked belligerently, "Like what?" I rubbed my hands inwardly with glee and finally let her have it, seeing as she gave me the opportunity by meddling in my business. I said, "Like when you date men who are still married, though they are separated, and listen to their sob stories and believe everything they tell you about their wife, without hearing her side of it first." She didn't have much of a reply for that.
It was really refreshing to be around someone who didn't try to run my life or force me to face facts that I was not emotionally ready to deal with. One lady in particular had been really nasty to me on the latter score. I met her shortly after I recovered from my breakdown, when I was taking a floral design course. She was cruel, though she was a Christian, speaking sharply to me when my feelings were so tender and raw from the trauma of being rejected by my husband. I guess she figured that the sooner I got over my fantasies and faced reality, the better it would be for me. However, I needed a cushion against a reality that I was not yet strong enough to deal with, and I actually did not lose anything by waiting five years before I started to date again, but rather gained a lot by giving attention to the things that the Lord wanted me to focus on. Instead of giving me a lecture about getting on with my life, the CO simply asked me to remember him in my prayers and then he went back to his ship.
Meeting that man showed me that sometimes character does come in tall, handsome packages and that some men are worth being married to. Every marriage has some pain in it, no matter how healthy it is, but when choosing a mate, we should look for someone who isn't going to give us a lot of pain. Marriages are like gardens. They will never be perfect. We always have to work on pulling out the weeds, but in good marriages, you don't have lots of weeds to pull. You still have plenty of time to sit in your lawn chair and enjoy looking at the garden. I figured that this time around, I would wait until I found someone whom it would not be a lot of work to see his good points and would not tax my faith much to stay married to him. Some men are so weak that it takes nearly all of a woman's energy and faith to help them serve the Lord. It isn't fun to drag around a deadweight who makes his choice to serve God contingent on whether his wife lives up to what he expects of her.
I finally felt free to date again after realizing that it wouldn't be a good thing to get back together with my ex–husband. Even if he repented of how he had treated me and wanted to get back together, and was free to do so, he would lose respect for me if I trusted him, in spite of how he had behaved so extremely bad. And if he didn't respect me, I would find our relationship quite unsatisfactory.
Forgiveness and trust are two different issues. Forgiveness is a gift that you give someone, but trust has to be earned. One might sense intuitively that they can trust someone, but if that person betrays the trust, they have to earn it back.
Sometimes it can never be restored entirely because it would take a whole other lifetime for them to adequately demonstrate that they can be trusted. I realized that it was better for my ex–husband to start fresh with someone else, which he already had, and learn from having lost me to be better behaved towards the other person.
I took off my wedding ring and took back my maiden name, but going out on dates didn't happen in a hurry. I tried it eventually, found that my self–esteem was now too high to put up with dates who don't have good manners, and observed that most of the single, Christian men I knew didn't have much of a grasp on good manners.
I'm sorry to have to say it, guys, especially to Christians because you know that the Bible says that love is courteous, but did you know that a gentleman opens doors for ladies? Did you know that a guy with confidence just does it, even if he gets ranted at by his date if she has imbibed too much of feminism, instead of standing there looking scared to make the first move?
Women tend to be attracted to confident guys. Unfortunately, they often find out later that the guy isn't confident; a lot of men are just arrogant and conceited, and that isn't the same thing. A confident man is one who can take rejection when he is turned down for a date without falling apart, or retaliating, or even moping about it.
A year or two after my husband left me, I met a handsome, young man in church whom God wanted me to talk to. I had set my Bible in a pew to save a seat near the front, and then went to pray before the service. When I came back, this fellow, who was maybe a year or two younger than me, was sitting next to the seat I had reserved. We got to chatting and we thought it was funny how his name was Earl and mine is Earlana.
The following Sunday, I reserved a seat in another place, and when I returned, Earl was sitting in the seat next to mine. It wasn't contrived. This gave us opportunity to talk to each other again after the service, and we had a serious talk. He was frustrated about his prayer life.
I couldn't make any sense out of what he was telling me; it was like he was talking another language. The Lord closed my ears to what Earl was saying because he was getting worked up about an issue that God wasn't interested in addressing just then. Since I couldn't understand his speech, I listened to what the Holy Spirit was saying to me in my heart and felt my way along in how I replied to him. Earl gave me a puzzled look and said, "You don't understand what I am saying, but it doesn't matter because what you are telling me is hitting the spot." It was pretty exciting to speak by the Holy Ghost!
My friends had seen me talking to Earl in church the previous Sunday, and thought that he was someone who would help me forget about wanting to get back together with my ex–husband. They had tried to persuade me to let go of that idea and hadn't been able to get anywhere. A couple of people went out of their way to tell me that they had heard good reports about Earl from the home–meeting that he attended.
The next time I saw him in church, he invited me to go out for coffee with him and some other people. When I told him that I had other plans, he seemed to almost leap out of his skin before he made a hasty exit. It was startling to see that he was so insecure about being turned down.
If he had said, "Aw, come on. Can't you put it off for a little while and come out for coffee?" I would have gone for it. My plans were just stuff that I was going to do at home. I'd had coffee before with various men I knew. Such casual occasions weren't what I considered a date. If Earl had spent some more time with me, and decided I was the one for him, he might have been able to persuade me to give up on getting back together with my ex–husband.
Then again, maybe not. He not only had the same name as my father (who is now deceased), but he even resembled him. When I met Earl, I wondered if he was a half–brother, considering my father's lust problem. I asked my Dad if he had any children other than my sister, brother, and I. He smiled and said no, but I have never believed that. I probably have siblings around the globe because, after my Dad left the British Navy, he was in the merchant navy for quite a few years.
One time when my father was drunk, he phoned me up and told me that he had incestuous fantasies about me. I had to pull the phone plug out of the wall so that he would stop calling. Even without that having happened, I am sure that I would be squeamish about kissing a man who looked like my father when he was younger, and even had the same name.
A few years later when I was ready to date, there was a regular customer in the restaurant where I worked, with whom I thought I might want to go out for a coffee and have a casual chat, if he were to ask. He was about ten years older, and not terribly good–looking, but he seemed like a nice guy.
I overheard him, however, when he was talking to a young, female business associate. They were discussing a woman whom he was dating. She was middle–aged like him and, apparently, not very attractive. He excused this by saying, "At my age, I have to take what I can get." I figured to myself, "Well, if that is what he thinks of himself, then why should I be bothered with him?"
