NOTE: This was originally written for a friend’s blog series: Love Stories Only God Could Have Written. Her blog has been taken down for now and I didn’t want to lose this memory of how God grabbed hold of my parents. And what I learned about love and independence as a result.
It was the eve of Independence, 1972, and she was finally clenching freedom in her hands.
Fresh out of high school, her long, amber hair glistened under the neon lights. Her captivating laugh turned heads, especially his, making bowling the last thing on his mind.
Fireworks were not seen, and strikes were not rolling his way as she declined his offer to meet again. More than once. Time has altered the memory of what persuaded her otherwise, but I’ve seen the Holy Spirit work in ways this large before.
Somehow this audacious, accomplished track star managed to lead her down the lane of love. And on April 27th, 1974, they pledged their independence to each other.
Yet who could have seen what lied ahead. On the outside, two kids, a dog, and a budding new business with a womb to match — it all looked like the American dream. It was his dream for certain. Minus the bottle that altered his vision and the ego that refused to lay dormant.
I was nearing four when whispers of divorce started filtering through my wallpapered walls. My finger would trace hearts around its tiny flowers and I would wonder how something like love could ever wilt.
Dying leaves crunched under foot as she made her way to the side door. The cooling breeze caught her breath and she almost turned back with it. In a way only He knows how, God managed to escort her down the asbestos-tiled maze to the ladies’ luncheon where His love awaited.
You see, there’s no telling what can happen when women captivated by Christ gather ’round. This auburn beauty with love in her womb saw what she’d been missing all along.
It’s hard to share the same bed when virtues collide. Even harder when a bottle lay active in-between. And though it pained her to admit, the option of separation still seemed the best solution. Because when love takes the shape of human form, it lays its life down to set another free. And when three lives are compared to one, you always choose the children.
Still, there’s no telling what can happen when a child grabs hold of faith and makes a plea to The One who bids her to come.
Snow began to concede as brown gave way to green. Rain began to nurture the barren earth as God began to fill her scarred and weary heart. And while away on a last-resort retreat, she grabbed hold of His waiting hand. His grip has never severed.
I traced the wallpaper again as she told me Whom she’d found while away. This Man who loved so deep and so wide. She had given her independence away again. This time for keeps as she handed her soul to her Savior. Because the love He offered made sense. And His grace allowed her to accept it.
One would think having a nature that never gives up would be a good thing. But when that drive steers with a bottle in hand, it becomes another thing entirely. I was young, but smart enough to know it would take the kind of miracle my Sunday School teacher talked about to change my father.
And that’s what I got. I knew it the instant I saw my daddy’s eyes.
The fog cleared and a sparkle bounced about as he told my brother and I what he had done. It was the first time we had ever heard of him submitting to anything let alone anyOne.
It was then I realized freedom is always traded for something else. And I knew I wanted to exchange it in for eternity, too.
Apologies followed, but the bottle never did. Divorce papers were never signed. Three decades of trials ensued, and my parents still walk hand in hand.
I was four when I discovered love only wilts if you don’t set it free. Love blossoms when you choose to lay your own life down. And if you daily quench it with the Living Well, it never runs dry. For it’s in His love that freedom runs rampant. Hearts are mended. Ever after becomes a reality.
How about you, friend? I’d love to hear your thoughts on love, independence…freedom. Feel free to share in the comments below!
Thanks for sharing your time with me.