Wanting my husband to help shoulder these problems, I told him about the measles shot and its ramifications. He reacted by saying, “Let it drop. These things don’t really hurt anybody.”
I thought, “It hurt you enough to drive you into homosexuality. What will it do to my daughter?” But I didn’t say anything for fear of an eruption. His perversion had become forbidden territory to investigate.
As time passed my daughter’s rage and my confusion ruled our relationship. What could I do to clean up this mess? I went to my prayer group for help, asking them to pray for my daughter without divulging the exact nature of the problem; my friends were also learning about spiritual things like I was. One by one they came to me and said we needed to pray for her in her room.
Since my daughter hated being at home, it was easy to arrange for her to be out of the house on a certain Saturday night so that all of us who prayed together could gather in her room. We prayed at length and melded into a huddle kneeling by her bed, our heads practically touching in the middle. The women of that group did not piece together what they were saying by the Spirit of God, but I knew and my heart broke.
One friend said, “The watchman was not standing on the wall. There was no watchman to prevent the enemy from coming in.”
We prayed a little longer and I heard another woman quietly say in the din of prayers being spoken, “Sin opened the door, sin opened the door, oh, Father, forgive the sin, forgive the sin.”
Another whispered, “The demons have a right to be here because of the sin.”
Then a stirring in the Spirit lifted everyone to their feet and they rebuked the devil vigorously until someone started praying about the key. “What is the key, Lord, give us the key.”
Being understood that my husband, as head of the household, held the key, they insisted that he rebuke the devil on her behalf. He prayed and repeated the words they told him to say. “I rebuke you, devil, get your hands off my daughter. You cannot touch her ever again. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.”
My prayer partners felt quite pleased with the prayer time, counting it accomplished and remarking that our daughter would have no more trouble with disturbing issues in her life, almost patting each other on the back. I, unconvinced, still tuned to the spiritual realm, heard a sinister laugh.
I couldn’t see any fruit to our prayer. Time passed, cold, isolated time. My daughter hating me. My husband ignoring me. By this time my son lived nearby, attending the University, dropping by occasionally with his friends as he lived in the dorm. The next time he came by I told him about James.
“Mom!” he sounded disgusted. “Do you really believe that? My sister is a dramatic teenager. The doctor gave her the shot, didn’t he?”
“Yes, but that’s not the point. This happened in her past, not now.”
“Well, I don’t believe it. I’ve stayed at James’ house. He’s my friend. He wouldn’t do anything like that.”
“No!” I remonstrated. “Don’t you let your sister hear you talk like that! She needs your support!”
My son looked at me, mulling it over. “I’m not going to say anything to her. Until she says something to me, it’s as if I didn’t know, because I don’t believe it.”
It’s strange how life can just continue when order has been completely turned upside down. The orderly life I had always carefully created had been a house of cards. One little blow and it came tumbling down, but everything kept going as if nothing had happened. My husband and I never talked about it again, and my daughter wouldn’t tolerate the slightest indication that the subject was coming up. Of course, I didn’t tell my friends. I didn’t want to embarrass my daughter.
Our friends thought her to be the most admirable of teenagers, which she was even if she couldn’t see it. They admired her and tried to fix her up with the good-looking boys in school, which she tactfully avoided. We had lots of friends, we always have had, but they existed at arm’s length. I figured they just didn’t know what to do with us. It was interesting to watch people observe our marriage. I rushed to embrace friends; my husband hung back. After a while they began asking questions as they sensed something was wrong, but, like a carnival game, they couldn’t quite toss the ring around the bottleneck. Usually, I assumed, they decided it was my fault and I watched them remove themselves. My friends ended up being single women. That’s who mainly came to our church.
On Friday nights, we held what we called the “Marion Street Church” in our home. Our living room mounted two stories to the ceiling with a staircase leading to a loft over the foyer where the children could play. Anywhere from five to twenty-five people came, and one of us practiced our preaching. The rest of us practiced critiquing. One day a couple who attended the Friday nights, and who usually led praise and worship, saw my husband and me under an umbrella, hurrying to our car in a driving rain. They drove by, rolled down the window and the husband yelled, “That’s the closest we’ve ever seen you two together. Don’t you ever even hold hands?” My husband gave our friends a wry look and they drove on.
No, we never held hands. If I took his hand, he tolerated it for several seconds. Then he let it drop like slime. The same occurred when I took his arm. No hugging happened in our lives, except between my children and me. No kissing, no touching of the feet in bed; he literally hugged the edge of the bed to get away from my feet. In looking back, I can see that my husband made love to me out of curiosity. He approached it with clinical precision. Perhaps he could be a heterosexual. That seemed to be his stimulus. Was he, or wasn’t he? That was the unanswered question of his life. But after the lovemaking, he recoiled from me, and it would be a while before he’d try it again.
