I have my husband’s full support and permission in sharing the details of our story. He and I are completely different people now and are eager to share our story of redemption, because our desire is that God would use it to give others hope.
It was a few minutes before midnight on Valentine’s Day. We had been studying for an upcoming test in our college Spanish class together, and I walked him to the door. Will turned around and timidly asked me to be his girlfriend. I was so giddy! He was my first boyfriend.
We had both decided we didn’t want to date unless we were going to pursue marriage. He had had a few relationships before becoming a Christian, and until he met me, he was not looking for a girlfriend. I was set on marrying a youth pastor, so when I first met him, I just thought he was a nice guy I could be friends with.
We spent the next two months in mental turmoil, him more than me. Many times he would question if I really was “the one” for him which would make me second guess our relationship, then a few days later, he would decide we were on the right path. And so we went, back and forth for a couple of months.
Finally, we decided to take a day away from each other and pray, asking God to reveal to us if we were to continue our relationship or not. I went to a park, and God confirmed to me that it was OK to marry Will. That evening, I confidently drove to his house, and we both joyfully told each other we had heard from the Lord that we could walk toward marriage in our relationship.
A week later, out of the blue, he broke up with me. He said he felt like he wasn’t ready for a commitment, that he needed more time to grow in his relationship with the Lord. Will went through a time of trying to run away from his relationship with God. He felt like if he was wrong when he heard I would be his wife, then he didn’t know how to hear from God at all. He had a hard time having a relationship with a God he couldn’t have communication with.
I was devastated. I knew I had heard from God, but I also knew that people have free will. If Will decided not to date me, there wasn’t anything I could do about it. We went to the same home group with people from church. I saw him there on weeks his relationship with God was on again, and I worried for him the times he didn’t show up. When he did come, we often led worship together. Everyone said we had a special dynamic, an anointing, when we led together. Can I just tell you how hard it is to have powerful spiritual experiences with someone you aren’t dating anymore?? There was a connection there that I tried hard to not let my heart feel.
As I said, I worried a lot about Will as I watched him come in and out of church activities. I knew he was struggling, and I really wanted to see him get his life right with the Lord. I’m pretty sure if I had sought counsel that I would have been told that my next decision wasn’t a wise one, but I decided to buy the book The Power of a Praying® Wife and pray through it, inserting Will’s name in the prayers. My deep desire was still to marry him, but I wouldn’t do so if he wasn’t firm in his faith. I knew that God could bring someone else along my path before Will stopped straddling the fence. I chose to give God my desires. I told him, “Yes, I’d love to be his wife someday, but more importantly, I want him to walk with you with his whole heart. I’m going to use this book to help me pray for him to become the husband you want him to be someday for whoever his wife will be.”
During this time, I met with a friend who mentored me. My goal was to work on me and find healthy ways to get over the heartache while finding out who I really was. We studied a book called A Woman of Strength: Reclaim Your Past, Seize Your Present, and Secure Your Future (Women of Confidence). It really helped me. I remember that I also really wanted hope. When I found the verses Romans 5:3-5, I was upset and said, “why does hope have to be last on this list?? Hope is what I really need to keep going.” The verses say, “…we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” God used that time, through Bible study and book study to develop character in me that wouldn’t have been there if I hadn’t suffered a little.
Through various events, Will knew that I was concerned for him and praying for him. He saw that I was able to put my feelings aside and remain a loyal friend. About a year after we broke up, our pastor’s wife told me he still had feelings for me. I said, “I really don’t want to know that. Please don’t talk to me about this until I see that he has made some life changes and there is commitment behind his feelings.”
That summer, we started hanging out more often, first with friends, and then alone. He confided in me that he wanted to marry me someday after he got his act together. We talked about the far off future and about things he needed to work on before we could be in a relationship. You know those TV shows where someone says, “I love you,” and the other person says, “Thank you?” That was us. I didn’t say, “Thank you,” but I didn’t say it back either. He knew I loved him, but he also knew I was looking for a lifetime commitment before I would open my heart completely to him again.
Back then, every summer my parents would go to a revival camp meeting in Virginia. I told Will I was planning on going with my dad, and I invited him along. They often had signs and wonders there that I hadn’t seen anywhere else, and this was my way of seeing what he was open to spiritually now that he was trying to walk with God again. Of course, I also wanted my dad to get to know him better. When he had broken up with me, my dad’s Papa Bear’s heart hurt for me, and he didn’t want to see me get hurt again.
While we were there, Will committed himself to pursuing me completely. He confessed a lot of things from his past and from the year that he was floundering. He even told me about a few times he had almost had sex with someone that year, but because of various circumstances (sudden sickness, declined credit cards, etc.), their plans were thwarted. He told me that each time it happened, he knew it was because his future wife was praying for him, and he was so mad, mad at her and mad at God. What a testimony to my faithfulness to pray for him and his future relationship with his wife!
We came home from camp in an official relationship again, ready to get my parents’ blessing for our future.
Ladies, he wasted no time! He set up a time to talk to them within a week. They told him, yes, we had their blessing, but could we please wait a little while, take things slow, and not get engaged right away? Well, he wanted the whole world to know that he was completely committed to us, so he proposed the very next day! One year and a day later, we were married. And that, my friends, was the beginning of our journey which would only get rockier.