Greetings from Kathy Collard Miller in the Southern California desert near Palm Springs.
When Larry and I had been married for seven years, we were completely disillusioned with each other. I couldn’t understand why Larry didn’t love me anymore. He certainly was far from being the Prince Charming I’d married. Oh Lord, what’s wrong with him? I moaned. I thought we were going to have a perfect marriage because You brought us together. But now we’re such strangers, we might as well be divorced. If only he wouldn’t work two jobs and fly planes as a hobby, we could be happy.
One morning Larry announced he was flying to San Jose for the day. I quickly suggested, “I’ll get the kids ready and we’ll go with you…”
Larry interrupted me. “Kathy, you can’t go. I rented a two-seater plane and I’ve already asked Joe to go with me.”
“But Larry, we never see you. Can’t you stay home just this once?”
“Kathy, I’ve explained I’m working all those hours to secure our financial future. You just don’t appreciate all I’m doing for this family.”
My face grew hot with fury. “Money isn’t helping me cope with these kids!” I snapped. “Darcy makes me so angry sometimes.”
“Kathy, that’s just typical motherhood blues. You’ll be fine. See you later.”
Larry walked away down the hall as I felt like screaming, “Why don’t you love me anymore?”
He walked through the laundry room into the garage, closing the laundry room door behind him. I was eating an apple and before I realized it, I hurled the half eaten apple toward the closing door. The apple shattered on impact and red and white apple pieces flew throughout the laundry room adhering to the ceiling and the walls. I whirled around and marched into my bedroom, dropping to kneel beside my bed. “Lord, make that plane crash! I don’t care if he ever comes home again.”
Larry’s plane didn’t crash, but I felt as if my life had crashed…crashed into a pit of uncontrollable anger and depression. My manipulation and nagging totally failed. During the following many months, the pieces of apple remained adhered to the walls and ceiling of my laundry room and then began rotting. I saw them as a memorial to the rotten marriage I believed God could not or would not change.
One day months later, I sensed God say to me in my heart, “Tell Larry you love him.” I was shocked to hear God’s prodding. I didn’t love Larry and I believed he hated me—so I wasn’t about to give Larry ammunition against me. After all, if he heard those three little words, “I love you,” that I hadn’t said or thought for over two years, he might think I was approving of his negligence. I flatly refused.
God persistently repeated the message and I adamantly refused again! Then I sensed the Holy Spirit giving a different message: “Then think it the next time you see Larry.”
OK. If he doesn’t hear me then he can’t use it against me. Then I’ll do it, even if it’s not true.
That evening, Larry returned from a flying trip and as he walked down the hall toward me, I stared at him, gulped, and thought, “I love you…” and then after a pause, I added, “but I don’t really.” Although I was obeying God, I still couldn’t believe it was true.
But the most amazing thing happened. By making that choice to love Larry and as I continued to make loving choices, more loving feelings took over. I also recognized I’d been holding Larry responsible for my happiness. Larry couldn’t meet all my needs—only God could. My perspective was corrected when I realized I couldn’t change Larry, I could only change myself as I surrendered to God.
Then I went into the laundry room and washed off those rotting apple pieces. I no longer needed a memorial to my rotten marriage. Symbolically, I washed the rotten attitudes off my heart and mind and began to trust God with my marriage and my life.
In time, Larry noticed that I wasn’t as angry and demanding of him and agreed to go on a couples retreat with me, which God used as a turning point in our marriage. That was in 1978 and soon we’ll celebrate over 45 years of marriage. We are best friends and tell each other several times a day how much we love each other. We are committed to choosing the best for each other. I’ll never forget those rotting apple pieces because now I enjoy a laundry room free from them, just like my heart is free from bitterness and anger.
Kathy’s latest book is a women’s Bible study book for groups and individuals. It’s Choices of the Heart: Daughters of the King Bible study series, published by Elk Lake Publishing. Choices of the Heart has 10 lessons, each one contrasting two women of the Bible on different topics like God’s sovereignty, trusting God, and others.