My husband became born again after his mother's death, and I wasn't having it. One day I awoke to him standing over the bed holding the Bible, shaking it and telling me I had better get right with God. He would listen to pastors on the radio in the car and I would cover my ears, wanting to scream. One evening, we were at a restaurant when he started talking about God. I said to him, "Do not ever say that three letter word to me again."
The more he pushed the more I ran. I would escape to bars, drinking and talking to strangers. I was running as fast as I could from my judgmental, over zealous husband and into a selfish, hedonistic lifestyle.
But in the quiet, my husband was praying for my salvation, praying for someone to come along and show me the road to God because he knew he couldn't. A year or so later we moved to a new house in a new neighborhood and I became a freelance reporter for a local newspaper. One of my first assignments was to interview the high school's choir director for a series of stories about the music program.
Mary Kay wanted to do the interview in her home instead of the usual coffee shop. When I stepped inside I commented on how lovely her colorful living room was. She gave me coffee and we connected on my two favorite subjects, art and design. When the interview was over she asked if I go to church or if I had ever been to her church. No and no, though I had heard of it since, ironically, three families on our new street go to that church and all had said we should try it sometime. "Yeah yeah, sure sure," I would tell them. But because Mary Kay asked me to meet her at the fountain in the lobby of her church at eleven o'clock the following Sunday, I finally went. (I didn't want to let the nice lady down.)
My husband thought I should meet her by myself. Did he know something I didn't? The sermon wasn't like other sermons I was used to. I grew up in a beautiful protestant church on a lake in Michigan. I loved the music, but never knew what the sermons were about because I was daydreaming the whole time. Here, at this non-denominational church, the pastor spoke as if he were having coffee with me, not standing in front of hundreds. He was relatable and talked about real life struggles and the power of God. Afterwards, Mary Kay asked if I wanted to see her choir perform in the high school concert. I went, again my husband thought I should go alone. He seemed gleeful, something I hadn't seen in him in a long time. After the concert Mary Kay and I went to dinner and she began to ask questions about my faith. I felt uncomfortable, like she had an agenda, although she didn't come off as a sales person. I thought I would play along, see where this was going. Is she a religious wacko? Is she my husband in a skirt?
She found my story, my family fascinating. She leaned in and wanted to know more. She wasn't judgmental, but understanding. I felt I could trust her. She was no longer a stranger with an agenda. She seems to like me. She likes art, decorating, music - just like me. She is warm and funny, not wacky. She's normal and loves God. She has a peace about her that I have longed to feel my whole life. Maybe this God thing isn't so bad.
Over the next year, my husband and I started going to church and meeting Mary Kay and her family by the fountain. She and I would do Bible studies in her colorful kitchen once a week. We started in Ephesians, a book about God's love. In her home I felt loved and accepted, in spite of my sins. Slowly, I began to live for God and not just for myself. I learned the power of prayer and what it means to wait on God, and I have come to know the same peace that I saw in Mary Kay.
That was seven years ago when my husband's prayers were answered, when a stranger showed me the way. My husband is no longer a zealot. God grew him to be a compassionate man who gently speaks to others about what Christ has done for him. We often do Bible studies together, just the two of us, sometimes on the phone, even. And I stay out of bars, for the most part.
I thank Mary Kay for not just telling me I should try her church sometime, but for telling me to meet her at the fountain at eleven o'clock, for 'holding my hand' after that first day at her church, for asking me the uncomfortable questions about my faith, and for all the Bible studies.