69: The Missing Key

69: The Missing Key

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Miracles

The Missing Key

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

~Proverbs 3:5

I was the oldest never-married person I knew. It wasn’t that the opportunity to be a wife had never presented itself. Proposals had come—even been plentiful—but at the age of forty I didn’t feel that any of the men had been proper candidates for a lifelong partnership. I had made so many wrong choices, experienced so many dead-end relationships. “Enough,” I had said finally. Six years had passed, and life without dating had become comfortable for me. I was enjoying a busy and productive life as a single woman, but I did still dream of the day I might actually meet “Mr. Right.”

I had been thinking about switching to a smaller church with a stronger “family” atmosphere. One Sunday my sister attended such a church in her neighborhood and later told me about the man who led music there, a widower with two children whose wife had died of cancer. His name was Jerry Sladkey.

Something inside me rose up. This was someone I should meet.

The following week, I accompanied my sister to the church, and shortly afterward began attending a Bible study led by this man. I was attracted to his faith in God and to his relish for life. Though I struggled with my uncertainty about men and their motives, and Jerry struggled with loyalty to the wife he had lost to cancer nineteen months before, our relationship began to blossom slowly.

As we got to know each other, I felt certain of one thing: I was to let Jerry make all the moves. I was not to “make” this relationship happen. In my prayer times, if I had an issue that needed to be addressed regarding our relationship, I took it to God in prayer—and trusted that He would deal with Jerry.

Jerry still wore his wedding ring from his ten-year marriage. As the months passed and we grew closer, this began to bother me. I suspected that Jerry was growing fond of me, but why did he still feel married? One evening as we sat and talked, he spontaneously held up his left hand and said, “Does it bother you that I still wear my ring?”

My inclination was to shout, “Yes!” But something stopped me. Instead, I responded, “If it does, I’ll just talk to God about it.”

That night, I went home — and had that promised conversation with God.

A couple of days later, as we talked on the phone, Jerry mentioned offhandedly that the ring finger of his left hand had suddenly broken out in a rash. The inflammation was so irritating that he had to remove his wedding ring. The rash didn’t heal for two weeks. By then, Jerry had gotten the message—and so had I. If I would trust God with the little details of my life, He would ultimately work them out in His own way.

And so He did. At the age of forty-one, fourteen months after I met Jerry I said “I do” for the first time.

To those who knew us, our marriage made perfect sense. It has made sense for twenty-three years now. And why shouldn’t it? Until age forty-one, my name had been Sandra Slad. God had provided the missing “key.”

~Sandra Sladkey

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