Feature

Double Standard

Two worlds, one Lord

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My testimony is not full of excitement of thrills or earth-shattering experiences. It’s simply about a man who got caught up in the world and found God when there was no other place to turn.

I was born and raised in the small steel town of Braddock, Pennsylvania. The Braddock of that era was not the one whose shootings and drug busts make the news every week but a great little industrial town about one square mile in size, where you could walk at night and leave your doors unlocked without fear. My father was a steelworker and my mother ran a hardware store. We were not rich, but we lived comfortably. I was a spoiled only child who got everything I wanted.

My parents were God-fearing people who raised me in the Catholic religion and sent me to a Catholic school. They believed that through the school’s daily religion classes, I would get everything I needed to develop faith in God. But after my sophomore year, I was asked not to return because of my attitude. I graduated from the public high school instead.

God and whatever else I was supposed to know didn’t graduate with me. I turned down opportunities to go to college and told my parents it would be a waste of money to send me. My father promptly told me that he had a shovel with my name on it at Edgar Thompson Steel Mill. Instead, I applied at Westinghouse Electric. The personnel manager asked me to take two tests. The first was a math test on which I scored 97 percent, and the other was a mechanical ability test that I aced. The next day I was called in for a second interview. They explained to me how they were impressed with my scores and offered me a job—sweeping floors.

That sweeper’s job turned in to many other positions, all the way up to management. I never missed a day’s wages during the 42 years that I worked there. God’s hand was upon me from the beginning, even though I didn’t recognize it.

Too Spoiled

I got married in 1967 and had two children. One of my biggest problems was that I was spoiled rotten. I thought if I had enough money and control of the situations that surrounded me, everything would be just fine. Money and good times were a big part of everything I did. I associated with all kinds of people, trusting in no one but myself for the strength not to imitate their lifestyle. I used people for what I could get from them. They were like tools—when I was done with them, I’d throw them away and get another.

Well, it didn’t work. I was divorced five years later. I was making more money than I knew what to do with, but alcohol and drugs had become a significant part of my life.

I got married again in 1975. We were equally yoked—neither one of us knew the Lord. Nothing in my life changed. Work and drugs replaced the family I had at home. I was fun to be with and the life of a party. I thought that the only way to enjoy myself was to be high or intoxicated. Weeks of my life are lost because I have no idea what I did. I would be working in one state and wake up in another, not knowing how I got there. Yet I still thought I had everything under control. Honestly, I don’t know why Carole, my wife, put up with me.

Unequally Yoked

A few years later, we became unequally yoked when Carole accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. That threw me off base. I didn’t understand why I had to be married to a “Jesus Freak.” Everything was just fine the way it was. “All that Jesus stuff is OK for you,” I told her, “but leave me out of it. For you, a day without Jesus would be like a day without a drink for me.”

As time went by, she developed cancer. It was like being hit in the head with a brick. I thought that everything had always gone my way, but for the first time in my life I was up against something I couldn’t control. However, the doctors were able to manage her illness, and for years things were fine. Then the cancer just started to show up time and time again, and treatments were an everyday part of life. I didn’t realize it at the time, but God was working on me.

One day, when I came home from a job, my family members asked me to go to church with them. I don’t know why I said yes, because I had turned them down many times before. I was introduced to many people treated me with respect. I figured that they must not have known about my drinking or the drugs. The guys even invited me to play softball with the church team. I accepted their invitation and had a great time, but they told me that because it was a church league, I would have to attend services if I wanted to continue playing. I loved sports, so I thought I could have the best of both worlds—play softball when I was at home and party when I was away. This went on for months, and no one in either world knew the other Bob. I was feeling pretty good about myself. But as we all know, the highs on the mountain don’t last forever.

As my wife’s cancer worsened, conflicts started to grow in me. I was losing control of other things, and it was starting to show—but only to me. In my work world, people accepted me only for what I could do and the fun I was to be with. But in the church, they accepted me for who I was. I liked that and wanted more. I knew that I would have to change some things in my life, but how? I attended church whenever I was home and became more and more ashamed of my double life. I was a hypocrite. No one could change me, not even me.

Giving It Up

At one Sunday service, something the pastor spoke about finally opened my eyes, and I realized that there was more to life than what I had been doing. Yet I didn’t want to lose all I thought I was—a man with just a high school education who had moved up in a company by hard work and sweat. The ego was still there.

I knew I had to remove things from my life, and I asked God to change me. As I gave Him one piece of me at a time, He took the stronghold out of my life. I gave Him cigarettes; He took them. I gave Him drugs; He took them. I gave Him alcohol; He took it. I gave Him my attitude; He took it. I never had a problem with them again. Alcohol and drugs, cigarettes and other things are completely gone. I have no desire for them.

I gave Him my ego, and He took that too. After 33 years of self interest, I had a new purpose in life. A sinner who turned his back on the Lord was again acceptable. When I asked Him into my life and asked for forgiveness, He came in. I knew my life was on the road to recovery. Each sin I confessed and gave Him to take out of my life was taken and was replaced with something to make me trust Him more. Everything He said He would do in His Word, He did.

Money and good times are not the most important things in my life anymore. I have lost some friends, but God has sent new ones. I became equally yoked again with my wife. We grew together as one worshipping the same God. Carole lived 17 years with cancer before she died.

But God in His mercy was not finished. I asked Him to bring someone into my life so that I could start off on the right foot this time. Someone equally yoked with me. Someone I could love even more then I loved before. It’s not often that a man like me gets a good wife, but the odds are even less that he would get two. God sent Denise, a gift I cherish. He reminds me daily that she is a gift and that it would not have worked any other way.

Scripture tells me that the most important gift was the gift of His son. If I would believe that He died for me, if I would believe that the blood He shed on the cross was for my sins, I would be forgiven and have eternal life with Him. How could I not trust Him now? My life is still a struggle at times, but I know to whom I belong and where I’m going. Eternal life in Him is mine, and all it cost me was the acceptance of His most precious gift, His Son Jesus Christ.

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