In January I started writing Sandra Nunn’s story. She married the handsome, romantic boy across the street. Their marriage got off to a good start but when her husband faced a crisis it changed him from a loving husband into a volatile and unpredictable stranger.
Counselors advised Sandra to take their three children and leave. She stayed . . . and stayed . . . and stayed. For 37 years.
As her storyteller, I wanted to know why she stayed. It didn’t make sense to me. And I didn’t think it would make sense to our readers. She gave me a few answers. She just couldn’t believe that romantic boy had vanished forever; surely he would reappear. She made a vow before God on their wedding day and couldn’t/shouldn’t/wouldn’t break it. Good answers. But not satisfying answers.
In our meetings, Sandra and I sat in my living room. I asked questions. She talked. I tapped the answers into a Word document. In all the talking and tapping, I kept my ear open for the real reason Sandra stayed with a man who despised her.
I dug around the trunk of Sandra’s family tree and discovered a root that stretched all the way to Germany. When I found it, the reason Sandra stayed in a loveless marriage became as obvious as a coffee stain on a white blouse. Sandra’s parents were both victims of a forced child immigration program. The German government went into the Ukraine and removed healthy teenagers from their families, transported them to Germany and made them into farm hands. Sandra’s father, Walter Senko was 14 when he was “chosen.” Her mother, Martha, only 12. Walter and Mother never saw their parents again. They met at a farm in Germany and married there. (Until I met Sandra, I’d never heard of the thousands of abducted Polish and Ukrainian teenagers that were sent to Germany. I know a lot about the British Child Immigration plan and write about it at: http:littleimmigrants.wordpress.com)
Later, Walter was imprisoned at Buchenwald. Martha suffered a mental breakdown. Their baby, Sandra, was sent to an orphanage. Through steely courage and determination, Sandra’s parents survived their adversities and immigrated to Canada. Sandra inherited their “do or die” approach to hardship. Much was required of her from an early age, a fact that caused her to develop a unique courage of her own. Giving up isn’t in Sandra’s genes.
We are shaped by our pasts. And there’s no shame in that. God weaves our pasts into our present experiences. Together they make us who we are today.
Sandra’s staying wasn’t in vain. Her husband experienced a miraculous transformation. God spoke to him man-to-man and changed him. That sensitive, romantic boy across the street came back to Sandra. Today, these two speak in churches and other venues telling their story of restored love.
Sandra’s story demonstrates that there is no wayward individual, broken relationship or crippled faith that is damaged beyond God’s ability to repair it. A story everyone who is hanging on for a miracle needs to read.
The final word has been tweaked and the book – “He Loves Me Not . . . He Loves Me” is in the publisher’s hands.
We can always learn something through the lives of others that helps us to better understand ourselves.