Why I Married Dusty
Why I Married Dusty
My letters are factual accounts. They were written to a specific recipient for a specific reason at a specific time. I am sharing them just in case they may encourage someone else.
The Initial Recipient and Reason
In the first years after my conversion, I was a part of a fellowship that believed strongly that remarriage was out-of-the-question, unless the spouse had died. I was also encouraged that singleness was honorable, because there would be fewer distractions. Even though my childhood dream had been to have 12 children on a farm, I wanted God’s will more. Nevertheless, for many years, I held firmly to this belief that being single was better. Finally, God changed my mind, and this is my story.
The initial recipient of this letter was a husband and wife I knew during those years with whom I became connected again in 2016. We wanted to be restored, but an explanation of my marriage seemed needed. These words were sent to the couple in an email and have now been tweaked to be more understandable to a wider audience:
In September of 1998, I was blindsided by a complete and total nervous breakdown. I had no idea what was happening to me. It was the most horrible, tormenting experience. It was truly a refiner's fire turned up to the hottest degree. I felt like someone had put a stick of dynamite inside of me and the pieces were all falling from the sky; my only choice was to wait to see where they would fall. I was truly helpless. I concentrated on looking up and asking the world to pray. Many days I couldn't even lift a finger. I remember the day I cleaned one fourth of a window and considered it a victory. I took a lot of leave from work. When I encountered people, I listened deeply to their stories no matter what my thoughts were about the paths they had chosen. I just listened and listened to stories.
This breakdown debilitated me. Since I couldn’t drive at the time, a friend brought me to a little prayer service that my church was having to open up the new prayer garden that some members had created. Pastor Jackson asked people to come forward who needed to be anointed with oil for healing. I had never heard anyone say that before, but I knew it was my cue.
After the service, Pastor Jackson asked me the nature of my problem. When I said “debilitating anxiety,” he said, “You are emotionally starved to death.” He didn't know me at all then, but he nailed it right on the head. He told me he could help me, and so I began to be counseled by him. I declared October 11, 2001 to be my freedom/healing day, because it was my last visit with this beloved counselor.
After the 3-year healing process, I emerged a rebuilt person. I realized that, although many people have a gift and call to singleness, I was not one of them. Suddenly, I became “available.” (I must interject that my singleness was not the only factor that contributed to my breakdown. I experienced many controlling relationships throughout my life.) From the point of my healing, my life took off. God redeemed my life and used the pain for His glory. I've been able to help so many people as they walk through similar situations. Many people have found my website just by searching for anxiety recovery. (Please see my paper called Freedom from Anxiety and Depression.) My Lord knew what it would take to get me to a better place.
I realized that God had created me for intimate companionship and that my previous relationships had not been balanced.
As I said before, I declared a landmark date on October 11th, 2001 as my deliverance. For the first time in 20 years, I knew that God would want me to pursue marriage. At the same time, I was sure there would be no one I'd be interested in. My requirements would be high: absolutely passionate about Jesus, a leader and never married. There was no one like this in my church in north Dayton, Ohio, and it didn't seem right to change churches to find a man. So, I embraced my single life and continued leading in the singles ministry as my pastor encouraged me to do.
In April of 2002, my sister prayed with me that God would bring a man to my church just for me. A week later Dusty came and sat in front of me. I was not thinking about him as a possibility, but I was a “welcomer” so I gave him the church spring schedule. I recognized that he was very excited about what God had done in his life.
I found out later that Dusty married a woman when they were in their early 20s. She had been married twice before, so Dusty was her third husband. After nine years of marriage, she began a relationship with a fourth man. In 1998 after three months of an affair, she told Dusty she was leaving him. From Dusty’s perspective, he was abandoned.
Three days later on the following Friday, some men invited Dusty to a Promise Keepers Convention where he met the Lord. He came home and began to sing non-stop. He would come home from work, go to the church sanctuary, turn on the sound system and sing until midnight every night, then go to bed and work the next day. Dusty became the worship leader of a small-town church for four years. His repeated efforts to share Christ with the woman who left him were fruitless.
