Passive Echoes

The Birth of Spirituality and Change

Despite the bliss of matrimony there was something missing in their lives. Marcia seemed to identify it immediately. While visiting her mother with Larry she requested her personal white King James Bible. She confided to her mother that she wanted to start attending church again and desired Larry to worship with her and to study the Bible.

Larry was an avowed atheist and they had attempted to discuss religion and the Bible in ’68 to no avail. Larry was so adamant, and in Marcia’s mind almost blasphemous, that they agreed to not discuss the matter again.

Nevertheless, she knew that if anyone could soften his heart and mellow him, or at least persuade him to examine the teachings of the Bible, it was her. Larry would do anything that Marcia requested because he loved and adored her above all.

Thus, after Marcia acquired her Bible she unzipped it and began reading to herself one Sunday morning while they lay in bed, simply enjoying each other. As they snuggled, Larry inquired about what she was reading. She moved closer to him and placed her arm around him and began to show him passages of the Bible that were her favorites.

Larry did not protest, but laid his head on her bare and smooth skin with his ear above her breast. He listened attentively as she read aloud softly and gently ran her fingers through the curls of his hair.

Occasionally he interrupted to ask her questions and then encouraged her to continue reading aloud to him. She was reading from the Bible book of Psalms, the 23rd, her favorite. The words, although many of them were unfamiliar, were comforting to his heart and mind.

Before long, Larry was reading and studying the Bible daily on his own. In fact, he exceeded Marcia in using her Bible. One of the older men at work who attended a small church became a close confidant and friend to Larry, although being old enough to be his father.

Recognizing Larry’s interest in the Bible he gave Larry a small pocket edition of the “New Testament”, the last 27 books of the Bible from Matthew to the last book in the Bible, Revelation. He also invited them to attend the church with him and his family. They accepted the invitation.

Larry became an ardent student and prolific reader of the Holy Writings and read the 27 books several times within a few weeks. He would also read from the first 39 books, Genesis through Malachi, using Marcia’s complete Bible when at home.

In time, it became obvious to Larry that his atheistic views were erroneous. He became convinced that there was a Supreme Being, God, and that the Bible contained his message of hope for mankind. Nevertheless, he had more questions than answers with regard to the Bible’s teachings. He realized that he needed help in acquiring understanding and precise knowledge.

Marcia's paternal grandmother, "Mother Dear", spoke with him almost daily on the telephone. She would call from Norfolk and speak with Marcia for a few minutes and then ask to speak to Larry. They would talk for nearly an hour about the Bible, faith, love, and countless other scriptural matters before he went to work at 3 PM.

Additionally, when they visited Marcia's mother in Ahoskie, NC, her maternal grandmother made it a point to speak with Larry repeatedly about the Bible. In fact, she gave him his first personal copy of the entire Bible as well as various other publications to assist in his acquiring understanding of the Bible's teachings.

Marcia attempted to assist him with his awakening spirituality. However, her understanding and knowledge was somewhat limited to her childhood instruction. Despite his limited knowledge, Larry recognized that he had to make changes in his life. One of the first major changes that he made was to stop smoking after reading 2 Corinthians 7:1. There the Bible states:

"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” -KJV

No one had to tell him that it was wrong to abuse his flesh, his body, with tobacco and similar products. Larry ceased this habit overnight after smoking 2-3 packs of cigarettes per day for eight years. This was accomplished through prayer and an earnest desire to please God. 

As an asthmatic from birth, this single act likely saved his life. His father died from lung cancer at 57. He was a heavy smoker. Larry credits Marcia’s patient and loving insistence and persistence in encouraging and supporting him in his studying and applying Bible principles in his life with saving not just his life, but preserving their love and marriage.

He is also grateful that he heeded his father’s advice to, “Do all you can to keep Marcia in your life and to do nothing to mess things up with her”. This he said after meeting and talking with Marcia extensively the first time that he met her.

After their marriage their happiness became complete when they embraced the way of life that God prescribes. They were baptized together in 1974 and have never wavered in their faith and love for God and Christ. Their search for God together was a journey and a search for truth. Neither of them was content to base their faith on blind credulity.

