Saturday, May 16, 2009

Unlikely Angel

I believe in angels.

Not to belabor the issue, but. . .

We have neighbors on our street who have a daughter with Down's Syndrome. She is just a year older than Lyndsay and all of my children have taken a special interest in befriending her. The mom and I would chat from time to time, just day-to-day stuff, nothing of much substance. She is a devout Christian woman, with a devoted husband who works so hard. I always see him working! Besides his 'regular' job, they decided, now that they only have one child at home, that it was time to do some remodeling on their home, but to avoid the high costs of hiring it out, the husband is doing all of the work in his spare time. We watched him repair the entire roof by himself, over many, many days. We watched him replace windows, remove old paint, replace lighting structures, on and on in their ongoing remodel. I always admired his hard work, even though he's not a young man any more. And one day I commented on that to my neighbor.

Yes, she readily admitted, he is a hard worker. She told me all kinds of wonderful things about him. I learned that theirs is a second marriage for each of them. They each brought children, 6 in total, to this new second marriage, and then they had the youngest child, their sweet Down's Syndrome daughter, together, for a family of 7 children. (In a very small house, I might add!) I had no idea! A second marriage like me! With stepkids like me!

And then she told me how they almost got divorced.

Seeing what I now see between them, I was floored! She shared with me how difficult it was to bring the two families together, how he disagreed with the way that she was disciplining her children, and how she thought he should raise his children differently. She related how one of the teens veered off the path and had a drug problem and how it rocked the entire family. Then their baby was born with special needs, and all of the stress compounded, and the seams just burst. She shared with me all kinds of things that I never would have imagined happening between the two of them, but that I could completely relate to. He was adamant that it was over. He wanted a divorce. She begged him to reconsider. He would hear none of it. He moved out, and tried to get her to sign divorce papers, but she refused. For years. They were separated for three or four years. He would visit their daughter, and have her over to spend the night occasionally. Their lives had really become completely separate.

Finally, one day she decided to stop fighting, she said, and to turn the whole mess over to God. Try as she might, she was not able to change her husband's mind about leaving. She made the decision to place her marriage at the feet of the Savior and if it was meant to end, then she would submit to God's will. No sooner had she said that prayer, her estranged husband knocked on the door.

"Okay", she said, "I'll sign the papers. I won't fight you anymore. If you want to be free, you are free."

But he had decided, after years (!) that he didn't want to be 'free'. He didn't want to lose her, lose their family. He wanted a second chance.

All of a sudden, she said. It was a miracle. And she attributes it completely to learning the lesson that when we turn our lives over to God, he can make much more of them than we can. He can heal what we cannot.

They began to date again, and for several months he courted her, and they were able to lay the foundation for rebuilding trust between them. After a time, he moved back home. They've been together for about twelve years since that time, and they are the sweetest, happiest couple! To know that they had to endure that kind of trial, to hit that rock bottom, to hurt and to suffer like that, well, it boggled my mind.

And it gave me strength.

I needed to hear that story at that particular time, when my heart was crying out with questions. God knew it too. So, he sent an angel to tell me, to lift me up, and give me something to focus on besides the near-sighted mess that I was hanging my personal worth on. And here she was, just a neighbor, with whom I'd never before had a real conversation.

But really, an angel.

And I am deeply grateful that she took the risk.


Annette Lyon said...

I think that's a story many of us needed to hear. Thanks for sharing it.

Hannah said...

What an amazing story! Man, Jenna! God must love you so very much to place such special people around you to lift you up at just the right times. I love you.

amy turn sharp said...

yr blog is really so real and inspiring baby. love it. I loved this as it put me in the right state of mind today. ox

Abby said...

This is an amazing story, Jenna! It's like..what are the odds, ya know?? Wow!

Luisa Perkins said...

God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform. Thank you for sharing this, my brave girl.

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Oh beautiful. How the right words from the right heart at the right moment can give such hope . . .

Wonder Woman said...

That's amazing. Her story, her telling you.