Get in Line Every Day

Bill and Susan Miller
Bill and me

It happened years ago on a busy two-lane road that was a major thoroughfare from south to north Phoenix. My husband, Bill, was driving home from work in his small two-door pickup truck and had stopped at a red light. He looked in his rear view mirror and saw a car coming in the distance at a high speed. Bill thought the driver would see him stopped at the light and would start braking. What Bill didn’t know was that the driver had just left school and was preoccupied with the loud rock music on his radio. The driver either didn’t see the red light or didn’t see Bill stopped at the light.

He didn’t brake.

He rear-ended Bill’s truck at such an impact that it flipped the truck over and into the oncoming lane of traffic, hitting a van that was also stopped at the light.

As the helicopter whirled overhead and the fire truck and ambulance arrived, Bill had to be pulled out through the shattered window of the truck. It was a miracle he survived such a traumatic accident and that no one was seriously injured. His body was embedded with shards of glass, which we continued to pick out of his skin and head for months. He had a concussion, his hand was broken, and he was badly bruised and battered from head to toe. The driver of the car that hit him was able to walk away unharmed from the accident.

When Bill was released from the hospital, he could not get in or out of bed or walk to the bathroom without my help. He was too incapacitated to go to work for several months. The physical trauma was hard, but the emotional trauma was harder. He had nightmares of the accident and was hesitant to even ride in a car, let alone drive one.

Spending days, weeks, and then months at home as Bill’s caregiver, I found myself, along with Bill, getting discouraged. Every morning as I went in the bathroom to brush my teeth and splash cold water on my face, I would stand there in front of the mirror with tears of exhaustion in my eyes and whisper to God in prayer, “Let Bill begin to heal today.”

I was reminded of the parable on prayer in Luke 18:1-8, where Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must never give up. The parable tells the story of the persistent widow who repeatedly made her request for help before a godless judge. I imagined her relentlessly getting in line every day until he responded. As each day went by I would take a small step forward as if I were in line, and whisper,

“It’s me again Lord. Is it Bill’s turn to begin healing yet?”

For us to persist in prayer and not give up does not mean an endless plea as the widow did in the parable. Constant prayer means keeping our requests continually before God as we live for Him day by day, believing He will answer. When we live by faith, we are not to give up and not to lose heart. God may delay answering or He may not give us the answer we pray for; but every prayer is heard and, in God’s infinite wisdom, answered. As I persisted in prayer, it was another step forward in the growth of my faith, trust, and hope.

It took a long time, much longer than we wanted, for Bill’s complete physical and emotional healing. In God’s perfect timing, he grew stronger and we grew stronger together. What God taught us, especially me, during that waiting time, I could have learned no other way. At that time, I personalized Proverbs 3:5, “Lean not on your own understanding, Susan. Lean on Me, trust Me. Seek My will in everything, and I will direct Bill’s path.”

You might be going through a really difficult season of life, circumstances beyond your control, or a life-changing crisis. Perhaps you too need to “get in line every day,” and persistently pray with faith and hope, trusting God every step of the way. Never give up, never lose heart!

A window into your husband’s emotions

This was written by me and my husband Bill in 2008 for a Valentine’s Day message one year before his death. I had asked him to share his thoughts on our years of moving, with the hope that it would give women insight and perspective into their husband’s often hidden feelings and emotions about moving. The message is timeless for marriages that are “on the move,” or even a gentle reminder for loving and understanding your man.

I thought this was a good time to share it again. This is my Valentine’s gift to you…

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Bill and Susan MillerIn 2008 I wrote: “As some of you know, Bill and I have been married for 43 years. We have weathered 14 moves, along with major life transitions, and huge personal changes that come with uprooting and relocating a marriage, children, home, lifestyle, and relationships.

I asked Bill to share some of his thoughts, fears, and feelings during our difficult years of moving. I hope this will give you insight to understand your husband, and know how to best encourage and love him during a move.

