It’s funny what a month can do to your life. Here I am in Arizona, trying to make a decision whether to marry Reg Tenney or not.
Mary Tenney, his wife, passed away three weeks ago, and my dilemma started. I knew it was going to happen before it really happened. I knew the day I heard she passed away. I felt badly that she was gone, and my whole spirit and body cried, “No!”
I had just hit the top of the world with my plays and now I was faced with a major decision. I knew the Tenney family loved me and I knew I loved them, and that was grounds for a meeting, a question, and an answer, but I fought it so hard. You see, Reg had six children and I had never been married.
Chris Hobbs, a friend of mine, said when I shared my problem with her, “Yevet, it doesn’t sound like you love him.” She was right. I didn’t love him that way, but there was something nagging at me.
The next day Eric, another friend, talked to me and I shared my dilemma. I expected him to say, “Yevet, your plays are too wonderful, the church needs you here, not in a small town raising six children.” But he didn’t say any of that.
Instead he said, “I have been reading Isaiah lately and I read the verse that said, ‘The Lord will make bare his arm to all the nations.’ I asked the Lord how it was to be done, and I think I have understood how it will be done. Yevet, you are a strong person who is very close to the Spirit and the Lord trusts you. People like you will make bare His arm among the nations. You will know the answer to your question, and you will have a very spiritual experience in doing it.”
That was not at all what I wanted to hear, but it was the answer that I needed.
Later in the week, Reg called. He wanted to know if he could see me when I came home in August. We had this very stilted and stiff conversation. Him trying to pick up a friendship where we left off seven years ago (his wife and I were good friends and we visited many times), and me saying, I don’t want this right now.
It was then the spiritual struggle began. I found myself saying, “My career is more important than marriage (I had been searching for Prince Charming for years and bewailing my single status; now I was fighting the very thing I had begged for).
I thought, “I’m too important to be stuck in a small town with my hands tied, as far as my plays go.”
Then my mind would say, “But Yevet, you are 37 years old and you need to be married. Reg is a good man and he is a Tenney. I know I need intellectual stimulus. I know I need to communicate in concepts and ideas, but I also need to be loved and appreciated for who I am, and I know Reg would do that.”
Before I went home for the summer, I had an interview for a wonderful job and the opportunity door was open. I was so excited about it. Yet in some part of me, I felt heavy and dark. Somehow I knew it was not going to happen, but I pushed to make it happen anyway.
The Lord was letting me know that His plan for me was beginning to unfold, and I needed to perk up and listen, but I was in denial.
When I was driving home to Arizona in August, I listened to cassette tapes from a wise man who I know listens to God. One of the tapes was not fully rewound, so I rewound it and pushed play.
When it started, I listened for a few minutes and decided that I had heard it recently, so I took it out and put in the next tape. That was a sermon on marriage. He explained in detail why it is important to God’s plan for men to marry.
I kept searching for ways to make it not apply to me, and I finally decided I didn’t have to worry about it – I was not going to marry Reg and that was final. Then I put in another tape. It happened to be the one I had previously taken out.
The speaker talked about how husbands and sons should treat their mothers and wives. All through the speech, beautiful images of love and service to Reg’s family kept leaping into my mind.
A peaceful feeling came over me and I relaxed a little, thinking my mind would change, but it did not last long. Before long, I was again saying, “This can’t work. I can’t give up who I am.”
When I arrived home, we had the big Despain Family Reunion. All through the hugs and family activities, I thought about my problem. In our family rodeo, Chester, my brother, got hurt riding a bull. I was terrified! Chester has eight children. “Who would take care of his family if he were to leave them?”
It would take a wonderful and noble person to take over his family of eight children. Then the thought of Reg and his family came into my mind. At that point, I started making bargains. I told the Lord if He wanted me to marry Reg, I would if He would make Chester be all right.
It turned out that nothing was seriously wrong with Chester. He just had the wind knocked out of him. He was fine before we even got him to the doctor.
I figured if there was nothing seriously wrong in the first place, that put me off the hook. I did not have to keep my promise. How foolish are the minds of humans!
The Lord was not going to let me get away with it. He had a plan and I would have to make a conscious choice to follow His plan or abandon my true mission in life. I would make the choice, and like Jonah I did.
It is funny how you think you know yourself, and what is good for you, but the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves. As days passed, I continued to argue with myself.
One day I was out jogging and pondering my situation. I was thinking favorably about the marriage, when it occurred to me that if I married Reg, I could be a grandmother in five years. You see, he had teenage children.
“No! I will not do it!” I was not even a mother! I could not be a grandmother! I was not going to marry Reg and that was final!
Time went by and finally I humbled myself to listen, and I knew. God was my matchmaker, and I trusted Him to know what was best for me.
When I met Reg, I knew that I would be his wife. Then those romantic feelings came. They started with compassion, and grew into love. Was our life together a placid sea of glass and roses without thorns? Certainly not!
Our life has been a roller coaster of peaks and valleys. Reg had kids, and we adopted five kids! When you have thirteen different personalities trying to pull together, you will have chaos, but as I look back, the Lord made it possible for me to learn to love more deeply than I could ever imagine.
He taught me lessons that I could never have learned as a single woman working in my chosen career, and for that, I am grateful.
Marriage isn’t a matter of love songs and fluttery feelings. It is a matter of deep heartfelt commitment. You can fall in and out of love with anyone. That is a chemical reaction, but love is sacrifice and unselfishness.
It is looking beyond today, into the future. It is seeing your posterity follow in your footsteps and making a path for them that is easy to follow. It is making a nest where young ones are nurtured and cared for. It is setting an example for Christ, so Christian principles will live eternally.
Yes! There is romance! Yes, love songs make a difference, but love is an eternal commitment to unselfishness. As Dale Carnegie said, “Love is not a matter of finding the right person; it is a matter of being the right person.” PD