From The Lure of Divine Love
The Love of Woman: My First Awakening
I was pressed into child marriage when too young to know the first intimations of the “love of woman” planted by nature in every woman’s being, dormant and inoperative until awakened.
I loved (for I was born with a strong love nature), but it was the love of a child, and was happy if I could but win the approval of my husband. But the “love of woman,” which is vastly different, was yet to have the first awakening. A few years later, among the farm laborers who boarded with us for a few weeks, was a young man about husband’s age, recently from the east. He was of fine open countenance, cheerful, and quietly entertaining among the men, and carried with him a clean, uplifting atmosphere, and in contrast with the slow, uncouth men about him, was like a rare gem among gravel stones.
He came and went with the men to their meals. I was always reticent, retiring, and seldom spoke, and not once by word or look was there the least indication that he was in any way attracted toward me. But the presence of that young man awakened in me something that I did not know ever existed. I did not understand what it was that so strangely sweet had stirred the depth of my being, and I was silent with wonder and astonishment.
He was an admirable character, and everyone was drawn toward him, husband with the rest, and I found myself thinking what an ideal husband and father he would be, and wishing husband was like him. I began to draw comparisons, and a feeling of aversion arose toward husband, before it began to dawn upon me that this was the awakening of that pure, natural love that is inherent in every woman’s breast, with all the beautiful ideal that goes with it; and I saw my danger, and was afraid.
Fortunately for me, I was converted before I was married. Though I had long since broken step, and had wandered far from the Lord, yet in this secret conflict with love and duty, I had no recourse but God. It was a long-drawn-out battle, for I did not know how to meet it. I buried it in my bosom and tried to forget it, but every time husband would speak of the young man, which was frequent (for he specially liked him), that smoldering fire would flame up, only to be buried deeper still. There was nothing impure about this love, it was normal, perfectly natural, the beautiful, intrinsic inheritance that the Creator has placed within womankind. It was a part of the plan of God. But that child marriage had interfered with God’s beautiful plan, and much in consequence had been forfeited. The purely natural, normally right, and beautiful under other circumstances, must at once be absolutely denied, for to follow the natural now would be a crime freighted with (to all connected with it) dire destruction.
Duty, stern, hard, and uncompromising though it seemed, was perfectly clear, and you know that the path of duty, after all, is the only path of ultimate happiness for all concerned, although at times it may appear to be the very opposite.
I suffered silently and fought heroically, steadfastly resisting every temptation, and that continuous inarticulate heart cry finally formulated itself into one brief sentence: “O God, for Jesus’ sake, take out of my heart this forfeited love for this man, and give me love for him who is lawfully my life companion and the father of my child.” (Instinctively I felt I should never mention this to my husband, for I had not wronged him or anyone else, not even in deliberate thought. The whole thing was entirely between my own soul and the Lord.)
One never-to-be-forgotten day came the answer to that heart cry, and it was far beyond what I had asked or thought. Such a river of Divine love was turned in through my heart that “the love of man” that had been awakened for the beautiful ideal, of which this noble stranger seemed to be the embodiment, was elevated, transmuted, and reinforced by the love of God (1 John 3:1), and bestowed upon the one to whom I was bound by law. The change was marvelous, and I loved this man, my legal consort (who in many ways was far from being lovable), with a love that was unfailing under the stress and strain of years.
Occasionally for awhile, the temptation of “vain regrets” would be presented, but resisted at once; with grateful praise for the deliverance, and that flowing stream of Divine love, it would quickly pass, and the incident soon became (like many other hard places in life) only a precious memory of the Lord’s mercies (Lamentations 3:22-26).