Stand by Your Man

Ephesians 5:22
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

The first time I heard Tammy Wynette sing, Stand by Your Man, I crossed her off my Christmas list.

My marriage had just ended. He was mean and abusive. I was a strong-willed wildcat. He stayed out all night drinking with his buddies. I paced the floors while our three-month-old slept. He told me I was no good. I believed him and cried. A lot. He threatened to leave again and again. I didn’t care anymore. While he was at work I packed his bags, set them outside the door and changed the locks. When he came home his key didn’t work so he busted through the door. The wildcat in me hissed and growled for him to leave. He kissed his son and left. End of story.

So, the lyrics of Tammy’s number one country hit raised my hackles sky high. What woman in her right mind is going to stand by her man when he treats her worse than the neighbor’s dog? What woman is going to spit shine her man’s shoes, wash and iron his lipstick-stained shirts, singing “Oh Happy Day” after he stayed out all night just being a man? And what woman is going to forgive and forget over and over and over again till death do us part?

Not this woman!

If my man wants me to love and trust and respect him plus fulfill his every desire then he better give me plenty of good reasons. Love and commitment is a two way street. At least that’s what I thought I heard when we exchanged our wedding vows.

I tell people that it took a real man to love me. And that man is the man I’ve been married to for the past forty-nine years. With his stubborn love he tore down the barbed wire fence tangled around my bleeding, unbelieving heart. With his patience he broke through the fortress of fear and distrust. With his integrity, he pried my eyes open and helped me to see that his love for me is as real as the sky above. He adopted my son and raised him as his own. He taught him how to become a real man. And finally, because of his unconditional love for me, I surrender my heart and soul to him. Even through the ups and down’s he keeps loving me with a Christ-like love. He doesn’t always like the strong-willed wildcat in me, but he’s the only man on God’s green earth who could ever make it purr.

He’s a real man.

A real man protects his woman, fights for his woman, loves and encourages and respects his woman. A real man never ever beats his woman into submission or forces his will on her because he’s bigger and stronger. Only weak, insecure little boys in a man’s body does that to a woman.

It angers me when I hear of preachers expecting women to stay with their man no matter what. That she should be the stronger Christian because after all, her man is just a man. Baloney! Preachers that preach that lie need to go back and read the rest of the scripture where the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.”

It also angers me when a woman allows a man to beat her. And The more she allows it the harder it becomes to take back the power she fearfully gave away. And the beatings go on and on and on till someone ends up dead.

Yes, I’m a fighter for people’s rights, and especially for women’s rights. We’ve been through hell and high water to be recognized as human beings with brains as well as arms and legs and other stuff to allow any man to kick us around. So yes, I take offense when my kindred sisters are being abused and if I’m anywhere near, I will unleash the wildcat in me and it won’t be pretty!

Golden Years, Where are you?

Nope! I haven’t been writing. Haven’t been walking. Haven’t been sipping champagne and loving the golden years. To be honest, the golden years is a highly over-rated, over-used, big fat lie!

Take a giant step into my world and you’ll see what I mean . . .

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Hubby and I decided to take up our nasty, thirty-something carpet and install vinyl plank flooring. Just the two of us. Throughout the entire house. Piece of cake!

But first, we had to move furniture . . .

Then take up the carpet and the padding and staples and nails and carpet strips. Those carpet strips were almost as stubborn as me.

Then we saw the horror Bella and Pepper caused. I still get angry thinking about it. Owning pets is not the easiest job in the world. Along with their cuteness comes a truckload of bad-mannered behavior and destruction. Rascal never behaved like these two wannabe queens of the house!

Thankfully, Kilz came to the rescue. Of course, it didn’t jump out of the can and spread itself all over the floor. And hubby got exhausted watching me do it. Poor baby. I think he needs a nap.

We’re on day five. Am I frustrated? Have I cried a river of tears? Am I ready to leave the country? Oh, yeah! But, wait! There’s more . . .

Two days into this Mt. Everest project, hubby had an oncology appointment at the VA.  Things are looking good. So far, he is still cancer-free for the second time around.

But . . .

On the way to picking up hubby’s uncle and aunt for a day of fun, a woman ran the red light and plowed into us. No one was hurt, thankfully. The surveillance video and police report were on our side confirming that she ran the light in spite of what she told her insurance agent. Seeing is believing, except for those wearing blindfolds of denial.

So. How did you enjoy your little visit to my world? Would you like to come back and help us install the rest of the flooring?

No?

I don’t blame you!

 

 

Christmas is not Always the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Twas’ a few days before Christmas and there was nary a tree. No stockings were hung by the chimney with care, no presents, no decorations; no sign of Christmas anywhere. At least, not in our house. Not that we didn’t want to decorate and go shopping and at least try to conjure up a Christmas spirit, it just wasn’t there. It got gobbled up by back pain and depression, an empty bank account and a too-sick-and-tired-to-care attitude.

And to top it all off; the last straw that broke the camel’s back, Pepper chews the corner of the cushion on the love seat. She might as well have chewed up everything in the house. At least the scenario that followed next would have made more sense.

Crying, and limping in pain, I sought solace from my husband. No. I sought a full-blown miracle! I wanted him to fix it! I wanted him to suddenly become the Dog Whisperer, to make a Christmas tree appear with a magical star on top and piles of presents underneath. I wanted him to stop the searing pain shooting down my leg. I wanted him to be God!

