It was a weekday morning with our children hurriedly preparing for school. My husband, Mark, and I were already preoccupied with details of the hectic day ahead. just as we were about to rush out the front door, our eight-year-old son, Mark Jr., yelled, "Prayer!" and we thrust backpacks and bags out of the way. Arms circling one another, we bowed our heads. This was not the first time we'd interrupted the morning dash to pray, but it was the first time I could remember Mark Jr. being anxious to participate in a prayer. just as we were finishing, little Mark stared meaningfully at me and then at his dad, and said, "Thanks so much, God, for a mom and dad who love each other." My husband squeezed my hand.That scene occurred more than three years ago and was just a pause in a busy day, but I will always remember it as the official turning point in my life; after a lifetime of longing for lasting love, I knew we had created it. Mark and I have now been married for fifteen years, but in our early years together, we lost too much time in angry, tense moments.I'm breaking my tradition of privacy to share details of my marriage, because I want to demonstrate through my personal experiences that a life of abundant love is possible for all of us. Whether you're married or single, lesbian or straight, I hope my story will encourage you to work toward satisfying love. I'm a perfect example of a difficult reality: If you get the love you've been praying for and you aren't ready for it, you can still lose out.If you are not currently in a relationship, keep in mind that the right person can arrive at any time. When I met Mark, I was a divorced single mother. I'd had the strength to leave my first marriage only after working with a therapist. It was my only physically abusive relationship, but looking back, it seems as if I specialized in dating dysfunctional men of various races.When I was thirteen, my first boyfriend, Carlos, was the "warlord" of the Chaplains, a Brooklyn gang. Our, times together were fleeting. I remember waiting for a bus to take me to junior high school, when Carlos ran by, saw me, and paused long enough to kiss me gently on the lips and tell me he loved me. When he sped off, I realized he was being chased by several knife-wielding members of a rival gang. Although the men I dated later in life were deemed more socially acceptable, the truth is, after Carlos my lack of self-love only led me downhill. At least Carlos told me he loved me.I don't have to tell you about the kind of men I was attracted to. (Honey, you've probably dated some of them yourself.) Once my first son was born, though, I became more selective about the kind of men I dated, and aware of my lousy track record, I continued working on my issues in therapy and turned to God for help. I prayed for a highly principled man, one who put his spirituality into practice, and I also asked for my heart to be softened. I wanted to be able to trust a man again.Many of my friends were scornful and advised me to be happy with what I could get, because "the pickings for sisters were slim to nothing." But I kept on praying, especially weekday mornings. My son's nursery was located in a church that opened at dawn, and I would drop him off before work and rush to the sanctuary to spend a few minutes in prayer. I believe that the Holy Spirit not only hears our prayers, but helps us when we help ourselves. My life changed because my prayers gave me the strength and opportunity to continue learning more about why I had chosen abusive men in the first place.In 1979, as the editor of a women's magazine, I spent a week in Manhattan. On my last morning...
Brenda Richardson (Author)
Brenda Lane Richardson, the author of Chesapeake Song, is an award-winning journalist and a noted public speaker.
Dr. Brenda Wade (Author)
Essence colmnist Dr. Brenda Wade is a clinical psychologist, a well-known television personality, and a popular public speaker who lectures widely across the country.