Praying for a Prince
About the Guest
Are you a Christian with an unbelieving spouse? Today, Nancy Meyer talks about her fairytale courtship with her husband, Rich, and the devastating news she got a few years into their marriage when Rich, a former youth pastor, confided in her that he no longer believed in God.
Are you a Christian with an unbelieving spouse?
Praying for a Prince
Nancy Meyer: Looking back I realized that I probably felt like a shell, completely empty inside and felt like that for quite awhile several years later when I look back at that day and the next few weeks and months, I realized that I was going through the grief process because I had lost that spiritual oneness with my husband, didn’t know if I would get it back or when or if I live there now as well with that knowledge that I can’t make a decision for Rich regarding God.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, July 13th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife Dennis Rainey and I’m Bob Lepine. How do you adjust when you find yourself in marriage all of a sudden spiritually single?
Welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. We’re going to be talking today about one of the very difficult dilemmas that some people face in a marriage relationship.
Dennis: A lot of our listeners find themselves in circumstances that are challenging, they are challenging every day and our guest has faced challenging circumstances for more than 20 years. Nancy Meyer joins us on FamilyLife Today. Nancy, welcome to the broadcast.
Nancy: Thanks so much, Dennis, it’s great to be with you and Bob.
Dennis: Nancy is a writer, she is a recording artist, and in fact is there anything you don’t do? (laughter).
Bob: Do you do windows?
Nancy: I don’t do laundry (more laughter)
Dennis: Yes, really, well you have one daughter and you live in a very beautiful section of the country, eastern Pennsylvania, Lancaster. What a beautiful
Bob: you said that right...too
Dennis: I did,
Dennis: I’ve been there; I mean it’s a beautiful spot, if you haven’t visited that area of Pennsylvania. I could live there; I mean it really is beautiful. Nancy, as you speak to women, you begin sometimes, by telling or actually, reading a fairy tale.
Nancy: I do, it’s called the true story of Princess Nancy and Prince Richard. Once upon a time, a common girl was born into a common family, but her parents called her their little princess. And she went to Bible College hoping to meet prince charming, and wanted to marry a pastor, mother 12 children, and teach kindergarten. But God had other plans, thankfully.
And she did meet and marry prince charming, Richard Meyer, and he wanted to become a youth pastor and indeed he did. But it seemed that every two years interesting phenomena began to occur. He changed goals or plans or positions or we just had lots of changes. And I got frustrated as I, you know, raced around the country with him from one point to another and soon developed a deep desire to teach the same school classroom, in the same building, and the same school district for at least two years. But, God had other plans.
And so, eventually, about 6 ½ years into our marriage, Rich was working in the secular world and our daughter came along and Becky was born, she is now 19. She came along, we thought everything was just right. Rich started to work for my parents and in the course of time everything seemed to be right and we put our hope in what seemed like a good and secure future.
But God had other plans for us. In fact, Rich decided suddenly that he wanted out of the family business and decided to become a professional truck driver. And at about that same time he came out one Sunday morning and said, “My prayers are hitting the ceiling, I can’t see God, I can’t feel him, I don’t even know if He’s really there. And I’m sorry I guess this comes as a great surprise to you, but I’m not going to sit there in church until I figure this thing out.”
Well, with all the changes, I really thought life wasn’t going to be what I had anticipated and I was so grateful that God had other plans. And I was pretty excited about it, when just a short time after Rich started truck driving, it was less than two years, he came home and had an emergency back surgery from a loading accident. He had to spend the next two years recuperating, relearning to walk and reevaluating his goals and plans.
The crown I had given him slipped further and further off his head. And our love for each other went down to next to nothing. And neither one of us thought we would ever have any more fun, but God had other plans. I was sure that Rich was the one that needed some work, but God impressed upon me that I can’t change anybody but me.
When I finally admitted that and went for some help from our pastor of counseling at our church, he told me that I needed to go home to Rich and check and see what he wanted me to change and he’d help me see what I could and change that and we’d see what God would do. Certainly that’s what happened and so the changes in me affected our relationship in the best possible way. And as I applied all the things I learned in Bible College and the things that the counselor was teaching me, my life changed and changed Rich for the better. We fell back in love and it was just the coolest thing.
But what wasn’t cool, is the fact that Rich didn’t have any faith to share with his little girl, and so at the age of seven, Becky came to me and said, “Mom, half my heart believes in Jesus and the other half doesn’t know if He’s real, what am I going to do?” Basically I took her to the Word and as I opened the Bible, I was checking for doubting Thomas and couldn’t find the gospels.
