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Holiday Love Stories

A Holiday Love Story

by Deborah Hedstrom-Page


This article courtesy of HomeLife magazine

Two years ago as I hung the ornaments on my tree and put my ceramic Baby Jesus in the manger, I had more than the holidays on my mind. A diamond ring sparkled on my left hand. After years of teaching me contentment and comfortable singleness, God had led me to say yes to Bill Page – a godly man who was an old friend, a widower, and a pastor. On December 30, 2001, Bill and I married. So this month I want to share with you a love story – but not the one you think.

When my first husband died 16 years ago, many people quoted Psalm 68:5 and Isaiah 54:5 and tried to comfort me by saying, “God will be your husband.” It didn’t work.

I repeatedly told the Lord, “I want You to be my God. I don’t want you to be my spouse. I want a flesh-and-blood husband.” God did not get mad or withdraw. He stayed close and waited.

As my grief lessened and my single parenting intensified, I turned to the Lord as never before – as I had turned to my husband before he died. And God’s Spirit responded, speaking comfort and giving direction. I experienced the reality of having a divine partner. As the years went by, I took for granted the intimacy I shared with God. I didn’t analyze it or think about it; I just lived it. But this year was different.

I had been remarried for three months when my first awareness of the change came. Praying as I drove to my teaching job, I sensed an indefinable change. God was still there. He was listening, and He loved me. But earlier that morning, I had talked with Bill about many of the things I was now praying about. The “no other one” intimacy with God I had as a single woman was now filled by my flesh-and-blood husband.

When I figured out the difference, my prayer changed to thanksgiving for the privilege of experiencing God in a unique way because of my needs as a single woman.

Two months later, however, I wasn’t so thankful. I was preparing to speak at my first women’s retreat since getting married, and I felt afraid. Would no longer having my single-life neediness for God affect the depth of my speaking? After wrestling with my thoughts for a couple of weeks, I burst into tears one night. Bill asked what was wrong, and I did my best to explain. He had been a widower for a couple of years, so he had a sense of what I meant; and he realized that my additional 13 years of being alone had left a strong reality of a divine presence.

It helped to be understood, but his next comment helped me even more:
“You know how you’re going to speak on the topic of ‘New Every Morning’ from Lamentations 3? Well, God is allowing you to live that now. You’re experiencing Him in a new, married way.”

My husband’s words changed my fretting to thinking. As a single person, the same Holy Spirit who so often had spoken directly to me, now often spoke through my husband. I thought back to the mornings I’d talked to Bill about my retreat topics and content. Each time, he’d made comments that helped me focus my sharing. God was just as near and helpful, but now He had another way to help and direct me – through my husband.

The retreat was great, and my positive attitude toward my husband even rubbed off on many of the ladies; and they, too, began speaking well of their mates. It was a new addition to the results God produced when I spoke.

Every single person has an incredible opportunity to find God in a unique, intimate way. So when you decorate your tree and wrap gifts this holiday season, take a moment to thank the Lord for His Emanuel – the God-with-us child born 2,000 years ago – and realize that your love story with Him is the greatest one ever told.

Deborah Hedstrom-Page, the mother of four adult children, lives in Salem, Oregon. She is the author of over 250 magazine articles and a number of books.

 

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