I was not unfamiliar with the text in 2 Corinthians 6:12 which says 'Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?' But I was in love with Gary, and I became blind to the admonition plainly stated in the Word of God.
Gary was a tall, handsome man who captured my heart from the start. When he laughed, I thought I heard the sound of a rippling brook on a summer's day. He was gentle, caring and loving. He was sweet; he was well-mannered. He was intelligent. What more could a woman ask?
We worked together on the second shift. He was new at the workplace, and I was teaching him the ropes and tricks of the trade. We worked as schedulers in the Data Processing Department, and our job was to set up the various tasks that were to be processed on the mainframe computers. We were responsible to see that all the tapes were pulled from the library, and the process annotated so that the computer operators would know exactly what to do. If there were any processing problems, we would try to resolve them; if there were program problems, we would turn them over to the programmers for correction and resubmission.
Gary and I had a good working relationship. He was a quick learner and fun to work with. We talked a lot about things of interests to us. Before we knew it, our relationship developed romantically. We had the most wonderful times together at work as well as outside of the work environment. We went to amusement parks with his son Tim and my son Michael. Tim was a few years older than Mike, but they got along very well. We enjoyed our times together with our children.
However, there were many red flags waving that I sadly ignored. I was a woman in love who used the heart and left the head somewhere in never-never land. I became irrational and disregarded evaluating the moral character of the man who was to be my life partner.
One day he came in to work, and I smelled liquor under his breath. This was a no, no to me and to the church that I was a member of. However, I ignored it thinking that it would work itself out in time. I would witness to him later and tell him the message of salvation. But for now, I continued to date Gary.
Then, there was the time when he and a co-worker had a confrontation over something. I forgot now what the confrontation was about, but tempers flared, sparks flew, and before I knew it, mean words and awful sounding cuss words were spoken, and the girl was crying uncontrollably. I was shocked to say the least. I didn't know what to make of it. As I was comforting the almost hysterical girl, she said something that I would never forget and wish to have heeded but didn't: Lydia, please don't marry that man; he is cruel and hateful.
I rationalized away the statement the girl had made. Gary was never cruel or hateful to me. Maybe it was just her. She was jealous of Gary because Gary was smart. I remember her shaking her head in disbelief when I mentioned that Gary had taken trigonometry in fifth grade to keep him busy and keep him out of trouble with boredom. That's what it was. Jealousy! She was jealous of Gary! Gary loved me, and I knew that he would never treat me terribly. His words to me were always tender, loving, gentle, smooth as oil and sweet as honey.
Shortly after that, Gary and I tied the knot. My sister Elizabeth hosted a wedding party for us attended by some immediate family members. She baked our wedding cake, and we had "champagne" (non-alcoholic sparkling apple juice). My dear Mother was there. Pictures were taken and life was wonderful--everything was going my way!
At the workplace, we had cake and ice cream and received wedding gifts and a card that was signed by all our coworkers. A long banner with the words "Congratulations Lydia and Gary" printed out by a computer was hung up from one end of the room to the other. Our coworkers wished us the best and that we would have a wonderful married life together.
We went to Lake Parris for our honeymoon. As always, we had the most wonderful time. I did not remember anything amiss during this time. However, after the honeymoon, the nightmare began that lasted a little over a year. I remember initially praying to the Lord to let my marriage last one month.
What is it about marriage that changes a gentle, loving, and caring man into a demon? As Christians, we know the answer to that question is the absence of the Lord Jesus Christ in the heart. If the Lord is enshrined in the heart, the person could not help but become loving, gentle, caring, compassionate, forgiving, etc., under any circumstances. If the Lord is not enthroned in the heart, the Adversary, Satan, the Devil, will take possession of the heart. Both, the Lord and Satan cannot co-exist in the same heart. One has to choose one or the other.
Unfortunately, Gary had chosen to serve Satan. He was an alcoholic and a wife beater, and he almost destroyed my son emotionally. My son and I were familiar faces at Safe House, a home for battered women and children. We were in and out of Safe House. On holidays, we were there. Many a weekends, we were there. Because of continual abuse, my son was taken from our home and placed in a foster home momentarily until I could divorce Gary. That was the stipulation that the state of Arizona gave me. Being in a foster home even for but a short time adversely affected my son who had never spent a night away from home.