God opened the word up to us and I had already had Jeremiah 29: 11, 12 and 13 underlined. And as I read those verses to Becky, verse 13 says, “Seek Me with all your heart and I will let you find Me.” And so then she said, “How do we seek Him?” And the verse right before that, verse 12 says, “Come and call to Me and look for Me and I will answer You.” And so the Holy Spirit brought back an illustration that a teacher and a mother in class had given.
I’d listened carefully and so I applied that and Becky and I cut out construction paper flowers and we wrote a prayer request on each one and we prayed over those prayer requests every night before she went to bed. We didn’t make it obvious and pray at the dinner table, we just did it quietly before she went to sleep each night. By the end of one week, five prayer requests were answered and she wanted to put the flowers up on the ceiling of her room where she could read them from her bed.
And so we did that, that wasn’t what mom had envisioned as the interior decorator. By the end of one month God had answered 20 of Becky’s request flowers including one that said, “God, I want to know you more.” Well, I was thrilled, but God had even greater plans because about 6 months later I was sharing this story with a new friend I had met and telling her the whole situation.
I was completely amazed with the revelation that God had put together a father whose prayers who were hitting the ceiling with a little girl whose faith was a direct result of prayer requests that were answered written on flowers that were stuck to her ceiling and just that fast God brought back the verse, Jeremiah 29:11, that says, “I know the plans I have for you, plans for hope and for good,” and that included my family.
And you know it’s been eighteen years since Rich came out that Sunday morning and said no more God; I think I’m done here. I think I’m agnostic. God has carried us that whole way and you know when I had that revelation from God about the ceiling garden and Rich’s prayers hitting the ceiling, I had to think that God’s plans are best and the opportunity that He’s given me to share really is a good plan.
Dennis: You, in that story, repeated a phrase
Dennis: God had different plans for you.
Dennis: You never thought you would ever write a book called A Spiritually Single Mom, I mean, when you speak to groups, undoubtedly and you introduce that subject, there has to be curiosity about what does that mean, to be a spiritually single mom?
Nancy: A spiritually single mom, obviously, is the mom who comes with her children to church alone and sits in a pew by herself, with her kids off in different parts of the church, or sits with her children in church, there’s no husband with her and yet, there is a husband at home. So that’s where the spiritually single mom comes in. And a single mom is spiritually single as well.
However, a spiritually single mom is one where the husband and wife are intact. It’s an intact family. But they’re a spiritually divided home and so, with that definition in place it’s also true that there are some spiritually single women who are sitting in church congregations right now, who are sitting beside a man that has checked out. He is just not in tune with God any more or they are not in tune in quite the same way, and she feels abandoned. But she can’t share that with anybody because that would compromise his reputation with the people, and with their friends and it would also compromise their relationship.
Dennis: And to that point, as you share this story about you and Richard, you have his permission.
Nancy: Yes, it’s very important for us to tell your listeners that Rich has given me permission to share our story. As a matter of fact, he signed the release for the media involvement today. Which is very cool.
Dennis: Why do you think he does that?
Nancy: One of the reasons that he allows me to share, is because he trusts me and I don’t take advantage of that trust. Just as for today, I have prayed that I would not say anything that would give your listeners a negative picture of him that would be unfair or unrealistic, but would only leave him in good light.
There are still things about all of us that aren’t the way they should be and Rich’s actual words to me when he gave me permission. He said, “If you could help women stick in difficult marriages, and keep families together, you can say anything you want to say.” He said that this October 12 years ago. And so as long as he keeps allowing me to share, I will do so.
Bob: Let me take you back to that Sunday morning that you described in your fairy tale, where Rich came out and said that’s it, my prayers are hitting the ceiling, I’m checking out until I get this thing figured out. Did you think at that time this will be one of those momentary lapses of faith that he’ll get it resolved and three weeks from now we will be back at church, everything will be fine?
Nancy: No, because there had already been indication, probably as long as I had known him, that he grapples with authority in his life. There are other things that just led me to believe that this was a rocky road and this might be the end and I ..
Dennis: The end of?
Nancy: the end of Rich’s spirituality. I mean it was pretty obvious the way he was saying things and I knew that he had been struggling. He’d struggled through different job situations and yes, it was one of those times when you could hear a pin drop.
You know how sometimes everything goes still and it’s just a moment caught in time? You remember it forever and you can hear the clock tick extra loud, and it was one of those moments your whole face, the red climbs right up your throat and, you know, over your ears and up to your forehead and you just feel like you’re going to implode.
