As I begin this Installment, I want to share something about life and expectations. Here’s the thing, it seems that few comprehend that they swim in cultural waters. I was brought up in American Protestant cultural waters. There was a certain way to view politics. There was a certain way to view religion. There was a certain way to view family. There was a certain way to view marriage.
I cannot and will not say that everything in that cultural water was bad, because it wasn’t. But there is a HUGE difference between what is culturally acceptable and what is biblically acceptable. Case in point – marriage.
There were people, family and friends, that had their expectations of us. They knew us from our youth, from our families, from our church. There was a certain expectation. Mary and I were both brought up that marriage is permitted only as one husband being married to one wife. So when she and I entered into the events of 2012, the word unexpected simply does not serve the moment, we encountered an event that upended our belief structure.
Experience collided with expectations. Coming to terms with experience and new knowledge was one thing, but the possibility, the potentiality, and now the reality of not living up to expectations created in me an unyielding sorrow and torment. Those set in heavily in me during 2012 and remained heavy until somewhere in 2014, but inner turmoil was not fully answered until about January of this year (2016).
What I reveal is the turmoil I felt during 2012. That turmoil was intense, it made the challenges of ministry feel like nothing.
October 18, 2012 – ACCEPTANCE
Both Mary and myself do not want to fear humanity in order to follow Jehovah, but we both have our own fears. Mine is being humiliated for being a husband of two wives…. Mary’s is being humiliated of being reduced from my only wife to one of two wives, having to share me, and all that implies.
Yesterday, I apologized [to God] for being afraid, and resolved not to have Mary’s living [and well-being take priority over] listening to God. …
We discussed vast amounts of practical living concerns and have basically arrived at the conclusion, we three, …must become one. Showing love toward and for each other, calm peace to resolve any conflict, all of this, of course, should be evidenced in monogamy, but because two people feel so independent they do not feel compelled to become one.
This, for the record, is not, I repeat NOT, something I chose for my own selfish ambition. If I did, seriously, would I be recording? The flesh (carnality) is not necessarily so concerned about hurting others, flesh [carnality] hurts other flesh daily. I want to hurt not one person, no one. I want to be faithful and blameless. But I freely admit this scares me. Yet I recall the statement, “do not be afraid to take her as your wife.”
However, Mary believes that by the end of January 2013, we will be in knowledge of the path we are to take….
We, you, me, Mary, others will see what comes to pass.
The last twenty-four hours marks the first time we truly accepted possible reality, discussed it candidly, reservedly – certainly, but lovingly for all involved. …
We knew we wanted/want to follow God, yet we also felt that where God was leading was almost immeasurably difficult to accept. Then to understand where that leading goes is difficult to discuss because it is unwelcomed amongst many of family and friends.
During the years since 2012, I do not feel humiliation. However, now I feel intense gratitude.
It is simply remarkable to have a wife who loves me and remains with me. Today, our marriage is stronger than it has ever been. I cannot fully speak for her in all things, but she helps give me intense gratitude, so many have chastised me, derided me, labeled me, and unfriended me, but she remains at my side.
The potentiality of having two ladies who not only choose me to be their husband, but also willingly stick with me through such difficulties is a prize. One wife alone is wonderful, two wives who manifest their convictions in such ways seems like paradise.
I did have to give my apologies to God for not really trusting the leading. With God all things are possible, even surmounting cultural expectations. God has made possible this reality – putting God first allowed me to have true primary concern for Mary, which most assuredly involves practical matters of a family that consists of two wives, where each wife feels adored, cherished, loved, and served helping each lady achieve her own goals for life.
When this first started, I was in such turmoil that I was more than willing to put all the blame on God. It is true, I did not chose this for my selfish ambition. And it’s true, if it were of the flesh, I would have done two things. If it were of the flesh, I would have hidden it. If it were of the flesh, I would not have ever discussed it with family, friends, or religious leaders. Whether as a pulpit minister or as a follower of Jesus or simply as a person, I have lived live long enough to know that those two things are true.
But I have learned that living openly, even when it causes others to feel dismay, is actually the healthiest way of doing this. As much as people need to see quality husband/wife relationships because those two people chose that marriage, people also need to see that there are quality relationships that exist as wife/husband/wife, because those three people chose that marriage, where those wives are living the life they want because they freely chose that life. Not only is that biblical, it also makes us blameless.
I do feel that Mary was correct regarding 2013, and the course to finding the second lady for our marriage has not altered. We are still looking to what lies ahead, and want to see what God helps bring to pass.
When my reader reads through the next journal entry, the reader must keep in mind my turmoil, my anguish that I was experiencing back in 2012.
October 19, 2012 – REALITY
Ok, so last evening, Mary and I spent hours together regarding this need to follow God.
