When we were dating, I was impressed that Gerta was so devout. My family was highly dysfunctional. My father was a violent alcoholic. My mother was a wonderful person. She would stand up for me to prevent violence against me, but she couldn’t seem to stand up for herself against my father. And so we were always destitute or on the brink of destitution and never knew we would have a roof over our heads. He had 44 jobs in 34 years and frequently punched out his boss or another employee which isn’t a career advancement technique.
A lot of people think it was a dark childhood. It really wasn’t so much because for some reason I’ve always felt happiness was a choice, and as a kid, I could always find things that made me happy, and things that were good. And partly that was books that really saved me as a child, but as a consequence, the family was so dysfunctional that although my mother made me go to church with her. I grew up in that church, it didn’t have anything to offer a kid. It was something you did on a Sunday, but it didn’t have any reverberations through the week.
When I started dating Gerda, often our dates were visiting family, going from one aunt and uncle to the next. I kept seeing examples of these tightly knit families that were a joy to be around. There was none of the dysfunction I saw in mine. I think a part of me decided maybe this has something to do with their deep faith.
I begin reading G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis as well. I re-read and re-read and I began through Chesterton to feel maybe this was it. If we were going to get married, I should probably take this step. I pretty much surprised Gerda when I told her.
I’m not sure the pastor approved of me – or believed I was sincere. The night of our wedding practice, he kept calling me Dan. I think it was a subtle way of saying, I’m not sure about you. Gerda, I am not so sure about this guy.