Philippians 1:6 (Amp) – “And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.”
It’s hard to put a 10 year marriage (12 year relationship) into just a few paragraphs. I’m asking the Lord to give me the words and to be concise but thorough.
Picking up where I left off in my post “Filling the Voids”….
We met the fall of our freshman year of college through mutual friends. I was a cheerleader, he was a football player. It was “love at first sight”…probably more like infatuation….life-long compatibility didn’t seem to be a concern, although we seemed to have a lot in common at the time. We certainly weren’t taking into consideration how young and clueless we were and how much you change in your 20’s (Warning!!!)
Nor was I considering the reality of what it would mean to be “unequally yoked”. While he wasn’t a Christian before we met, he seemed genuinely interested and open and there seemed to be some spiritual growth occurring. It wasn’t until much later that I realized his interest in this area was more about winning me than anything else. I don’t mean to sound harsh or judgmental….I certainly cannot judge the heart….and I am prayerful that the seeds that have been planted will continue to grow, however the fruit over time has not proven to be that of a true believer or follower of Christ.
Engagement came as a shock to me. While I knew our relationship was headed that direction, we had only been dating for six months, and conversations and plans were to get engaged in the fall. The “question” came in April on a beautiful spring day with a picnic on the nationally-ranked golf course that I had grown up at.
It was a complete surprise, but with only internal hesitation, I said yes – I couldn’t resist the moment (or the ring) and felt like we were headed in that direction anyway. Just like that, plans began for a hometown wedding the following June (2002). I loved having the opportunity to plan every detail of the wedding with my mom, sister, and friends over the course of our engagement. It was a very special time of feeling loved and supported by the wonderful people in my life. Only my mom and youth pastor had expressed some reservations, but with little regard, planning ensued.
Looking back, I’ve felt frustrated that they didn’t say more, try harder to stop it….but the reality is, I don’t think I would have listened.
The engagement was long and rocky, called off at one point when he lied about where he was going one night and went to hang out with some of his “girl-friends”. The wedding was back on by the next day when he made me believe I was just being jealous and insecure – although I no longer had any friends of the opposite sex because he wasn’t comfortable with that. There was another incident just a couple of days before the wedding involving a “girl friend”. I tried to understand, but if it was so innocent, why did it have to be a secret? Such a grey area and didn’t seem worth calling off a wedding at that point.
So we were married on a rainy summer day. The Gospel was preached at our ceremony…as well as a celebration of the meaning of the marriage covenant, which was the focus for me. Our reception was at the beautiful country club my family had belonged to my whole life. We honeymooned in Cancun and just a couple short weeks later, we moved five hours east of our families and hometowns to finish college together.
Backing up for just a minute….. it had been a life-long dream of mine to attend a Christian school…to have the experience and to be around other people with the same beliefs. I had hoped to make some lifelong friends and really grow in my faith and knowledge of God. Up to this point, I had attended public school – very conservative ones filled with Christians, but public nonetheless. More specifically, it had been a dream of mine to attend Oral Roberts University right out of high school. I had been on a couple of summer mission trips in high school and through those connections, I had met several current students and toured the campus before graduation. At the time, I wanted to cheer and needed to be able to earn some additional scholarship money to afford the cost of private school. Unfortunately, they year I would have been an incoming freshman, they changed the rules and freshmen couldn’t even try out for the cheer squad. Additionally, the money just wasn’t there for my freshman year, so I ended up attending the community college in my hometown and living at home.
As disappointing as that was coming out of high school, I had a wonderful experience. I was able to cheer on the co-ed squad both my freshman and sophomore years for very talented football and basketball programs. I loved it. The business program and general undergrad classes were excellent as well.
So it was a big deal for us to choose a school as a couple. He played football and was looking to go on and play for a good program. We were both business majors and I wanted to go on and cheer if possible. It seemed like a miracle when all the pieces came together and we found a Christian school that seemed to have it all. He received a football scholarship, I made the cheer squad along with an academic scholarship, and we were on our way.
Those first two years of marriage were tough. I ended up quitting the cheer squad after the first game because it wasn’t at the level I was hoping for, nor was it was working with our schedule. Since he was on football scholarship and that was his “job”. I had to get a job to help us pay the rent. So I was attending classes in the morning and working in the afternoons. Cheer practice was in the evening right when he was getting home from practice, so it just didn’t seem worth it. However, it made connecting and meeting people hard for me since we also lived off campus. He was meeting people and socializing, and I felt removed and disconnected.
These two years ended up being so disappointing and disillusioning for me for several reasons. The above mentioned plus the fact that I knew in my spirit that something wasn’t right with my husband and our relationship, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It caused many ugly fights and being told I was crazy, insecure, distrusting and making things up. It wasn’t until several years later that I found out he was unfaithful that first year.
I was also so disappointed with my Christian college experience and really missing out on a true college experience overall. Frustrated, disappointed, confused, feeling left out and disillusioned are all words I would use to describe those two years. But through it all….I managed to survive, stay married and hopeful, and graduate college with honors. Upon graduation , through a friendship and connection my husband had formed, we decided to move to Nashville. We both had business degrees and through this friendship, my husband had decided he wanted to pursue healthcare administration and Nashville was the capital for this field. I wanted to pursue my dream of working for a ministry, but could do that anywhere….so we packed up and moved to Nashville.
Stay tuned for part 3! Thanks for bearing with me. Through all the pain and questions, I am confident of this: “He who began a good work in me will continue until the day of Jesus Christ, developing that good work and perfecting and bringing it to full completion” and He’ll complete the work He began in you too!! While we may never understand the pain we walk through in this life….be it a failed relationship, illness, death, infertility, and so on, I know that God promises in His word never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5 and Deuteronomy 31:6). He’s there through it all as close as we allow Him to be, and on top of that, He promises us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). We cannot go wrong by seeking Him and choosing to live according to His Word.