The day after we got engaged my mother in law threw us a little engagement lunch party after church. You know whats funny I still remember what we ate...Prime Rib and her famous Yorkshire Pudding with gravy....oh yes that meal is one of my ultimate favorites! Doesn't this picture of BJ look like our Elliot?
Today marks the day my husband asked me to marry him. I know I have told the story many times and that isn't what I intend to do here today. However it is always a day of reflection for me. This week not only marks our engagement but also the crazy anniversary of us meeting for the very first time 15 years ago. Yes folks this week marks the fact that I have spent 1/2 of my life with my husband. Excuse me....what???? This fact alone brings emotion not only to me but some of the strangest emotional reactions from others. For some people this simple piece of information cheapens it for them. You get strange comments such as,"oh so you were high school sweethearts? How sweet...." Or, "Wow you got married so young." Or...my favorite,"How could you have possibly known what you wanted that young." My response if I don't make the choice to quickly flee the situation is not always so nice.....:) What my nice response would be is, "It was not up to me who I would fall in love with and when." The second part that grabs much response is when I tell them I was really in love with my husband in High School....not puppy love not teenage hormonal lust (although there was that too)...nope I was full on in love with him! And today for the first time I think I have it formulated in my mind well enough to explain how and why that was and is.
I met my husband at a high school dance...yep a room full of sweaty hormone crazy teenagers with the soundtrack of "I Got Five On It" playing the background. Oh 90's music how I love thee! Moving forward. The "friend" I rode with to the dance introduced us, and apparently she forgot to tell me that she was interested in BJ before we arrived. If she would have God would have had to get a lot craftier because I would have never accepted his offer for a dance and I would have attempted to slap away any attraction I had for him. But she didn't make it known so well that friendship didn't last....because as soon as I danced with that boy it was all over for me! The way he looked at me was not how I was used to boys looking at me. The way he talked to me made me feel as if he actually cared about what I had to say. And I can tell you I had never experienced an interaction with the opposite sex in this way before. Sad, but true. He ruined me for anyone else I would date int he future. The bar had been raised and I realized I deserved how he was treating me.
So fast forward a couple of months. Oh man the unedited story of BJ and Jessica is hilarious to me now....I will spare you all the details...my mother in law and grandmothers read this:) What I will share is that as time went on I began to feel love, I began to feel acceptance...I could be exactly me, I never had to pretend to be anyone else with BJ. I will also share that I had never experienced unconditional love in my whole life. You may think this a bold statement and it is but it is nothing short of the truth. Love that I had experienced at this point also had to be earned and came from my fulfilling someones elses role for me. At this point I was not a Christian all that would come!
So here is the rest of this bold story. After almost 2 years of a crazy high school relationship things to began to get difficult. God wanted me for his own so bad, and I was fighting it because I didn't know how to balance my relationship with a boyfriend and my relationship with my Heavenly Father. At the time I had put BJ in a very poor position, I had put him on a pedestal that had one place to go and that was down because he was human. This love I felt I never wanted to lose. What I didn't realize at the time was that if I would accept the love of Jesus for all that it was I would never lose "love." I would never lose the acceptance that I felt from that boy because no matter if I had him or not I would always have God with no matter where I went. But God was working. I would hear Jim Huleatt deliver the message of Gods unfailing love for me a few times a week and I had convinced myself my devotion could be in both places. (by the way for a time BJ and I were only allowed to see each other 2 times a week so church and youth group were for the most part the only time we saw each other) Oh I was so confused its painful for me to admit. It is humbling to share all this.
So, you probably already know where this story is heading...yep 1 week before prom we broke up. I was devastated because I had convinced myself I would never have that love again. That that was my one shot and I screwed it up. What was even more devastating was my mother called my MIL up and informed her that BJ would still be taking me to prom. Oh my goodness, insert dying of embarrassment here:) What an awkward evening:)
Further more that devastation brought longing. Longing for the feelings I thought I had lost. I felt empty in a way I never had before, but not for long. I continued to go to the same church I had gone to through my relationship with BJ. I never missed church or youth group and this is when I began to blossom. I started to become the real me. The me with Christ living in me. And I can tell you with tears rolling down my cheeks, I know that God was big enough to bring this about in another way if he needed to, but I love my story I love that he drew me to him in the way that he did.
The end of the story is as follows. The day after Christmas 1999 I was baptized and declared my profession of faith. It was the single most beautiful moment of my life. One that will remain with me forever. One that is personal in so many ways. I am always so amazed at the stories people have of how they came to Christ and this is part of mine.
And 3 years later I stood in that very same church and made promises to a man that God had redelivered to me...and no I don't think I was to young and yes I knew exactly what I wanted. And the best part of my story is God had taken ahold of my heart....he was #1 and BJ was #2 and that was how it was intended! I had the love I deserved, all of the love God intended me to have!!
So there it is the story of me....the story of God in me and the role that he gave my husband to play in it.