The year was 1975. I had just completed doctoral studies at Southwestern Seminary a mere four years before and I was the second youngest ever to complete that work. I was slated to return to the Seminary as an adjunct professor that fall with a view toward full faculty status in September. I was on the staff of the second largest church (at that time) in the city of Dallas, and everything was well…except for my marriage. Neither my original wife nor I knew anything about how to be married…much less married well. I’ve told that story in parts before, but it’s more about the things we had talked ourselves into believing…like the futility of it all…that we’d made a bad choice…that we each deliberately looked for ways to make life miserable. The marriage ended in a crash.
Suddenly I was without a home or house or job or career and no place to go. I was summarily dismissed from the church staff – “we don’t permit divorced people on our staff.” The seminary’s response to the request to honor their commitment for me to teach was suddenly withdrawn -“what teaching job are you talking about.” It suddenly got a lot easier to count my friends. I was like a leper.
Then came the years that the locusts ate – 14 of them. I slept in my car some nights and bummed a night’s sleep here and there with some of the few friends who had not abandoned me altogether. I had no idea how to look for work, but I was determined to stay in Dallas to be close to our boys.
I met with T. B. Maston, dean of Christian ethicists among Baptists and asked him what I was to do. He told me a story about young couples in his church in Fort Worth who also went through divorce. Their lives were not strongly about Kingdom business. Then at some point one or the other of the couples married again and suddenly God began blessing their ministries and faith and commitment. He encouraged me to get as close to God as I could and watch what He would do. Gave me some hope.
Roger Crook in an old out of print book entitled An Open Letter to the Christian Divorcee said this memorable line that I have held onto over the years.
“Who knows, in spite of past failures, that the pursuit of God’s ideal of
one man and one woman together forever may still be open to you.”
I gravitated to selling motor club memberships to farmers, working for an industrial chemical company that I ultimately purchased, being a serial entrepreneur, managing an oilfield exploration company that was being poorly run, joining a healthcare real estate development company as a partner, and ultimately into the world of competitive telecommunications. None of them made my heart sing and some of them didn’t even pay for lunch.
Along the way a Methodist Church asked me to work with their UMYF youth organization for 90 days while they sought a permanent solution. That 90 days turned into three years. Then a Baptist church asked me to do an interim assignment only to have some of my original wife’s old friends come to tell untruths about things that happened 10 years prior and then that job opportunity evaporated. The locusts just kept on coming.
But, then one day God gave me Barbara Henry whom you know as The Gorgeous Redhead and the journey to recovery, healing the broken parts and aligning our lives with our passions to help families began. It will be 30 years in April since we began this pilgrimage together and I’m more in love with her and with the Lord than I’ve ever been. You’ve heard me say that I hate how I got here, but I would not trade for where we are today…for anything. We have spent these 30 years learning how to get it right and are passionate about sharing what we’ve learned with others.
No matter where you are today…you, too, can Get It Right.
Hang on and trust the Lord…get closer to him everyday. It works. I promise.
Week 2 – Broken Homes/Broken Marriages Can Be Restored – Don’t Give Up Hope