My husband was enjoying his success, and I was jealous. He had been with his company for 15 years and progressed quickly up the management ladder while I had changed jobs four times in eight years. I never seemed to get the breaks that he did, and I envied him.
That jealousy and the fact that we had differences in our marriage goals made us increasingly distant and cold to one another. We seldom talked without becoming angry.
A discussion about going out for dinner would end in an argument and his leaving the room. “I’m tired of your nagging. I’m going out,” he would say, slamming the door behind him. That was our pattern; I would nag and accuse, and he would walk out. Nothing ever was resolved.
One night while walking in a mall I was drawn to a bookstore. Most of my reading had centered on ways to improve myself financially and physically. Reading for pleasure, I thought, was a waste of time. But that night I was looking for something to lift my sagging spirits something that would show me how to get my marriage in shape and my husband in line.
As I passed by books dealing with marriage, divorce, changing sex roles and psychology, I came to a book titled “What Happens When Women Pray,” by Evelyn Christenson. I felt uncomfortable with that title–I didn’t think that I needed to pray but I bought it anyway. When I arrived home, I read parts of it. Little did I know that God was preparing me for a big change in my life.
During the next few weeks, my world began to crumble. I was told by the owner of the hair dressing shop where I rented space that I had 30 days to find another location. I was enraged because she had changed her mind about renting me space. When I started looking for another place, I thought, “This time I will open my own shop and be my own boss.” But each place I looked at was too large or too expensive or needed too much work to make it feasible to set up business. Then I also needed permits from the city and the State Board of Cosmetology.
I began to have scary feelings that I couldn’t control, so I decided to see my doctor and get something for my nerves. I was sure that tranquilizers and a little talk with my doctor would get me through. If I could rest and take the proper medication, I would still be able to open my shop at the end of the month.
But my panics became more frequent; I became afraid of everything. After talking with my doctor, I decided to move my hair dressing equipment into storage. I told my customers that I needed time to find a new location and that I would keep them informed. It broke my heart to give up everything I had worked for, but I was so tense and scared most of the time that I could do little other than cry. I had entered a cycle of fear, depression and hopelessness. My despair was such that I often considered suicide.
At that point I remembered a woman named Joyce in the shop where I had worked who had talked to people about her Christian faith. She used to irritate me. She would say, “I was a sinner but I am saved by the blood of Jesus. Life is so beautiful now.”
As I listened to her talk, I thought, “How can she tell her personal business to all those strangers? It’s OK to believe in God if that is what you want, but people shouldn’t spoil things by going around and talking about it. If other people don’t want God, that is their business.”
I was content to live at a comfortable distance from God. I was a faithful churchgoer–I even prayed now and then—but I wondered how God could help me. People needed God if they could not help themselves or if they were not so resourceful and intelligent as I.
But I needed help. Then I remembered what Joyce had said, and I searched frantically for the Christenson book and read it again. In desperation I prayed, “Dear God, please help me. I don’t know what is wrong with me, but I know that You are the only One to fix it.”
I committed my life to Christ, and I prayed about everything that bothered me. In a few weeks, as I read God’s Word, I began to have hope by holding on to the promises I found there. I learned that as believers we are entitled to ask our Father for anything we need.
I called Joyce. “You may not remember me,” I said, “but I used to work at the beauty shop and I listened to you talk about your faith. I want to let you know that I have asked Jesus into my life. Just hearing about how God helped you has helped me.”
I wish that I could say that I was instantly and dramatically healed, but I wasn’t. I was later hospitalized for depression and had many hours of difficult therapy. I have had days when the fears and depression have seemed unbearable, but those periods have become less frequent and do not incapacitate me. Now I count these days a blessing because they remind me that through my illness I was able to exchange my concerns about material security for the security of eternal life.
I have a happiness that is genuine. Everything that I hold dear I have given to God, including our marriage; my husband and I are getting along much better. I am putting our marriage before me.
Work and money used to be the sources of my self-esteem, but I know now that that is not the way life is supposed to be. If I decide to work again, it will be something that will not interfere with our marriage.
I used to resent working for someone else and I promised myself that I would never do it again. Now I am working for God. Instead of looking down on prayer, I look forward to it. I enjoy talking with God and I can’t stop telling people about Him.