1sts

On August 1, 2009, at 20 years old, I was married in a wedding at Aldersgate Camp to one whom I thought was my “soul mate” and that I would be married to forever.

Things were tough sometimes after the “honeymoon” wore off. We yelled at each other sometimes. I called her crazy and threatened to put her in a mental institution. I also thought she was mean to me and degrading. She hated that I dressed preppy and she hated that I didn’t like cars or sports and was a lover of arts, books, and hated working out. Sometimes I would complain about visiting her family so much, she spent a lot of time with them and it was more difficult to visit my family in Pikeville or Winchester. She was sometimes under the impression that I didn’t like her family. I know that she had the opinion of me as a very angry person. I had no patience for her. I belittled her. She told me I made her feel stupid just being herself. But I’ve never thought that would be the reason for the day that happened on June 1, 2012.

 

June 1, 2012 til this day ranks as one of the worst days of my life. It ranks up there with March 25, 2005, when my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer, or August 27, 2009 when he died of that cancer. It ranks up there with November 15, 2012 when we were officially divorced and April 17, 2012 when I found out my mom had colon cancer as well. June 1, 2012 scarred me. Still to this day, there is a scar. That date is seared into my whole being as a date that all I believed, knew, loved, thought about God, myself, and others was shattered.

 

I thought I was a great husband. I thought I had a perfect life. I used to believe in soul mates, I never said the curse word “divorce” and I never thought it was an option. I thought I could do whatever I want and act however I wanted and say whatever came to my mind and that would be ok because we would work on it, as “soul mates” because we were married. Turns out the concept of “soul mates” is a fairy tale pipe dream. Turns out God was bigger than I thought he was. Turns out that divorce is easy and marriage is hard.

 

On June 1, 2012 my wife came home after a walk in the park with her mom and there was something wrong with her. She was extremely upset. I tried to pry it out of her and eventually she screamed at me “I don’t love you!” I thought she was just in a sour mood, I didn’t think this was serious. I decided to be silly and said “you don’t love this?” And gestured to my fat body. She screamed “no! And I’m serious. I’m leaving you. I’m divorcing you for another man.” I was shocked! Literally in shock. I couldn’t breathe. She failed to give me any reasons that day. She did tell me “if I was pregnant you would hate me and get angry.” And “you hate my family” and “you hate dogs” and “we aren’t soul mates” and “I just don’t love you anymore” and “I just want to be happy. I want to have fun. I want to be able to do whatever I want!” It was then that she ran downstairs and walked out the door. I screamed “I love you!” And she ignored me. I said “how could you do this to me?!” She said “I have to. It is what makes me happy. I feel bad that I am doing this to you after your dad died but it’s for the best. Bye” and she walked out the door, leaving me alone.

 

My brain could not comprehend the situation. I didn’t eat the rest of the day. I couldn’t function. I ran to my bible and tried to find answers but they weren’t there. I prayed but I didn’t hear anything. I couldn’t sleep. I put on the movie The Love Dare. I looked through my books trying to find answers. I couldn’t sleep. I finally found an answer in the Bible: wait. I would wait. I would be still and listen, persevere, love, be patient, kind, generous, I would have self-control. God told me he would use this time to grow me and strengthen me for the future. I was audibly through a voice, told by God to wait, that this would be hard, but that he would make me into a better husband (he didn’t say who for), a better man of God, and that he would use my story for His glory and for my good and the good of and for the healing of others. He called me to be a minister of healing and reconciliation to the broken and hurting hearts. I just have to be still, wait, and listen. And I did. God was bigger than the box I put him in. He jumped out of that box and showed me that there was much more to His kingdom then just “my marriage” and living in Ashland, KY. So I decided to just say “yes” without abandon to whatever he called me to. He called me to leave youth ministry. Called me to Uganda and Ghana, where he spoke to me “nothing is wasted”. He called me to Lexington, where my concept of God would triple even more than it already had.

 

I met someone I thought was incredibly cool on April 1, 2015. It was definitely no April Fools. I thought she was stunningly gorgeous, had the coolest hair, and was maybe a model or something. Our first date was on May 11, 2015, our next date was the gallery hop and was May 15, 2015 and we started officially dating exactly a month later on June 15, 2015. I was incredibly scared, to be honest. I was scared to commit to or date anyone because I was afraid of disappointment, I was afraid to date anyone because I was afraid of loss, heartbreak, breaking, up, afraid of divorce. Divorce taught me that nothing lasts for ever. NOTHING. But it also taught me that nothing is wasted. I thought Ciara was worth it, but I had to learn a lot of things again just to be able to commit to her without fear of losing her.

 

We got engaged on January 1, 2018. Over those last two and a half years I have come to love her. And this love is different than I have ever known, it’s bigger. It’s bigger because my concept of God is bigger, it’s bigger because my concept of love is bigger, who I am is entirely different, and because I no longer believe in “soul mates”, I now longer see divorce as “not ever possible” (although I still believe it should not be an option), and I realize that a relationship is not based on emotions but on work, compromise, changing yourself, working together, forgiving the hurts, learning from mistakes, pushing past disappointments, frustrations, and anger to realize that love is bigger than anything I’ve ever realized.

 

Today is June 1, 2018. And tomorrow is June 2, 2018. Today and tomorrow I remember that scar from June 1, 2012 and I push past it to create something new. June 1 will no longer be remembered as that horrible day, the worst day ever, June 1 will take on new meaning when it dies and when the sun sets and it rises again as June 2. June 2 is the day the sun rose and the world kept turning, it is the day that the vision came to fruition, it is the day that God says to me “I told you so.” and it will be remembered as the day that new life sprang forth from the decay and burnt forrest, the day a little flower sprang forth from the crack in the pavement, the day that “nothing is wasted” is realized, that joy has replaced it. On June 2, I will marry the love of my life, as a different man. June 2 will be a day of celebration and of remembering and looking forward. Of knowing that God is bigger, love is work, and that I am not perfect and that I have problems to work on. June 2 is the day spring came after winter, the resurrection of a heart, of second-chances. It’s humbling to have the love of Ciara. She humbles me, forgives me, works with me, sharpens me, pushes me to grow and to become a better husband. God told me he would do though, He told me he would make me a better husband. I just didn’t realize it would be this way. God is bigger. Nothing is wasted. Love is work. June 1st’s death is forgotten in the resurrection of June 2. June 2, I will never forget. Thank you, God. Thank you, Ciara.

1 comment

Desi Stikkel

Absolutely beautifully and eloquently spoken. Thank you sharing your story, your heart ache and your joy. May God Bless this new beginning abundantly in all forms. Blessings of patience, of wisdom, of honor, of trust, of joy, of strength, and understanding in the organized chaos of life. ❤️

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