I have been reading these audio books as I drive, by Karen Kingsbury. And God talks to her characters. And I have been on this quest to hear Him like they do! It’s a funny thing when you really ask God to talk to you, You kinda don’t realize until later that He uses all kinds of vessels to do it! My daughter told me the other day that she was reading the book of Luke and so we decided to read it together. And as I read the first seven chapters or so, I began to hear Him. I love when that happens. So I started reading to catch up where she might already be. And I crashed right into the Beautitudes!
I really feel God has a sense of humor. And I don’t doubt that He has been trying to talk to me for decades. It hasn’t been Him not bothering to talk to me. It has been me not bothering to listen. I have always felt that He doesn’t ever push IN. He waits patiently until we are ready to hear Him.
Anger has always been a problem with me. And so in turn, has forgiveness. I hold on to things, well, forever pretty much. But I do have a story to share where I really feel God spoke to me and allowed me to see a glimpse of heaven and how it must feel up there. It’s kind of a silly story but it still makes me cry because it is about a time in my life when I KNOW God spoke to me and gave me the gift of forgiveness and so I do know how good it feels when it truly is purely Him and just letting go and giving it to God.
I was in my early twenties, and newly married to Randy, my first husband. When we met, he was living with a roommate named Rob. They’d played Little League together and were childhood friends. We met in February and got married in July. Nope, I wasn’t pregnant. I’m not sure what the hurry was, but he really liked my parents and didn’t want to live with me without getting married. And well, we were young and dumb and knew by April that we were in love and wanted to get married. And so my poor mom had to plan a wedding in less than 3 months! (We got married July 1st 1978.) Looking back, it was all kind of crazy. I’m sure both of us didn’t have time to breathe or think twice about it. Let alone, really get to know each other. But we were young and dumb and in love.
Though Rob was in our wedding. He made it very clear that he wasn’t too happy about any of it. I guess we were thinking it was because he had to move or find a new roommate. But maybe a year later, my husband came home and was blindsided with some information he’d discovered after a night out drinking with his buddies. He shared with me that Rob told him during a pretty drunken moment that he’d been in love with him for a long time. Randy was baffled because he said that in all of the time they’d lived together, he never had a clue. Though Rob and I had since become pretty good friends, it explained why I felt so much tension in the beginning.
So this was in the late seventies when being gay was still not something very many people accepted. And for me, it wasn’t about being gay, it was about loyalty. We were friends. We hung out at barbeques and had him over all the time. Why was he bringing this up now? Did he hope that if his truth came out, my husband might consider his overture?!
I felt betrayed, angry and a hatred for Rob that grew as the months went by. I’m sure my husband was sorry he’d shared that conversation with me but I couldn’t just let it go and as I said, we’d both been blindsided. Though he insisted he had no interest in Rob in that way and made it very clear.
But I was, in an extremely awkward position. This wasn’t another woman, but a longtime friend that went all the way back to Little League. As my resentment for Rob grew, I was miserable. He was still very much in our lives. We had a group of friends that belonged to a City League. The guys played baseball and then had barbeques at each other’s houses. I was close with most of the wives but only shared this situation with one very close friend in particular. One day she called me and told me that Rob was in the hospital with a liver infection and it was very serious.
It was no secret that I hated Rob. I’ve never been very good at hiding my feelings and he knew it and knew why. And I knew it wasn’t blessing me one little bit. I had just recently started praying about it and felt this strong nudge to buy Rob a Bible. My mom had been buying Bibles for people for as long as I could remember, she’d get their name engraved on the cover and then highlight inspiring verses and place ribbons to mark their pages.
So I went and bought a Bible, had Rob’s name engraved on it and proceeded to highlight verses. The hate hadn’t gone away but I was softening a bit. I didn’t want anyone to die. Even someone I hated. Smile. That sounds horrible. Huh? Well, here’s one even better… the part about God having a sense of Humor… As I was really getting into the highlighting part of things. I landed flat on the one about the log in your own eye. It kinda stopped me in my tracks! I could almost see God watching me. I really did laugh out loud, before it was ever a thing. And said, “Okay God.” So there I was GETTING IT. But still not there yet. I still couldn’t make myself go and visit him. I made my friend take the Bible when she and her husband visited Rob.
A few days later I saw her and asked her if she remembered to give him the Bible and what he said and she looked at me very seriously and said, ” Oh yes Diane, he cried!” I hadn’t expected that at all and I have to admit it pricked my heart. Later that week, God told me loud and clear to go visit him and to go alone. I soooo wanted to bring someone with me. After all, there’d been this very uncomfortable thing between us for a pretty long time. But I went alone. And he cried the minute he saw me. I remember pulling up a chair and laying my head on his chest as if it were the most natural thing to do and crying with him. I can’t remember the details after that, but I remember him having a full recover and running into him by the beach and spending the day with him talking not long after that. I also have a picture of him and me with my daughter when she was a baby, so I know he was in our life for a long time after his illness. And that I asked my friend, Jim Benfer to go pray for him while he was in the hospital and he gave his heart to Jesus.
I do know one thing. I grew to love him. And it was a different kind of love. A love that was free from judgment. I’d truly let it all go. And though it blessed us both. I have no doubt it blessed me more. because God allowed me to feel true forgiveness for someone that I hated with every cell in my body. And then who I loved with a supernatural kind of unconditional love that I am sure is the kind you only feel in heaven. I did hear that years later, like my first husband, he died too young. I’m not sure why God used Rob as His Vessel. But I do know he taught me so many things. A lot of the same things that Jesus preached about when he talked about the Beautitudes teaching. There is such a blessing in “letting go” and in forgiveness and in this case, it blessed us both. But I think in a lot of cases, it actually really blesses the one doing the letting go and forgiving the most.