Filling Voids I Didn't Know I Had

God is awesome on so many levels. So awesome, that He has surpassed my understanding of the word, “awesome”. I am now almost 11 years into my marriage and almost 22 years into my relationship with my husband. Our story is a long one with many ups, downs, victories, tragedies, but it is OUR story; and I am so thankful to God for every piece of the journey.

I was only 16 years old when I met my husband, Arthur. At the time, I was a single mother of a ten month old son. Yes, I was a mother at 16 years old, and when we met, Arthur was a freshman in college. At that time, I was not walking with the Lord. I grew up in church, watching, observing but not really understanding what God was about. I met my husband in the parking lot of a club…a PARKING LOT! Why was I at a club at 16 years old you might ask? I was looking for something to fill a void I didn’t even know I had.

I already had a child so I clearly wasn’t a virgin, but I fell into a pattern of thinking that physical intimacy was love. I grew up the oldest child of a single mother. I didn’t have a father in the home, and I did not know what a father-daughter relationship looked like. So, at 14 years old, when my current boyfriend showed me a little affection, I jumped in, grabbed hold of that sweet talk and nice compliments and I didn’t know how to stop it once things started moving. I was so young, and I certainly did not know how to handle the emotions of it all. After almost two years of someone telling me things I did not hear on a regular basis, I was pregnant, a sophomore in high school.

Fast forward to me, at 16 years old, with a 2 year old son, meeting Arthur in this club parking lot - I had sex with him for the first time, three weeks after we met. I am not proud of this, but ultimately, I was a child, trying to act like an adult. This “meeting in the parking lot” was the start of an “on-and-off” again relationship for ten years.

Through those ten years, I endured a lot of heartache and drama. Neither of us were saved, we were both immature and selfish. During these ten years, my son witnessed a lot of me crying, yelling, hating Arthur, only to then see me love Arthur again. Consequently, my son thought it was his job to console me and make it “better”. When I sat back and evaluated my situation, I thought “there has to be something better than this”. At that time, about nine years into our on-and-off relationship, we were living together, with our two children (yes, I had a child with Arthur, now the second “baby daddy” for me). These nine years were filled with mess.

Finally, thanks to a friend of mine, I was convinced to go to church with her. Since that day of joining my friend at church, I have never been the same. That day at church I rededicated my life to Christ, and knew that Jesus was all that I would ever need. I began to see the damage that I was unknowingly causing my son and I was committed to doing better for both of us. My son saw me at my worst and tried to make things better for me; a small child, trying to make life better for his mom. This was not fair to him. It was then that I knew things had to change for me. You see, Arthur, in our dating years was a womanizer. I was cheated on a lot. I had trust issues, commitment issues, self-esteem issues, and co-dependency issues. I was physically and sexually “safe” with him but I was not any other kind of “safe”. I knew that what I was dealing with was crap. But it was comfortable crap, so I knew what to expect, and I knew what I was getting. What kind of warped thinking is that? And what kind of life is that to live? I was emotionally and mentally broken (all my doing, not Arthur’s doing), and before rededicating my life, I was spiritually dead.

After giving my life back to Christ, I knew that I could no longer live with him, but I could not break the lease either. I refused to let this stop me, I refused to make any excuses, my mind was made up. It was at the moment of surrendering my life back to Christ that I knew I could no longer be sexually intimate with him either. I made a commitment to be celibate, not only to refrain from sex with him but with anyone! So one day, after praying for a way out of that situation, God showed me what to do. I went out and bought a bed, and moved into my 3 year old daughter’s room. I could no longer sleep in the same bed with a man who was not my husband. I was worth more than that, and I knew that God was more important to me than anything else. So, I stayed in the room with my daughter until the lease was up, and I moved out. Once Arthur saw my commitment to no longer having sex with him OR sleeping in the same bed with him, he responded like you would guess any man would who lost something…like he didn’t care, and like it didn’t bother him, until it did bother him because I was no longer accessible when he wanted me. He began to “date” and stay out with his friends later and later each night, sometimes not coming home at all. But it didn’t matter. I did what I knew was right, and God honored this decision. A little over a month after the lease was up, I purchased my first home, all on my own, and I moved into my new house with my two children. I stopped talking to Arthur, because God clearly told me that this man did not belong to me. This man belonged to God, and I needed to let him go. Letting him go, was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I loved him. I wanted him. No matter what happened throughout all of those years, it was always him I wanted to be with. But, when I rededicated my life to God, I became so in love with God, that I realized all I wanted was for Arthur to be happy, even if that meant it wasn’t with me. I knew that I was healed from all the years of mistrust and what I felt was betrayal. I rededicated my life and from that point on, we only talked if it was about the kids. You see, even though Arthur was not my oldest son’s biological father, he always treated him like he was his, and whenever he took our daughter, he took my son with him, because my son called him Dad.

