My ministry trip continued in Florida, traversing the Panhandle and landing in my aunt’s retirement apartment in Pensacola—a typical senior citizen setting—overlooking a pond maintaining a resident alligator. We investigated the city, ogled the beaches, and tested the restaurants, her for the millionth time, mine being the first. Her apartment, located a few blocks from famed Brownsville (a church known for its constant state of revival), made it easy for me to attend some of their meetings. I coveted revival. I wanted to grab it and run with it, whatever it was.
The first day my aunt dropped me at the church about 11:00 a.m. to stand in line, which I discovered was too late because the line weaving between me and the front door filled the main auditorium. The masses of people, staking their claim ahead of me, were already lounging in their lawn chairs, reading newspapers, making new friends, talking to each other about their experiences with God and what was happening in Brownsville. One miraculous story followed another. A sort of “Let’s see if you can top this one,” happening. We clumped up, whiling away the time, holding each other’s place in line for bathroom breaks, or food runs.
My aunt returned that evening to join me. Only by a divine act of God was I seated in the main auditorium. Having arrived so late in the morning, and therefore destined for the overflow room, I shuffled longingly past the closed door to the main auditorium, when they opened the building and took us like school children filing to our seats. An usher came to the door as they efficiently shuttled me through the lobby and said he had two available seats. I shouted, “I’ll take them” before anybody else could pipe up! The seats were in the last row right by the back door, so when my aunt entered, there I was. Unfortunately, that back door seemed to beckon to her throughout the service, also the restroom absorbed her attention. The minute the preaching ended she wanted to leave.
The second day, determined to enjoy the anointing I saw on others the night before, I arrived with my own car at 9:00 a.m. to stand in line and managed to be seated in the balcony. Since my aunt stayed home, I was free to stay all night! Friends had told me about a river of love that flows down the aisles and is like a pond in front of the stage. As I watched from my seat on high, assorted people spontaneously came out of their seats, tumbled into the aisle, splashed to the front, and fell on their faces in the invisible body of water. I envied them. Though from the balcony, had I gone down, it would have been an act of my will to join them, not a drawing by the Holy Spirit. But when they called for people wanting prayer, along with hundreds of others, I stepped into the aisle.
The sensation of water swirling about my ankles mounted as I descended the stairs. It enveloped me on the main floor, and the river swept me to the front. The unyielding control evidenced before the service vanished as we thronged before the stage, pressing shoulders, surging towards the anointing like schools of hungry carp jumping over each other to get to the food. Some hands reached into the crowd and grabbed my head for a brief second; I floated back into the pond and landed on the steps to the stage. The ebb and flow of humanity closed over me, and I sank into the depths. The minute I sat I heard the words, “Go home and divorce John.”
My eyes blinked open. My natural being rebelled as if a drop of black food coloring had been plunked into the water. No. This couldn’t be God! God would never advocate divorce! Here I was in the middle of the greatest revival in the States, and I was hearing from the devil! I wanted out of that pond!
But I couldn’t get up. I could not lift myself from those steps. The pool of love weighted me down, consoling me, and I rolled to my side to sob and sob in a curled-up ball. I never wanted to be a divorced woman. I never wanted to give up on my marriage. Couldn’t I just go to France and leave him home?
Legs surrounded me, standing, stepping over my body, and I couldn’t get out of their way. The Lord held me in His arms until I could accept His message. Finally, I managed to crawl up to the stage, and I sat looking on as others fell into the pond of love. I wondered what their love message had been. Had I heard from a loving God?
Fortunately, my aunt had not waited up for me. My tear-streaked face would have belied my “good time.” By next morning I could feign having enjoyed myself. No one knew what the Lord said because I didn’t tell a living soul. Sometimes what the Lord says is so precious I don’t want to share it. This time His message was too terrifying to share.
Returning to Texas, I left right away on a month’s ministry trip to France. I thought if the Lord kept me on the road like this, I could continue to live with John. What could it hurt? Once again, I stayed with Charles and Barbara. They put me in a little cubbyhole of a room, just me and my laptop cozied up together. I started writing again, briefly, but it felt like a hint of things to come. It seemed the southwest of France inspired me. I wrote stories, which I then presented as dramatic readings, and even with having to use a translator, the stories had an impact. Someone said, “Marty gives us the gold of the Bible in her dramas.” I returned to the States definitely encouraged.
Home again, my son visited for three weeks. He and I have the same birthday and in so many ways our lives parallel, our personalities blend, and he comforted me just with his presence. Jeff brought his laptop from work; I joined him with mine in the living room, and we sat and wrote together for hours, sometimes all night. He wrote law books, having published one at this point, already working on two others, and I wrote my short stories because I was back on radio in Federal, Florida, the station having found new capital, and they wanted me to broadcast five days a week.
Jeff had come home to spend some final time with his family as a single man, and we spent it tranquilly enough, not bothering to speak of the future. I think I knew his wedding would be a beginning and an ending. Some things, like death, are better not spoken of until they happen.
