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“I think I’m falling out of love with you.” Those words from Greg Bodin’s wife, Sandy, shook Greg to the very core.
But although he was initially shocked by Sandy’s words, as he thought more about it, it made sense. Greg realized that he had pretty much checked out of his marriage, especially since their second son, Leo, had been born. around that time, Greg had gone to work for his father-in- law’s contracting business.
“Financially,” Greg says, “it served our family well. But with that job—in combination with another big side job I had taken on—I just threw myself into work and
checked out of any family responsibilities other than bringing in a salary.
“Through the process,” he says, “as I failed to be a good husband and father, Sandy understandably felt more and more distanced from me, and we grew apart.”
“I knew that I wasn’t the world’s greatest husband,” Greg recalls. “I knew I was focusing on work way too much, just to get away from the baby’s crying and my responsibility of helping and being a good father.”
Although Greg knew things weren’t great, “I didn’t think our marriage was in jeopardy,” he said. “But what I came to realize was that while I had never fallen out of love with Sandy, I wasn’t showing her love. I was stepping back. and when she said she was falling out of love with me, it knocked me off my feet.”
Running From God
The events that led up to Sandy’s statement actually began back in Greg’s early teen years. rebelling against the faith he had been taught since childhood, Greg ran from God all the way through high school and into his adult years.
When it came time for college, Greg eagerly left home for Loyola University. That’s where he met Sandy.
When it came to matters of faith, he knew that she had been raised catholic, and she knew that he was “evangelical,” whatever that meant.
“If you had seen what he looked like,” Sandy said, “piercings and spiky stuff, you would be surprised that he believed in God. and the only time we talked about spiritual things was to have arguments. ‘You guys believe this, and we believe that.’ But other than that, there was really nothing in our relation- ship that had anything to do with God.”
Even so, Greg recalls, “we spent our first few years of marriage in marital bliss. Just enjoying life and enjoying each other. and then we had one child, and that was a great experience.”
“Then our second child—a colicky baby who brought more challenges—was born, and that’s when I really checked out,” Greg admits.
With their first child, Greg’s hands-off stance was okay with Sandy. “as a mother, I thought I would just do everything. and I did it all without his help. But our second one cried for three months straight. If he wasn’t sleeping or eating, he was crying.
I took him to specialists and said, ‘Please, fix this.’ It was so hard.”
“That’s when I needed Greg to help me, at least with our older son. and he would be in the room and he would do enough
to keep Eddie alive—give him some crackers or toss him a granola bar. But there was no attention. when our son would say, ‘daddy, this’ and ‘daddy, that,’ Greg would say, ‘Later, later, daddy’s busy.’
And that’s when the fights would start.
“I would say, ‘he needs you,’” Sandy recalls, “and he would say, ‘he’s fine.’”
A Crucial Car Ride
With Sandy’s stunning statement still ringing in his ears, Greg was in his car, driving their older son, eddie, to a visit with his grandparents. Between the time he and eddie left their home in Bartlett and the time they arrived at the home of Greg’s dad and stepmom in North aurora, Greg did some serious thinking.
It was during that car trip, Greg says, that he had a strong awareness of God’s presence, telling him that it was time to stop living for himself.
“It was clear to me,” Greg said, “that the only way my marriage could be saved was through the love of God and the power of Christ—because there was nothing I could do.
“I could see that I had fallen into an unhealthy pattern of withdrawing, even being emotionally abusive to Sandy,” Greg admits.
“At the time, I felt like Sandy wasn’t being a good enough mother, when it was really my failures as a husband and father that put her in the difficult situation she was in. She needed my help, but I failed her. I was so wrapped up in myself that I would lash out and criticize her with hurtful comments.”
As he approached his dad’s house that day in May of 2011, Greg heard the holy Spirit telling him that he needed to ask his dad and stepmom to pray for him.
