by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.
I fell in love with John while standing in line for an amusement park ride. City girl meets country boy. Seven months later, we married. I had found my Mr. Right.
But soon I found out he thought his first name was “Always.”
He always knew best—where we should live, what we could spend money on, what we would do for fun. My opinion didn’t seem important. Compromise? Not an option.
We immediately moved into the old farmhouse John’s parents owned on their Texas ranch—and right next door to my in-law’s brand-new house. As resentment built in my marriage, my hatred of our home grew.
We rarely had an amicable discussion about how to spend our finances. With John as the primary breadwinner, I often felt I didn’t have a say in how we spent our money.
I thought he showed little appreciation for the work I did in the home. He dropped his dirty clothes on the floor by the hamper. He left his coats and shoes wherever he took them off. I’d often end up in tears of frustration as I cleaned up after him time and time again.
I also became increasingly frustrated with living on a ranch, far from the city activities I liked. Going dancing or out to the movies became extra-special treats. And when I suggested these outings, John showed little interest.
Years passed with me spending a lot of long days caring for our young daughter while John worked equally long hours at his construction job, an hour’s drive from home. I appreciated his hard work, but I often resented his absence.
Eventually, I realized I didn’t like the person I had become—the critical, angry, quick-to-judge person. Maybe my husband had room for improvement, but was I really so perfect?
I did love my husband. We spent many happy family moments together. John and our daughter, Jennifer, developed a close relationship. He always took time to talk to her—especially during the long drives to her weekly dance classes. And he taught her to appreciate the outdoors and to fish—so well that Jennifer can outfish him now. When she was older, she used to cook our supper while John and I took care of the ranch chores.
I began to see how disconnected I’d become from my spiritual identity I learned about during years attending Christian Science Sunday school. I had learned about a loving, wise, forgiving God—and as a child of God, I reflect those attributes.
I wanted to be a new “me.”
I had also learned that if I wasn’t happy with the way I viewed myself, I could pray to see myself as God’s reflection and start afresh without guilt or self-condemnation.
I wanted to be a new “me” and toss out the “grouchy me.” I wanted to love. To feel love. To think lovingly. To be loving. Could I do this? Could I love in spite of my circumstances or surroundings? Could I love in spite of how I was treated? Could I love first?
A statement Mary Baker Eddy wrote in the chapter on “Prayer” in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures gave me renewed hope: “Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.”
Since I have always believed in the power of prayer to transform and heal, I found great comfort in the idea that prayer based on good desires can lead to healing results. I took my desire to be a more loving “me” to God in prayer.
I turned to the Bible to see what Jesus taught.
I started by looking for an example of a truly loving person—someone I could emulate. Jesus came to mind first. So I turned to the Bible to see what he taught about love and also to examine his relationships with others. I found lessons of forgiveness and unconditional love for both friend and foe. In awe, I wondered if I could truly love this way.
Then I came across Paul’s definition of love in his letters to the Corinthians. Every line defined love in a different way. Patient. Kind. Not proud. Not self-seeking. Not easily angered. Keeps no record of wrongs. Always protects. Trusts. Hopes. Perseveres. (See full reference below.)
Well, I didn’t change overnight, but I took these ideas to heart and worked through several years of progress, prayer and tender lessons. Eventually, though, it hit me. Truly, God is Love. The source of love. And my husband and I are children of Love. We both are unique and individual expressions of this Love.
Love is a choice.
But even more, love is a choice. Jesus chose to love. And I too could choose to love. Besides, as a child of Love, how could I not be loving, act lovingly, think lovingly?
With love as my center, it became very natural to choose patience instead of frustration. Empathy instead of criticism. Joy instead of sadness. Peace of mind instead of anger. Trust instead of doubt. Forgiveness instead of condemnation.
Tears and resentment disappeared along the way. Looking back on these years, my husband commented to a friend, “I realize it was tough for Annette in the beginning—living near my parents and in the country. There was some friction between us, but Annette worked through it with prayer. She became more tolerant, well-adjusted, less judgmental—and I hope I did, too.”
I enjoy the time I spend with my husband.
As I began to realize and appreciate John’s goodness—and the goodness of our home—my perceptions changed. Our communications grew into a sweet interchange of openness and respect.
Today we still live in the same house on the ranch, but I love it now. And I enjoy the time I spend with my husband, regardless of what we’re doing.
In fact, now I find my reactions to everyone around me come from my desire to love more and to think lovingly. I want to love. I choose to love.
John and I will be celebrating our 24th anniversary in March. I can honestly say we share a mutual consideration, thoughtfulness and tenderness for each other’s needs and feelings. I have an equal say in how we spend our money and our time—and now we go to movies or out to dinner weekly. John even joins me for the annual Nutcracker ballet.
So what about my Mr. Right? I’ve found him.
Gratitude and forgiveness