Gary was a sociopath according to the counselors we saw. A sociopath is a person who has no moral responsibility and thinks everything and everyone should revolve around him. He was the Monarch, and we were the slaves. He was a tyrant and a dictator and a demon in human form. He was always drunk, and we never knew what would tick him off. It was like we were walking on eggshells.
During the turbulent year living with Gary, angels of God went beyond the call of duty to come to our aid.
Before I married Gary, I was self-sufficient. I had a good car and a decent house full of furniture. When I married Gary, we traded in my almost new car for a brand new truck. He always wanted a truck. Then, when we moved to Yuma, Arizona, we sold my furniture and piano at pathetically low prices because we were moving into a 23-foot trailer until we could find a house to buy.
Soon after, we found the perfect house--three bedrooms, two baths, a kitchen with a pantry the size of a bedroom. The perimeter of the front yard was hedged with beautiful roses, all colors and hues, that looked and felt like paper roses because of the dryness of the weather. There were two mature mulberry trees in the front whose branches and leaves provided shade from the hot Yuma sun for those walking on the side walk.
The backyard was loaded with fruit trees. There was a large grapefruit tree bearing huge, sweet, luscious grapefruits even when the skin still showed tints of green on it. There was a lemon tree that bore a thousand lemons that we couldn't even give away for it seemed everyone in Yuma had lemon trees. There were peach trees, and plum trees, and a grape arbor with grape vines galore. Talk about eating organic fruits from your own backyard!
My mother stayed with us temporarily at this time. She was nervous about our situation and deeply concerned about our safety. She must have prayed a thousand prayers to the God of Heaven to intervene. One day, just before Gary was to come home from work, my Mother and I decided we couldn't take it any longer, and we should leave immediately. This way Gary would not try to do anything to prevent us from leaving as he had done numerous times in the past. He would promise, with hot tears streaming down his face, that he would change, that he would quit smoking and drinking, go to church, go to counseling, etc.
I called Safe House and almost immediately the Police came and escorted us to a motel, courtesy of the Salvation Army. As we had to leave in a hurry, we left with only a minimal of bare essentials and the clothes on our backs. At the motel, a feeling of great relief swept over us as we realized that we had finally escaped and are freed forever from the bondage of our tormentor. We thanked and praised God for His guidance and protection. As we opened the Bible for comfort and solace, a text in Psalms jumped up at my mother, she couldn't have missed it. "He delivered me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man." Ps. 18:48. My mother and I looked at each other and marveled at God's timely message. He had provided for us a hiding place, not only in the physical sense but in the spiritual sense as well. The Lord Jesus Christ was our Hiding Place, a shelter in the time of our storm.
It was a week or two before we decided to venture back to the house for the rest of our personal belongings. Again, we were escorted by the Police. But, alas, we couldn't get in the house. The locks had all been changed, and all the windows were locked as well. To keep me from entering the house, Gary, in addition to changing the door knobs, had placed a seven-inch padlock on the door to the kitchen that was accessed from the carport. A seven-inch padlock--how intimidating! I've never seen a padlock that huge in my life. The Police and I again rechecked the doors and windows hoping to find one that was opened. All were locked. One of the Police officers suggested breaking the window to the bathroom so we could get inside, but I decided against that.
Upon hearing that Gary had changed the locks of the house and we couldn't get in to get our personal belongings, our pastor, Pastor Murray Long, went over to investigate. He checked the door going into the kitchen from the carport. The Police and I previously checked this, and I knew it was locked. The door had a sliding glass window with no screen. This window, when checked by the Pastor, was unlocked. He was able to get his hand in the window and open the door from the inside. We praised the Lord for He had unlocked this window for us.
Everyone at the church who could help came and within a short time, everything in the house--refrigerator, furniture, books, etc. were loaded unto trucks and moved to storage. When everything was done, my mother, son, and I packed and moved to Florida.
I would love to have seen the shocked faces of Gary and his dad when they found out that we were able to get inside the supposedly well-secured house and take everything. They went to see the Pastor and said that they would have me extradited from Florida. In his letter, Pastor Long assured me that Gary and his dad had not a leg to stand on. He was right.
"For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me up upon a rock." Ps 27:5.
"Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverances." --Psalm 32:7.
You are my hiding place,
You always fill my heart
With songs of deliverance.
Whenever I am afraid
I will trust in you.
I will trust in you;
Let the weak say,
'I am strong in the
Strength of my Lord.'