20 October 2012


God's blessings come in unexpected ways.  The divorces with which my and Susan's two families have been surrounded must seem like a curse. Perhaps a curse is a blessing in disguise, depending on how you receive it.  Susan told me the following story only many years - perhaps twenty - after it happened.

By the time we moved to Yap in 1976, we had made two international moves and faced many situations that were often complicated and demanding.  Sometimes John and I had problems that could be very distressing.
I thought that these things didn’t bother me too much, but the stress of them was building up inside and there wasn’t much help.  My family was a long way away and they were having their own problems.  When I meet new immigrants in New Zealand, I understand their problems.
By 1979 I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay in Yap much longer.  I visited a friend who was a lawyer and he said he would help me to leave the island if I wanted to  - it was a turning point for me in many ways.  Until then I had not talked to anyone about my feelings.  I can remember walking back from his office thinking that I had to make up my mind.  I prayed and asked God for help in doing this.  I really felt at the time that I knew something about marriage and what I had wanted and what it was supposed to be and the fact that I seemed to be surrounded by divorce in my family.  When I looked at the numbers (as I had not done before) there were few relationships that had not ended that way.  My parents were divorced.  John’s parents were separated.  My father’s parents were divorced.  John’s father’s parents were divorced.  John himself was divorced.
I can’t really say that I know what all of my reasons at the time were for what I decided.  I had two children.  If I left John, where would I go?  How would I take care of me and my children?  What if, somehow, I couldn’t take them with me.
But somehow I am certain that there was something else.  I knew, in my heart, that God did not want me to do this – that this was not something I could do.  I simply could not walk away.  I made a determination at that time – one which, I know, others have made before me, and sometimes you can stick with it and perhaps sometimes you cannot.  But I determined that, if it was up to me, my marriage would not end in divorce.
Susan only told me this many years later - perhaps around 1999 or later - at a time when I think we could both say that our marriage had changed.  She would, I believe, have been unwise to have said anything about it before.  Would I have used the story for manipulative purposes?  I fear I might have done.

It may be no coincidence that when she went to see the lawyer in Yap, she had come back, some six months previously, from our first home furlough.  I had better talk a bit about that next time.

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