…Spiritually, intellectually, and beginning to emotionally get ourselves around this issue. But what the mind can understand, the body is not ready to do.
Both of us want to follow God and follow without fear, but this is so extraordinary. What are we to do? So we intensely prayed last evening, as honestly and purely as we know that if this really is what God wants us to do, then we will do it….
So, we eventually made it to our bed time, and [Mary shared] the things [from her] meditation mornings. One thing after another seems to support this path. I fell asleep with heaviness on my spirit and being.
Today, we talked about wanting God to confirm this….
… [W]e woke up feeling heavy, practically the only time we are at peace is when in discussion, or in prayer about this matter. The more we want to avoid the actuality, the greater our grief; the more we accept the actuality, the greater our peace.
I cannot even begin to put words to this. I can record the events. I can express, as best I can my thoughts, my intentions, this is something I never expected….
[Throughout the day, I had text conversations with Mary. I drove the bus to a football game and we spent the evening in personal conversation. After the game, she drove home and I finished driving the bus for the football game]. … when I traveled home [in my Miata], I prayed heavily, rag top down speaking loudly to the starlit sky: Why? What have I done? Why choose me? …
I arrived home and Mary was standing there waiting for me. She let me read her thoughts, and we must have spent ninety minutes talking in the Miata. But it was my prayer that got me. Made me cry in ways I have not cried in a long time, a long time.
I prayed for me to have wisdom, gentleness, kindness, strength, courage, and probably many other things. I prayed for Mary…. I prayed for our parents and families. I prayed for [our] children. …
I prayed that marriage [to two wives] would embody love, acceptance, honesty, unity, unashamedness, intimacy that goes beyond words, intimacy that accepts each other in the face of certain cruelty from others.
… I even prayed about me being afraid of the ridicule and hatred that will come our way.
My tears streamed down my face. [My chest heaving, I bawled and sobbed. I shed tears of distress unlike I had ever felt.] I could not stop crying. Mary just held me.
But as I arrived near the end of my prayer, I had such a beautiful feeling fall into my being. A sudden realization that on the night of his betrayal, Jesus had no one to comfort him. … I was blessed to have Mary holding me. I have never touched that Garden moment, but in an instant I felt it.
Mary asked me what was wrong, and like a sobbing school boy, I said between my heaving sobbing breaths, “nothing.” breath “I’m” breath “not angry” breath “not frustrated” breath “but appreciative.” Comfort had never felt so sweet. And I said, “I’ll” breath “tell you” breath “when” breath “I can.” It took me several minutes to calm down. Then I told her.
The moment, I have never felt something so real, so powerful. My tears and sobbing were oddly out of joy and thankfulness not anger or regret.
My life will never be the same. …
I recall talking with Mary about children. I can feel it. God is giving me a new family. A new life. Children will be part of it. …
The amount of hours of interpersonal communication that Mary and I had during 2012 was staggering. We text messaged. We talked on the phone. However, whenever, wherever possible, Mary and I talked.
We had to come to terms with what we had experienced. Part of that would be letting family, friends and church leaders know where we were and what was happening in our lives, which was a completely unique experience in and of it self. At that point in 2012, I want to say we were getting our minds around the issue. Coming to terms with the results of it though, that was a different matter.
We did ask for God to confirm things. Mary and I both believe that God most certainly confirmed things, in intriguing ways. But, I am saving some of those details for another installment(s) because I kind of want my reader to experience things as we did.
For the remainder of this Installment, consider that I wrote that I woke up feeling very burdened by the events and Mary and I talked extensively throughout the day. As I was driving home after the football game, I was quite upset.
Mary met me as I arrived home. We sat in the Miata and talked and then I prayed. During that prayer the burden I was feeling poured out as did my tears. To this day I have felt nothing like the heaviness that I felt that night.
I am not sure why I broke down in tears, but I think it was due to all the months of having my preconceptions challenged. Nothing would be the same. There I was, a blubbering sobbing mass of non-composure, Mary leaning against me on my right comforting me. And then it happened.
In that moment of sobbing distress, I heard “That’s all I wanted.” That was the second time I experienced such things. But this time, I also had an image presented in my mind’s eye – at night, under the shadows of the trees, moonlight cascading. The Garden.
In that moment of terrible personal hurt, incapable of constructing sentences, I knew Mary was comforting me, but I had pulled into myself. Yet, in that instant, a well spoken, caring, tender voice broke through, telling me that what I was being given was the only thing he had wanted that night in the Garden.
That moment sets with me to this day.
Instantaneously, that moment of personal grief and sorrow turned to appreciation and gratefulness. The change in me was so immediate that it grabbed Mary’s attention. At the time, through tears, I did the best I could to explain.
As the year 2012 closes out, the foundation for the person I am today was almost completed. But there was more for Mary and me to experience.
Blessings and Shalom