The lights begin to brighten and people stand to stretch, move around a bit, and rush to the restrooms. I’ve experienced several intermissions this year at the variety of plays and performances we’ve taken the kids to. For our youngest son, Joe, it was the symphony playing Star Wars as we watched the movie overhead. Joe’s love for the music matched his excitement of seeing Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo.
Just as the plot thickens and we bite our nails, wondering if Luke will find Princess Leia, we take a break.
I surprised Anne, currently in her second year of college, with tickets to Hamilton. The lengthy drive to get to a city with this phenomenal play was well worth it. Although long, the music and storyline kept us on the edge of our seats. As Hamilton’s personal life became increasingly complicated, so did the relationships within differing political parties.
The tension grew, and we took an intermission.
One of my favorite plays this year was taking the girls to see Wicked. The prelude to The Wizard of Oz, this delightful musical included the humor of a blonde airhead, the trifles of high school girls, and the sinister deeds of an unexpected character.
As the story unfolded and the future of Oz was at stake, we took a break for intermission.
As I ponder the stories and how intermission is timed, it’s often right at the most critical part of the story—the point at which the story takes a turn, decisions are made, and the future is determined.
Years ago I wrote an article entitled “Help, I’m Married to a Fool.” I described a difficult twenty-year marriage and the lessons I learned as I gleaned wisdom from the story of Abigail in 1 Samuel 25. Dealing with an unreasonable person eventually requires life-saving decisions. That’s where I left off, at the intermission.
Let’s go back to the intermission of Abigail’s story. She had been warned by a servant that David was on his way to slaughter everyone in her camp. She didn’t waste time or energy; she made life-saving decisions and rode out to meet David, bringing the provisions he had requested. When intermission hits, we are left watching a woman jump down from her donkey and fall on her face, speaking words of wisdom in an attempt to save her life and the lives of her household members. What will David do? What will become of Abigail? Will she pay the price of death for her husband’s foolishness?
For me, my article left off at a point in my marriage where I had learned how to deal with a foolish man. But in the years that followed, I discovered his foolishness included twenty years of unfaithfulness. After nearly two years of counseling, I realized this fool was only upset that he had been caught. His anger, threats, and abuse increased to the point the kids and I feared our lives. I made the decision to divorce.
It’s been years now, and I’d like to share how life after the intermission has gone. For Abigail, shortly after Nabal was told what had happened, he died. David quickly married her, and she spent the rest of her life being married to a man the Bible describes as a man after God’s own heart. No, he wasn’t perfect, but he was repentant.
In my story, it took a year to finalize the divorce, and the danger we encountered didn’t end when the judge signed off on the petition. Several months after filing for divorce, my now ex-husband broke into our home on multiple occasions with the intent to harm. When a homicide detective informed me that 50% of women in my situation end up dead before the divorce is final, I was advised to carry a firearm. He called a friend, a firearms specialist, and the next day I had my first lesson. My children were trained and instructed on firearms safety as we conducted safety drills, just in case.
To make matters worse, the fundamental church our family had been attending did not lend any support, but instead sided with my ex-husband, citing that a woman has no right to divorce if her husband apologizes for unfaithfulness. (He did not have to repent or stop; he only had to apologize.) Later, it was discovered this same church encouraged my ex-husband to harm me and the kids.
My life had been spent surrounded by fundamental Christians whose belief in the institution of marriage trumped the lives of my children. I had a few friends who stood by me, reasonable people who had seen my ex-husband’s true nature. But it was a scary and lonely time. This was the climate of my story, this was the intermission.
The Rest of the Story
But wait — stretch your legs, use the restroom, and come back. There is great news. The story gets better, so much better!
For several weeks, I took firearms lessons. The instructor’s name was Leroy Farris. The first time I met him, according to my kids, I kept saying things like, “I didn’t know a man could be so kind!” and, “He is such a kind man.”
Not just kind, but incredibly smart, savvy in business, and an expert in firearms and personal protection. I had found a friend. Eventually, we began dating and, for the first time in my life, I was treated with respect, kindness, and love. I am now Mrs. Farris, and just as the contrast between Nabal and David must have been overwhelming to Abigail, I am daily reminded that marriage as described in the Bible really is possible.
As for the kids, they have a father, a man who loves and teaches them what it means to be kind, hard-working, caring, and skilled. Watching my children grow up with a father who did not love them was harder than experiencing it myself. But now, my daughters have a father to walk them down the aisle, show them how a man treats a woman, and give them practical advice on how to fix things. I am often found wiping my eyes as I watch them hug and talk to their father. There’s nothing more a mother could want.
For the boys, the transition wasn’t as picturesque. It took time. I have learned that rejection of a father to a son is one of the hardest things to encounter in a young man’s life. My boys saw both rejection and harm. It’s been a few years; they have grown in maturity and seen counselors to help them with their emotions. And these days, they call Leroy dad. Their respect for him is so great that my older son decided to join the Army with a desire to join the 101st to follow in the footsteps of both Leroy and my own father.
When we watch plays or read the stories in the Bible, we are mere minutes until we find out the ending. In real life, we live each and every day, often waiting years to see the end of the story. The good days are filled with faith, the trying days are filled with worry, and the ugly days are filled with anger toward God for the difficulties.
But here’s the thing: this is how life is played out. We are not given a play-by-play on how the Lord is going to answer our prayers. If someone had told me seven years ago that I would have to walk through the proverbial valley of the shadow of death, I’m not sure I would have made the day-to-day decisions I did.
We all have intermissions, the point in life where we take the information we have, humbly seek God’s direction, and go forward in faith. It’s often a life-changing experience, and we have no idea how it’s going to turn out or look after the intermission. The one thing we can hang onto is the love of God we see play out in the stories in the Bible. This is the same love that He affords us today. When we see him rescue Abigail, David, or Daniel, we can have confidence that, even when the circumstances look dire, the Lord is simply writing the next scene.