Have you ever been wronged by others? Have you ever felt, life was not fair? Neither did my friend Lynne. Listen in to the interview I had with Lynne Cox, as she shares about her younger years and the need for forgiveness in our lives.
Transcript of our conversation:
Lisa: Hello, this is Lisa Adams with Lisa Adams Coaching and the BIMA Network. And I am here today interviewing a dear friend of mine. Her name is Lynne Cox, and she is a wonderful woman of God. She has a huge heart for the Lord, for women, her and her husband do a lot of ministry with married couples. And I had the pleasure of meeting her and her husband about eight years ago when we moved to Saratoga Springs. So I wanted you to hear Lynn’s story, a little bit of her background, a little bit of her faith journey. So I have her on today to have a nice conversation. So Lynn, welcome. I’m so excited to talk to you today.
Lynne: Thank you. And I am so happy to be here and thrilled that you asked me, Lisa.
Lisa: Oh, Lynne is just a great, great speaker and just a fun person to be around. So Lynne, why don’t we start off with letting the women know… Where did you grow up? You had an interesting childhood, needless to say. So why don’t you tell the ladies about it?
Lynne: Sure. Thanks. I grew up in Massachusetts. I grew up about 25 miles South and East of Boston, a city called Brockton. And so for you trivia fan people, that is where heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano was born. So there’s a little bit of trivia there. Now that little piece of trivia I was telling Lisa was that I do at the time, it was the second largest high school in the country. It was the largest high school East of the Mississippi. Student body, over 7,000. My high school
Lisa: Wow. That’s big.
Lynne: It is big. My graduating class was over 1,200. So that’s where I grew up and lived there my whole life until I was 18.
Lisa: Yeah. And how many siblings? What was your family life like as a child?
Lynne: Okay. So I grew up in a household where I was the oldest and I had a younger sister who is five years younger than me. She is technically my half sister. We have the same mom. We have different dads. My parents divorced when I was about a year old and after they divorced, I never had any contact from or with my dad. My mom had remarried when I was about four and I had a tough childhood because that stepfather I grew up with was alcoholic and very abusive. I know my mom, dealing with her own really miserable life with her husband… And people often say to me, “Well, at least your stepfather provides food and a roof over your head because your own father didn’t want anything to do with you.”
Lisa: And how did that make you feel?
Lynne: It was really tough because she would remind me of things like that. And so really grew up, not home, never feeling treasured,
Lisa: Never feeling treasured.
Lynne: Cherished. Cherished is really the word I want.
Lynne: I never felt cherished as I was growing up because of the very dysfunction of my household. My younger sister was his daughter, was very treasured. Cherished.
Lisa: So the half sister was cherished, but you weren’t. And I would say you probably didn’t feel very protected.
Lynne: Didn’t feel protected. As I got older, I really realized how unprotected I was. I mean, I felt that as a child, but then growing up, I realized it when I became a parent like, “Oh, that protection was really lacking.” So.
Lisa: Then I think you told me that you had moved to California.
Lynne: I did. So, as soon as I turned 18, I left home. I moved as far away from home as I could. And I moved to Southern California. And that is actually where I met my first husband. His name was Bruce. He was a Marine. That is when I started to learn was to be cherished. He was sweet. He was tender. He was fun. He was patient. That was where I started to learn. That was. We were married in 1979 and we had our son, the fall of 1981. Really had a life that was full of love, laughter, adventure, joy, security. Which is none of the things that I had known before. Then on the 1st of March in 1982, he left for a six month deployment overseas. Then on a Sunday morning on March 21st, a knock came to my door. When I looked through that peephole, my blood ran cold. Cause there stood Marine officials, chaplain. And they came to tell me he had been killed in a helicopter crash in South Korea.
Lynne: Didn’t even know… It was like a bad dream. I just didn’t even know how to function. I was 22 years old. I had a five month old son. I was a widow. I can see during the days and the weeks and the months ahead, I can see God’s care for us. So remember I told you when I grew up, I didn’t know my dad at all. One day today, I received a letter in the mail. It was from my father.
