Saturday, January 21, 2017

Putting God First--by Linden Malki

"When I was first married, I thought I should put my husband first, and I found out that it didn't work very well. Then I realized I should put God first, and things fell into place."  This advice came from my aunt just before I married; my mom had been gone for over five years, and Dad and I had been travelling with his brother and sister-in-law.  They were long-time missionaries, and had been married for just over 50 years at the time.  I was also blessed by John and I  having similar spiritual backgrounds, and similar basic values in life--even though coming from half a world away, and from very different societies.  John had grown up in Lebanon and Palestine,  and his parents were from historically Christian communities. His dad's father had been a teacher in a Presbyterian mission school in southeastern Turkey. John and his siblings had been raised in Protestant mission churches--and they had known my cousin, a medical missionary in Jordan. The real frosting on the cake was when we came back from a summer in Lebanon and Jordan to San Bernardino, where John had been living for several years.  The first Sunday after we arrived, I found out that the associate pastor of the church he had been going to--Calvary Baptist--had been the senior pastor of the church in which I had grown up in Spokane, Washington.  Dr Owen Day was a longtime family friend of my dad; my parents had met at a choir party at the Days' house.  He was the best mentor I could have had at that point in my life.

Dad had been transferred to Spokane from western Washington State as a job promotion; and Dr Day was the friend and counselor Dad needed at that time in his life.  Dad had been married, increasingly unhappily, to a woman who refused to move.   Dr Day helped him deal with the end of the marriage, and welcomed Dad's three young adult sons, as they made Spokane a "home base" and learned to love the woman who became my mom.   I grew up knowing that my brothers had a different mother, and as I asked questions, my mom told me that sometimes people are unable to live together, and God forgives and gives second chances.  Dad was also able to counsel with friends and  other members of our extended families, who respected what he had learned the hard way.  According to various family members, his wife was a very difficult and demanding person. I met her  at a family wedding shortly after my own mother's passing , and Dad began talking to me about his first marriage so that I could avoid some of the mistakes.

Marriage is often not easy; and God works in unpredictable ways.  I was blessed in the man that God put in my path; my family all loved him, and we had 41 good years and four great kids.  I honestly don't know what to think about what my dad went through, but I, as well as others,  have been blessed in my brothers and their families. Marriage isn't just about two people; families are  God's glue for communities as well as forming each next generation.

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