I also thought he had a very callous attitude towards the woman he was going to bed with and it was too bad that she didn't know how he really felt about her. There are probably a lot of men who feel the same way about the women they sleep with. It's a matter of taking what they can get rather than feeling admiration and affection for their bed partner. A woman will know by how the man treats them at other times.
On another occasion, I observed the behaviour of a young man who seemed to think that he was something fabulous. He sat at the table talking on his cell phone while having lunch with a young, pretty woman. He seemed to want to impress her. When he ordered a steak, he leered at her and made a remark about having a manly appetite, as if eating meat makes a man out someone. If a man wants to win a woman's heart and keep her after he has won her, he should turn his cell phone off when he is with her. If he leaves it on and takes his calls, she might be impressed that he is so much in demand, but she won't feel like she matters very much to him.
Brothers, did you know that a guy is supposed to walk on the outside of the sidewalk beside his date, even if she also happens to be his wife? In olden days, men did this to protect a woman's skirts from being splattered by passing carriages. Rainy days make this still valid, but it also means that if a driver loses control of their car, the person on the outside is likely to take the brunt of the damage. I know it is asking a lot from a guy to take that risk, but it's a protective gesture that displays a man's masculine giftings. Women do the same thing when they are walking with children, placing themselves between the smallest child and dangers from traffic.
My brothers, did you know that you're supposed to pull out a woman's chair to seat her at a table? Do you know that you should shave every day, unless you're growing a beard, but most especially when you're with a woman you'd like to impress? It is even more necessary to be clean–shaven after marriage because stubble on a man's cheeks feels like sandpaper to a woman's tender skin when he kisses her. Did you know that you should take your hat off in church, in a restaurant, and when you enter someone's home? All of this shows respect.
Women don't need men to open doors for them because they are too weak to open doors themselves. They are capable of seating themselves at a table. They will like a man for his good qualities even if he dresses like a bum and doesn't shave every day. But when a man chooses to not be well–groomed, it tells the woman he is with that he doesn't place much value on her, or on himself either. When he doesn't open doors or pull out her chair, he sends a message that he doesn't think that she's dainty, nor find it exciting to be with her.
It may be true that you don't find it exciting to be with a particular woman, but if you will mind your manners with women anyway, you will feel better about yourself, and you never know who is watching. When I was a waitress and looked like I was only in my twenties, one morning I hurried into the restaurant where I worked and hung my green coat up on the coat rack. A man followed me in and asked with a big smile on his face if I was the person whom he was to meet that morning. He had answered a personals ad and agreed to meet a lady in a green coat at that location. I told him that I was not the person who had agreed to meet him. Nonetheless, he behaved very charming and told me about how much property he owned, etc.
A short time later, a slightly stout, middle–aged, blonde lady in a green coat entered the restaurant. That man was so rude to her. She sat at the table valiantly trying to make conversation with him while he sat sideways in his chair, his shoulder turned to her, an ugly, sour look on his face, his eyes fixed on the floor. The poor lady had no idea what was wrong with him, and she looked very worried.
I knew that he was disappointed that she wasn't as pretty as he hoped she would be, but he wasn't all that good–looking either. He was just as old, just as chubby, and she actually looked better than him. Maybe if he had good manners towards that lady, I would have had a higher opinion of his looks. His rude behaviour made it obvious that he wasn't someone whom I would like to be involved with.
Of course, good manners do not guarantee that a man has good character. I've heard scary stories of men who had perfect manners, but turned out to be nightmares.
I found it a lot more fun to just be friends with my Christian brothers rather than seek a romantic relationship with them. In an emotional sense, my friendships with men are a lot more enjoyable than my romantic relationships ever were. That's because I used to get involved intimately with the wrong kind of men and have never had a wholesome romance. Most of the single men I know have issues, but if I just stay friends with them and don't marry any of those guys, their issues aren't my problems. Ha ha!
I looked young for my age when I was in my thirties and forties. Most people thought I was at least ten years younger than what I actually was, and some thought I was even younger than that. I was certainly stronger than what I was in my youth. After my divorce, I felt like I was given a chance to relive my twenties as a single, only to do it right this time. I went hiking with my male friends and most of them could not keep up with me on the trail, though I was older than them. What a big switch that was from the first time I went hiking with my husband and one of our friends from church. I felt like I was dying and nearly drove my husband crazy with my whining. Praising God in the dance, though, and getting more exercise as a waitress built up muscle in my calves. It was fun to run up ahead on the trail and leave the slowpokes behind, then get a good rest while waiting for them to catch up. One time, though, my friend Kelly said irritably, "Lanny, you just stay where you are and let the rest of us catch our breath!"
I joined crowds of the guys in restaurants after church. Most of the time, I was the only female sitting at the table. That was fun! They seemed to regard me as a big sister and asked me for my opinions on the subjects under discussion. One time when I argued with them about how guys don't have good manners, Kelly, who is quite a comic, narrated it like it was a wrestling match, with me in one corner hitting my opponent with a flower. I loved it that he under–guessed my weight. Another guy I was arguing with said that I was assuming that he meant such and such a thing, but I retorted that he was assuming that I was assuming that he meant that. He laughed and said he gave up because he couldn't out–argue me. Another guy said he thought we should drop the subject, but Tim piped up and said, "No! Let her talk. She's interesting." I was startled, but pleased that someone liked to hear my opinions. It was a very lively conversation and I was doubled over with laughter at their joking and wiping tears from my eyes. It was all very good while it lasted. Then most of them got married and that was the end of hanging out with anyone in that crowd.
It was fun to take a fresh look at men and try to figure them out, just for the sake of interest, rather than to know how to please them so that I could get what I wanted out of them. They are such intriguing creatures. I like to find out what makes them tick. The landscape of male emotions and motivations and thinking processes is like exploring another planet.
I gained more sympathy for men when I realized that men and women have a lot in common with each other, though we have physical and psychological differences. I realized that men are not as confident as they appear to be. They are afraid of not being able to support a wife and children. I grew up in an era where all the financial support was considered to be a man's province while the wife looked after the home. Women seemed to be really dense about how hard it is emotionally for men to bear the responsibility of providing for the family. Of course, men did not make it easy for them to understand because, to maintain control in their relationships with their wife and children, they projected an image of invincibility.
When I read about how, for centuries, famous artists have used subliminals in their work, I gained more insight into men's natures. I felt sad when I thought of how lonely and afraid people are, even extremely talented people, that they feel that they have to use trickery to promote their work so that they can prosper. If they trusted God, they would have more confidence about His ability to bless their work and supply their needs. How sad life is for people who don't know Yehoshua. They go through struggle after struggle to find love and reassurance of their worth through gaining honours and titles and property, but no matter how much they achieve, deep down they probably still feel like they are frauds.