I remember going to church, I remember getting Becky ready, because Rich would bring her a little bit later, because I taught a Sunday school class for women and then he would bring her for church and so I had to get her ready that day and I got her ready, and we hopped in the car and I went and I don’t know how I taught that Sunday school class. I don’t remember a thing about it and I don’t remember what the pastor spoke on. I just looking back, realize I probably felt like a shell that was completely empty inside and felt like that for quite awhile.
And several years later when I look back at that day and then the next few weeks and months, I realized that I was going through the grief process because I had lost that spiritual oneness with my husband and I didn’t know if I would get it back or when, or if. I live there now as well, with that knowledge that every decision is an individual’s decision to make with God. I can’t make a decision for Rich, regarding God. So I can’t tell you that he is going to come back. I can tell you that with faith, I believe that he can and he will by God’s grace. But he is still an individual.
Dennis: Does he know you’re praying for him?
Nancy: I’m sure he does. And I’m sure that he suspects that there’re people all over the world praying for him, too.
Dennis: You know what? I’d like to ask our listeners right now, before they go to bed tonight, and go to sleep, I want you to just mention Rich’s name before the King and ask God to so love him and chase him down.
Dennis: That someday you’ll hear the rest of the story here on FamilyLife Today.
Nancy: Yes, well now I have to tell you that a friend took me aside one day and said you know how you and Rich are so so different? She said, if you are away from the Lord and you were going to come back to the Lord, and you found your sweet spot with God again. She said. everyone on the face of the earth would know it, but, she said, think about Rich, he’s not the same kind of person. She said, I think you need to think about how you are going to respond, you know, you’re not going to have freedom to tell everybody his story.
And I thought about that, I prayed about it for awhile and I actually said to Rich at one point, you know I don’t know when you’re going to come back to the Lord, but when you do I just wanted to let you know that I understand we are so different that I’m going to back off and you tell who you want to tell and you tell them the way you want it to be told. So I can’t promise you, Dennis that you will know before we get to heaven. But, I know that God is doing some great things, and I trust Him.
Dennis: Thank you for sharing that, because I want our listeners to hear and to visualize and to understand what she just modeled. Not a controlling woman or for that matter, a controlling spouse. But instead one who gives freedom, one who’s not trying to make them a replica of themselves.
I just appreciate you being open and honest and saying that to Rich to give him the freedom so that there is no hindrance. I think one of the big problems that we face in a situation like this, is the spouse who’s there with the unbelieving one or the one who strayed from Christ for a time, feels it’s their responsibility to preach, to control, to get the truth to them, to find a way to win them back. And that really is ultimately God’s responsibility, not ours.
Nancy: That’s right. And as a matter of fact, one of the things I try and get across to the women is that your husband’s problems aren’t your fault and they are not your responsibility to fix. It’s actually my daughter that put that in words a couple years ago when I was asking her how she’s doing with the whole spiritually divided household thing. And she said, “Well you know mom, I’m ok, I realize two things, I realize that God gave you and dad both to me to help me to become the person I need to be and she said you both give me good and bad examples.” (laughter)
Yes, thanks Bec, but its true and she said the other thing is you know I know dad’s problems aren’t my fault and they’re not my responsibility to fix. I was overwhelmed with the maturity of that statement and I’m so thankful that God’s brought her that. But even though we both believe it, it’s still hard to live it sometimes. It’s still hard to live a noncontrolling life because I know I have the right answers and I want Rich to have them and I want to change him, you know and got to back off that.
Bob: You know, I think about spouses who are in the situation you are in and whether it’s a wife or a husband, some of them are there because when they got married, they thought they were on the same page spiritually and then they find out a few years in that they either never were or in your case something changed.
But then there are also those folks who are in the situation because they both went into marriage, neither of them on any kind of a spiritual page and one of them comes to faith in Christ. And you know we talk all the time about the spiritual intimacy that a couple experiences as being integral to a healthy marriage relationship. That’s been gone for you for 18 years, right?
Nancy: Absolutely, it’s been gone a little bit longer than that and probably if I was to look back, I would say that we didn’t have a really, really thriving spiritual life as a couple from the very beginning. It was ok, and we both knew that we were in love with the Lord, but very different from the beginning and it wasn’t a big thing for Rich to make sure we had time to pray and read together we’re both highly active, high energy people.
Bob: At least you were coming off the same page where you thought you were still kind of …
Nancy: we were working on it.