And as hard as he tried to understand this crazy woman bawling her eyes out, he just didn’t. So I took my tears and frustrations to bed.

Suddenly, visions of Christmas’s past danced through my head.There was the house I grew up in, and my grandmother shuffling to the living room, Bible in hand heading towards her favorite chair. And there were my brothers and my mom and dad, and even me; young and vibrant, not a care in the world sitting on the couch. Between sobs of grief, a live Christmas tree appeared, decorated with bubble lights, vintage ornaments, and tinsel hanging on the branches. There were presents and stockings and joy and laughter trailing through the house.

Like watching a sad movie, everyone I loved and lost drifted through my mind, conjuring up a potpourri of emotions I couldn’t contain.

Suddenly, the tree appeared; the one I always ran crying to when no one seemed to understand or care. Now, in my frenzied mind, it was more than just a tree; it was my best friend; my grandfather I never knew; my dad who was never there; my mom who never understood; everyone and everything I needed in times like these but was never there. Void of human arms reaching out to me, I always ran to the tree.

Now, in total desperation, I cling to the tree planted firmly in my mind, drawing comfort from its unshakable strength. The tree, so rugged and steadfast never feared my tears, my overly sensitive emotions, my anger and frustrations. It never made me feel stupid and insignificant. It just let me sit beneath its protective, sturdy limbs and cry and work it all out in my way and in my own time.

Suddenly, in the midst of my inconsolable grief, the tree faded away and God appeared, mighty and strong; His arms holding me safe. And I knew everything would be okay.

And it was. A few days before Christmas, my husband received his first disability check from the VA, lifting a heavy financial burden from our shoulders.

 

True Love

Growing up, without saying a word, my dad taught me men are not to be trusted. They sleep late, work when they feel like it, and treat women like dirt; expecting them to do everything, be everything, and keep their mouth shut. That’s when anger gave birth to the Incredible Hulk. That’s when a sweet, faint-hearted child became a strong, courageous woman fighting against injustice toward women and all the underdogs of the world. No womanizing, woman-abusing anybody-abuser was safe in my world.

It’s no wonder my ex-husband and I didn’t stay married long. His big mouth was as abusive as his rough hands slapping me till my ears rung and slamming me against the wall squeezing my throat. He just didn’t realize he had a tiger by the tail until he dragged his butt home from work one day to find his bags sitting outside the door and the locks changed.

Now, holding my nine-month-old son on my lap, my cynical, twenty-year-old heart told me I can trust no one. I can depend on no one; not my family, not my friends, not my church, no one. I’ll have to buckle up, woman-up and stand on my own two feet.

As a single mom, divorced and back in the dating scene I soon discovered that guys only wanted one thing from me, and it wasn’t my keen mind. Fueled by the memory of being molested at the age of thirteen, sexually harassed on the job, and nearly date-raped one horror-filled night, the Hulk inside me grew increasingly fierce and strong; fighting all men and needing none because no “real” man existed in this so-called man’s world!

So I stumbled along, alone and raising my son the best I knew how. He was my little man, my hero; the only living soul my heart truly trusted and believed in. Still, my heart yearned for the right man for me. I was too young to go through life alone, and besides, my son deserved a loving father. But the wall of steel protecting my untrusting heart would take the strength of Superman to break down.

One Friday summer’s night out with, my niece and five-year-old, we dragged up and down Main Street in Debbie’s bright yellow, 69 Mustang. It wasn’t my style to do such a teeny-bopper thing but that night I decided to go along just for the fun of it.

Then we spotted them. Two neatly dressed, good-looking guys sitting on the hood of a fire engine red, 63 Ford. Immediately, boy-crazy Debbie pulled into the service station where two curious guys slid off the hood of the car and strutted towards us like a couple of peacocks.

I had just broken up with a church-going-God-professing-born-again Christian who proved to be a druggie, a liar and a cheat, and just plain crazy! Shortly after our break-up, he barged into my apartment waving a gun. I never felt as afraid for my child’s and my life as I did that day. You can only imagine my relief when he said he was going to kill himself and stormed out the door.

So I was far from ready to strike up a conversation, let alone a relationship with Prince Charming poking his head through the car window.

However, soon after meeting that night, Buck and I began dating. But my heart was never off guard. Not even when I saw how much he loved Robbie. Not even when he knelt beside me, gazing into my eyes with the love I’d never seen before. Not even when he asked me to marry him.

My brain said he was a good man. My heart said he’s just like all the others. My brain said he’s good for me and that I can learn to trust him. My heart said when he finds out how I really am, he’ll run, just like everyone else. My brain said to give him a chance. My heart said it will never yield to any man any time this side of heaven.

Six months later, we got married.

This man saw the worst anyone has ever seen in me before and loved me in spite of my suspicions, fears, and insecurities. He held me when I cried, he supported me during counselling, he talked to me, he listened to me, he encouraged me. He lifted me up high and taught me how to fly. No one except Jesus has ever loved me like that before.

He weathered the storm. He pushed through the barriers. He broke down the walls of steel with his stubborn love, his gentle strength and patience and longsuffering. He won my heart.

I thank God for our forty-five years together and for the love and happiness that few people share simply because they don’t push through the rough times. Most of all, I thank God for revealing His unconditional, steadfast, unwavering love for me through my awesome husband; the man He created just for me.

I still have trust issues. I still view the world as being more evil than good. I still, and always will have a fighting spirit against injustice. But because of one man’s stubborn persistence, I finally know the meaning of true love.