On a side note, when I learned about famous artists using subliminals, I also thought, "Aha! So that's how art experts can spot a forgery! It's not all about the brush strokes. They also know about the hidden images, which a forger might miss. And that's what makes a good forger; they know about the subs and have an eye for spotting them and they paint them into the picture."
I was finding out a lot of things about myself in those years. I am not as boring as I thought I was. I discovered that I had a capacity for taking an interest in many things. Shortly after I recovered from my nervous breakdown, my friend Sherlene told me that I should go to AWARE, an organization that helped women with career planning. Since then, their services have expanded to include men, but what I needed at that time, for a while, was to just be around women and get healed from being emotionally bruised by men. I enjoyed being around the other women at AWARE.
It was terrific to make a start at emerging from my shell. My tests showed that ideally I should be a Bible teacher, but I needed to learn a trade that could earn some money. I didn't have any money to go to Bible School. The trade I learned was Floral Design and I worked in a flower shop for a while. I scored zero when it came to clerical work. At that time, I had absolutely no interest in working in an office and thought I never would. It wasn't like I had never had any capacity for doing that kind of work; just simply no interest until my interest was sparked.
I met a woman at church who became one of my friends. She was very attractive, glamorous even, and had a girly giggle. My first impression of her was that she was an airhead, but one conversation with her changed that. She is an extrovert with a bubbly personality, but there is depth beneath all that effervescence. She was a divorcée, too, and admires manly guys as much as I do, but neither of us were in a big hurry to get married again. We both felt that it was better to wait for the right person, even if it had to be a long time, rather than marry someone who wasn't compatible and wasn't really committed to loving God with all their heart.
Marina came to my place for lunch one Sunday after church. She stopped short on the threshhold when I opened the door to my suite. I stood there with her, savouring the peaceful atmosphere that awaited us. I had been leaving my radio on and tuned to the Christian station to fill the place with good vibes. Marina looked at me and said with awareness, her big, brown eyes opening wide, "Lanny, you really like being single, don't you?" I nodded.
There was so much like about it. I could stay out really late and not get home until the wee hours of the morning. I could stay over at a friend's place for days. Only lady friends and married couples' homes, of course. I liked that I didn't have to consult with anyone about how I furnished my home. Whatever I liked, if I could afford it, I could have it. I could never afford anything lavish, that was for sure, but I got to choose the colours I liked instead of trying to anticipate what would be pleasing to a man, or even a female room–mate. I much preferred to live on my own, except for when I stayed in boarding situations. In those cases, I didn't care what the home looked like as long as it was clean and neat.
I could read and read and read, without anyone interrupting me. When I was a little girl, I used to read a book every day. When I was twelve, my siblings all crowded around me one day and one of my brothers, with wide eyes said to me in awe, "Lanny, you're a bookworm, aren't you?" They all seemed to think that was something extraordinary. I think that my brother equated it with being a genius, but I am certainly not a genius. I read a lot because I like to take in information and analyze things and figure out what is going on.
I liked reading Sherlook Holmes mysteries. There was no gore or sordid descriptions; just interesting problems that Holmes figured out with his special flair. God used this interest when I read the story about the league of red–haired men. There was this shopkeeper with red hair. He answered an ad in the paper for someone to copy out a set of encyclopedia for a good wage, but only men with red hair were invited to apply. In the interview, he was told that someone had set up a benevolent society for red–haired men and the job offer was one way it chose to benefit a red–haired man. Many had applied; there were crowds of them waiting outside, but he was hired out of them all.
It was all a ruse. The interviewers never intended to hire anyone else. They wanted to get him out of his shop because it was next door to a bank. They had an accomplice working for him already. With the owner out of the way, they could dig in his cellar and break through the walls of the bank. When the mystery of who robbed the bank was solved, the man was disappointed that he wasn't going to get paid for the work he had been doing. Holmes said something along the lines of the education he had received copying out those books was a reward in itself.
I pondered this. I thought, "I sure would like to have a job like that. Better yet, wouldn't it be cool to be paid to copy out the Bible? But like Holmes said, even if I don't get paid for it, what I would learn from doing it would be its own reward." Then and there, I decided to copy out the Bible by hand, and to do it in my best handwriting, slowly and neatly. Grazing on the Word at such a leisurely pace, forced to that pace by writing neatly, would help me take more of it in.
I bought a notebook and got started. Right away, my hand suddenly went numb, and I knew it was an attack of the enemy. This had never happened to my hand before. It made me mad. I figured that I would do it anyway. Though I didn't have feeling in my hand, except for that thick numbness, I could still hold a pen and move it on the paper. The first hour that I copied out the Bible was the hardest. I slogged through it with grim determination, fighting boredom. Then suddenly, something happened. I sensed the anointing come upon me and I took off at warp speed. It became easy to copy out the Bible. I never again had a difficult time like that first hour.
To encourage me some more, I had a dream. In my dream, my hands were large and misshaped; they looked like crab claws and felt painfully numb. I woke up and thought about the symbolism. Cancer the crab. The devil was trying to tell me that if I copied out the Bible, I would get cancer. He was trying to put fear on me; it made me mad. I thought, "Well, if he is trying so hard to discourage me, then I must be really on to something here. I am going to do it!" And I did.
God blessed me so much! I didn't get cancer, but I did get a lot of deliverance because light displaces darkness. The first hour of copying always started with an attack on my hand. I would pick up the pen and put it on the paper, and the numbness started, whereas my hand had been feeling fine only a moment before. It lasted only for an hour and then it would lift. I knew that there was an angel with a sword guarding my hand who would not let the enemy attack me with that spirit of infirmity any longer. It encouraged me so much that I would write for many hours sometimes. One time I wrote for seventeen hours with a few short breaks. Could I have done that if I were married? No! There would be some guy barging into my room telling me, "Get out of that bed and vacuum this floor and cook me something to eat!" It was really neat that I needed to concern myself with pleasing only the Lord.
Copying out the Bible made it come even more alive for me. I had been able to picture things more vividly than most people when I read the Bible because that's the kind of mind that God gave me, but now it was coming into even clearer focus. I felt like I was walking with the Israelites through the desert when I wrote out Exodus, following a few steps behind Moses. I felt like I was leaning over his shoulder when he was writing the records. I actually cried when I read about when Sarah died, and I got angry when I read about the herdsmen of Gerar contending with Isaac about the wells that he dug. When I read the book of Acts, I felt like the blue waters of the Aegean were washing against the shores of my heart while the burning sun shone overhead. It was so awesome! The memory of what I got out of copying out the Bible fills me with deep contentment.
