Longing for Relationship – Part 3
Relational New Beginnings
(Last time I said I’d continue a discussion on longing for relationship. Here’s picking up where I left off.)
…I squeezed Ron’s hand. This man sitting by my side…My assurance that God is the God of beautiful new beginnings.
For five years as a single mom, I hoped and prayed my marriage would be reconciled. I read books on faith. I made positive confessions. I hadn’t yet learned that sometimes God’s best answer is, “No.”
Driving to work one morning, I assessed the situation. My mind saw clearly the paths of my life and my ex-husband’s, which had diverged in opposing directions. I realized that while a compartment of my heart would always hold him dear, the only thing I had in common with this man was the incredible daughter created from the one-time-love we’d shared. Stopped at a traffic light, I prayed,
God, if you have something different in mind for me, I’m open to a new plan.
My friend Ron immediately entered my thoughts. During that morning commute, I had a hunch life as I’d known it was about to change.
The first time I saw Ron was on a chilly, November Sunday morning. After dropping my little girl off for Sunday school, I drove to a Christian singles group. I’d attended the group before and didn’t like it. Going there reminded me of my marital status, and frankly, I felt ashamed to be divorced. But, my strong Christian roots convinced me Angie needed a religious education, so I tolerated the group.
It would have been hard to miss the new guy. His six-foot-four-inch, lanky frame and ample reddish beard stood out among the regulars. He was dressed in jeans and casual suede jacket. In those days, most men wore suits to church. On first glance, I dismissed the newcomer as a hippie, which didn’t fit my acceptable male paradigm. During the class discussion, however, he made a few comments. His mellow baritone voice, plus intelligent, articulate, and scripturally savvy remarks piqued my curiosity. After class, I introduced myself. His name was Ron. I liked him. He seemed trustworthy. Soon, we became friends.
Our friendship blossomed. I fixed Ron dinners. He helped me with heavy household chores. We both enjoyed strong, black coffee and spent hours chatting over steaming cups. I learned he’d received a solid parochial education, including four years in preparatory seminary. Teenage rebellion and religious disillusionment led him to Southern California where he spent several years trying to fit into the 70’s lifestyle of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
Ron recounted how some Jesus freak confronted him at every turn until one day he decided to commit his life to a personal relationship with Christ. Knowing he must leave unhealthy California influences, he returned to his loving parents’ home. Ron felt lonely and isolated as he commenced this new phase of his journey. When his mom showed him a newspaper advertisement for a Christian singles’ group, he decided to check it out.
During our visits, Ron revealed he was ready to settle down and get married. I never encouraged our relationship beyond friendship, and he never pushed. In fact, I prayed about and kept my eyes open for a wife for him. No one ever seemed good enough.
Following my commuting epiphany, I called Ron to see if he wanted to accompany me to the symphony. Attending was an assignment for the Humanities class I was taking. I had a good secretarial job, but the dream of completing my degree, coupled with a love for learning, beckoned me to take college courses whenever possible.
I offered to buy Ron’s symphony ticket. He suggested we go to a nice restaurant for dinner first. During the performance, I allowed my shoulder to touch his. When he came in for coffee that night, I sat next to him on the sofa instead of in the usual chair on the other side of my living room. After more than two years of friendship, he kissed me.
Four months later we exchanged vows in a sweet church ceremony with 150 friends and family supporting our decision. The wedding vows I wrote began,
Ron, I believe God, who is the creator of beautiful new beginnings,
has brought you into my life and into Angie’s life.
Today, as we begin our journey of lifelong oneness,
I pledge to you my love and devotion.
I will always be your faithful wife, a trusted confidant,
and will support and help you in every endeavor.
I could end this blog with the words, “And they all lived happily ever after,” but that wouldn’t be true! Both Ron and I carried baggage into our union. I brought a wounded heart, a 7-year-old daughter who’d been the center of my universe, and she brought her neurotic toy poodle! Ron brought expectations and misconceptions. That first year was tough. We kept drinking a lot of late-night coffee, but our conversations weren’t as amiable as they’d once been. We’re convinced we made it because of our strong foundation of friendship and mutual commitment to faith and the institution of marriage.
Twenty-five years later we repeated our vows. I spoke those same words, but with depth of meaning and the assurance I’d been faithful to my promises.
I hope we’re privileged to revisit (and that I can still remember) those same vows on our 50th anniversary!
Ron and I celebrated 35 years of marriage with a trip to Hawaii. How happy I am the tides of time cannot wash away committed love! The prophet, Jeremiah, discussed the hope of God’s restoration for the nation of Israel during a bleak period of their history. Even though I’m a woman, and not a nation, I feel certain these same words apply to me—and, also to you, my reader friend.
I have loved you with an everlasting love…With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself…I will rebuild you….You will be happy again. Jeremiah 31:3 & 4a
Listening on Your Journey:
- To what prayer of yours has God said, “No?” How did that answer change the trajectory of your life?
- What new beginning(s) have you experienced, and how did your life change (for better or worse) as a result?