“Although they had not always walked with the Lord,” Greg said, “since I was in middle school they have been committed christians. and I knew that only prayer and God’s intervention could bring the radical change that was needed in me and in my marriage.”
Up to that point, Greg and Sandy had kept their troubles to themselves, but when he got there, Greg says, “I came clean.”
“I said, ‘Listen, guys, would you pray for me?’ and they knew immediately what was going on. I had been running from the Lord for my entire life up until this day. They knew God was working in my life and that he was calling me back to him.
“God showed me, through my failure as a husband, that I needed Him.”
Not long after that, he began to look for a church.
Wheaton Bible Church
Greg does a lot of driving in his job and had seen Wheaton Bible church as he drove down North avenue. when he went to the Internet to research churches, he was pleased to learn that the church also had a Spanish congregation—a church where Sandy’s parents, whose first language is Spanish, might also attend.
Early on, Greg came by himself and brought four-year-old Eddie, who would sit beside him and color during the service.
Sandy says she might have been willing to come too, but, “our little one was so fussy. anytime I left him, I’d be called to come get him, so for a while I just stayed home.”
Later Greg was so determined to get Sandy to church that he became a helper in the “Lil Fish” room for toddlers Leo’s age.
Greg knew that if he missed the sermon, he could listen online later in the week, but he wanted Sandy to hear it too. “I knew that Pastor rob’s preaching spoke truth,” he said, “because he was preaching God’s word. and I knew Sandy would benefit from that. She needed to be there.”
At the same time, Sandy found the idea of any “adult time” appealing. “Greg told me he would stay with Leo and be there with him if there was a problem. It was nice that he was willing to do that, and I got time for myself.”
Slowly she began to listen and understand, but Greg’s sudden transformation gave Sandy a lot to think about. Their marriage had been seriously damaged at that point, with no commu- nication other than arguments, Sandy recalls. Then suddenly, Greg was a changed man.
“When he said he was going to dedicate his life to Jesus,” Sandy remembers, “that was like a punch in the stomach to me. This whole time we were having problems, I wanted him to focus on me. Now you’re going to focus on Jesus? I need you to focus on me!
“We needed to work out our issues. he’s got all these books to read, but I didn’t understand that he needed to do the reading and Bible study to become a better husband and father. It was hard for a while.
“I was also fearful of the holier-than-thou thing. Now, all of a sudden, he wants to be my spiritual leader. our communication was so broken, I didn’t understand what he was trying to tell me.” Greg’s actions, however, sent a much clearer message.
“You sit in the service, and I’ll take care of Leo,” and, “I’m going to be in charge of loading the dishwasher.” Those words got through to Sandy.
“I kind of liked that,” Sandy said. “But I wondered when it was going to end. how can someone suddenly become a new person?”
Over time, Sandy saw the change was real.
After Sandy began attending Sunday services, Greg’s next plan was to get her into a women’s Bible study. he had joined the men’s Thursday-morning huddle in the fall, just a few months
after he first came to WBC. he had realized that as good as Sunday services were, he needed more—and remembered how his dad had always talked about the importance of fellowship and Bible study.
“The teaching was incredible, and it just really transformed my perspective on who I am supposed to be as a husband and a father and a man who is called to serve God.”
When the new studies started up the following January, he wanted Sandy to have the same kind of experience. So, with her reluctant permission, he signed her up for the Tuesday evening Place 4 You women’s study, where she was assigned to a discussion group led by Cindy Judge.
Even though Sandy feared the other women would be judge-mental, “I was very honest with them,” she recalls. “I thought I’d be in the Bible study and everybody would be holy, holy.
“But they accepted me. They were interested in me. They wanted to know me, and they wanted to help. They weren’t pushy, but they kind of guided me—and I loved it!”
“Sandy felt like she knew so little about the Bible,” Cindy recalls, “that she was willing to accept her husband’s challenge to study the book of Romans on Tuesday nights. I remember her telling us that although she was raised in parochial schools, she was actually feeling angry that she knew so little about the basics of the christian faith.”