Every now and then when I was writing, I would stop for a power nap to rest my eyes. During the fifteen minutes while I drifted in sleep, something would happen, and I would feel release from spiritual bondages. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:1 "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," These were weights that were being taken off of me, so that I could run my race better. Probably because I am a sailor's daughter, I translate it into nautical terms. I think of Christians as being like ships who get barnacles (worldly notions generated and fuelled by deceiving spirits) attached to our hulls. We need to go to port and spend some time getting our hulls scraped, so that we can cut through the waters faster and with more ease. The washing of the water of the Word is what scrapes off our barnacles. We need to read the Bible (preferably aloud – for me, writing it out was like reading it aloud), and throughout the day, mull over what we have read and think of how it is applicable to our lives, and then implement it.
I went so far as to take a week of my holidays just to stay home and work on copying out the Bible. My pastor had suggested that we take a week to go into seclusion and fast and wait on God. I sensed an anointing there and grabbed it. I drank only water and ate only a plain bagel or two each day. My focus was on taking in the Word. I think that is the best holiday I have ever had. It was really satisfying to my soul and there was no stress in it at all.
Another thing I liked about being single was dressing how I pleased. When I was married, my husband expressed scorn for the hippie look. Consequently, I did not indulge in my taste for that kind of clothing. I like many different styles of clothing. When I was married, I felt like a frump. I could camouflauge the figure flaws that showed up after I had children and look like I weighed less than I actually did because I have a small frame and am small–boned, but I somehow lacked pizzazz. Or at least, I felt that I did. My husband wanted me to wear tight, low–cut stuff, but low–cut never was my style, even before I was saved. He wanted me to look sexy. I wore tight skirts and flashy stuff when we went out, but I still felt like a frump. It felt like I was wearing a flashing, neon sign that proclaimed that I was a housewife. It was because after I had children, I didn't feel that my husband thought I was attractive. I cared too much about what he thought, and was therefore held in bondage to his opinion.
It was a huge fight to go against him to assert my own tastes. When we were first married, we went to the PNE and toured around the International Pavilion. I saw a yellow and brown paper butterfly that I thought would look nice in our living room, so I bought it. My husband argued with me up and down against putting that butterfly on the wall, but for once, I did not give in. It made me angry that I couldn't fully express myself anywhere in our home, except in the colour that I chose for the bathroom.
When we got married, my mother gave us $500.00 to buy a new couch and she also gave us a painting. A friend of hers had painted it and she went on and on about how talented her friend was. The painting was of some mountains and a lake, done in yellow and brown. I absolutely hate brown as an overall decorating theme. I might admire it in someone else's house, but not in my own. I prefer pastels, but I was trained to not hurt my mother's feelings, so I put that painting up on our wall. It felt like she had decided what colours our living room would be. It was depressing.
In a similar way, a friend gave me stoneware dishes as a wedding present. The earthy look was "in" at that time, The dishes were brown and had big, bold, yellow sunflowers in the centre. I was doomed. She had similar dishes with strawberries on them, which suited her, and I admired them in her home. I would have liked to do a kitchen in light yellow and blue with Dutch accents, but yellow and brown didn't do a thing for me. I thought those dishes were ugly, but at least they gave us something to eat off of. I had learned as a child to take whatever I was given and be grateful for it. I wasn't grateful to be saddled with ugly stuff, but I kept my mouth shut most of the time. Whenever I did open it to complain, it seemed like someone would stick their foot in it. It was always paramount to not hurt other people's feelings, but, except on some rare and precious occasions, mine were ignored.
Well, it looked like our living room was going to be done in browns. Since my husband made no protest about that painting going on our wall, and since he seemed to like wearing brown, as well as blue, I supposed that it was one of his favourite colours. We went shopping for our couch. I got excited about the ones with flowers, but he firmly resisted the idea of having anything "girly" in our house. That was depressing. I resigned myself to the inevitability that our new couch would have to be something he liked. He liked brown and he was Scots, so I suggested a beige and brown plaid couch. It was just under $500.00. Ugly, boring, but he agreed and we bought it. As I was the one who suggested the couch, I had the illusion of being in control, but it was really my husband who was in control.
I did our bedroom in blue. I would have liked to have done it in pink, but I knew that it was not reasonable to expect a man to share a room that is decorated in pink. I opted for blue, another of the colours that he frequently wore. The only room where I expressed my own taste was in the bathroom, with peach. He left it alone for a few months, then one day in a frenzy of frustration, he exclaimed that he did not feel that there was any place in our apartment that expressed his taste. He ran out and bought burgundy accessories. That wiped out the only corner of our home that I had been really happy with. It is possible that we could have avoided all that misery if we knew how to communicate, but we thought that love meant being able to read each others' minds.
Our attempts to compromise and adjust to each others tastes were dismal failures, for the most part. My husband drove a Monte Carlo when we were engaged and it was an attractive car, but we planned on going to California and he got hooked on the idea of getting a van. He wanted to upholster it with velvet and put a bed in it for our trip. We looked at vans and found a model that we liked, but it was mustard yellow. We wanted it in burgundy, but it would take a month to wait for it on order. We both wanted to get one right now. My husband tested the waters of decision by saying that he would leave it up to me to choose if we took the yellow van or waited for the burgundy one. I guess he thought that God would direct me to make the right choice for us. I was not good at waiting. If I bought someone a present, they often got it before their birthday. I suggested that we buy the yellow van and do the interior in burgundy velvet. He agreed. Ever afterwards, he resented me for choosing that ugly, mustard yellow van. It probably was a good decision, though. Who would want to steal it?
Now that I was single again, it was wonderful to not have to deal with any of that hassle. My bedroom furniture was second hand, but it was white. The comforter on my bed cost only $20.00, but it was pink! And it had flowers on it! After I got that out of my system, I did my bedroom in peach and then in lavender. I had wreaths on my walls and vases of silk flowers in my home. My couch and armchair were blue. Eventually, I even got a set of dishes that I had admired for years when I was married, but never asked my husband for them because they cost more than what he would have wanted to pay. They are called Summer Chintz and I saw them at the Bay. They have scalloped edges rimmed with pink and are sprinkled with vines and flowers. For years, when I happened to go by the china department, I always stopped to look at those dishes and dream of having them. After they were discontinued, I figured that was one desire of my heart that would never come true. God had different ideas! I found a pile of them at a second hand store last year and bought the whole pile for only $25.00!
