Using the mall restroom has never been the same. Not since that day in June of 1997; three days out of high school and barely eighteen. The instructions said results would take a few minutes, but those bright lines gave no breathing room. Instantly they screamed the truth I refused to believe- your. life. is. over.
And then it was THAT LADY. The one dressed in fancy clothes voicing my options and encouraging me to take the easy way out. She was the professional; she knew more than me. Consumed by the unknown, my head spinning in a fog, baring nothing but worldly wisdom, confusion, and dread, it happened.
Perched side by side, eyes piercing the wood planks of my bedroom wall, it was time to have our first real conversation. Neither wanted to accept it. Neither knew how to address the issue that would forever change our lives. I attempted strength, but strained voice and dampened cheeks betrayed me almost instantly:
“James, I’m pregnant.”
“Well, you know what I want to do.”
I dreaded hearing what he’d want to do. I feared the worst- termination. But he threw me completely off my already unstable foundation.
“I want to get married.”
Married? Did he really just say THAT word? He wants to marry ME? We’d barely been together six months!
Six months. Half a year. Hardly enough time to talk futures and expectations. He was the sweet one- the type your girlfriends confide in; the one they called 'teddy bear' and shared struggles with. This was the guy I asked to prom on a foolish, drunk dare. The guy I never imagined would be father of my child; wearer of my ring. It was all so far from romantic.
A simple country wedding in a small A-frame church. Wearing hair plastered high and a deceptive white gown, I slowly treaded that shag red carpet. We stood eye to eye- me in satin slippers, he in shiny rented shoes. His uncle recited the words- words heard wedding after wedding:
"It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him… Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh… Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate… And I now pronounce you husband and wife…" (Genesis 2:18,24, Mark 10:9 NKJV)
We made promises to each other and to a God we didn't know. We danced to country love songs, feasted on homemade dishes, and opened Tupperware, cookware, silverware, and glassware. It was all so surreal and sudden. It was all so necessary in the mind of an eighteen-year-old, because when you get yourself pregnant, wedding bells are expected and inevitable. I did things wrong, and I would make them right.
On August 16th, 1997 the wayward Jehovah’s Witness, and the naïve people-pleasing-teen walked down that isle, exchanged overpriced rings and meaningless vows, then attempted to play ‘the happy married couple with a bald, yet beautiful new baby.’ Most mocked and questioned our future.
Have you any clue what a stubborn teen does when doubted and ridiculed? She fights back and she fights hard. Once a carefree, vibrant, loving-my-life-teenager, now a married mommy coping unsuccessfully with fat rolls, dirty dishes, piles of soiled-puked-on-laundry, and a husband I barely knew. I refused to be the next statistic. However, as desperate as I was to prove them all wrong, my good intentions were nothing more than exhausting failures.
AND IN MY WEAKNESS, HE IS STRONG. AND IN MY FAILURE HE IS GLORIFIED. AND IN MY DOUBT, HE IS FAITHFUL. AND IN MY DESPERATION, HE IS DESPERATE FOR ME. MY GOD IS A JEALOUS GOD!
He used faith full followers to reveal a faithful Father. He turned an unwanted pregnancy into a welcome eye-opener. This Mommy heart was head-over-heels, smitten, infatuated by a babe who could do little more than eat, sleep, and need me. Through soiled diapers and sleepless nights, He showed me the affection of a Savior toward imperfect children. It was in the ugly, the dirty, the difficult that I saw a beauty full God.
I was given a Bible and an invitation to fellowship. It was a tiny body with wide open doors and even larger hearts. I was drawn to women having something I didn't; something I craved. They were lights illuminating the way to the only One who could right my wrongs: Jesus Christ.
He beckoned me. He lavished me with His presence exposing sin and offering grace. He was patient, yet persistent. He washed me in His Word, in His blood, and in His overwhelming love. He led me to repentance and to prayer: prayer for forgiveness, for my daughter, and for my Jehovah's Witness husband. And then He called my husband to Himself; to the true Jehovah God, and the living Jesus Christ.
"Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear." (1Peter 3:1-2 NKJV)
In 16 years of marriage, we’ve experienced uncertainty as our time as missionaries expired, doubt as foster children happily returned to bio-parents, and fear when our home schooled kiddos were thrown to the wolves. We’ve had seasons of fruit, and seasons of drought. We’ve known abundant blessing and sudden loss. We’ve stood strong and fallen weak. Through it all, one thing has remained- WE. We are His, we are each others, we are vessels, and we are a work in progress.
The question was no longer- What good could possibly come from a wayward Jehovah’s Witness and his naïve-people-pleasing wife, but rather- What would God do with the willing heart of weak vessels?
Your. life. is. over. I may have been young and lost in a world of apprehension. I may have been over dramatic and self focused, but those words rang truer than I could have ever known.
My. life. was. over. Because He was calling me into death and offering New Life. A life of surrender. A life of love. A life of service. A life of blessing with my best friend and husband.
Not approving of my choices, He approved of me. Despite His hatred for my rebellion, He adopted, redeemed, saved, and sealed me with His Holy Spirit. I am His, and I choose to honor Him with my life and my story; His story.
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