Divorced: Disaster Hit Hard!

I remember so well the day I went to see a divorce lawyer. It was the day of the big snow storm on Halloween, 1991. On my way there a car slid into my lane right in front of me—a head on collision. My truck was badly damaged, yet I made it to the lawyer’s office. I realize now that I should have taken it as a sign not to go—because I got a bad deal. I guess it was partly my fault, because I wanted to pay as much Child Support as possible—for the kids.

But the way it worked out, no way could I afford what was set up, because of the downturn in my business. The next couple years was a disaster. My truck was totaled and I had to get another vehicle. I decided to go out of business, and I went to work as a Union painter for a big company. But I was laid off after 60 days, because they didn’t want to start paying me union dues. It was a big scam.

Even though I was working out of the trunk of an old beater—all I could afford—I decided to go back into my business. Then the next disaster struck: one of my guys fell off a ladder and broke his arm. He was patched up, but my insurance when sky high. What next? I decided to get rid of most of my employees to save me the cost of insurance.

Anyway, it was rough for a while and I wasn’t able to pay most of my monthly child support bill. So, I went way into debt, owing Child Support a lot of money. After a few years I finely got a good lawyer and was able to reduce my payment to what I could afford. I was about $55,000 in debt to them, but eventually, even while paying my monthly regular payment, I was able to pay it all off.

During that rough time, though I felt discouraged, I was seeking the Lord. Not only was I attending a good church, I was very much involved in the prayer ministry. In fact, the pastor wanted me to take over the ministry. So I did, for the next seven years. It was a great experience. Then disaster happened in that church and I had to move on. I’ll just say that the pastor fell into sin and eventually the church disbanded.

I quickly found another church—Long Lake Community Church—and was there for the next three years. It was there that I was encouraged to get into the Billy Graham telephone ministry. That was so much fun, and I was privileged to lead many to Christ over the phone.

After that time, I felt led back to Grace Church Roseville. I had gone there a few years earlier and I knew a few people who were still there. The main reason I was drawn back there is because I had heard that they had a divorce recovery group, which they called “Single Again.” I really liked the group, and I became a leader. I was on the leadership team (four of us) for about 5 or 6 years. It was a great experience.

Married and Divorced

This is where I live now, but seven years ago. It’s a little messy.

It all went by so fast. We were married in 1985 and divorced in 1991. Though it seemed like such a waste, I do have some good memories. One of the best memories were the times we rented a cabin for a few days and did some fishing. I also enjoyed dinner times when my wife would cook a big meal. She loved cooking and there was always plenty left. And then I remember the father-daughter dance. Justina, my daughter loved it. To tell you the truth, most of the marriage years were happy years—at least for me. It was those last years that kind of went downhill.

Anyway, as I said previously, out of the blue she asked me to leave. She suggested that I go live with my mom, but I couldn’t do that. I was too old for that. So, I looked for an apartment, and God supplied my needs almost immediately. It was a very nice two-bedroom unit, and right away I had plans to get some roomers to help with the rent—and I got three roommates. I put two in one room and one with me. Funny, I lived there for about three or four years, but I have no memory of the room mates, just that they were there helping me with the rent.  I guess that tells you something about who I am. I’ll leave it at that.

I don’t remember exactly what happened, only that I had to move. I quickly found another place with Gloria. She was a very nice older lady who was renting out a room, and I was welcome to use her kitchen and stove and fridge. Nice. I think I stayed there with Gloria for about four years and then she kicked me out for another guy; I think it was someone she knew. I didn’t ask any questions; I just moved.

I quickly found another two-bedroom apartment (pictured). I also found a roommate—James. He stayed with me for quite a while—about 7 or 8 years. I have many memories of James. He liked to sit and play his guitar. He also was quite a collector of Volkswagen model cars. Oh, he had boxes and boxes of model cars in his bedroom. He had hardly any room to walk around. He also would buy and sell and trade things at garage sales and flea markets. That was kind of his side business. I could tell it was fun for him, and I liked talking to him about all that stuff. Eventually, I talked him into moving somewhere else, because of some issues he had, and well, I just thought it was for the best. I guess he understood, because we are still friends.

Well, I am still living in that apartment. I have been there for 20 years now. I use the extra room for an office. Though I kind of miss having roommates, I like the freedom and the solitude. I don’t mind living alone at all. And I still work and get out and see people.

