I met the man who was to be my husband about 7 ½ years ago at church. William was in high school at the time and I was...not. We didn't talk much at that time, but we were aware of each other, and I was getting to know his family somewhat through ministry events, and even had lunch a couple times after church with his mom and aunt. (At this point, of course, being "involved" with him was not even on my radar).
I was 24 when I came to the church and had recently ended a somewhat serious relationship. God was doing a work in my life. I was new to the Christian "scene" and I was serious about the things of the Lord. After the relationship that I was in ended, I was really freaked out at the idea of getting involved with anyone romantically. I was living on my own, pressing into God and the ministry. I was basically at church every time they would let me in! I loved God, and was really in a place of thankfulness for all the new and rich friendships I was building and ministry opportunities I was able to be a part of.
Months later, our ministry was in a season of much busy-ness. One thing we were doing was a date night for married couples after our Saturday evening service. We provided a free babysitting service to parents that attended until about 10 p.m. I was eventually promoted to a "supervisor" position in which I monitored the goings-on with the groups of children and their teachers. I usually sat in the hallway with an eye on the door for parents arriving to pick up their little ones.
On many of those nights, young William would stop by during his rounds of building lock up/security to chat with me. We had lots of conversations about all sorts of things, and I always welcomed going beyond surface chit-chat with him. He was always good at drawing me out of my "shell".
At this point, in addition to serving on the security team, he was heavily involved in youth ministry, as well as on the worship team. I started getting involved in the youth ministry when my teenage sister came to live with me. I would help out with youth "lock-ins" and other events, and during the slower times at some of these events, I would enjoy more conversation with my friend. We really got along great, and (at least in our eyes) it was just an innocent friendship. (We would later find out that all kinds of people in our church had us "pegged" as an "item"- they just didn't tell us!) Anyway, we would always end up hanging out in groups of people, going out for impromptu coffee shop Bible studies with some of the young adults in the church. It was never an intentional "let's hang out together" sort of thing. We just were in the same crowd of 18-30 somethings.
Fast forward a short time, and our church had undergone a major change. Many families left due to the change, including church staff. William was ultimately asked to come on staff as the youth minister. All through that time, people came and went, but William (as well as his mother and aunt) remained constant in the ministry. We were increasingly becoming more and more acquainted with each other, and the "church drama" seemed to sort of have a way of pulling us closer.
I was working full time in a call center at that time, and was really coming to a place of feeling like I was supposed to move on from there. I didn't know what to do though, as I didn't have a clear direction. I wanted something bigger...something more meaningful than dealing with angry customers and their phone bills. I had been praying about it constantly. I went to our pastor's wife and was seeking direction and wisdom for my situation. Well, as God would have it, she had been thinking about bringing someone on as the office manager. She told me it was a position that would start out as part time, as that's all that was financially do-able at the time. I spent a short time praying about it, as I knew pretty much immediately that it was a great fit for me. The only problem was the fact that I couldn't support myself and my sister on a part-time income. I went to my original employer, and asked about what kind of flexibility was available, and shared that I wanted to take a part time position, and keep my current position part time. I was told that they normally didn't do that, but I would get an answer at a later date. I saw God's hand in the situation as they allowed me to work part time there during the morning hours, and I would have a brief lunch break and then go to the church office for the afternoon.
As I saw God's will unfolding in my occupation, it also began to unfold in my "romantic life". As I stated previously, William was on staff full time at the church. Well, as it would turn out, he was just in the next office over. Meaning we began to spend even more time together. We would be in staff meetings together and often worked on projects together. I remember oftentimes we would chat with each other from our respective offices (the walls didn't go all the way to the ceiling, and there was no kind of insulation at all, so you could really hear everything throughout the office.) Yes, we frequently heard things like "alright, you two..." from the senior minister just down the hall, but we were still (mostly) productive.
At some point I realized just how much I looked forward to seeing him everyday, and it really didn't sit well with me! Mostly because of the age factor. He's seven years younger than me! I really struggled with that, mostly because I thought people would think I was a cradle robber or something. He never came across as "younger"- he was always thought of by everyone we know as being super mature for his age. Hence being placed in ministerial positions.
I once heard a teaching for singles in which the teacher said something along the lines of "Serve God. Keep serving God. Stay on His path for your life- don't focus on finding a mate. You'll see people that come and go, but look for the ones that stay on the same path that you're on. God will bring someone across your path if you are meant to be married". I had kept that in my heart for the longest time. When I looked around, I always saw William. He was always there. At the same leadership meetings. At the same services, worshiping God, and serving Him. At the same events. He never wavered even in the midst of the most difficult times in our church history. In addition, this man knew the Word better than most men twice his age. I knew that the Bible tells wives to submit to their husbands, and I realized that he was a man I could respect and submit to. (That's the funny thing about submission- some people like to make it sound all oppressive, but if you think about it, we have complete freedom to choose which man we want to submit to for the rest of our lives! I'm just sayin'!)
All this happened probably in July of 2005. At one point, he left for nearly two weeks while attending two different church conferences in two different states. We kept in touch through text messages (romantic, right?) and I was always looking forward to hearing what he was learning through the teachings he was receiving. Actually, at one of the conferences, one of the sessions focused on marriage and ministry. The way he tells it, the idea just kept being brought to his attention that it was time for him to pursue marriage, and I was the one he (and He) had in mind. (He didn't tell me that until much later though!)
Early the following month, we had both attended a single's meeting at our church. It was us and several others. Afterward, I went home, and later we spoke on the phone. We got into a conversation about all the strange things people had been saying to us lately. People had just been hinting at us being "a couple" and other things, but it was coming from all kinds of people, including his mother (yikes). I remember him talking about "how people view our relationship", and I may or may not have blurted out, "well, what is our relationship, exactly?" I honestly didn't mean to initiate "the talk", but that's just sort of what happened. I think he said something to the effect of "ultimately, I would like us to pursue marriage". That probably would've been super scary except for the fact that I'd already been thinking the same thing. At that moment, all the anxiety I had been experiencing due to the potential awkwardness of being involved with a much younger man disappeared as tears rolled down my face.
The rest of the story
Thanks for reading! :)
Thanks for reading! :)