Gone are the days when I had to fight for a paper butterfly. After several weeks of listening to my husband harp on about it, he announced while laying on the couch one day, "You know, I like that bug on the wall." It made me furious when he said that. I didn't say anything to him, but I thought, "You LIKE it? You LIKE it? How DARE you like it, after all the misery you gave me about it!" It was the last time I ever went against him to insist on having things as I wanted them. It was just too exhausting to argue with him. Fortunately, he did not always disagree with my taste, but it was really nice to live alone and not have to wrangle with anyone.
Of course, in retrospect, I realize that it was my desire to control that led me to choose a couch that I thought would please my husband. I wanted to feel that I had some say in the decision, even if I didn't get to make the final decision. Now I realized that we should have toured the showroom separately and listed on notepaper which ten couches we liked, in the order that we liked them, considering only our own tastes, not trying to second guess what the other person would like. Then we should have compared notes and chosen something that we had both listed, even if it wasn't first or second favourite on either list.
A few weeks after I recovered from my nervous breakdown, my pastor mentioned something in church that made all sense of frump slide right off of me. He criticized a mindset of false humility that equates drabness with holiness and causes a person to dress so that they meld into the woodwork. I had not been dressing drab, but my mother's church promoted that mindset. All the workers fit that description exactly. That idea had been clinging to me, preventing me from feeling totally comfortable about the pretty clothes I wore and inhibiting me from wearing anything that I liked if it wasn't currently in fashion.
Suddenly I felt set free to express my own tastes, to assert my personality fully. I have always loved gaudy colours and long, swishing skirts, but I also like black because it can be either dramatic or elegant. Pastels are soothing colours for home furnishings, but they make me look washed out, if I wear them. Sometimes I even like to wear earthtones, but not often.
After I heard that liberating word from my pastor, I went hippie, if I felt like dressing that way. Or flashy, if that suited my mood. Or elegant, when I felt subdued. Or if I felt like I was in a safari mood, I dressed for adventure. When tights and blazers were worn with cut–off shorts, I looked good in that, too. Whatever I felt like wearing, if the occasion was appropriate, I indulged my fancy. It was wonderful to not have a husband grumbling in the background because what I was wearing didn't suit his taste, and there were plenty of men who liked how I was dressed and said so. Yes, there are some really great things about being single.
It was surprising to learn that some men are interested in how girls talk among themselves. Nice men who want to listen in on nice girls, that is. I have heard worldly women talk among themselves and could gag at how crude some of them are. I had a friend who looked like a model and dressed funky cool. We sometimes discussed make–up and fashion. At church when we were talking to each other about this, I noticed that occasionally men who were standing by themselves bent their ears in our direction to pick up what we were saying to each other.
I showed up at church one day wearing some big, dangling, barbaric–looking, goldtone earrings and had my hair down with strands of it twisted into a thin braid that hung alongside my face. Karen told me that I looked like a hippie girl. I primly replied that I thought I looked rather Britannic. She grinned down at me and said, "Nah, you look like a hippie girl." In my peripheral vision, I saw one of the elders standing near us, looking very alert to what we were saying, and pleased to get a glimpse of "girl" life. I thought it was cute, but I couldn't say that I reciprocated the interest in listening in on guys, unless they are talking about something sensible. I don't want to hear jokes about passing gas and jock itch.
If anybody ever thought I looked like a fright, they never said so. I got a lot of compliments, though. When I worked at a restaurant near a hotel, a woman who was staying at the hotel said that she liked to come in each day to see what I was wearing. Another customer caught sight of me at the mall one Sunday. I was wearing a flowing, purple skirt that had flowers on it, a matching jacket, a frilly, purple lace petticoat that peeped under the hem of my skirt, lavender heels, and a corsage of lavender flowers tucked into my hair bun. When the customer came into the restaurant later in the week, she said that she envied my freedom to dress as I pleased. She always dressed very conservative.
When I started waitressing, I took to wearing my hair in a bun to make sure that if anybody ever complained about getting hair in their food, it wouldn't be mine. I wore the bun a lot at other times, too. Fastened at the nape of my neck, it was so me. Ever since I was a little girl, I admired ballerinas and loved their graceful hairstyle. My ex–husband never would have approved of me wearing a bun because he wouldn't think it looked sexy. Together with my glasses, I was frequently mistaken for being a schoolteacher. Even when I waitressed, some of the customers thought it must be a side job and that I taught school at other times. When I was in the library, a couple of times, foreign students thought I was a schoolteacher and asked me to help them with their homework, which I did. Sitting at a table beside a Korean lady at an adult learning centre, working from my textbook, the woman asked me to explain what various English words meant because she thought I was a teacher. She laughed after a few minutes when it dawned on her that I was just another student. We became friends.
I probably looked like a schoolteacher or librarian at times because I was expressing my love of reading books and teaching. It felt good to not have my more conservative side squelched when it wanted to come out. I didn't look or feel dowdy, though, when I wore my hair in a bun. It is a style that can be played down with subdued clothing or played up with something colourful. One time when I was in a mood to be a bit flashy, I wore a bright pink blazer dress with ropes of pink and purple beads around my neck. As I was walking past a high school that was next to my church, one of the teenagers exclaimed to his friend, "Wow! Hot teacher!" I was 34 at the time, so hearing that from a teenager really made my day.
Sometimes I wondered, "What is going on with me? Who am I really?" A visiting minister's wife prayed for me at the altar in church one time and had a word of knowledge that I was having an identity crisis. I told her it was true. I said, "I like all sorts of different kinds of foods, of music, of furniture, and I like to dress in many different ways. I don't know which of all these is the real me."
My perplexity went on for a few more years until I took some career tests at an adult learning centre. This time, it came up that I could do administrative work. The psychologist asked me if there was anything that I found out about myself that was new. I said, "Yes, it says here that I can be successful at anything I choose to be because I have the ability to play many different roles. I mean, here I am, it's Halloween, I don't believe in celebrating Halloween, but I am wearing a costume because I love to wear costumes. I have so many different kinds of tastes and dress in so many different ways, but I don't have multiple personality disorder. I always call myself by one name. What's going on?"
The psychologist said, "When I was taking my classes, we learned that some people are like onions; you have to peel away the layers to find the real person. But other people are like garlic; they are made up of many different cloves, but they are all that person." My identity crisis was finally over. I thought everybody was supposed to be an onion. That was what my mother was, but I am a garlic. That figured. On the inside, I was always very different than her, though some people thought we were alike because I could mimic her voice and her facial expressions so well. There was nothing the matter with being how I was. I am simply a versatile person. God made me this way so that I could relate to a lot of different kinds of people. One of my employers had admired that about me. I overheard her tell someone, "Lanny can talk to anyone!"
