Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Divinely-Arranged Marriages


Divinely-arranged marriages do occcur. This blog has been designed for you to tell your story of how God brought you together with your spouse. These stories are intended to be inspirational and to let others know that God still works miracles!

How did God intervene in selecting your spouse? What struggles did you have in releasing control to Him? For your entry, please feel free to provide as much or as little detail as you wish. Thank you for your willingness to inspire others to "let go and let God," in one of the most important decisions we make in life.

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This is a story of how God gave me my wife. When I put it in His hands, He overcame my biases, my strong will, and my preconceptions, to provide a mate who meets all my needs, and for whom I meet all her needs.

"I had been dating for several months, using on line dating services. I met lots of nice ladies, but no one seemed quite right. I was trying to avoid the trap of simply choosing "the best of the lot" in hopes that "Ms. Right" would come along. The spiritual side of those I chose to date was one of several factors I considered in my dating criteria.

Being in my late 50s, I had restricted myself to dating ladies who had been divorced. I intentionally avoided widows so I didn't have to compete with the deceased husband, whose faults I assumed would have been forgotten, and whose positive qualities would have been magnified over time. Frankly, I thought it would be easier to compete against 'that rascal who divorced me.' Then came Easter.

After a very convicting sermon, I was weeping. I looked down at the empty seat beside me in the pew and said to myself. 'The woman who sits here in the future had better know why I'm crying.' I knew I had to make finding a spiritual woman THE criterion, not just one of many criteria for my dating life. I asked God to bring me such a mate. Three days later, I decided to attend a church singles group. My sister had been after me about this group in particular, but I had resisted until my Easter experience.

Now skip to a different church on that same Easter Sunday. Linda, who had been widowed thirteen months earlier, was attending a service with her son. During the service, he reached down and took his mother's hand and put it on his lap, along with his wife's hand, just like he had a year earlier. Linda realized then that it was time to move on with her life.

Linda's home church, a large mainline protestant denomination, had a Wednesday night singles group that she had gotten dressed up to attend for the past three weeks. She made it only as far as the car and turned around in tears. But three days after her Easter experience, she resolved to go.

As first timers, Linda and I went to the orientation class of about eight people, and were seated next to one another. After an hour, we were supposed to go back to the main group, but neither of us were very interested in what we had experienced thus far. We struck up a conversation in the hallway. So far you might chalk up our parallel Easter experiences to coincidence. But here's where God gets awesome.

I knew that the church hosting this singles group was too liberal for my taste, and when I realized Linda was a long-term member there, I made the not too subtle point to her that I would not be attending church there. First, I assumed Linda's religious views would be too liberal for me, and second, she was a widow!!! What I didn't know is that Linda had been a member of this church primarily because her deceased husband, having come from a Catholic background, felt comfortable there. Linda, however, was more conservative, having been raised in a baptist church. She had been church shopping at three large conservative churches in this city of over a million population.

Once I had made my point that I would not be attending Linda's church, I went on to name the three large conservative churches that I had been visiting on alternate Sundays as a way of distancing myself from Linda's church. You guessed it -- they were the very same three churches that Linda had been going to -- out of a about two hundred churches on the north side of our metro area, and we lived over 10 miles apart. You figure the odds! The coincidence was enough for me to get past the religion issue, but I still didn't want to date Linda. After all, she was a widow!

Another issue was the fact that she was clearly not ready to date, whereas I was very comfortable, having dated about twenty different ladies in the previous several months. I did feel, however, that I could help her get comfortable with dating by showing her that men don't bite -- it was possible to date a guy safely. After an email exchange, I suggested we go on a church-organized group walk at a local park. For my part, I was trying to be a good 'boy scout,' showing her that it was safe to date men. In my mind, this was to be a one time event, after which she would be on her own.

A last-minute change of plans brought us instead to a decorator's showcase tour of a large mansion. At 11:00 am on a Saturday, we met at a parking lot and about twenty of us took one of the many shuttle buses to the mansion. We wandered through the mansion for an hour as part of an endless line of people. There was polite chit-chat between us but definitely no sparks. Besides, I didn't want to get involved and I had a 'real date' with someone else at 3:00 o'clock! After going through the house, we headed outside to the gardens. There were a few slate steps down from the patio to the grass to get to the garden. As a gentleman, I extended my hand as we proceeded down the steps. When Linda's hand took mine, it was the most incredible thing I have ever felt! Never in my life had I felt such a wonderful feeling and I could not let go -- and neither could Linda. We held hands until we departed and I went on my 'real date.' I arranged to see her two days later. A few weeks later we discussed the handholding experience and learned that we both experienced parallel feelings throughout the event - from little or no real interest -- to an incredible attraction -- in an instant.

Within three weeks we were exclusive; within five or six weeks, we knew we were bound for marriage and it became just a matter of meeting our family members who were spread out across the country. We married in January of '07 and are incredibly compatible and wonderfully happy. Letting God control our marital destinies is the best thing we have ever done."