Bob: thinking along the same lines now all of a sudden the spiritual connectedness is not a part of the relationship.
Dennis: But to that point, there are a lot of women who go to church with a husband and I’m glad you pointed this out earlier, who have the trappings of looking like there is a spiritual relationship shared and they’re not, they’re just as alone as you are today.
Nancy: Right, or some, you know, saved woman whose husband is unsaved will say to that person who is coming to church with their husband, “Well, at least he comes to church with you” like that’s a good thing.
Dennis: Well isn’t it a good thing? I mean wouldn’t you rather have him there, than not?
Nancy: Yes, but if you are sitting in church beside a man who you know has checked out, there is this constant frustration because he’s right there with you and you know that things aren’t right and you want to fix him and you want to…. Oh you know, I can feel the heart of that woman
Dennis: uh huh, he’s there, but he is not with you.
Dennis: Nancy, as I picture you speaking to a lot of women right now, and probably some men who are in spiritually mismatched marriages…
Nancy: Yes, there’s many.
Dennis: I hear three principals coming through loud and clear and they all begin with the letter “H.” First of all, Humility. You have and continue to demonstrate a right spirit, not only before God, but before your husband. You’re not judging him; you are trying to win him without a word.
Secondly, I hear the word, Help. You had those who came along side you to help you, to encourage you, to coach you. And third, help you not give up and have Hope. And I hear hope throughout this story, and I think we serve the God of all hope.
This Christianity is not a dead religion, God is alive. He works. Your spouse, the spouse that your married to who may not be a believer is just an arm’s length from the throne of God. God has got him within his reach and it could be there just aren’t enough people praying yet, it could be it may not be God’s timing for him. Or her, but the point is, don’t lose hope.
Nancy: That’s right.
Bob: And don’t try and go it alone either. I mean I think we need to say you’re going to need friends, allies, prayer partners. You’re going to need help as you walk this difficult path as a spiritually single mom. I’d encourage you to get a copy of the book that Nancy’s written, called, Spiritually Single Mom’s: Raising Godly Kids When Dad Doesn’t Believe. It’s a book that we’ve got in our FamilyLife Today resource center. You can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about getting a copy of the book.
We also have Nancy Kennedy’s very helpful book, When He Doesn’t Believe: Help and Encouragement for Women Who Feel Alone in Their Faith. So as a wife or as a mom, we’ve got resources to help you if you are on this journey alone. And I know there are men who are spiritually single husbands and dads as well, this isn’t just a one-sided situation.
Again, let me encourage you go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. The resources I’ve talked about are available there or you can call toll free 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-FLTODAY. Someone on our team can let you know how you can have the resources you need sent to you.
You know, I think one of the key issues all of us struggle with in marriage, whether we’re spiritually single or whether we both share common faith, is the issue of forgiving one another when there’s been conflict in the relationship. We know that the scriptures teach us to forgive, but that’s often easier to deal with on a theoretical level than it is to apply that forgiveness in practice.
We had the opportunity a while back to sit down and have a conversation on the subject of forgiveness with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. She has written a book called Choosing Forgiveness, and this month, we want to make this CD of that conversation with Nancy available as our way of saying thank you when you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount.
We are listener supported; your financial support is what keeps us on the air on this station and on other stations all across the country. So, if you are able to help with a donation this month, we want you to feel free to request a copy of the CD called Choosing Forgiveness.
If you are making your donation online at FamilyLifeToday.com, when you get to the key code box on the donation form as you fill it out, just type the word, “forgive” into that box and we’ll know to send you a copy of this CD. Or you can make your donation over the phone, call 1-800-FLTODAY, that’s 1-800-358-6329. Make a donation, and simply ask for a copy of the CD on forgiveness. Again, we are happy to send it to you and we so much appreciate your partnership with us and your financial support of this ministry.
Dennis: Well, we’ve been talking to those who are in spiritually mismatched marriages and Nancy, you have been very gracious to not only share with us the theme of your book, Spiritually Single Moms, but also your own story and at the beginning of the broadcast you started with a fairy tale and there is a final chapter to the fairy tale that you read.
Nancy: Well, the only bit of that that I can read, is the very last page when the God, the Heavenly Father who became my father when I was five. I accepted Christ as Savior and entered into the family of the King of Kings, and it was God’ purposes for His precious princess Nancy to love Rich, to mother little Becky and to spiritually encourage many of God’s precious children. And in the not so distant future he will take Princess Nancy home to live with Him in heaven forever and ever happily ever after. But that is not the end. That is simply the beginning.
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