Life in Montreal Quebec...
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.
“They are plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope".
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
Well I moved to Montreal Quebec right after graduating Bible College. The interesting part about this move though is; I never wanted to live in Montreal. For me Montreal was memories of eighteen years of doctor visits, long hospital stays, and the many hours driving just to get there. Yet here I was.
My parents were living in an apartment building in Dollard Des Ormeaux and my dad, though retired, was working as a janitor looking after four buildings. My mum took care of collecting rent. They had a three bedroom apartment, so I moved in with them.
On the night of graduation from Bible College; I became engaged to Joseph. We were happy, or so I thought. We got along well and he knew of my personal testimony of God's healing of my physical body. What he did not know was the deeper secret that I was doing my best to hide from the world. But when we became engaged things began to change.
Joseph was a long haul trucker and so he was usually on the road for a week at a time. Sometimes two weeks would go by before I'd see him again. My parents like him, my family liked him, but he was beginning to change.
One Wednesday evening when I was at church, unbeknownst to me, Joseph showed up at home. I guess when he found out I wasn't there he left. But that Saturday he dropped by again. We went out to a local restaurant for a bite and coffee. He was quiet, stand offish. I knew he was upset. Finally he asked me why I wasn't waiting at the apartment for him on the Wednesday evening he had stopped by. I told him that I did not know that he was going to be stopping by and after all, it was mid-week Bible Study service. He informed me that, in the future, I needed to remain at the house, in case he were to drop by. He would expect to see me there. This was just the beginning of what his future expectations of me were.
As time passed, Joseph, became more and more possessive, even controlling. He belittled my time at Bible College, saying it was a waste of time as "they" hadn't taught me how to be a "proper" wife. He informed me one evening that the Bible was clear that a wife was "under law" to her husband, she was to "obey" him in "everything" he said.
On a visit in May back home in New Brunswick, Joseph and I had made plans to spend a Saturday afternoon visiting with his grand-parents then head into Fredericton NB for supper then on to a Youth Rally. He was to pick me up at the house where I was staying for 1pm. Some friends and I went out on the lake for a boat ride with one of the girl's father. When I arrived back at the house around noon, Joseph was there waiting and he was upset. I quickly changed and left with Joseph. We didn't drive very far when he informed me that we were not going to go visit with his grand-parents. In fact he had been talking with a "wise" man from the church and he had a question for me which was to determine if I was going to be an "obedient" wife. Here was that question (keeping in mind that the couple are church going Christians):
You are married with a couple of children. Husband(Joseph) comes home one evening tells you(me) to call the babysitter, we are going down to the local bar. What are you(me) going to do?
I didn't have to think; my first answer was, he'd be going alone. Joseph says; but you're married you have to do as your husband tells you. So I say; well I might drive you down, but I would stay in the car. Again he gets belittling my Bible College education and puts me down saying I wasted my time and theirs as they did not teach me right. Finally I said; NO! I would not go with him and if he got drunk and couldn't find his way home, that maybe I would go down and get him, but once we got home he'd have to find his own way into the house and his bed would be on the couch. This answer did not go over very well and I was given an ultimatum; I could drive around with him or he would take me back to the house, where I was staying, and could go with the girls to church. I told him that was a no brainier; I was going to church. Needless to say, according to him and my answer to his question above, I was deemed to be an unruly wife. In the end we broke the engagement as Joseph felt that if he was going to marry, he wanted to marry someone who wasn't scared. Yes; you read correctly. Hearing this just added to the inner pain that was smoldering just below the surface.
I returned back to Montreal and settled into my job and as well started a Nurses Assistant course. This course was so much fun and I got to meet a lot of people. One night the teacher gave us an assignment. We were looking at the aged and the change between living in ones own home and the transitioning to a Retirement Home or Nursing Home. She was wanting us to see just how much a person looses when they make this journey.