Later when I did art therapy, I told my counsellor that I liked to draw women's faces. I have always had a talent for that. Ever since I was a little girl, I would draw a face, put a name to it, and tell myself a story about the girl I had drawn. My counsellor asked me to do this again. I drew a woman's face and told him what kind of woman she was. Then he asked me to draw her as a child and tell me about the child. I was surprised about what came out. The child was frightened. I could see her curled up in a protective posture while there was yelling and violence going on, and I realized that I was feeling what I felt when I was a baby. I couldn't remember my parents' fights in a visual way, but that day I could remember the feeling of being terrified. I saw how what happened in my home made a deep impression on me and influenced my personality. The younger a child is, the more they should be shielded from conflict and other types of negativity.
My counsellor asked me to draw more faces that depicted my personality. I said, "Oh, you want me to draw the cloves!" He agreed that this is what he meant. It sure was enlightening. It showed me how resourceful I am. I dislike housework, but I hate dirt worse than I hate housework. This is something I have in common with my mother. Sometimes my housekeeping clove got worn out, but another part of my personality came forward with a solution. I needed to take a holiday. There was no money for a holiday, though. No problem. That clove has ideas. The most work came from having to clean up after the cats' hair and whatnot. I cleaned my house thoroughly, and then kept the cats in the bathroom for a couple of days, so that I could enjoy my clean, tidy house for a while. It may have been a bit difficult on them, but it was preferable to me going batty.
It was wonderful to take a journey of self–discovery, to find out who I really was. When I was married, I lived in my husband's shadow and in his mother's shadow. I found out what I really thought about things. I had thought for myself on some things before, but now my scope was wider. When I went shopping in those first few years of singlehood, I felt an anticipation in my spirit, but it was the Lord's anticipation, an excitement that He felt that this creature that He had made was about to choose something that was in keeping with how He had designed her. It was like how an inventor would feel after he has had an idea, put it together, and then seen it run how it is supposed to run. It was so much fun to discover who the real me is.
Women miss out when they get married too young, especially if they marry a controller. Women should wait until their personality is more developed and they are able to stand up for themselves, so that they don't lose their identity when they get married. A woman who has lost her identity is not a happy woman. Becoming one with a man does not mean that you blend into each other. Each still keeps their own unique and intriguing personality, but they learn how to get along and work together. Like a yoke of oxen. It would be a monstrosity if, when two oxen are yoked together, they melded into one big, lumbering ox with four horns and two tails and eight legs.
When I worked at a floral wholesale place, I spoke with a young wife who was complaining about how she injured herself when she went skiing with her husband. He urged her to go down a slope that she knew she couldn't handle. Now she was griping about having hurt herself. I told her it was her own fault. She protested, "But he wanted me to go down that run." I replied, "But you knew you couldn't handle it." The look on her face told me that she was considering for the first time that she didn't always have to do what her husband wanted her to do.
It was really freeing to learn that it was alright for me to say no. I caught sight of a title of a book in the bookstore of my church. It said something about the power of saying no. I didn't even read the book for a long time. The title alone set off a stream of thinking and was very liberating. I stopped dead in my tracks and thought, "What? It is okay to say no?" I thought that, except for when sin was involved, Christians always had to give in to other people, so that they would like us and think that we were good Christians. There are people who, for their convenience, groom Christians to believe that. Some of them are immature Christians who use other Christians for their own ends. Some are unbelievers who throw a bit of a sulk when Christians do not comply with their demands.
I ran into the latter type when I had to get my suite fumigated because my former landlords weren't very careful about who they let rent the housekeeping rooms. I took my cats to an animal shelter where I had gotten one of them, so that they would not get poisoned when my suite was fumigated. The cats were supposed to be there for two days, but the older cat wouldn't eat or drink because he missed me too much. The woman who ran the shelter brought them back the next day because she felt sorry for him. I tried to hand her $20.00 for looking after the cats but she refused it. What she wanted was for me to speak to my pastor and get him to make some announcement from the pulpit to urge people to get their animals neutered. I said no and she got mortally offended, running off in huff. I was now supposed to stew over her bad opinion of me as a Christian, for not caring about animals as much as she did. I figured that if she wanted my pastor to make that announcement, she could go talk to him herself. I knew he wasn't likely to do it because it wasn't a church–related item. If pastors started that, everybody would be wanting them to make announcements about their businesses and projects. I didn't want to be a nuisance to him. I had enough of my own stuff to approach him about, without screwing things up for myself by asking for favours too often.
I met a man at a Job Club shortly after I finished my Floral Design course. It was uncanny how much he reminded me of my ex–husband. My heart warmed to him because of that. Here's a big hint for people who have just come out of an abusive relationship: be very careful when you meet people who remind you of your ex–spouse. If you feel rapport with them, it is probably because you are still in the destructive pattern that led you to choose your spouse. God, however, was very gracious to me. He put me a church where the pastor taught on how to interpret dreams. I had a dream that warned me to not let myself get romantically involved with this man. Later, when I read The Pleasers, I understood why; he was a controller.
I was friends with him for a while. We went out for coffee or hiking or took walks. A couple times I went to his place for dinner. One time he worked with me in the church kitchen on painting a backdrop for a play. That was the only time I cooked him dinner. I threw a couple packages of Japanese noodles in a pot of boiling water and added a can of cream of mushroom soup. Then I forgot about it because I was absorbed in painting and the food got burnt. We ate it because we had nothing else with us to eat; he said it tasted like someone had butted out their cigarette in it.
I never considered any time spent with him to be a date. It was more in the nature of witnessing to him. He said he was a Christian, but I doubted it; he hated going to church and he often spoke scornfully about Christians. The Bible tells us that we know we have passed from death to life when we love the brethren. The reason for this is that sometimes the brethren act like jerks and it takes the supernatural love of God to keep us loving each other.
I couldn't blame this man for having a sour opinion of Christians, though. He had met a fair number of people who claimed to be Christians, but didn't act like it. He had a friend who witnessed to him; I think he might have been a roommate. His friend's words lost their impact when he heard the guy getting it on with his girlfriend in his bedroom.
This man also had a girlfriend who went to church and believed herself to be a Christian, but she had an affair with him. She always felt guilty after they fornicated and would sit beside him crying with remorse. I pointed out to him that he had some responsibility in her unhappiness because he knew it bothered her to do that, but he continued to go to bed with her anyway. He admitted that it was true. I think this was the first time it occurred to him that he had behaved badly. Up until then, he probably just thought that his girlfriend felt guilty because she was an emotional mess. That tragic, young woman also had a drinking problem and eventually she committed suicide. I felt it was a shame that this man had been subjected to such poor witnesses.