Lisa: That must have been surprising.
Lynne: So surprising. And what was more surprising is that he lived about 30 minutes away from where I did.
Lisa: In California?
Lynne: In California. Right? Like so-
Lisa: Oh goodness.
Lynne: He had heard my husband had been killed. He wrote a very nice letter saying that he knew he could never make up the time. He wasn’t a father to me. But he would love the opportunity to be a grandfather to my son. So initial reaction was “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Lisa: Yeah, exactly.
Lynne: I had lived my whole life without him. I don’t need you now. He had said in his letter that he wouldn’t push. To contact him, but he wouldn’t push it. His mother, my grandmother, on the other hand did push. So a few months later I went back East to visit family and I saw the grandparents and wanted them to meet their great grandson.
Lynne: My grandmother said to me, “So I heard your dad wrote you a letter.” I said he did. And she said, “Have you responded?” I said… “You got to reach out to him.” I said, “I haven’t decided yet.” I was just trying to be diplomatic with her. You know? I didn’t want to-
Lisa: You had no intention of speaking to him?
Lynne: I had no intention. She walked over to her phone. She picked up her phone. She called my dad at work and said, “I have somebody here who wants to talk to you.” And handed me the phone. So short, awkward conversation.
Lisa: Felt awkward?
Lynne: Yes and we agreed that I would call him when I got back to California. We met finally in the summer of 1982.Here was another piece of God’s revealing himself, showing me, teaching me about being cherished. My dad was a the born-again believer in Jesus.
Lynne: So God continued to use Dad showing me about being cherished. I have to tell you that the relationship between my dad and I became more than either of us ever believed or imagined it could be. We had a great relationship.
Lisa: There but God, right?
Lynne: There but God. Right. Yes.
Lynne: So what I didn’t say earlier was, so I’ve lost my husband. Way back when I was 14 I had met my now husband, Mike. I’ve known Mike since I was 14. Mike never really went away from my life. We had remained friends all through the years and he had even become good friends with my husband, Bruce.
Lynne: To the point where Mike and Bruce went out to dinner to celebrate Christopher being born. My and Bruce’s son. Like that’s how close they were. Right. So I left Southern California and got a house up in Oregon, August of 1982. Later in the summer of 1982, I left Southern California and moved up there. Now the part of God drawing me, showing me, revealing himself, placed us in a little small town, cul de sac in a neighborhood. Great neighbors, including the associate pastor, the little church in the town. He lived right next door to us. They were so wonderful. So loving. So patient. Just showed us the love of Jesus. Like everybody who I met in that little town, all went to this church. You could see it, see a difference in their life, their relationship with God. Then Mike comes back into the picture.
Lisa: How does Mike come back in the picture? You’re in Oregon. I’m assuming he’s in Massachusetts.
Lynne: Mike was actually in the Navy stationed in another part of California.
Lisa: Okay. So on the West coast?
Lynne: So in 1983, we started dating. Long distance. It was 700 miles, one way, that we lived apart from each other. But we started dating in ’83 and we were married in 1985. Two months before we were married, Billy Graham Crusade came to the little town area that we lived in and through those loving friends and neighbors who cherished us and showed us such unconditional love for Jesus and that Crusade, Mike and I both got saved.
Lynne: Two months before. Right. So yeah. We came to the Lord and you know, we grew and then God always does things so tenderly and in the right time. So now we fast forward a few years and our walk and my walk, God revealed to me one day, how much bitterness was in my heart, towards like my stepfather and stuff. And I’d been having a conversation back and forth with God about forgiveness. And He spoke to my heart one day and He said, “All that bitterness [inaudible 00:13:33] heart this precious child.” His daughter.
Lisa: Say that again, Lynne. So…
Lynne: God said, so I was having a conversation back and forth with the Lord. And He said all that bitterness that I had in my heart was ugly. And it didn’t belong in the heart of His precious daughter.
