Gina Bowser isn’t angry about her past, but she certainly knows the first 40 years could have been better. “I wasn’t raised with a real good understanding of grace,” said Gina.
After 14 years of marriage, Gina’s husband was dissatisfied with their life together, and the two divorced. Gina was left with a broken heart and four children to take care of. She struggled to provide for her family, but her problems were not solely material. The divorce pushed Gina to make some life decisions that she knew weren’t those of someone following Christ.
“I was living two different lives [after the divorce],” said Gina. “I had one face I showed to church people and this other life where I was dating and getting into sexual sin. I was really just kind of lost. I knew that I loved God but I didn’t know how to battle sin.”
Searching for a Savior
C.S. Lewis once said that if you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end, but if you look for comfort, you will not get either comfort or truth. Gina was searching for the wrong thing.
I was looking for, by the choices I made, somebody to save me,” said Gina.
“I couldn’t find what I was longing for. I know now I was looking for a Savior; I just wasn’t looking in the right place.”
She found someone she thought might suffice in a man who is now her husband, David. “We fell in love, and I believed, I suppose, this was the answer to all my problems.”
After living together for three years Gina challenged David that they either needed to get married or stop living in sin. He chose marriage.
New beginnings aren’t always good
David’s job transferred him to Irving, Texas, a few years later, and the Bowsers ended up moving to Highland Village as a result.
Gina wanted her four daughters to have the foundation she never knew, so she started seeking a local church to call home. “I wanted them to be involved in church. I loved church, I loved God. I knew it was their only hope for joy.”
Even though going to church and building a community were priorities for Gina, she was unsure of how to do this practically.
In her chase for spirituality, she ignored the day-to-day realities of her life and tried to guide her family by herself instead of letting David lead.
“I had gotten to a point spiritually where I wanted to press into the Lord. In my mind I had decided the only way I was going to be able to serve God the way I wanted to was to go around my husband. I began to ignore the fact that I was married.”
There was another problem too. “I always turned to men for value. So even after I got married that didn’t change. Even though I wasn’t physically unfaithful I always had some sort of flirtation going on.”
That eventually ended in adultery. “I just completely betrayed my vows and my God and my husband,” said Gina.
Recognizing the weight of her sin woke Gina up, and she found herself attending The Village’s semester-long Steps class, where men and women gather to pursue redemption from their sin and live out the gospel.
“To say that Steps changed my life is not an exaggeration,” said Gina. “I learned things about God that I didn’t know. I learned things about myself that I didn’t know. It just changed me.”
As a result, Gina carried this grace back into her family’s life. She apologized to her daughters for her example over the years of how not to emulate Christ. She then turned her focus and attention to David.
“I really did want to show my husband what it looked like to be a godly woman and the difference between someone who wasn’t saved and someone who was,” she said. “One of the biggest things I learned is that a woman cannot serve and worship God and go around her husband.”
Not perfection, just Jesus
Imaging Jesus to her husband is even more crucial for Gina because David is not saved. Not yet, anyway. Not according to Gina. It’s not ideal and it’s difficult, but she’s choosing to embrace it.
“The way it’s set up is that God is worshiped and adored and served through my husband, even if he is an unbeliever,” said Gina. “I trust in the Lord and His ability to keep me and protect and provide for me are all going to come through my husband.”
Though her husband doesn’t share her beliefs, Gina shows him deference and acknowledges his place as the head of their household.
“He feels more honored and respected because I actually include him in the choices that I make.”
This attitude is straight out of 1 Peter 3:1, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.”
This isn’t without strife, but it’s certainly better than it was. “It was more difficult [that he wasn’t saved] when I tried to live my life my own way. I think the difficulty now is the sorrow that I live with. We’re getting older. If something were to happen we would never see each other again.”
A peaceful ending
Aside from 1 Peter, there are other passages of Scripture that Gina leans on for strength and hope.
“If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy (1 Cor. 7:13-14).”
Gina could not possibly be living this out more clearly. Through her trials and her joys she has remained submissive to her husband in a way that honors him and brings the Lord joy.
“Everything I do I do because I love [David] and because I want him to know the God I know and not because I want to be right or righteous.”
In the past, Gina might have walked away from her situation. But her reason for staying now goes deeper than her own whims or a need for an earthly idol. The redeeming work of Christ and her fuller understanding of who He is keep her true to His commands, including her marriage vows.
“I’ve seen God be better than my way.”