In that time of separation, after I moved out, Arthur started going to church, and gave his life to Christ. There was one day after I moved out of the room, but still lived in the house that I got into a verbal altercation with Arthur. He was upset about something, and he said something that was so outside his character. At that very moment, God allowed me to see the demonic influence on him. And I spoke up and said one sentence to him… “Your spirit is so ugly to me.” (Later on, my husband told me that single sentence was one that was a turning point for him, and that God touched him at that very moment, and that is when he decided to go back to church.) We did not speak to each other much from that point on.

With Arthur having given his life back to Christ, we had no communication with one another. I was very involved in church activities, youth groups, Sunday school, praise and worship and praise dancing. I completely surrendered everything I had to God, and trusted God to be my everything. I trusted Him to take care of me. When I trusted God to be everything that was missing, everything that I had been searching for since I was a 14 year old girl, I was able to see my faults, accept them, and become a whole person. I learned to whole-heartedly forgive, and hold nothing against those who did not treat me the way I deserved. I lost friends who were used to me hanging out, drinking, cussing, going to bars and clubs. I had to surround myself with the Word, and with people who would encourage me to stay strong in the faith, and in what I was trying to do, and the new person that God was calling me to be.

Three months after purchasing my first home, Arthur called me (we hadn’t spoken in months), and told me he needed to talk to me. I begrudgingly agreed to meet with him. He sat me down and told me how sorry he was, how much I meant to him, and apologized for all the years of madness, and he proposed to me. He said that God told him to propose. I knew that he wasn’t lying, or trying to pull the wool over my eyes. I don’t know how to explain it, but there was such a peace, and belief in him, and I could see the change in him. That demonic force that had pulled on him for 10 years in our relationship was no longer there. God had restored our relationship. But I know, that in order for Arthur to get to that point, God was the ONLY way that I would have been able to be with him. I knew I deserved more, and God knew it too!

I decided that no matter what, there would be no sex again until we got married. Arthur agreed, and in fact, told me that there would be no sexual intimacy at all. After more than a year of celibacy, I could not go back on my vow to God and to myself. We both cared too much for God over the other. It was difficult, but so worth it. God knew the desire of my heart was to be with Arthur, even though I was willing to give him up to another woman if that is who made him happy. We learned so many things, I learned so many things. God’s way is the only way. Sex before marriage brings on so many things that people aren’t prepared for. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, when I was dating Arthur, I was so confused, and my emotions were all over the place. I dealt with other women, ex-girlfriends, current girlfriends, and of course turmoil. I didn’t know what true love was, or how to separate the feelings of lust from a real spiritual, loving relationship, which was what I needed. I brought so much unnecessary pain upon myself for years.

I learned that “falling” in love is just as easy as “falling out of” love. I had to let him go, so that I could learn how to unconditionally love myself through God, which allowed me to see who Arthur was in Christ. And I didn’t fall in love with him again…I GREW in love with him. God allowed us to be together because I chose God first, and kept God first. I continue to keep God first. Arthur chose God first, and keeps God first. I regularly speak outwardly about my husband. He is the man of my dreams and my job is to build him up and never tear him down. Never speak negatively about him in any arena. He is the priest of my home, and the head of our household. I love to encourage him, and express to him how much he means to me and our family, and how important he is, following him as he follows Christ.

The best way to describe how awesome and amazing my husband is, is in something I wrote to him on his birthday in 2013:

"Happy Birthday to the Man I love so entirely and completely. My Captain Awesome. We have celebrated 18 of your birthdays together, and I thank God for the next 18, and the next 18, and the next 18...you get the point. My husband, my partner, my supporter, my encourager, my "fix anything" man, my chef, my friend, my pastor, the example to our children, the brother to so many, the lover of my soul...the list goes on and on. I stand in awe of God at the work of His hand in and on your life. How we have changed, and how we have grown. I look at you and am reminded of the moment we spoke and how I fell in love with you...and fell out of love with you...until the love of Christ, and the saving of my soul...then I GREW in love with you, and I continue to grow in love with you every single day. I am so honored and blessed to be your wife and to call you husband. I love our life together and what we created...how we turned that awful test into a magnificent testimony. I thank God for you, and the love that you have for Him, for me, and our children. I proudly stand by your side to walk with you, to support you, to encourage you, to lift you up in prayer, and to ensure that every single day of our lives, you know that you truly are God's gift to me. Happy Birthday and 831, my love!!!”

Arthur is now my husband. He is a pastor, and I am a minister and life is so amazing, but we know that we have to live God’s way, and not ours. We have four children now, and our oldest is out on his own. Life with Arthur is so amazing and God is so awesome. God gets ALL the credit for our reunion, and certainly gets all the glory in EVERYTHING we do.

Click here for #TwoRingsToThinkAbout from Thecia's story.