I think that God wanted me to bear with him for a while, but this man used guilt trips. One time when I was deeply occupied with writing a letter to my son, my friend phoned and asked me to call him back at a certain time. He had to work night shift and he wanted to catch a nap before he left for work. I didn't want to interrupt my work because I was pretty deep into writing that letter. When I hesitated, he asked reproachfully, "Oh, I'm not asking a big thing of you, am I?" Well, it is not a big thing to give someone a phone call, so I said I would and got back to working on my letter. After a while, I began to wonder, "Did he say that he wanted me to call him at 10:00 or 10:30?" It was now 10:30; I figured I had better call him. He thanked me warmly and then I asked him to confirm that it was at 10:30 that he had wanted me to call. He was silent a moment and said that he had told me 10:00. Then he rushed to get to work because he was going to be late.
I hung up the phone feeling angry that he was probably now angry at me. I hadn't even wanted to call him back in the first place, but he cornered me into doing it. Then the Lord spoke to my heart and told me it was my own fault. He said, "You know how you get when you write; you forget about everything else. You were writing a letter to Andrew, who is really important to you, and for the occasion of his 13th birthday, which made the letter even more important than usual. You didn't have to answer your phone. You don't ever have to answer your phone, if you don't want to. It is there for your convenience, not for other people's convenience. But you did answer it. However, you didn't have to say yes to what he wanted. If you are going to be mad at somebody, then be mad at yourself."
After these cogitations, I decided that I would rather have other people mad at me because I said no to them, than be mad at myself. If I am mad at myself, I have horrid, painful feelings boiling around inside, but if other people are mad at me, it's on the outside. I can do other things to occupy myself until they get over being mad and want to be friends again, if ever, and if not, so what? Life goes on.
This man lived only a few blocks from me, but I didn't see him very often because twice a year was about all I could handle of being around him. I could enjoy his company for a few hours, but then it started to seem tedious. He just couldn't keep my interest any longer than that. He was draining. I felt like he expected me to play a role, and it was a role I really didn't like. Because I am a Christian and celibate, he expected me to be like Katherine Hepburn when she starred in The African Queen, as Rose, the old maid missionary, while he played the role of Charlie, the crusty, old bachelor infidel. I guess he thought I was rather prim.
My friend liked to do acting and sometimes got minor roles with one or two lines. He was part of the retinue of a local actor who had achieved some fame in Hollywood. I thought his adulation of that actor was silly, but he did manage to lead the actor's son to the Lord just before the young man died of cancer. He may not have been a genuine Christian himself, but he knew the correct doctrine and what to say to lead someone in a prayer of salvation. The actor's son expressed his fears of dying when my friend visited him in the hospital and asked him if he knew how a person could get saved, so that they could go to Heaven. God sure works in amazing ways that a person can lead someone to the Lord Yehoshua before they are even saved themselves.
His playful Walter Matthau style got annoying after a while. I never did admire the curmudgeon roles Walter Matthau played. I started to have some hope for my friend when I learned that he had gotten engaged to a woman he had known many years ago. She had a young son in his teens. I thought it was wonderful that he was going to get out of his stick–in–the–mud bachelorhood and be a blessing to someone finally. Here was a Mum who needed someone to help her raise her boy and that kid was finally going to have a father. But then he broke the engagement. He said that he and the woman had agreed to remain friends.
I had a dream one night and I was carrying baggage in the dream. When I awoke the next morning, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, "You've been carrying baggage, haven't you?" I nodded. He said, "And you know what it is, don't you?" I nodded again. I had started a friendship with this man because he reminded me of my ex–husband, and now the stress of having to deal with him was outweighing the benefits of continuing the acquaintance. I had enjoyed his sense of humour and his intelligence, but he was in a rut and seemed to be content to stay there.
I thought about how difficult it was to get through to this man. One Christmas Eve, I called him and invited him to go to church. He grumbled about how his brother and his brother's friends had dropped in on him on their way to Alberta. They were headed home after a holiday in California. He griped about how inconvenient it was for him to have their stuff piled up in his apartment. He invited me to come over for a visit. I figured, "I better go or his guests are going to have miserable time." I said I would and he agreed to meet me at the church. He was an hour late for the program. I sat there fuming about what he was missing. He liked kids and the kids looked so cute in their roles. He would have loved to see it. When he finally arrived and I felt like telling him off, God gave me the grace to mellow out and say nothing. He had his brother's friend with him and we all went back to his place after the play.
My friend's brother was several years younger than him, a cutie with curly, black hair and bright, brown eyes. He had a lovely, cheerful personality and a big, happy smile. My friend grumbled away and then pretended to be Santa Claus, saying, "Okay, boys and girls, what do you all want for Christmas?" His brother grinned and said forcefully, "You need a new attitude." Privately, I agreed. I learned from his brother's girlfriend that the reason why he was late for church was because he was painting his miniature cars. They kept telling him to get ready and go, but he kept ignoring them. It sounded typical. He was such a stubborn guy.
I had a tremendously interesting talk with the brother's friend about spiritual things. We sat for hours while he asked questions and everybody else listened to our conversation. The friend thanked me for spending so much time talking to him about those things. I said, "I don't mind spending time with people who are interested in growing." I looked at my friend pointedly, hoping he would take the hint that he had better get out of his rut if he wanted to see me anymore, because I was getting fed up with him.
It went right over his head. He just smiled at me fondly and said warmly, "Thank you, Lanny." I felt like screaming. I wasn't there that day for him; I was there for his guests because he was being so rude to them. He hardly ever saw his brother and should have been glad to see him, especially considering how winsome his brother was. All three of those young people were really nice and it could have been fun for him to have them around, if he had the right attitude, as his brother said. I thought it was so cute when my friend hugged me good–bye at the door, that his brother yelled, "Oh, me, too! Me, too!" and came running to get a hug from me.
I mused on how disappointing it was that my friend was so grudging in his hospitality towards his brother. I thought of his dusty Bible that he hardly ever read. I saw it lying on a shelf beneath his TV and wrote in the dust with my finger, "Read me" with an arrow pointing to it while waiting for my friend to come back into the room. A few months later when he told me that he had been reading his Bible, I told him what I had done. He exclaimed, "It was subliminal!" I never talked to him about that subject, not having developed an interest in it, yet, but I guess he knew about that stuff because of his interest in the TV industry and because his mother was a psychologist. That Bible was probably gathering dust again.
