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A Purely Intellectual Decision—Marc


    My separation began in August 98, when without warning, I found myself alone and the single father of an 8 year-old. But the real story began much earlier.

     My childhood consisted of an unstable mother and an uninvolved father. Things got worse as I grew up. I was on crutches throughout junior high years. I was considered a cripple, nerdy and I was fat to boot. Hostility and indifference became my tools to survive. I became a master at aggression and intimidation.

     These attributes served me well in my career. At twenty, I made more money than anyone in my family. I learned that I could challenge and scare people into submitting to my way of doing things. If not, I would dish out the punishment. One story stands out in particular: It involved stop and go traffic and a driver who cut in front of me. The result of the ensuing altercation was a soda can bouncing off his forehead and me being trapped in my car.

     I know now that God protected me that day because, as a wise friend has said more than once, "God must have a plan for your life, or you'd have been dead along time ago." I'd like to say this was a one-time deal, but it wasn't. There are so, so many more examples of my destructive responses to anger.

     I thought that this kind of behavior was behind me when I came home, but I was wrong. I see now that the verbal assaults on my wife may not have involved throwing soda cans but, they were still assaults.

     The week my wife made her decision to leave, I made a purely intellectual decision. I decided to attend the Separated Men's group at Saddleback Church. It was an intellectual decision because I had no intent to believe, no plan to become a believer. I had no idea that Christ had plans for me.

In the group, I saw peace and wisdom in the men around me--a peace I wanted.

     The following month, at the encouragement of the group leader, I attended the annual Men's Retreat. It was there that I made the choice to invite Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior. Pastor Tom Holiday was kind enough to baptize me and two others that very night. From that point on my life changed.

     With God's help I have acknowledged and worked on my destructive responses to anger. Through the strength He provided, I've committed myself to working on me, working on me, working on me. I've made friends that will last a lifetime. One year later, I'm an apprentice in the Separated Men's group. In November 1999 my son, now 9, was baptized. Seven men I've had fellowship with in the group have also been baptized.

     Then, in December 1999, my wife returned. We are slowly putting the pieces back together. We still live apart, but there is hope. I believe that God has a plan for everyone. He has a plan for me and for you. It's His plan to prosper us, not to harm us. He promises that we will reap a harvest of blessing, if only we don't give up.

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