One of the great disappointments about the divorce is that I only got to see my kids once a week for a couple hours. I would usually pick them up and we would go out to eat at a family restaurant; and then we would spend the rest of the time at a park. They enjoyed running around, but I didn’t so much. They always wanted to play “monster.” That is where I would be the monster and would chase after them. They didn’t realize that I had been working all day and was tired. Oh well. It was worth it.

My Marriage: What Went Wrong?

All I can think of when it came to our marriage is a maze. We were caught in a maze. And we couldn’t find our way through—at least that’s the way it was for me. We set the date for a wedding, and so there were definite things to do to get ready. For my part, I had to find a place to live. Where I lived just wasn’t big enough for the two of us, and for the baby coming. Eventually, I found a rental townhouse that we both liked, and I moved in early to get things ready.

For her part, there was the wedding. I can’t remember being into it that much, but she was, and so was her mother. So, I guess I just agreed to everything.

To get off on the right foot, I thought a surprise honeymoon would be good. So, I went and talked to a travel agent and planned the whole thing—to the Bahamas for a week.

Let’s see, what next? Oh yea, the wedding. It went off without a hitch. No problems—that I remember. I helped move the bride in with me, and then we left for the Bahamas. She loved the whole experience, but not me so much. I was sick the whole time. It was like the flu, but different. I just think my system wasn’t use to being married; and I wasn’t adjusting well to my new bride. She was so different that me—younger and more extraverted. Yet I was confident that things would be fine—just fine.

After we got back from the Bahamas, I was anxious to get back to a normal life—my life. (Interestingly, just after she announced that she wanted me out, she said that the honeymoon was wonderful, but everything after that was terrible. She couldn’t think of one thing about our marriage that she liked.) So, I gave myself to my work, house painting. And I found that the harder I worked the better I felt—about myself and about life. But my regular job wasn’t enough. I also took up woodworking. With the baby coming soon, I would make a few things for the baby. I made a changing table, a little desk and chair, and a few other things. I felt I could do anything, and the extra work was making me feel good.

Oh, there were so many things I was involved in. In the evening I took a class at Bethel Seminary. I intended to finish my Seminary degree, but it didn’t work out. Oh well. I also decided to teach a first grade Sunday School class at church. We both did that for a long time—about five years.

What else? Oh, the kids. Yea, the kids were great. Four kids came to us: a girl, then a boy, then another boy, then another girl. I loved (love) all our kids, but she was tired of having them. And, as it turned out, she was tired of me. Out of the blue, even before the fourth baby came, she asked me for a divorce. What happened?

To this day, 39 years later, she still hasn’t told me why she wanted a divorce. She kept insisting that I knew and that she shouldn’t have to tell me. But whatever her reasons are, I have my own ideas of why the marriage went sour. Here are seven reasons:

1. I didn’t guard my purity. When I first met her and encountered her sexual advances, I should have been more guarded and backed away. If I would have done that it would have saved me from a bad marriage.

2. Too many differences. Our personalities are very different; our likes and dislikes are different; and I am 11 years older than her. The only thing that was similar was our natural attraction to each other.

3. Our spiritual levels were different. I had been a Christian for about 23 years and she had been saved for only a few months. My quiet times each day were (are) very important to me, but that whole idea was alien to her.

4. She didn’t leave her family. The bible instructs the husband and wife to leave father and mother and be joined to each other. I don’t think she did that.

5. I didn’t give her enough of my time. I didn’t try hard enough to know her and love her. I was too busy with my own stuff. I didn’t make her a high priority. Big mistake.

6. She didn’t know how to communicate. She gave up too soon. She kept too many things inside of her, and then once in a while she would let it out in anger, and I couldn’t deal with that; so I responded back in anger.

7. We didn’t know or understand each other. We didn’t take the time to develop that knowledge.

Okay, so much for the past. Here is what we should have done to get off to a good start. Rather, here is what any couple should do.

1. Wait for a natural attraction.  When you set out to find a mate in your church group or wherever you hang out with people, look for someone you are naturally attracted to.

2. Stay away from anyone who is only interested in a sexual relationship.

3. When you find someone you are interested in, ask them out on a date; someplace where you can talk. On the first or second date you should establish an understanding of what a date is, or what you intend to accomplish on a date. Set some ground rules, or guidelines, like, no sex, kissing or necking.