I feel that If I had known what was going on in his head and heart then, I would have worked harder (and prayed more) at bridging the gap between us. I am amazed and humbled to know that anything I said or conveyed through my actions during those years was received as he has described below.

God has once again reminded me of His grace by allowing Bill to see me through eyes of love and a heart of forgiveness for all the times I failed to be loving and forgiving towards him.”

In 2008 Bill wrote: “Most men don’t talk about their feelings. If we did, we would tell you that they come right from the core of a man; they address his worth, his ability to provide for, and protect his family. Although I did not address those feelings at the time, they were real, and drove my motivation, my emotions, and my behavior.

Looking back at our many moves, I recognize my feelings of impatience with our children, frustration over things not coming together quickly enough, and even anger with Susan for not meeting my selfish needs. Doubt would flood my mind. Fear would creep into my day. I often thought I had made a terrible mistake by making so many corporate moves. I would ask myself questions like, ‘Why did I ever agree to take this job (or promotion) and uproot my family? Will I succeed at my new job (or position)? Will I be a fit? What will happen to our family if the job doesn’t work out and we have to move again?’

I felt the loneliness and emptiness of starting a new job before my family moved. It was hard to spend nights alone in my hotel room, in an unfamiliar city, when everyone else at the company would go home to their family. I would question why our house hadn’t sold before we moved, and how long it would be before we would be together as a family again. I would tell myself that I would have to work harder and longer hours to make the job and relocation a successful move in my career.

Pretty tough stuff, and believe me, I’m not comfortable sharing like this.

Susan and I were disconnected by miles and emotions and I wondered if we would ever reconnect.

What I didn’t know was how to help (or fix) Susan’s emotions while treading emotional water myself. We were fighting for our own survival, gasping for air, trying to keep our heads above water.

Her words of affirmation, encouragement, and the assurance of her unconditional love for me, were her pom-poms cheering me on each day during those difficult years. Her sacrificial love covered me with God’s grace each day while she minimized her hurts while helping mine to heal.

I have learned over the years that the total disruption of a marriage and family who move takes its toll on every member of the family, but not as much as on the relationship between husband and wife.

It’s easy for Satan to drive a husband and wife apart during a difficult, stressful time when they need each other the most. He will use anything–even a move–to destroy a marriage. I would say to couples–be united in Christ, pray against anything, or anyone, that would destroy your marriage. Claim God’s promises of hope. Recognize the stress cracks, and don’t let them divide and break you.

So, grab a pom-pom, and be your husband’s cheerleader! (I know you have a pom-pom if you’ve been around Susan). And, as a matter of fact, the principles in these tips can go both ways in a marriage, although men can skip the pom-pom…

  • Tell him you respect him and know how difficult it must be with a new job.
  • Try to breathe oxygen into his world by giving him lots of grace, reassurance, and understanding.
  • Look for things that he is doing right and then tell him.
  • Make it a habit to spend at least 20 to 30 minutes a day for each of you to debrief.
  • Be pro-active and plan down-time/date-time for just the two of you.
  • Communicate your love in ways that can be seen, heard, and felt.

When a woman encourages her husband, she gives him confidence and hope. When a man listens to his wife, he gives her honor and value. When they mutually communicate and connect with one another they begin the journey of moving closer together in any life change.”

Then Bill added, “That’s about it in a nutshell , Susan. I sure hope what I’ve said and learned will somehow give a couple greater insight for the road ahead in their marriage.”

In 2008, I wrote in my Valentine’s card to Bill:

I cherish you to the depth of my soul.
You are truly God’s greatest gift to me and the love of my life.
I love you with all my heart!
After all these years, I’d still follow you to the ends of the earth!
All My Love,
Your Susan”

In 2018, on this Valentine’s Day, those words are still written in my heart. I would only add: “…And one day, I’ll follow you to our eternal home, and we will be together again.”Susan Miller

Susan Miller