How God rebuilt a marriage on His foundation.
by Barbara Curtis
“Hey, how does this one sound, honey? ‘For he is our peace, who hath made both one. . . . ‘”
Tripp, my new husband, reluctantly pulled his eyes from the Sunday paper and regarded me with a thin, patient smile. For days I had been searching through our recently united collection of spiritual books for just the perfect quote to adorn our wedding announcements.
“I thought we had decided on that one from Kahlil Gibran,” he answered. “How did it go? ‘The hand of life contains your hearts . . . ‘?”
“I don’t know. I just never got the right vibration from that one. I particularly didn’t like that part ‘Let there be spaces in your togetherness.'”
“Where did you get this peace thing?” Tripp asked.
“It’s from the Bible.”
Even back in 1983 we owned a Bible, though I’m not sure which one of us had brought it into marriage. It was just one of the innumerable books layered on bookshelves throughout our little house. I remember blowing dust off the gilt-edged pages when I took it down that morning.
“The Bible?” Tripp’s eyebrows lifted quizzically. I might as well have suggested Aesop’s Fables as a resource.
Tripp and I were New Age seekers. We each had embarked on a solo search for the truth years before. When we finally met, we recognized each other immediately as soul mates. From the beginning, we meditated together daily. In emptying our minds to achieve higher spiritual realms, we even had visions of our past lives that reinforced our feeling that we truly belonged together.
Friends and family tried to put the brakes on our relationship, warning us to slow down. After all, I had two daughters from my first marriage, and Tripp, seven years younger than I, had little history of responsibility. How could he take on the burden of a ready-made family?
Wedding on the coast
Nevertheless, after three intense, inseparable months, against everyone’s advice, we eloped. We were married at sunset on the California coast by an innkeeper who dutifully intoned passages containing all the muddled theology we had so far pieced together.
None of it was from the Bible. Unchurched in our younger years, we had turned our gaze eastward when we began feeling the need for God in our lives. Books like the Bhagavad Gita and the writings of charismatic gurus collected no dust on our shelves.
That is why Tripp was probably a little skeptical as he took the Bible and read the passage I pointed to. He paused, reflected, then said quietly, “Well, if it sounds good to you, it sounds good to me.”
“For He is our peace who hath made both one.” Those last lines sounded so promising. I loved the way they looked engraved on the creamy formal announcements, just as I treasured my crystal collection or the pictures of various spiritual masters arrayed on our meditation altar.
A picture of Jesus was there, too.
Tripp and I thought of Jesus as great teacher, as worthy of our attention as all the others. Believing that all paths led to the same God, we felt that Christians were misguided and narrow-minded. They did not understand the esoteric, or hidden, message behind the things Jesus said.
Being more advanced spiritually, we understood Jesus to be a more highly evolved being who had tried to show us that we are all divine. When Jesus said, “I and the Father are one,” He was actually trying to show us that we are all God. Tripp and I wanted more than anything to achieve our divine potential.
We delighted in the vast smorgasbord of New Age ideas and practices and the unlimited freedom to choose those we wished to blend into our own unique belief system.
Our discipline paid off. Using positive affirmation, we started with nothing and within four years had become very well off. By contributing ten percent to eastern spiritual organizations, we enjoyed the benefits of New Age tithing: giving so that more will be returned. Materially, there was little that was not within our reach.
With the addition of three sons, we now had five healthy children. We enjoyed a reputation in the community as a wholesome, happy, successful family. People looked to us for advice and encouragement in their own lives.
And yet there was a flaw in this picture of perfection. My husband and I, each seemingly so in harmony with the universe, could not achieve harmony in our marriage.
We argued about everything.
No amount of money, success, or achievement made it easier for us to get along. Tripp and I were both stubborn, strong-willed people. Believing in our own divinity only made matters worse. How could two gods ever live happily under the same roof?
The New Age had taught me nothing about submission or compromise. Instead, it had assured me of my right to be happy and to use any means I needed to change unpleasant realities.
I decided I had made a mistake. Tripp was not my soul mate, after all.
Before I could take any action, God intervened. For some time I had been listening every morning to Focus on the Family for parenting advice. Just when I was ready to give up on my marriage, Dr. James Dobson had Dennis and Barbara Rainey on his show to talk about their marriage conferences. Family Life Conference was designed to give strength to marriages. In a last-ditch effort to save ours, I signed us up for the following weekend.
Despite many bitter words on our way to the conference, by some miracle Tripp and I did not turn back. At the first night’s session we learned how God’s plan for marriage differed from the world’s. Because the family is God’s building block, the leaders said, Satan sought to destroy it.
For the first time, I realized that Satan was not a myth. My New Age beliefs had no reasonable explanation for the evil and destruction that was glaringly apparent in the world around me. They also could not explain why two people who loved each other could not coexist peacefully.
Like a tide, the bitterness I felt toward my husband began slowly to recede.
The next day — for the first time — we heard about a God who cares about us and wants us to “have peace with [Him] through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). This was radically different from the vague impersonal religion I had been practicing.
Furthermore, we were told that sin had separated us from God: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23). I was not divine, after all! Humility began to flow into my heart like gentle streams into a parched land.
No wonder my life had never worked.
Even our best efforts were inadequate to bridge the gap between man and God. But “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring [us] to God” (1 Peter 3:18). “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
I had never heard anything like this before. Jesus was more than a spiritual master! I prayed silently, confessing that I was a sinner and asking Jesus to become my Lord and Savior. Through my tears, I looked beside me and saw my husband crying, too.
We came home as different people. With no previous exposure to Christianity, we were not sure what had happened to us. But we knew something had changed.
The neglected gilt-edged Book was dusty no longer. Tripp and I became avid Bible readers and in this manner realized that we had been born again (John 3:3). We burned our meditation altar and threw away our New Age books and tapes, our pictures and idols. Gone as well were our beliefs in astrology, reincarnation, and pantheism.
We found a church that taught the Bible clearly. We entered there as babes, not as the highly evolved spiritual beings we had thought ourselves to be. “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
“What are they into now?” our children, our parents, and our friends asked. Yet as they saw our relationship being healed, their hearts softened. One by one, our children put their faith in Jesus. Day by day we learned of God’s care for us as He healed our wounds from the past and blessed our family with love and peace.
Ten years have passed since then. Tripp and I are still the same strong-willed people. We have walked through peak experiences and valleys of grief, but we have walked together. Although we still have areas of disagreement, they no longer threaten our commitment or our love. Each of us has learned to live in submission to each other and to God.
“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We now discern God’s hand on our lives long before we came to know Him. He left His fingerprints on our first three sons, born before we were Christians, yet named Joshua Gabriel, Matthew Raphael, and Benjamin Michael.
And just as clearly, we see that His plan was always that our home be established on Him. He is our peace; He made us one.
“For he is our peace” is from Ephesians 2:14 (King James Version). All other Scripture quotations from the New International Version. Kahlil Gibran fragments from The Prophet.
About the Author
Barbara Curtis is a speaker and writer living in Petaluma, CA, who has had 300 articles published in more than 40 magazines, including Guideposts, Focus on the Family, Moody, and Christian Parenting Today. Her mission is to “unburden, enlighten and encourage” fellow Christians, as well as “to communicate effectively with those who have yet to believe.”