Lisa: Yeah. Yeah. “All that bitterness doesn’t belong in the heart of His precious daughter.” Absolutely.
Lynne: That is what he said.
Lisa: Good word.
Lynne: And so God asked me to forgive. I just said, “I do not feel it. I don’t feel that forgiveness.” And He told me, “You just have to be willing.” And I said I was willing. I said, “I am, I’m willing to forgive. I just don’t feel it.” And I have to tell you, Lisa. That forgiveness washed over me like a flood, standing there in my kitchen, and was amazing. A while later, maybe a year later, the Lord actually asked me to write a letter to my stepfather and let him know he had been forgiven and to tell him about Jesus. And I did that. I got to tell you, one of my things I always tell people about being obedient to the Lord because I wrote the letter, did what God asked me to do. And [inaudible 00:15:08] months later, my stepfather was dead.
Lynne: So my obedience… Because I never could have done it once he died. No, it’s done. You know, so…
Lisa: Right. Life is short. We don’t know the time or the place. Right?
Lynne: We don’t. So Mike and I moved across country three times. The first time was totally in our flesh. Like we knew like the day we were packing the truck, like we shouldn’t go. We went. God so faithful. He still [inaudible 00:15:59] redeemed the situation. We moved back to Oregon a year later and then 22 years ago we moved back to the East coast. Yeah.
Lisa: Yeah. And then it’s interesting too, since you’ve been back, you’re here in New York, right. So my husband and my family got to meet you.
Lisa: And then other people from our church got to meet you. And then we find out that there’s similarities in churches in Oregon, that there was connections back to Oregon with other folks at our church here and only… such a small world, but really only ordained by Lord God.
Lynne: So true.
Lisa: So good. So good. So what… You were talking about, the forgiveness. What’s your big takeaway from that? From that lesson that the Lord taught you?
Lynne: Trust Him who… He speaks things to our heart because He wants the best for us. It was best for me to get rid of that bitterness. It was best for me to forgive. God wants His best for me.
Lisa: Yep. God wants His best.
Lynne: Yes. And holding on, I just remember how powerful it was when he said, “Bitterness is ugly. It does not belong in the heart of My precious daughter.” You know? So now I can talk and I can refer to my life growing up and I can share with other people and women. And really there is no animosity, no, no bad feelings. God gave me a great heart of compassion for him. And even my mom, because I had to forgive her too. Even my mom.
Lynne: God continued to use my husband Mike in my life. He is truly… Loves me unconditionally, lays down his life for me, like Christ loves the church. He is such a great example.
Lisa: Well, Lynne, your story is just so amazing. And we could talk on for many more minutes, I know, because there’s so many more layers to your story and to the story of the ministry that you and Mike have. But I have one last question I wanted to ask you. What is one word of advice you would give your younger self if you could?
Lynne: That’s so good. So, there’s a scripture, Psalm 37:4. It says, “Delight yourself in the Lord. And He will give you the desires of your heart.” I remember when God first really helped me understand that verse. “Delight yourself in the Lord. He will give you the desires of your heart.” Those desires I have in my heart, He placed there. It’s not like, “Oh, I desire to do this, but I want you to bless it.” I live a life trying to be faithful, delighting myself in God. So as I do that, He places desires in my heart. So my advice to my younger me was to not take myself so seriously. Laugh more. You know? Not take myself so seriously and to laugh more. As I delight myself in God, He places those things in my heart. You don’t have to stress so much about, “Am I doing the right thing?” That you know just… delight myself in God. Not to take myself so seriously.
Lisa: Good word. Not to take ourselves so seriously. That’s true. Lynne, thank you so much. This has been wonderful. Ladies, I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to Lynne as much as I’ve enjoyed speaking with her. If you have further questions for Lynne or would like to talk to her some more, please check out the link in the blog post below. Thank you so much and have a great day.