I heard Diane Nix speak at the Southern Christian Writers Guild. The popular speaker, Bible study teacher, and wife of a Baptist seminary professor explained how ancient concepts in the book of Job apply to women today. Her thoughts about Job’s wife were God breathed and, as I learned when we met for lunch, born out of her own suffering.
“My family was dysfunctional with a capital DYS,” said Diane. “My Dad was a binge alcoholic. Sometimes things were really great and sometimes things were really bad. My mother brought us to church, but we could not talk about God with my Dad.”
Diane, the oldest of three girls, was “Daddy’s girl” working by his side bucking 100 bales of hay twice a day to feed the cattle that roamed their 440 acre farm. She knew her Dad was troubled. By the time she was a teenager, she knew when her Dad would binge drink before he did. She loved him, but hated the violence his drinking created in their home.
“I made a religious decision when I was nine years old that started my spiritual journey. My mother belonged to a church in town but allowed me to attend a Vacation Bible School at a small country church. She told me not to go down front when they had an altar call, but I didn’t listen. They led me in a prayer, gave me a King James Bible and told me I needed to be baptized in water by immersion. I read the King James Bible for months afterward but didn’t understand it and lost interest. I think I was close to salvation but not there yet.”
Several years later, Diane’s family moved to Missouri where their house burnt down leaving them with nothing but the clothes on their backs. As her family struggled to rebuild their lives, Diane often woke early to walk in the woods. Watching the animals and beauty of the rising sun stirred in her a hunger to know where the world she lived in came from.
After a series of violent episodes in her family, Diane escaped to her refuge in the woods and vowed she would never be like her Dad. “I made that vow out of hurt, anger and arrogance. By the time I was 19, I was worse than my Dad was. He never drank daily but I did, and I experimented with the popular drugs of my day. I would sing in church on Sunday and get drunk during the week. I was in such turmoil I’d beg God to forgive me then get up the next morning and do the same thing.”
Diane worked as a disk jockey for a rock-n-roll radio station during her sophomore year of college. The pay was inadequate to cover all of her expenses, so she added a part-time bookkeeping job at a flower shop. Diane was posting invoices when Margie, the shop owner’s daughter, introduced herself. Diane listened politely, and then returned to her invoices.
The spiritual battle raging within Diane intensified. She felt her life slipping from her control when she awoke and could not remember what happened the night before. The second time she awoke hung over and wondering how she got home, something within her broke. Diane rolled out of bed and onto her knees. “God, help me. I’m crying out every night and it’s not working. If you are real, I need to know because I can’t keep doing what I’m doing. I need you to be in charge of my life.”
Diane stood, dressed for work and drove to the flower shop pondering the consequences of her prayer. She was plowing through her day when Margie walked in and stood in front of Diane’s desk. “Diane, I don’t know if you remember me?”
“Yea, I remember you,” Diane replied.
“We met exactly thirty days ago today,” said Margie. “When I left the flower shop that day, the Lord told me to pray for you. I have prayed for you every day. This morning, the Lord told me today is the day of your salvation and that you will need a place to live.”
Tears filled Diane’s eyes as she continued her story. “Margie had no way of knowing what I prayed that morning. No one had ever told me they prayed for me, much less prayed for me daily for thirty days, and then offered me a place to live. I didn’t even have to think about it. My three roommates had a fit when I moved out, but staying wasn’t an option. I would have never survived a salvation experience living among the sexual promiscuity and alcohol and drug abuse that took place in our apartment.”
Diane lived with Margie for a year as her life stabilized, and her faith matured. A job offer from a construction company relocated her to the Dallas, Fort Worth area where she joined Plymouth Park Baptist Church. The handsome youth pastor caught her eye, but didn’t believe she was worthy to marry a godly man.
Diane signed up for evangelistic training in preparation for a mission’s trip to Seoul, Korea. “We were 27,000 feet in the air on the way to Korea. People were moving about the plane stretching and chatting. I found an empty nook where I could pray. That’s when I heard, ‘I want you to be a pastor’s wife.’ I looked up to see who had spoken to me but all of the seats around me were empty. I started praying again and heard a second time, ‘I want you to be a pastor’s wife.’ This time, I knew the Lord had spoken to me. I thought about the pastor’s wives I’d met growing up, who wore tent dresses and no make-up. I liked my stylish clothes and high heels, so I argued with God. It never occurred to me that my pastor’s wife dressed fashionably and wore make-up. I wrestled with God for some time before I found my pastor’s wife and asked, ‘Do you think a pastor’s wife has to be called?’ She showed me in Genesis where a man and his wife become one flesh. If the man is called to pastor, she said, so is his wife.” Later, the youth pastor Diane admired asked her to marry him, and she gladly accepted.
Diane was fulfilling her calling as a pastor’s wife and leading women’s ministry when her father’s alcoholism intensified. Diane and her sisters, weary of the pain alcoholism created, gave their father an ultimatum – “Get help or you will never see us again.” Her father entered a treatment program. He didn’t complete the program, but he never drank again. Diane’s husband was at a pastoral meeting when a man approached him and said, “I was your father-n-law’s counselor. We were making progress, and I didn’t want him to leave. I can’t betray his confidence but Diane needs to know there are secrets.”
Diane learned the secret that caused her father to live a troubled life when she returned home to celebrate her birthday with her family. The moment she walked in the door, she sensed her father’s anger. “I didn’t know why he was angry with me, but he had been sick, and I wanted to spend time with him. He was on the deck grilling food, so I went outside and sat near him to listen to anything he might say. Suddenly, he blurted out, ‘I’m sorry you’ve been ashamed of me all my life.’ I started to object but the Holy Spirit whispered ‘Be still.’”
Diane sat quietly while her father revealed the source of his troubled life. “I got saved,” said her father. “God dealt with me to enter the ministry for a year, but I didn’t know how to tell my drinking buddies I would be a preacher, so I refused to enter the ministry.”
As her father spoke, memories of her life flashed through her mind forming an arch. Then she heard swoosh and fragments of memories formed a picture. She saw with clarity what things could have been like and what they were like.
“God gave me a gift that day,” said Diane. “I was so different from my family, I wondered if I had been adopted. Now I knew why I had always felt drawn to spiritual things. Our family was destine to be a family of priests. My father’s disobedience sent us down a different path, but God redeemed that legacy in me.”