Dusty came to my church on April 7th, 2002 because he was hungry for deeper spiritual growth. I met him the next Sunday on April 14th and we agreed to share favorite CDs. The next Sunday, April 21st, we had lunch together after church. We had dinner on April 23rd, but I told him I didn't date. On this “date” we shared our life stories for hours and hours. I backed up the dump truck, sharing all the garbage of my life. I thought that surely my “baggage” would send him away! I told him all about my conversion and breakdown, etc. He told me about his study on the Holy Spirit from the perspective of various denominations. We had great discussions.
Dusty made two intensely memorable statements that night of our first date. He said, “You said you didn't consider this a date, but I do. I'm interested in pursuing a relationship with you.” And after I shared about my breakdown, he said, “You are a very sensitive woman and you need a sensitive man to take care of you.” I thought I would sink into the floor! Was this a proposal?
The next morning, I woke up to go to work, and I was in a debilitating anxiety attack. As you may imagine, after having been healed, I didn't want this at all! I sunk to my knees and cried out to God. I said, “No man, no one is worth this pain. I am going to say NO to everything Dusty invites me to.” I expressed to God that I didn’t want anything He didn't want and that I certainly wanted to obey Him, but I couldn’t bear more anxiety.
I prayed, “God if you want me to take away Dusty’s aloneness, you will have to part the Red Sea. Your will must be so clear that it removes all doubt. Otherwise, I am turning in the other direction.”
Interjection: I had just been learning that Adam and Eve were lonely before they sinned and that loneliness was not sin. Loneliness is normal, and we were created to take away each other's aloneness, not just in marriage but in all relationships. So, I had this on my mind that morning. I had also since come to understand that remarriage was acceptable in certain situations.
Now, just so you know, I am not bipolar. :) What happened was miraculous. I knew that whenever I had an anxiety attack like this, there was a recovery period ahead of me. I was afraid because I wanted to be healed and thought I was. I managed to get ready for work and drive down the highway toward my work. My fists were sweating and clenched to the steering wheel. I wasn't thinking about Dusty or anything but getting to work safely and getting through the day. Work days like this always lasted an eternity, so I was not looking forward to it.
Somewhere on the highway, a breeze came through the car. I suppose it wasn't tangible, but I remember it. This is the first and last time this has happened to me. I heard three things very clearly: 1) I am opening a door for you, and it is safe to walk through it. 2) Don't worry about what you don't know, I have your back. 3) You can say Yes. After this, I was suddenly filled with so much joy I could hardly contain it. The anxiety completely left my body. Because of my past experience, I knew this was a miracle. I knew the day after that “date” that Dusty would be my husband. I knew that if I didn't go forward with Dusty, it would be clear disobedience. I never doubted it for one minute of any day.
After our first “date” on April 23rd, Dusty proposed to me on May 5th, gave me a ring on May 25th, and we were married September 21st in a big church wedding in the church where I grew up. Dusty has been a constant source of grace and encouragement to me. He is very easy to serve. Until recently, I had thought we were so very different in temperament, personality, gifts, and things we enjoy, but, since we have partnered in business, I realize how similar we are. I see God’s Master Hand! I did not get to know Dusty fully before I married him. I married him at God’s prompting and then discovered who God gave me. We have been happily married for almost 18 years!
Today I think about all the things that I'm doing that I love. I did not pursue them, but God initiated them. He alone knows the best path for me. I didn't know how much I would love being a wife and how much I could actually love another human being. I am forever grateful to God for His discipline in my life that caused me to change my course to follow His best path.
Shale Fragments™ - writings by Beth Ann Phifer is a division of Flower Girl Greetings, LLC. ©2020, All Rights Reserved.
Blessings and love in Him,
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