She Changed My Life
by Marlon Ruck
as told to Wilson Adams
via Biblical Insights, Volume 9, Number 6, June 2009
Marlon was a twenty-four-year-old Catholic, home from the military, and living in Toledo, Ohio; Delores was eighteen, beautiful, and a member of the Lord's church. "I was crazy about her from the beginning and asked her to marry me on our second date." She refused. He kept asking. She kept refusing. "We have too many differences," she said, "mostly because you're Catholic."
He worked hard at winning her over by winning over her parents. His persistence finally paid off as she accepted his proposal. Her parents were uneasy about the marriage although he promised them (and her) that he would make sure Delores got to church each week. "I was not the last bit interested in going with her," he reminisces today, "but I would not stand in her way."
"I drank some in those days, " he admits. Marlon would often keep Delores out late on Saturday nights in the hope that she would forget about church and they could sleep in. However, she always set her alarm and never forgot. Not once. "Because of my promise, and because she didn't drive, I would drag out of bed and take her to church — sometimes with a hang-over from the night before."
The scene replayed itself for a couple of years — "my dropping her at the church building while I went to a restaurant to drink coffee and wait." Eventually Marlon eased up on the drinking and began to think: "What does she have that I'm missing?" One Sunday, he dropped her off, but instead of following the usual routine, he slipped into the back of the building and watched the service. "She had no idea I was even there," he says.
Finally he started going in and sitting with her. "I defiantly refused to sing, even though I loved to sing and was fascinated by congregational singing." One Sunday she caught him humming along and jammed an elbow into his side to make sure he knew... that she knew. "To this day I can still feel her jab," he adds with a grin.
"Thinking back on it, I knew that if she missed one time, I had her. But she never did." Eventually her church friends became his friends. "One fellow began to take an interest in me and we played golf together for the entire summer — although he never mentioned religion to me at all." The two became close and as winter approached and the golf season ended, his friend asked, "Do you have a Catholic Bible so we can compare?" Marlon did and was more than eager to show his wife's church friend, and his golf friend, "a thing or two."
They studied together. "Just like Delores," he notes, "he never pushed." "We just studied and talked." He then adds, "I think one of the reasons the studies went so well was because he had taken the time to first become my friend." Marlon told a neighbor by the name of Darrell (whose wife was also a Christian although he wasn't) about the study, and Darrell joined in also.
"One Sunday after Darrell and I had talked and knew what we needed to do, we both came forward during the invitation song. Neither of our wives knew of our decision and you can imagine the look on their faces — we totally surprised them!"
"Delores and I were married for forty-seven years until she passed away in April, 2004. I am ashamed of the way I treated her in those early days — trying everything I could to get her to quit her faith." But Delores didn't quit. "Her godly example changed my whole life!" He then adds with an aching sigh, "I sure miss having her."
I am reminded of I Peter 3:1–2 — "In the same way, you wives, be sub-missive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, and they observe your chaste and respectful behavior."