Thirty three years ago today, Hamp and I were married in a small ceremony at his parent's house in Newnan. As I type those words, I have snapshots of our lives together racing through my mind. I don't have any to share with you because we still have our lives spread out in a couple of states and none of our early pictures are with us right now.
We met at a community Bible study and went to church at the same place. He was in the area to go to Southern Tech and I was the "city girl" that captured his heart away from a much different Newnan, GA than exists today. We were entirely too young to get married; I was 19 and he was 20. Tiffany joined the family 2 years later and by the time I was 25, we'd been married 6 years and had 3 children. We like to say that we grew up as our kids did.
Both of us were followers of Jesus when we met and were committed to making our marriage successful. But we both had serious issues that had never been dealt with because we hadn't grown up enough to do so. As you can imagine, once the excitement of being married and having babies faded, the reality of living out each day took its toll on our relationship. By the time our late 20's rolled around, the future seemed tedious and less than exciting. Hamp was busy trying to take care of his growing family and I became restless.
For about 2 or 3 years, I was more unhappy than not in our marriage. We were so busy taking care of kids that we didn't invest the needed time in each other. It was during this time that I experienced my first real crisis of faith. My head knew that all the things I believed about God and His word were true, but my heart wanted to take care of me. Yet, we were raising 3 small children to follow Jesus and I knew that their lives would be broken if I acted on my unhappiness in any way.
During this time of intense struggle between me and God, the only thing I could say at times and truly mean it was, "When it's all said and done, I want what You want so You're going to have to change my heart." It didn't happen overnight, but God brought friends, counselors, and truth into our lives that all affected things for the good. But for a while, the only way that I could love Hamp was to obey God. No feelings, no excitement, nothing - just an obedience because He said so.
And I guess, really, that's the point. In today's world of self love, self awareness, self discovery, or whatever other focuses of self you can think of, choosing to obey God simply because He tells you to is not something that's talked about much. We've packaged Him in relevance so as not to offend and then wonder why the divorce rate in the Church is now higher than in the world. Our family knows firsthand the heartbreak of trying to figure out how to separate what God joined together. We also know firsthand that He really does bring beauty out of ashes, but oh how much better it would be to not have to experience that heartbreak in the first place!
So as Hamp and I celebrate today away from family, friends, and familiarity, we will be thanking God for His faithfulness to us. And thanks to so many of you who have invested in our lives to enable us to reach this anniversary. We love you!