Surprised by Love
Surprised by Love
Lisa Stackpole, today’s guest blogger, writes about the joy of later-life marriage. Lisa wrote the meditation that appears in The Upper Room magazine for April 18, 2012.
In my early adutlhood I wanted very much to be married. But after a very painful relationship when I was in my early 30’s and suffering depression for over a year, I surrendered my singleness to the Lord. When I did that, God blessed me with peace. For sixteen years I enjoyed being unmarried and able to focus my energies on serving the Lord through church activities and my job with a national prison ministry. That began to change when Jerry, a co-worker from another part of the country, initiated a long-distance courtship with me. Fourteen years my senior, Jerry had been married previously and had adult children with their own families.
The relationship was quite unlikely. We lived hundreds of miles apart, and being happily single I hesitated to rock the boat by even considering marriage. I had to know that it was God’s will. While we had been acquainted as co-workers for ten years, Jerry and I did not really know much about each other. However, as the months passed with daily phone conversations, long emails, and occasional visits, it became clear to me that God had brought us together—something Jerry had known well before I did but waited patiently for me to discover.
We were married just weeks before my 50th birthday. Since he was only a year from retirement age, Jerry resigned his job and joined me in Wisconsin. Although I was still working full time, we found time to travel and enjoyed married life.
Three years into our marriage, Jerry started exhibiting unusual physical symptoms, and after some months he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. This debilitating disease has a variety of possible symptoms. For Jerry, it affects mainly in his balance and mobility, making it difficult for him to walk, particularly in crowds or through narrow passages. Falls became a fact of life. Then three years ago he developed stenosis of the spine, making it painful for him to walk or even to stand or sit in certain positions. The stenosis also makes it difficult for him to do the exercises he learned in therapy to combat the effects of PD. Despite these obstacles, Jerry exhibits courage and patience every day and maintains a wonderful attitude—a real blessing to me. He is truly my hero.
Four years ago I resigned from my job due to changes that were occurring in the organization for which I worked. God has allowed us to be financially secure to the extent that I do not need to work outside our home, and I can spend more time with Jerry. Some may feel sorry for us because this disease struck so soon after our marriage, and sometimes I’m tempted to play “what if”—what would our life be now if we were still able to travel? If Jerry did not have to deal with debilitating pain every day? What if?
But every day we see ourselves surrounded by blessings. We know that as Joshua 1:9 says, God is with us wherever we go. Jerry truly blesses my life and vice versa. His sense of humor keeps me smiling, as you can probably tell from the photo. On June 1 we will celebrate our tenth anniversary. God is indeed good!
--Lisa Stackpole (pictured with husband, Jerry)