The past forty-four years seems like such a short time. When I was twenty, it didn’t seem possible for me to survive to the ripe old age of 64 to celebrate such an auspicious occasion as our forty-second anniversary.
I couldn’t believe my good fortune when I first met Michael. I struggled so hard with it that for the first two years after we met, I told myself over and over, it wouldn’t last. It was too good to be true. Who was I to warrant a man like this? Although I never realized it until many years later, we had one thing going for us from the beginning.
In the nearly four decades we’ve been together, I’ve grown to understand that it wasn’t good fortune, but a marvelous God who loved us more than either of us deserved that put us together. Throughout our lives, even before we knew him, God knew us and had a plan for us.
I didn’t know God when I was growing up. We only went to Sunday school a few times. I went to a lot of Vacation Bible Schools during the summers. They all had snow cones. Apart from that, I never knew much about a loving God who cared so about me. I had just turned 23 years old when Michael and I accepted Christ as our Savior.
I struggled for years trying to please God after this, while at the same time trying to overcome addictions to prescription drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. No matter how righteous I was, or what I did, I always felt inadequate. God never seemed to be impressed for long. I used to think he was always just outside my reach, nitpicking everything I did. I felt like I couldn’t win. At this point, I got frustrated with God and stopped going to church completely.
During this time, Michael continued to pray. I would walk into our bedroom at night, and he would be on the bed reading his Bible. It amazed me that he could still love me so much. I would often use our last few dollars on drugs or cigarettes, even though I knew it would be days or even weeks before we had any more money. He never condemned or scolded me. He just continued treating me with the same love he had shown me for years.
This only lasted for four months. When I was desperate enough, God introduced me to a new facet of his personality, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I started hearing about God’s unconditional love when I got into a Spirit-filled church. I understood that he wanted to have a personal relationship, even an intimate relationship with me. This was new to me. I had never had heard of a God like this. I tried to understand this concept for a while, even as I was struggling to get free of my destructive habits.
I couldn’t understand a love that you didn’t earn. How can a person comprehend a God who loved unconditionally? It didn’t make sense to me.
God patiently waited until I was ready before showing me the amazing gift he had given me. I will never forget when I realized that I could be free from my past and accept God’s love. I saw it when my daughter had repeated an offense and had to face her daddy. It grieved Michael to discipline her. But he loved her too much not to teach her.
At that moment I saw God. God was my Father, and he loved me. I saw Michael in a new role that I had never seen before. God said that I was the Bride of Christ. I understood that. I also knew that I was the bride of Michael. I could see that. If I could experience love as the bride of Michael, even when I didn’t deserve it, maybe I could receive God’s love as the Bride of Christ. So I understood and accepted the unconditional love of God by comparing it to the unconditional love of Michael Schuetz.
After this revelation, God started teaching me that he was my Father. It took him years to teach me how to think of him this way. Again, he used Michael as an important tool in my schooling. As I watched him relate to our daughter, Kathryn, I saw how I could relate to God as my ‘Daddy.’ I learned to crawl up in God’s lap and lay my head on his shoulder just like any daddy. When I go to him in prayer, it’s no different than our children going to their daddy and asking to have their needs met.
Through the years, God has used my family to teach me many facets of his character and personality. As a mother, I’ve learned patience, another facet of God’s nature. The love I have for my children teaches me how God loves me as his child. God places us in families for this reason. As we develop our relationships with one another, we learn more about God’s love for us. Thirty-nine-years of marriage to such a man! I can honestly say that he is the most amazing man I know. WOW! What a life! I know, without a doubt, that I didn’t deserve it. Thank God, I didn’t get what I did deserve. Instead, I got God’s love and the love of a virtuous man.