Want to Experience Real Grace? Break the Rules.
Well-behaved women rarely make history. – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
The woman, who touched Jesus cloak, broke Jewish law. Luke 8:44
Rahab lied. God honored her due to her obedient faith in spite of her character flaw. Joshua 2: 2-4
Tamar was a virtuous woman. Yet she risked everything, even her life, and certainly her reputation to have a child, which was her right in the culture of the day. Genesis 38: 15-16
Accepting your humanness and living your life boldly may bring you into conflicts with your upbringing. My story will make some of you uncomfortable. I have no intention of encouraging you to break rules just because it feels good. I do, however, encourage you to be a complete person, recognizing that if we were perfect we would have no need of the grace of God. I’ve experienced grace not commonly understood or preached in American’s version of Christianity. Here is one of my stories.
* * *
A Check List
Many in Christian singles circles say to women, “Make a list of all the things you want in a husband and pray over it.” They assure them that God will honor their prayers if they do this.
I fell for this manipulation of God and made my list.
Years pressed on after I was divorced and I crawled into bed exhausted and alone every night. Returning to college satisfied my desire for a change – for a while. Other projects and work kept me occupied.
As my three children approached adolescence, I began to seriously wonder – What did life hold for me? My list hung on the back wall of my mind. Were there men like that? None that I met.
I made the decision to jump back into the dating arena. Being a single parent for over ten years made the jump awkward. After some dating turmoil and trauma I developed a genuine friendship with Sam which slowly became a romance. Sam and I dated for three years before marriage was discussed.
Our lives grew together and we began to make plans for marriage. He gave me a spectacular ring and we drew plans and began building a new home.
The hitch came as we planned our wedding. Our desire was to wed in the church where we had worshipped for several years.
“For you to marry in this denomination you must sign this document,” our pastor told us.
Sam met some requirements on my check list, but not all. He was equally handsome in a suit and jeans-check. He was a successful dentist and certainly smarter than me-check. He even sang in church-check, though he was more scientific than spiritual. However, he had been married twice. Many years earlier he had left his first wife-uncheck. I began dating him a year after his second wife left and they were divorced.
Sam refused to sign the document that required you to state that any previous marriage ended for reasons approved in scripture. Since I don’t sign documents regarding issues of the Spirit (My creator and I have an unwritten agreement), we were faced with a problem.
If we were to marry we would have to break the rules of our own church.
And we did.
A dear pastor friend and his wife drove for six hours and performed the ceremony in a beautiful local church. One of my students who happens to be blind, sang. Sam’s daughter, Kate, played the flute and my two sons walked me down the aisle. My best friend, Sue, stood up with me. All of our six children participated.
We have been married for almost seventeen years. Together we have blessed many lives.
What if I had insisted on my check list?
What if we had not broken the rules?
- My daughter would not have found and adopted our granddaughter from Russia
- My son might not have survived a personal crisis
- Another son wouldn’t have had his first truck
- My daughter wouldn’t have had a father figure that she so yearned for
- I wouldn’t have been free to resign a stressful job
- I wouldn’t have been free to speak at national conventions across the country
- I couldn’t have developed the SMORE for Women ministry
- Many single mothers would not have been blessed by this ministry
- He and I wouldn’t be contributing members in our church, which, by the way, is not the denomination that refused to bless our marriage.
Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.
– Eugene O’Neill
Gail raised three children as a single mother before she remarried. She has experienced the potholes, pests, and perils of being the single head-of-household. As an educator in regular and special education for twenty years she knows a great deal about child development and how to handle kids. She is the founder of SMORE for Women, a nonprofit whose goal is Single Moms, Overjoyed, Rejuvenated, and Empowered. She is a Certified Professional Coach and her stories have been published in several Christian books and magazines. Her book, Living Learning Loving is available on CreateSpace, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble online.