For the sake of time; what the teacher got us to do was to write down on a piece of paper ten people and things that were important to us. Then once this was done we slowly eliminated things and people till we had but one thing or person remaining. When this was achieved the teacher then asked the question; "Now look at what you have left and how many have something worth living for"? Only two hands went up; mine and another girl's. The teacher was so surprised and asked us what could we possibly have that was worth living for? And our answers?? GOD. The other girl was a Christian just like me, the only difference, she was PAOC or Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and I was UPC or United Pentecostal Church.
We quickly became friends and one night I gave her a lift home after one of our classes. As we made our way to her home she asked me what made us so different. To be honest I really didn't have an answer for her. We had had many conversations and there was so much that we believed that were common. So finally I looked at her and said; for starters a big difference was our outward dress code, secondly there were places and things she could do and go that were a no no for the UPC. But I told her that in the end I guess the biggest difference was how our denominations viewed the Biblical truth of the Godhead. She asked me to explain; however I thought I would take this opportunity and ask her to explain what she believed. Well as you might guess, when she was done, I was just as confused over our differences as she was. Because when she got done, what she believed was no different than what I believed. Having this conversation made those nagging questions from the past come to the surface, but I knew that I dare not question, and so I kept quiet.
I continued to work and attend church. During this time I would describe myself as the walking dead. I was alive by outward appearance but inwardly I was emotionless. My life on the inside was broken and I had no sense of feeling. Where once I could walk into a room and detect when someone else may be hurting and in need of a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on; now I didn't care let alone respond. I had shut down. My only outlet was singing.
On my mother's side I come from a family who was musically inclined and had amazing God given talent for singing. I have fond memories growing up of gathering around the piano in the livingroom with my mother and singing the old hymns and choruses. So when it came to church, towards the end of the service when they would have a time of prayer around the front, I would go and stand off to the corner by the organist and sing during what was called the altar service. Soon the church got a drum set and then that became my outlet during the service.
Through a series of events I did end up going and speaking to my pastor about what had happened in Bible School. I will be forever grateful for the pastor I had, he believed in me, and encouraged me to keep pressing on in my walk with God. And the most important; he prayed for me that God would bring about healing of ALL my damaged emotions. Would it happen then? No; that would come later on in God's timing.
I settled into my life's routine of; going to work, night school, and baby sitting. And though I struggled at times with the haunting memories of my past, I kept my promise to the Lord. Often times in prayer I would say to Him; "If I never feel Your Presence again this side of heaven, I will keep serving You". Did I ever want to give up? Many times. Did I ever say enough is enough? Many times? Did I struggle with God's love for me? Constantly. Did I struggle with how others perceived me, real or not? Yes. Did I struggle with low self esteem? You bet ya. Did I ever think that life would be better off without me? Yes. So why would I keep pressing on when I felt so alone and hurting? I believe it goes back to those very early days when I was a small child, in and out of hospital. I saw my mum constantly in prayer. I would hear her by my hospital bedside, I would hear her just outside my bedroom door at home, the singing around the piano in the livingroom, and the many mornings of praying just before sending me off to school. Prayer - talking to God, no matter the circumstances, mum had taught me to press on. And so, while I would describe myself during this time as someone walking around feeling dead on the inside, no emotions to express or share, the alternative was not something I entertained. It simply was not an option. So leaning on the promise of God that; "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you"(Hebrews 13:5) I continued to walk on in faith that things would change and life would begin to heal. This would happen but not for many more years yet to come.
Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder
Why it should be thus all the day long;
While there are others living about us,
Never molested, though in the wrong.
Farther along we’ll know all about it,
Farther along we’ll understand why;
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,
We’ll understand it all by and by.
Sometimes I wonder why I must suffer,
Go in the rain, the cold, and the snow,
When there are many living in comfort,
Giving no heed to all I can do.
Tempted and tried, how often we question
Why we must suffer year after year,
Being accused by those of our loved ones,
E’en though we’ve walked in God’s holy fear.