Periodically, I would make major efforts toward affection, but I never saw evidence of any interest for me from my husband. I took all the blame. It had to be something I was doing wrong. One time I determined I would tell him daily that I loved him. Driving several hours away, two of my friends and I attended a conference. That evening, during the Praise and Worship, it occurred to me I had not told my husband that day that I loved him. I had called him to say we had arrived safely, but I had neglected to say I love you, so I excused myself and went out to find a pay phone.
“Hello?” he answered.
“Hi, sweetheart, I only have a minute because the meeting has started, but I wanted you to know today that I love you. I forgot to say it when I called you earlier, the meeting will probably end too late to call you later, and I didn’t want you to go to bed tonight without knowing that I do love you.”
“Why are you wasting my money on something like this? I wouldn’t have lost any sleep.” The line went dead.
Back in my seat, my friends leaned over to ask where I’d been.
“I called my husband to tell him I love him. He shouldn’t go a day in his life without hearing that.” I smiled, suppressing my yearning to hear the same thing.
One friend said, “You guys are the greatest couple!”
The other one said, “And you are a good wife.”
Mustering up grim determination, I called him each of the remaining two days of the conference, giving him the same message, and I received much the same reaction. At least he said, “That’s nice,” in one of the calls.
The prominent teacher in our school said on a couple of occasions, “If there is a critical spirit in your marriage, don’t even try to go into the ministry. Just get a nice job and do your best to live in peace.” Of all the thousands of impacting words I heard from this man these are the ones that stuck in my brain.
My husband had a tongue that could strip wallpaper. He lashed everything and everyone, thinking himself to be a clever whip. People encouraged him by laughing uproariously at his remarks. No instructor, no administrator went unscathed. But our daughter received the greatest blows.
She couldn’t see that he demeaned her. On the contrary, she considered their parlay like a sword fight and defended herself. She could top him intellectually, and she enjoyed that, but he won every contest with a final low blow, cutting her self-esteem. Yet my daughter never saw it. In fact, both kids defended him against me, thinking him far more sophisticated and me the spiritual hick. That’s what got them to France. They trusted his sophistication sufficiently to accompany us in our move there, and for that I was grateful. I didn’t care what got them to France just as long as they came.
The summer we were to move overseas, I packed our belongings in three groupings: things we would take with us, short-term storage until we found a place to live and could have it delivered, and long-term storage—family treasures we did not want to take. All the boxes to be shipped were meticulously marked in French. Everything was organized and ready to go.
Arriving two weeks before our awaited departure, however, we received notice from the French Embassy that our visa had been denied. The young officer conducting our interview wrote us up as being in a cult. The longest we could stay in the country was three months. That wouldn’t deter us, we would simply leave every three months and then come back, but it meant all the boxes had to be remarked, and some had to be repacked.
That same evening, after dinner, my daughter took me by the hand and led me to the sofa and sat me down. Flattered beyond belief, I wondered what was coming next, until she said, “Mom, I’m pregnant.”
Confusion like cotton balls wadded up my mind. “You’re what?”
“I’m pregnant.” The cotton turned to lead and wadded up in my stomach.
“By whom?” As far as I knew she didn’t have a steady boyfriend.
“Jared!” I could barely breath his name. He was the fringe group I had moved her out of the public school to avoid.
“I forbade you to see him anymore!” My voice squeaked with rage and pain.
“Well, that hardly matters now.”
“His father abandoned them; his mother is an avowed lesbian, and he is just a mixed-up kid.” I was aghast!
My husband peered around the corner. “What’s going on?”
My daughter smiled at him, looking like she thought she would get his support, “I’m pregnant.”
His mouth dropped open and then he snorted. “Why not? You’ve never done anything else right in your life. That’s all you’re good for anyway.” He ambled down the hall toward the bedroom. My daughter didn’t even flinch.
“Hey,” I shouted. “Get back here and deal with this!”
“You take care of it,” he muttered over his shoulder.
My daughter watched him retreat down the hall until I asked, “Where’s Jared right now?”
She looked back at me eagerly. “He’s at home waiting to hear how you take the news.”
“Could the three of us talk about it together?” I tried carefully to remain calm.
“Sure!” My daughter grabbed the car keys and went to get him.
After she left I sobbed, wounded beyond belief, crying out to the Lord, “My child! My baby! My own precious daughter! How could this have happened? What shall we do?”
Cascades of clarity wafted over me. My prayer group had been right; my husband held the key. This is what came of no watchman on the wall, no guardian of the family. When the head of the house is in sin, the door is wide open for other sin to walk in. I had hovered over our son to assure he would not be put in harm’s way of homosexuality. But our daughter had been unprotected. Not only assaulted by James, the mirror she saw in her father’s eyes reflected disgust and sneering at her being female. How stupid I had been! What could I do to help her now?
I felt low and lonely. How could Satan have had the capacity to deliver such a ferocious blow? The Lord gave me a Scripture that I clung to for months like a drowning woman grasping a piece of driftwood. Isaiah 61:7, “Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore, in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs.”
Everything would be okay in France.