They had a thirst for knowledge and an accurate understanding of God’s requirements, and did not give up their quest until they were convinced that they had found it. It was a two year exploration wherein they read the Bible completely, studied and researched diligently, prayed incessantly, and associated with fellow believers who were similarly inclined.

Finally, they were rewarded by God and Christ for their earnest endeavors. The secret to their 45 years of success in marriage is revealed at Ecclesiastes 3:9-12, which states:

"Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” -NLT

That “triple-braided cord” or “threefold cord” involves God in their marriage. Marcia and Larry had the capacity and the desire for an endless love. Nevertheless, they soon realized that to succeed they needed the direction, guidance, and support of God in their marriage.

For the past 43 years, Larry and Marcia have worked diligently to live by Bible principles and to instill them into their daughters and grandchildren’s heart. Larry has had more work to do in order to comply with the scriptural injunction and exhortation at Romans 12:1, which states:

 "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”-KJV

For Larry, that “transforming and renewing of the mind” has necessitated changing completely his personality and attitude. His chauvinistic ideas and attitudes, though common in the world, had to be readjusted to conform to God’s standards for husbands, namely:

"Husbands, continue loving YOUR wives, just as the Christ also loved the congregation and delivered up himself for it, that he might sanctify it, cleansing it with the bath of water by means of the word, that he might present the congregation to himself in its splendor, not having a spot or a wrinkle or any of such things, but that it should be holy and without blemish. In this way husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it, as the Christ also does the congregation, because we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave [his] father and [his] mother and he will stick to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This sacred secret is great. Now I am speaking with respect to Christ and the congregation. Nevertheless, also, let each one of YOU individually so love his wife as he does himself; on the other hand, the wife should have deep respect for her husband.” -Ephesians 5:25-33, NWT.

This essentially meant that his stereotypical views about women had to be adjusted to reflect a more balanced Christian view of headship. In the world, he understood headship to mean being demanding and domineering.

Loving Marcia was easy, but Larry was at times tyrannical. He had to acquire understanding that headship involved carrying the burdens by taking the lead by his example and earning respect, and not simply demanding it. It also meant consulting with Marcia on major decisions and not arbitrarily making them himself.

Above all, he was given some sound advice by spiritual father figures that “where there are no Bible principles involved in a matter, yield to her preferences.” This advice has kept both of them happy.

Marcia has always been extremely loving, respectful, and a very diligent and capable wife and mother as described in Proverbs chapter 31. Although they have had disagreements on matters, after it has been thoroughly discussed and a final decision has to be made by her husbandly head, she has always supported Larry’s final decision.

He values her insight and judgment and usually decisions are made jointly. However, there have been occasions where the burden of decision-making has had to be shouldered by him alone.

Larry cannot think of anything that Marcia had to change in her overall personality except to grow in faith and knowledge about God and Jesus Christ and to accept God’s forgiveness for the errors of her youth. She was burdened by guilt because she went to church, read portions of the Bible, yet did things with the knowledge that they were sins. She ceased going to church because she felt that she was being hypocritical.

UNCSA exposed Marcia’s delicate nature and soft heart. During most of her four years attending the conservatory her humble and modest assessment of her abilities limited her aspirations. She felt that everyone was better and a step above her own capabilities.

Despite being wooed and courted by all sorts of admirers on and off campus, even teachers, she felt extremely insecure about her physical appearance. She was and still is the most beautiful woman that Larry has ever known, and he has known and dated many before deciding on her. From the first day he met her he could never settle for less. She set the standard.

One of the most significant changes came after the birth of their first daughter. Larry felt overwhelmed. Marcia, although later confiding that she felt like Larry, never missed a beat. Rather, from the first day that they learned that she was pregnant she has been a "superb" mother in all respects. When their daughter was born she amazed Larry and everyone at how well-prepared and equipped to care for a husband and daughter she was.

Always kind, soft-spoken, extremely attentive, nurturing, and the personification of motherhood. Larry commented once that he would have loved for her to be his mother, not that he was dissatisfied with his own. Marcia was nearly perfect as their daughters will attest to.

On the other hand, Larry had to learn and adapt to his role as a father. His transition was not as smooth as Marcia's. It required cultivating many qualities that were not innate or natural to him. Again, the Bible and Jehovah's own example set the standard for fathers. Throughout the years he had to continue to transition and be molded by the principles and teachings of God's Word.



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