Most every little girl has dreams of their wedding. But the wedding is just the beginning of the story. Hard work is ahead. Time, patience, communication, trials, tribulations, celebrations and many other exciting events are ahead. The problem is not many people tell you about the difficult times. TV and movies make marriage look easy. Trust me, it is work.
Back in 1986 I was a sophomore at Auburn University, the loveliest village on the Plains. As most young women I really wanted a boyfriend, but did not have much luck. I talk a lot now, but then I was quite shy. Around Halloween that Fall the fraternity where I was a Little Sister was having a hay ride. The date I had secured had backed out on me at the last-minute, so as usual I went alone. But that particular night I met my future husband. His friend was in the same fraternity at Georgia, so he had come to visit at Auburn. Actually it was my husband’s friend I met first, he was talking to me when a girl he knew walked up he began talking and kissing her, leaving me standing alone. That is when my future husband, Paul, felt sorry for me and began to talk to me. After a while I drove them home. Which was really silly, since they lived right next to the fraternity house and could have walked. He took my scarf so I would need to get it back, and then as he got out of my car told me to call him. Well, I did not call boys. My parents told me that nice girls just did not do that. And even though this was my second year of college, I still followed this rule.
Fast forward to Spring and were in love, and started making plans and talking about getting married. But again my parents said that I had to wait until after graduating from College to get married. Not too long after that I became pregnant, and as much as my mother wanted to think we did it on purpose, we certainly had not planned on this course. Two days after my 20th birthday (and two months before my husband’s 20th) we married. So that was the start of my Once upon a time…or so I thought.
Our first son Lane was born December of 1987, and Paul began working long, hard hours to support his new family. After all, he had to prove to my parents that he was able to take care of us. In 1992 our second son, Stuart was born. We were moving along, having bought our first home and Paul was doing very well at his job. Moving up the ladder. But he was working 80+ hours a week, and sometimes being gone for months at a time. But the money was great, and we were buying things we wanted. Life was good.
In 1996 our third son Cameron came along, and we thought our family was done. But in 1999 Fielder surprised us, and then we were done!
I could not give you an exact date when I came to know Christ, it just always had been. And I knew how important it was to marry a believer. Paul had assured me that he too was a believer being Catholic. I had begun attending a Bible study and was actively growing in my walk with Christ. We had attempted church as a family, but had never taken it seriously. Growing up we did not to go to church as a family, so it was very important that our family go together. Finally in January of 1999, while I was VERY pregnant with Fielder we finally found a church home.
Here is where marriage got really messy, and my faith became the ONLY thing on which I could stand. Jesus became the ONLY one I could depend. That August after our 12th anniversary, and our youngest son was just a little more than 4 months old, my world came crashing down. My 32 yo husband was involved with a 20 yo co-worker. Her boyfriend had called my home to tell me all about it. That day after confronting him, and much denial from him, we separated.
I spent sleepless nights, praying the Psalms to my Father. Asking a lot of questions trying to figure out what I had done wrong. Everyone (family & friends) told me I had to get a divorce. But from the beginning I forgave. Well, God allowed me to forgive. It certainly was NOT my will. It was actually easy, because it was not me. He had moved out and continued to see her. I was alone with 4 small children. At the time they were 11, 6, 2 1/2 and 4 months. God had told me He did not want me to divorce but on the advice of an attorney I did file. I had four children to take care of, and according to the attorney filing was the only way to guarantee provision. One of the many miracles happened at this time. Paul was never served with the divorce papers, from October to December. Even the attorney could not explain but I can, God was holding it in His hand saying “Give ME time. In MY time, not man’s.”
I never gave up on Paul, even though everyone else had. That October he had a real “Come to Jesus meeting”. Met Jesus face to face, and that began his transformation. We began talking again and at the end of every phone call I ended with “I Love You”, but never anything back. That Thanksgiving we spent with his family in Montgomery and in mid-December at the end of a phone call it ended a bit different. Me telling Paul that if he wanted to come home he just had to ask, and a few days later he moved back home. We attended counseling for the next two years. Went through three sets. But we kept going. God healed both of us, and when we began healing our marriage experienced healing.
I was not innocent in the downfall of our marriage. While I was not unfaithful in the same sense as Paul, I was unfaithful in other ways. I also did not respect my husband as God had told me. We did not have a Godly, Christ-centered marriage. It has taken a lot of work from both of us.
We still have a long way to go and we still can both be butts. But we love each other and are totally committed to Christ, each other, our marriage and our family. We know that we will probably face some tough times ahead again, but we now have a solid base built on Christ that will get us through. This past June we celebrated our 25th Anniversary. Renewing our vows on the beach in July with three of our boys.
So while that once upon a time 25 years ago may not have been the fairy tale beginning I thought it would be, with Christ it is exactly the Happily Ever After with Him and through Him.