I really disliked how draining it was to be around this man because he threw cobwebs around me, drawing me into the prim spinster role that amused him. I couldn't relax and just be myself with him. I always had to be on guard. It was time to cut myself loose.
Right after I made that decision, he called and, with great hurt in his voice, said his former fiancée had told him that she wanted nothing at all to do with him. That sure wasn't hard to understand. She was in her late thirties or early forties and her chances of getting remarried and choices of who she married were getting narrowed down. He had built up her hopes and the hopes of a little boy that he was going to get a father, and then backed out of it. He should never had made the offer in the first place, unless he was really sure that he wanted to follow through. But I felt sorry for him. I thought, "Oh, I guess I can't tell him now that I don't want to see him anymore; it would be too hard of a blow following right after this other one."
I spoke to an older woman in my church about the problem. She said, "No, he probably needs to hear it from you, too." She was right. God was trying to tell him something, and he wasn't likely to get it unless two women told him the same thing. So, I wrote him a letter and told him about my frustration with how he was not interested in growing up emotionally nor in growing spiritually towards God, though he claimed to be a Christian. I told him that if he genuinely wanted to talk to someone about God, to call my pastor, but not to call me anymore. After I mailed that letter, I felt free like a bird let out of a cage.
I finally did go out with someone where I considered it a date. He was a young fellow who got baptized in my church. I had never seen him before. He testified that he had been a cocaine addict and got saved when he was in jail. After church, he stood around looking like he was at a loose end; nobody else came up to him and talked to him. I thought, "That's not right. When people turn to the Lord, He puts all their sins behind them. We shouldn't be put off because he said he spent time in jail." I chatted with him and agreed to go out for coffee with him and another couple of people. Afterwards, he told me that his boss had invited him for Christmas dinner and asked if I would be his date. I said okay.
It was fun to get dressed up and go out. That to me, was a date, even if I had to go pick the guy up myself because he didn't own a car. Not having to pay for my own dinner also contributed towards it being a date. We had a lovely dinner and interesting conversation with the other couple. In the next two weeks, I saw this young man several times. We went out for coffee and had long talks about spiritual things, but this fellow had big problems. He wasn't anybody I was interested in getting romantically involved with, even though he was really good–looking. He said that he had a lust problem that was so serious that he refused to get a car because he was sure that he would end up in the backseat with some girl. I thought it was really commendable that he had the sense to not skate where the ice was thin, but I sure didn't want to get mixed up with someone whose self–control was so fragile that he couldn't own a car. Pretty soon he felt saturated by all that talk about God and lost interest in going out for coffee. I figured it was just as well. He was a controller.
A lot of men seem to have that problem. A lot of women, too. Everybody has it to some degree, but that young man had serious problems with it. He had expectations of how he thought Christians should behave that were not entirely reasonable. They should be understanding. The third time he said, "I know you understand," after he broke his word to me, I replied, "No, I don't understand." I let him know that I was annoyed with him. I don't think he liked that. I think it contributed to his loss of interest in having conversations with me. Later I learned that his conversion wasn't actually sincere and I was glad that he hadn't hung out around my church for very long.
I went to Alberta a couple of times to try to get access to my children. I got to see them the first time, but was blocked from seeing them after that. More than anything, it was my ex–husband's lawyer who managed to persuade me to not force the issue. She said that my children were afraid of me, and asked if I wanted to insist on seeing them under that circumstance. I wondered, "Why are they afraid of me? The last time I saw them, they yelled, 'Mommy!' and ran towards me, not away from me. I haven't been allowed to see or talk to them for a year, so what has happened in the meantime?" I surmised that their father had been saying things about me to plant fear in them. He was going to need to lift that off of them before they would be comfortable with me again.
Not having access to my children freed up time to read books that helped dismantle unhealthy ideas that had been built into me throughout my childhood, in my relationships with men, and through unbalanced teaching in church.
Not all of the Church's teaching was unbalanced; just some of it, particularly in regards to a wife being obligated to stay in submission to her husband, even when he misbehaves. That teaching helped ruin my marriage; I think that my ex–husband would have respected me more if I had stood up to him a lot earlier, when he still had some affection for me. I helped ruin him by letting him get away with things that no sensible woman would permit in a relationship. He resented me for not helping him be a better man.
In my singleness, I had opportunity to explore my talents. I helped with artistic projects in my church, painting sets for plays, arranging flowers, decorating for events, taking small parts in plays, and singing in the choir. Not having my children to look after also gave me time for the solitude that is necessary for writing.
One day as I was sitting on a log at the beach, listening to the gentle, yet powerful, music of the waves washing against the shore, drinking in the beauty of sunshine glistening on the water, I thought, "This is really nice. I wouldn't be able to come down to the beach like this to write poetry if I had my kids with me. I would be too busy looking after them."
I figured that my children would be angry if they knew that I could be happy even when they weren't around. I wondered if I should feel guilty about being so satisfied at that moment with my life. Then God spoke to my heart and said, "Lanny, those kids are going to come back to you someday, and when they do, you need to be an emotionally healthy person in order to help them."
A healthy person is thankful for what they have, instead of one who mopes about what they don't have. They don't forget their blessings when they experience disappointment. If my children got angry about me being happy when they weren't around, it was only because they were children, and it couldn't be helped until they grew up enough to understand.
Eventually, I got my children back. If I hadn't let myself have some fun while they were gone, and appreciated my blessings, I wouldn't have been able to cope as well as I did with my children's acting out behaviour when they returned.
Just before the children returned, I was listening to a Focus on the Family program where James Dobson advised single mothers to not have a boyfriend until after their children were grown, unless God sovereignly brought someone into their life before then to help raise their children. He emphasized that they needed to concentrate their attention on raising their children.
This is good advice. My children required a lot of my attention, even if I couldn't keep them in my home except for a short time. When my daughter became a teen mother, I could not have given her the help she needed, and my grandsons the attention that they needed from me in their early years, if I had been dating or married.
The grandsons have insecurities because of absent fathers, though Jake's father visits him fairly regularly, but those insecurities would have been a lot worse if they hadn't had Grandma taking up some of the slack. As much as I would have liked to be married in my earlier years, when I consider what my grandsons needed from me, I know that my singleness has been a blessing to them, and that God wanted me to be available to them in that way.Reunion
Copyright © March 2010, Lanny Townsend
Page modified by Lanny Townsend on September 5, 2011
Scripture references on this website are closely paraphrased from e–Sword's King James Bible.