Steve was smoking marijuana and I was drinking in bars on the weekends without him. You can imagine the conflict that caused in our marriage.
But it got worse. I stopped drinking when I found out that I was pregnant, but Steve kept smoking pot. One night I threatened to leave; I knew that Steve’s addiction was a big problem, especially with a baby on the way.
Steve cried and begged me to stay. And I agreed. But our marriage was in trouble and we didn’t know how to fix it.
I wanted peace and eternal security
Shortly after I had threatened to leave Steve, he stopped smoking pot. This helped our marriage some, but it wasn’t the real fix we needed.
When I was about seven months pregnant, I was cleaning the house and found a business card that Pastor Jim Reams had given Steve and me when he married us. Jim had lovingly tried to share biblical truth with us before we got married, but we were not interested. We thought Christians were boring.
But now I was looking for peace in the face of a chaotic world, and boring would have been a welcome change. So I called Pastor Reams and told him that I had some spiritual questions. He said, “Robin, you don’t know how long I’ve been waiting for this call,” and came to the house later that day.
At first he just listened as I told him about my upbringing and thoughts about life. Then he asked some hard questions and introduced me to Jesus and His love, mercy, and grace. He said that I could only find true peace and security through Jesus.
The web of lies that had been my security had started to untangle. It took some time, but after multiple visits and endless phone calls, most of my questions were finally answered. I remember kneeling … crying my eyes out … thanking the Lord for allowing me to see the truth.
I had known that Jesus died on the cross for sinners but I sure hadn’t understood that He died for me. Jim explained why Christ had to die and why He rose again. It just made sense. I realized Jesus was what I had always been looking for.
Choosing Christ changed my life very quickly. I had no taste for the television shows and movies that Steve and I had watched together. I stopped saying vulgar words and began attending the church where Jim was the pastor.
As my life changed dramatically, my husband and I began experiencing some real struggles. We argued over everything from toys and language to friends and finances. If we were in the car and he was listening to ungodly music, I would hit the button and turn it off. That would upset him. He complained that we had nothing in common anymore.
Steve accused me of being a “Bible thumper” and added some other not so nice adjectives. It seemed the more I tried to convince him to believe what I believed, the farther it pushed him from the truth.
Divorce was not an option
About three years after I become a Christian, I heard about a marriage getaway called Weekend to Remember®. I asked Steve if he would go with me and got the answer I expected: “No.”
The next year I heard a radio advertisement for a Weekend to Remember and again asked Steve about going to it. He said he didn’t need anyone to tell him what was wrong with our marriage or how to fix us.
Steve is not a violent man, but we got into a couple of arguments over my faith where he came to the point of punching walls. One day, as frustration was mounting during an argument Steve said, “Your religion is going to make you leave me.”
I told him that wasn’t true and that I was committed to our marriage and family. I promised that divorce was not an option for me.
Some women were praying for me at that time, and one of them introduced me to Stormie Omartian’s book The Power of a Praying Wife. Reading it caused me to realize that trying to force Scripture on Steve wasn’t working and that it really wasn’t a good witness.
I learned to live out my faith and convictions and didn’t press Steve any more about spiritual things. I left that up to the Lord, even though it was hard for me to do.
Several months after I stopped trying to convince Steve to believe like I did, he began watching our three children in the church nursery. There is a loudspeaker in the nursery. Steve couldn’t help but hear the hymns and bits and pieces of Pastor Reams’s messages.
Steve had been helping in the nursery for about a year when the Weekend to Remember came back to town. Once again I asked him if he would go. Once again he said, “No.” But when Pastor Reams and his wife offered to pay for us to attend, Steve agreed to go. That’s because money had been the only excuse he had left for not going.
Steve seemed tense as he walked into the hotel ballroom for the first session of the marriage getaway. He looked like someone who thought that Christians would take him to the back room and beat him with the Bible until he found God!
As the evening progressed he began to relax, but I became strangely afraid. Afraid that Steve would hate the conference and that nothing would change. Afraid that he would completely reject the truth of Scripture. Afraid that he would throw in the towel and be done with our marriage.
On the first night of the conference, the speaker talked about how husbands and wives often build an imaginary wall between themselves. Steve and I were both very independent, and we recognized that we had each been putting wedges in the middle of our relationship. We were both surprised by how much we were learning.
During the session for the men on Sunday, the speaker told a story about an elderly gentleman in Chicago who had humbled himself and washed the feet of everyone in his family. That story really hit home for Steve and caused him to realize that everything he had done in his life had been out of selfishness and pride.
He finally let go of the belief that God was just a higher power and he could go to heaven if he was mostly good and never committed any horrible crimes. In a crowded ballroom, my husband accepted God’s perfect gift of love for every sinner, Jesus (John 3:16-18).
He told me later, “Suddenly all of the arguments that I had had about timelines and evolution and the person of Jesus didn’t make sense any more. The only thing that made sense was there is a Creator. There is a Savior, and I was an idiot for more than 30 years [not to believe in Jesus].”
Marriage with Christ at its center
When we got home Steve and I scooped up our little ones and he told our 5-year-old son that Daddy had accepted Jesus as his Savior. We began going to church services together, sitting in the same pew.
For the past two years we have facilitated our own HomeBuilders group. Sometimes when I watch Steve lead it I think, Here is a man who years ago wanted nothing to do with the Bible.
For our tenth anniversary, we renewed our marriage vows and Pastor Reams married us for a second time. But this time Steve and I wrote our vows, making Christ the focus of our lives and marriage.
Jesus’ perfect love has changed our lives together and bound our hearts and home. After 16 years of marriage, we are stronger and more in love than ever.
Copyright ©2010 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.