4. In your dating, set out to get to know each other and develop good communication skills.

5. Get to know what each other likes and dislikes.

6. Learn each other’s love language.

7. Learn how to work out your differences.

My Marriage Years: A Rocky Start

It all happened so fast, but I will have to admit that it was all my doing. I mean, I didn’t let it happen as I should have. I pushed it; I made all the choices. I remember so clearly that I wanted to be married, and I very calculatingly went after it. First, I made a list of all the possibilities; a list of about ten young women. I analyzed each one and put them into their proper order: #1, #2, #3, etc. I remember that I couldn’t decide which one I would go for. There were two that were very close. Both of them were in the church singles group, so I figured that with further observation it wouldn’t be hard to make a choice.

Well, one evening at one of the singles meetings, I had a rather intimate encounter with the top one on my list—the one who would be my future bride (I won’t give her name). Now that I am thinking about it, it was at her house and it happened after the meeting was over. I won’t go into the details of what happened, but let’s just say that, because of her insistence and my compliance, we ended up doing the dirty deed.

I don’t exactly remember what happened after that, I mean why I kept seeing her. I must have accepted the fact that her loose lifestyle was just one of those things that she hadn’t dealt with yet in her new Christian life—but that she would deal with soon. Anyway, I kept seeing her and dating her, even though we did have sexual relations occasionally. I was stuck.  I didn’t want to have an immoral relationship with her, but at the same time I wanted her. I felt that I loved her. Yes, that’s what I told myself.  And even though I would get these terrible headaches whenever I was close to her, at the same time I thought that I loved her. So, I pushed through it. We would be married.

I can’t remember what came first, my proposal of marriage or the news that she was pregnant with my child. Wow, that complicated things, yet we pushed on—and yes, she accepted my proposal. After only six months of dating, and with a child on the way, we were married.

Thinking back on what happened, there were some definite signs that I ignored, that if I had taken the time and effort to analyze and pray over them, I would have made better decisions.

One. After the first sexual encounter that she made on me, I should have stopped the relationship right there. That definitely was a sign that I should not have continues the relationship. I knew better. What was I thinking?

Two. As I mentioned, whenever we were together, even just walking and holding hands, I would get these terrible headaches. I should have recognized that that was a sign from God (and from nature) that our relationship was wrong. But I ignored it. Now I know that headaches are a definite indication that something is wrong. It was a clear indication that my peace with God was missing. Why didn’t I realize that?

My Singleness: A Gift from God

After my devastating divorce, I soon began to consider dating. I’m not sure what I was thinking. Maybe just filling a lonely gap, or maybe I was seeking the thrill of meeting someone, or being with a woman in a romantic way. It’s been thirty years, but I sort of remember going on line. Yes, it was a Christian dating site, and they had you answer all kinds of questions to match you up with someone. I remember getting 3 or 4 dates out of it. But I didn’t date anyone more than a couple times. Truthfully, I wasn’t interested in getting married; I just wanted a fun date—or whatever. I always tried to be honest with my date, and when I would tell them that I had no interest in marriage, that seemed to turn them off. And I can understand why. They were seeking a mate, and I wasn’t. Part of me thought that maybe if I found the right one, I would change my mind about marriage. But there was a stronger pull that was telling me NO.  I gradually came to the conclusion that God was telling me to remain single. But I think He was letting me date for a while to show me, in the way He was speaking to me, that I shouldn’t pursue marriage, that it would not be His will.

Settling into Singleness

So God won, and I decided to settle into singleness. I think the dating phase lasted only about 3 years. And since then, for about 26 years now, I have been resolved to singleness and being date free. And you know, God has been good. He has blessed me. He has cared for me and has shown me that I can be content living by myself. For a few years I had a male roommate. That had its good points and bad points. But I actually think it’s better for me to live alone. Overall, life has been good. God is good.

God Approves of Singleness

Though in Genesis 2:18 God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone, God also has gifted many of us to be single—to remain unmarried and chaste. 1 Corinthians 7 lays it out for us. Paul was unmarried and he wrote, “I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God” (v. 7). God gives some the gift of marriage with a mate, and others the gift of singleness. Paul wrote, “I say to the unmarried and to the widows: “It is good for them if they remain even as I am” (v. 8). Later in the chapter he wrote, “Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife” (v. 27). Again, he wrote, “I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife” (vv. 32-33).

I don’t want to be harsh toward married people, but what Paul says here is true. Since I am no longer married, I have found it much easier to serve the Lord. But at the same time, I know that that doesn’t mean I am free of responsibilities. I still have household duties and bills to pay, etc.

Singleness Can Be More Challenging

In some ways being single is harder to live a holy life, especially if you are not a responsible person, if you are lazy, and if you are not self-controlled. Such a person must pray more, be in the word more, and take hold of himself—or the devil and the flesh will take advantage of him. That person must always on his guard.