After Jeff left, I moved into the spare bedroom; I’d been sleeping there before his arrival, so it wasn’t that big of a change. I groused about, sleeping in a single bed while John luxuriated in the King size and griped that he had a bathroom adjoining his bedroom while I had to traipse down the hall. However, the truth was I enjoyed being tucked into that small space; it measured how I felt about myself. I hoped a pearl would grow inside that small clam. I also opened my own checking account. These two acts of independence may have been baby steps compared to the big D, the giant step of divorce, but they made me feel like I was my own person.
In the process of taking these baby steps I attended an anointed meeting in town. These meetings occurred regularly in a small church in Jenks. Everyone I knew, when they needed something special from God, would visit this little church, forsaking their own for a meeting or two, because the pastor really heard from the Lord. I don’t know what I expected to receive, I just felt drawn to attend one Friday night.
Feeling as blue as I have ever felt, I sneaked in the back door and sat on the back row hoping to hide in my grief. There were ten empty rows in front of me, but the pastor came back, leaned on the end chair two rows in front of me and talked directly to me for the majority of the meeting. Horrified, at first, because all eyes were on me, I made myself relax and listen to his words. They went something like this: “You are a precisely cut jewel to God. There is no one exactly like you, and He made you for His singular pleasure. You can never be replaced. In God’s Kingdom you are unique. He places all His love on you. Who you are and the life you live please Him immeasurably. He made you for Himself; He made you for His pleasure. . . .
I soaked up those words like hot toast soaks warm butter, and suddenly, I had clarity. I love my husband. I always have. He is the one I chose to love in this life. Granted, I was gypped on the receiving end, but that does not alter the fact that I love John. It was John who chose not to love me. I had nothing to do with his decision-making process. It wasn’t even me he rejected. I just represented what he hated: women.
It was John who chose to continue in sin, not me. Not that I don’t sin. I do. I guess the difference is in confession and forgiveness. If there is a will to sin, then there is no will to confess and ask for forgiveness. I had never been able to change John’s will to sin, only he could have changed that. Nor had I been able to convince him to confess his sin and ask for forgiveness. But I could do something about my broken heart because I am loved. God’s love for me is immeasurable and unconditional, and He seemed to be pursuing me like a suitor.
When wounded thoughts come to me, I am determined, by my will, to assert my authority over those thoughts and say no. I can refuse to think those thoughts: I resolved to replace them with others, like being a precisely cut jewel to God! Totally unconscious of perverting the message and heading in a direction not at all indicated by the sermon, I set myself to take authority over John because according to the Bible, John belonged to me, and I have power over him.
Heady with authority, and forgetting my likeness to a jewel, I wrote out a daily confession. “My husband is a man of God, totally surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He is free from bondage, a natural man who passionately loves God, his family, his work, and he loves and serves the Lord with all his spirit, soul, and body.” I spoke this out daily, chastising myself for not having done it before. Of course, I didn’t say these words in front of John because I didn’t want to risk running up against his wrath, but I did say them. The Bible says to call those things that are not as though they were. God will not go against John’s will, but if I believed God to change John, the pressure on the man would be tremendous!
Even with my positive attitude and positive thoughts, John might still choose to remain the same, but I determined I would not remain the same. It really wasn’t John who was the problem in my life. It was me. The truth was, I had hated myself for being married to a homosexual. Like any woman, I wanted love, romance, intimacy, companionship, and instead I received isolation, loneliness, separation from family and society, mocking, disdain. And I accepted it kind of like finding a park bench after a long dusty walk, heading for it, anticipating some rest and discovering it is covered with duck poop. However, you find a clean little corner and sit anyway.
Being married to a homosexual has to be the loneliest place in the world. There really is no corner to sit on. I couldn’t share my joys with him because he would put them down. I couldn’t share my sorrows with him, for he wouldn’t hear. He was locked up in his own little world and didn’t really care for me. Talk about navel picking! His mind jogged back and forth, “Am I gay, or am I straight? Am I gay, or am I straight?” He was so obsessed with the question that he didn’t have time to care for me.
I wanted to take him and knock him up against a wall. “John! Answer the question! Just answer the dumb question! Be done with this!” Instead, I had tolerated my situation like the proverbial frog that sits in the water in the pot getting warmer and warmer until he can no longer escape, and he’s cooked! I have hated myself for putting up with it.
I noticed that a certain longing emanated from me toward John, and it had never been fulfilled. It was like a force field originating in my gut, hunting after John and not finding any place on him to connect. I determined to redirect that longing and hook it onto Jesus. Once I did that, and the connection was made, for a while I no longer hungered after John. I hungered and thirsted after Jesus; enjoying a relationship with Him like I always wanted to have with John. Truthfully, I can thank God for the problems I have known because they have thrown me into His arms.
“Unrequited love’s a bore,” or so the old song says. While hunting for more baby steps, I was enjoying my own room and my own checking account. Should John ever become a husband to me, transforming himself into a tender caretaker, a consistent lover, a doting companion, a partner really, then that can change. But I’ve learned that God is enough. The constancy of the Holy Spirit comforts me. His companionship never fails. He is a jealous lover. His plans for me are full of hope, and the time I spend in His Presence is full of joy! My Maker is my husband. And so I continued in my marriage, the words spoken to me sitting on the Brownsville steps to the stage seemed such a vague, distant memory I could barely recall them.