Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. NASU
I plopped down in my aisle seat wondering why I was already exhausted. This was only the first leg of the trip. How was I going to make it four days? The young man next to me was talking on his cell phone and I noticed a child on the screen saver. As the plane taxied, I fell asleep and slept most of the way to Atlanta. We hit a bumpy patch of air and I was jolted awake wondering why I’d changed my mind and decided to fly to San Antonio, Texas instead of driving. It was then I really noticed the young man sitting next to me. He was sitting with his shoulders stooped, gazing thoughtfully out the window.
“Was that a picture of your son I saw on your cell phone?” I asked. He beamed his affirmation. “How old is he?”
“I have a 2 year old grandson,” I said. “It is a wonderful age. Are you from Jacksonville?” It was getting close to the end of the trip and I wondered if he was disappointed I hadn’t maintained silence for the duration.
“Yes,” he answered. “How about you?”
Aha, I thought excitedly. He’s willing to talk. When people want no conversation, they answer with short answers and never never never ask questions back. Very soon, I’d found out that he was a computer consultant headed to a client’s site. His wife was a schoolteacher and loved her job. They’d been married 10 years and were active in a Christian church. “So you’re living the American dream,” I smiled.
He flushed and looked down. “Not exactly,” he said.
I felt it – that powerful moving of the Holy Spirit. I knew why God had led me to fly and not drive. I whispered a prayer and quietly asked, “What would it take to be living that dream?”
“I guess it would take a better marriage,” he said ashamedly.
“What’s wrong with your marriage?” I asked gently.
“I’m not in love with my wife anymore.” he whispered. “I wanted to be open and honest so I told her. Now she’s upset and we’re having real problems.”
“I guess,” I laughed. “Too much honesty can really cause problems. The advice I always give people is not to say something unless it is true, necessary, and kind.”
“What I said was true but I guess it wasn’t necessary or kind,” he said.
“You’ll do better next time,” I encouraged. “I always ask people with troubled marriages a few questions. Do you mind if I ask them?” He nodded his permission. “Have either of you been unfaithful?”
He looked shocked. “No, we haven’t gone that far.”
“Good,” I said. “Has there been any abuse to each other or your son?” Again, he shook his head. “See, you’re doing pretty well on this test.” He beamed proudly.
“You said you were Christians and go to church. Do you do devotions together?”
His face fell. “I know I’m supposed to be the priest in my own home and I’ve been lazy about stuff like that,” he admitted.
“OK,” I said. “That’s easy to fix. I suppose someone has told you that by the time you’ve been married for ten years, love is a decision and not necessarily an emotion. Do you want to save the marriage?”
“Yes,” he said. “I want my son to live with both parents.”
“Is she a good mother?” I asked.
“She excellent,” he said, “She’s always very careful but she doesn’t connect emotionally with our son. She has issues about people leaving her in her childhood and I think she has trouble loving.” He looked away, wiped his eyes, and blinked several times.
“So she has abandonment issues,” I replied. “Have you guys tried counseling about that?”
“No,” he said. “I guess we could try that.”
“Sounds great,” I said. “Now you have a couple of things to try. It seems to me that you don’t feel loved by her.” The tears he had been fighting came back. I had hit a nerve but suspecting that was a good sign, I decided to continue. “You know, people that have been abandoned are afraid to show love because they’ve been hurt but that doesn’t mean they don’t love. I also suspect you still love her or you wouldn’t be feeling so emotional about this. You’re hurt.” He nodded, wiping his eyes. I went on. “It also seems like she loves you or she wouldn’t be so hurt that you said you didn’t love her.” This time, he nodded hopefully and leaned eagerly forward. “It will be good news to her if you admit that you really do love her and just feel unloved yourself.”
“It probably would be good news,” he said, still crying.
“It is certainly good news to you,” I said. He nodded with relief. Since he didn’t talk, I kept talking. “I’m feeling such hope for your marriage. My spiritual calling is to travel the country and talk to people who need a little spiritual help. God went to a lot of trouble to put me on this airplane tonight. That means He has big plans for your marriage and that it is salvageable. He wants your son to have two parents but more than that, he wants the two of you happily married. If you work at it, God will join you and miracles will happen.”
“I believe that,” he said with confidence. “God can do anything.”
“You have a lot of work facing you,” I said. “I’ve been there and I can tell you that it is worth the trouble. I love my husband more today than when I married him but we had to work many things out. I always tell young people that if you could stand in my shoes for 10 minutes and experience the joy of loving a grandchild together, you would do what ever it takes to save the marriage.”
The plane was on the ground and people were leaving. The two of us realized we had to stand up. “So, is that commitment –to go home and talk to your wife? Are you committing to tell her that you love her and want to begin doing devotionals together and to get in counseling immediately?” He nodded. I gave him a card. “Write me and tell me how it works out. God wants to save your marriage. You’re probably embarrassed by what you told me.”
He looked sheepish. “You’re right. I can’t believe I said all this. It had to be God working.”
Don’t worry about it,” I said. “Just enjoy the miracle. You were ready to listen and I just happened to be the person God sent.”