Though studying Romans gave her some new insights, it also frustrated Sandy. “when she confided her frustration,” Cindy said, “I gave her a copy of c. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. She liked it so much that her husband put the audiobook version on her iPod.”
As she read and listened and continued to attend the Bible study, Sandy was doing battle with accepting all she was learning.
“One night at Place4You,” Cindy said, “Sandy became really agitated. at that point we were studying Romans chapter 7.”
Later Sandy shared with Cindy what happened as she was driving home that night:
Sandy had decided to listen to the Mere Christianity recording. Something went wrong, and she couldn’t get it to play. So she turned on some favorite music. The English rock band Florence and the Machine was singing “dog days are over”:
Happiness hit her like a train on a track. Coming towards her stuck still no turning back. She hid around corners and she hid under beds. She killed it with kisses and from it she fled.
Run fast for your mother; run fast for your father. Run for your children all your sisters and brothers. Leave all your love and your longing behind. You can’t carry it with you if you want to survive. The dog days are over. The dog days are done.
Can you hear the horses, ’cause here they come. And I never wanted anything from you. Except everything you had and what was left after that too. Oh! Happiness hit her like a bullet in the back. Struck from a great height. By someone who should have known better than that. The dog days are over. The dog days are done.
As Sandy listened, something clicked. She pulled her car over and began to weep. The words touched her deeply. one verse grabbed her:
I never wanted anything from you except everything you had. And what was left after that too. The dog days are over. The dog days are done.
God spoke through the words of this song, and Sandy’s response was to stop resisting and surrender herself to him. The release was real.
She walked into her house shaking. Meeting her husband, she exploded, “You’re not going to believe what happened to me.”
Before that day, Greg had shared the plan of salvation with Sandy and had even led her in a prayer to accept Christ as her Lord and Savior.
But she was still, he says, “a bit skeptical.”
That night was, for Sandy, a very personal moment with God. after hearing her story, Greg replied, “only God will make you see.”
The peace came that night, as Sandy surrendered her life to Christ. She saw some immediate changes.
The first thing she noticed was that her language had changed. and she could finally really pray to this God she hoped to know.
“Sandy had never been able to pray out loud in our group,” Cindy said, “so what a wonderful time it was when we heard her pray for the first time!”
Cindy remembers that Sandy had a curiosity about the role of the holy Spirit in her new life. “Though she says that old tendencies still creep in,” Cindy said, “she knows that the holy Spirit is in her, to convict her of her sin and to give her power to walk on with Jesus.”
That walk began the night “the dog days” were over.
“We’re still sinful humans,” Sandy says, “and we don’t just skip along together every day. But now we communicate. We understand each other.”
“When he tells Eddie, ‘Let’s pray,’ I let him be the spiritual leader because that’s his role.”
Now Greg is the kind of dad Sandy wanted for her children. “I grew up with a wonderful father, loving and caring, so I had high expectations for Greg, and he wasn’t meeting them. But he’s a real dad now. a father.”
when Sandy and Greg told her parents they were attending church, she wasn’t sure what they would think, “but they
like that we go.” She adds, “They never complained about it, except one time when my dad said, ‘as long as your kids don’t grow up knocking on people’s doors, I’m fine with it.’”
Sandy’s parents hadn’t attended church themselves for many years, but when Sandy and Greg invited them to visit Iglesia del Pueblo last Thanksgiving, they came—and returned again and again to attend services in their native Spanish language.
Sandy initially wondered what they would think about the contemporary music, since their past church experience was with the more solemn catholic mass. She reports that her mother loves the music, and while they don’t yet participate, they stand and listen—and they continue to come on Sunday mornings. her dad, too, is enjoying the services, telling Greg that he likes it, especially how Pastor hanibal speaks with authority as he explains Scripture.