Dr. Stephen Phinney | September 2, 2020 |
What you are about to read is a true love story!
Love means so many things today. We hear people saying they love their cats to loving their cars. You can blame the hippy era for that. We turned the profound word of "love" into a global "peace-movement." We got it from the Sexual Revolution group, who propagated love equals "free sex." From there, it evolved into a society of self-love, the world of psychobabble.
Growing up in a home where love was scant, I knew not the authentic meaning of such an expression. Love was lust, which became a perfect invite into the world of hippies – if you want it, take it.
By the time I met my wife Jane, love was simply an expression of physical lust. Therefore, she became the first woman who denied me such an expression. However, her purity became a thing of great curiosity. While I pushed the boundaries from time to time, she maintained her stance on the Biblical purity of a woman. When she would say that she loved me, I immediately interpreted that as an invitation for lust. I soon discovered that wasn't the case. Therefore, I was left to wrestle over the meaning of love.
Jane taught me how to read and write, but she also taught me one of life's most important lessons – the meaning of redeeming love.
The Lord has blessed me with many profound gifts and opportunities, but none compare to the woman of my youth. In Christ, Jane has been the red-thread between me & the practical aspects of the Indwelling love of Jesus. Jane not only has a deep & rich understanding of the power of the Cross, the indwelling Life of Christ but, she understands the Biblical meaning of love – God is love. Without Christ revealing through her that love is a PERSON, I don't think I would have discovered the basic foundation of God – that He is love.
Discovering an ordained love-life.
I met Jane initially through my brother, who was "dating" her sister.
The first time I met her, I was at the ripe age of 19, full of vigor, at the peak of my rebellion. Her family was hosting a birthday party for my brother and invited our family to attend.
Because my mother couldn't drive, and I was her designated driver, I ended up driving her to this event.
Upon arrival, I couldn't help but notice, Jane. I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had seen to date. I immediately became lovesick! Or, should I say lust-sick. As the evening unfolded, I began to realize that this young lady was "cut from a different cloth." Realizing she was untouchable and far too pure for me, I moved through the evening as best as possible. Although I have to admit, I repetitively stole second looks. Even though I didn't see her again for a couple of years, she never left my mind.
Jane is from a pure Dutch heritage.
She was born June 26, 1954, to Carl and Driscilla Ver Steeg. She grew up in Sioux Center, Iowa, and lived in the same house her entire life. I, on the other hand, moved nine times before I entered high school. Her Dutch background was deeply integrated into her hometown, family, and lifestyle. Her parents were some of the sweetest people on the face of the earth. Later, her family became the family I never had, one that expressed authentic love.
Two years after meeting Jane at my brothers' birthday party, I found myself in a lifestyle of confusion and chaos. Hearing through my brother that I was unemployed and in need of a serious life change, she decided to send me a letter encouraging me to apply for a job at a handicapped care facility. Being desperate, I did and got the job. But the "kicker" was when I went to sign the contract, she was there signing her's as well. When I saw her standing there, I was mesmerized by her beauty AND innocence. Who would have thought that innocence would be attractive to this recovering hippy? While being in a state of identity confusion, I knew that day; Jane was to be my wife.
Within a couple of weeks, I began to be overcome with a "feeling" that was foreign to me. Was this "love?" She so smote me; I began to see her face in my dreams.
During training, I roomed with the company's psychologists. One night while sitting on the edge of my bed, he asked me if I was OK. I went on to tell him what was going on in my mind – obsessing over this woman to the point of seeing her in my dreams. With that, he said, you're in love. I am not joking when I say this, but I had no clue about his words meaning. If you asked me about lust, I could have written the user's manual on the topic. But love?
The revelation from my co-worker shook the foundation of my life. I had to find out about this love. The next day in training, Jane walked by me as I was flirting with a biker-chic. I stopped mid-conversation, caught up with Jane, and asked her if I could walk her to class.
Within an hour, we were sharing a cup of coffee. I must tell you; this was the first time in my life that I had a heart connection with another human outside of my mother. I started to believe that I truly loved this woman. The psychologist was right.
Without sounding too pompous, the feelings I had that day over our coffee date have never subsided. You see, the fulness of God's love is the same today as the day we first encountered it. That day, I discovered that love is a Person; it was Christ in her that connected me to the God who is love. While I was confident in being a part of an eternal love story between a man & woman, I intuitively knew something bigger was unfolding – the God of the universe was revealing the ultimate love story, Christ in the believer.
After returning from the training trip, my landlord said he needed a month's rent – in advance. Being cash broke, I set off to find my brother. I whipped by Jane's apartment to ask her if she knew where he was. She didn't, but she said she would be willing to go with me to find him. That turned into 5 hours of driving in the rain - attempting to find him.
Well, we never found my brother, but we certainly found each other.
One of the stops we made was at her parent's home. After arriving in their driveway, we began to talk, 3-hours' worth. Finally, we went inside, asked if they had seen my brother. Even though our mission was a failure, my future mother-in-law later said, "I took one look at your faces and knew something was going on."
On our way back to our apartments, while stopped at a stop sign, I looked at Jane and asked her if I should be afraid to get involved. With a slight pause, which felt like an hour, she said, No, that would be OK. Honestly, I have no words to describe what I felt at that moment.
Within a short period of time, I made a trip to speak to her father to gain permission to marry his daughter. With an affirmative "yes," I moved forward, bought a diamond, and set the time to ask her to marry me.
On the night of the proposal, I attempted to read her scriptures on marriage (mostly fumbling since I was functionally illiterate), asked her to marry me, and waited for the affirmative "yes." Her reply? "I cannot say yes, but I can't say no." Without one doubt in my mind, I told her to keep the ring and put it on when she hears a yes from the Lord. It took her a few weeks to "hear God" (silly girl). Little did she realize, I would have waited the rest of my life for that yes. Sure enough, one night, I went to pick her up for a "date." To my delight, she said yes and put on the ring. This was one of the best days of my life.
That night was the turning point for the rest of my life. Having Janie in my life has infected and affected almost every decision I have made since that night. She truly is the heartbeat of my soul. As God as my witness, I can honestly tell you that I have never doubted whether she was the right person for me, nor a single thought, or temptation, of ever leaving her. Our mutual love, commitment, and devotion are beyond life itself – it is eternal. I became complete when God gave me Jane, and as for her family, they were a benefit I did not expect.
We were married one year after she accepted my marriage proposal. On June 24, 1977, the Lord bound us together as one flesh. Our wedding day was a storybook event. Like most grooms, I believed I was the most blessed man on earth.
Mom and dad Ver Steeg adopted me as a true son. I learned more about love, acceptance, and family-life from Jane's parents than any book I have read or written. Even though both have gone on to be with the Lord, I have to tell you; I have had an empty place in my heart. I often weep over missing them, even now, particularly Carl, my father-in-law.
This man was simply the kindest man I have ever met. He taught me most of what I know about being a faithful father, husband, and grandparent.
God used him to be a father in ways that my father was unable. His life became my legacy.
As for Jane, her life is my earthly life. As one flesh, we share in the Holiness of our mutual inheritance in Christ – serving Him as one single unit, bound by the God who is LOVE.
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