The church we attended had a new pastor, John Calhoun. So my husband (at that time), Michael, invited him over for dinner. John’s wife would not be coming with him, because she was a teacher and would be finishing up her school year in another state. This information amazed me. He was letting his wife stay? I wasn’t allowed out of our house without Michael.
When John arrived, Michael escorted him to the patio where they dined on steak and salad. I had hamburgers in the house with the children. This was not an unusual arrangement for me. That’s how it was at my house.
Apparently John did not understand the situation. He came in the house and began to try to have a conversation with me. It was a strange game we played. John would ask me a question and Michael would answer. I knew my job was to stay out of the way for the evening.
Finally, John asked Michael, “Does your wife have a name?”
I felt the impact of that question in the pit of my stomach. Why did this man want to know my name? I was never called by name. After John left, I received the expected lecture about what my place was in our marriage. I hoped that would be the end of it.
John’s wife, Jan, arrived in town. She was very friendly to me at church, always with a big smile on her face. I could barely make eye contact.
One Saturday Michael answered the doorbell and there stood Jan. She said, “I’ve come to take Joy shopping.” This was news to me. But Michael explained that I didn’t go shopping. He bought whatever I needed and brought it home to me.
Jan would not drop it. She kept pushing. I began to get nervous. Michael would not like this. I was astonished when he finally agreed to let me go. But Jan pushed some more.
“She will need some money if she’s going shopping.”
I was never allowed to have money. But to my amazement, Michael took out $20 and began to hand it to Jan. She laughed and said, “Oh, that’s not nearly enough and besides you need to hand it to Joy.” This was getting a bit too much for me. My mind leapt ahead to what my consequence would be.
My mouth fell open when Michael handed ME $50!
I was like a child at Disneyland for the first time. I didn’t know how to say what I was looking for, because I didn’t know the choices. I stuttered and stumbled my way through conversation with Jan. This was all new territory.
I bought a dress…..a blue sheath with white polka dots. Since Michael’s mother’s favorite color was red, most of my clothes were that color. I didn’t care for red.
Jan delivered me to my door with my treasure. My purchase was not discussed. Maybe I had made it through unscathed.
Sunday morning I put on my new dress. Was it ok to think I looked nice in it? Or would God get me for thinking that? Again, no mention of the new purchase as we climbed in the car for church.
John stood at the door, greeting his congregation as they arrived. When it was my turn, he shook my hand and told me how very nice I looked in my new dress. I lowered my head and hurried by. I knew Michael had heard him.
Within a few months, we moved to a different state. The reason I was given for the sudden move was that Michael could see that I was having an affair with John. He needed to get me away from him.
My life did not change abruptly because of the interaction with John and Jan. But a seed had been planted……..a seed that said I had some worth as a person. This story took place in 1970, but I can still remember every detail of the beginning of hope that blossomed under the encouragement of two believers who understood more than I thought they did.
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