Friday, May 29, 2009

'Til Death Do Us Part

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!


Tiffany Jones said...

Happy anniversary Ma and Pa! Thank you for your faithfulness to God and to each other and for being a testimony to choosing well. I love you both so much and am so thankful for the tangible ways you have loved us by loving each other. Enjoy your celebration!

Anonymous said...

Great writing! This should be required reading for all married couples that we can make the hard choice to invest in the relationship---even when we don't "feel like it".
God never said it would be easy, but it is so worth the had work and commitment. Bravo!

love you,

Betty Anne said...

Happy Anniversary! As I say, wedding anniversaries deserve much more celebration than birthdays. We don't have a choice whether or not to celebrate a birthday.....we have a major choice whether or not to celebrate marriage! Thank you for making the choice over and over again to celebrate your marriage and anniversaries. You live a cool example to all your friends!

Glenda said...

I loved reading your story, and must say it would be good reading for anyone about to be married or newly married....better to learn lessons from all of us who've been on the path all these years!

It amazes me how close our anniversaries are, and that our number of years married is the same too.

Both of you invested in us so much and I can never thank you enough!

Anonymous said...

Jill, thanks for sharing your heart and your thoughts. Like you, I grew up with my children and also went through some similar struggles, having gotten married young like you did. What I hate is that we didn't seem to keep up with one another really well during that time period in our lives......we might could have helped one another even then. Thanks for being a friend.
Love ya,

Lauren said...

This is a beautiful entry!
You are a wise, godly woman, and you two make a wonderfully loving, godly couple. Congratulations on 33 years!
I pray that whenever I am married, that I put obedience over feeling no matter what hardships and obstacles take place.
I'm so glad you guys are here in Baltimore now.
I know it hasn't been easy, but I look forward to getting to know both of you better. I know you two are going to be inspirations in my life, as you already have begun to be!


Montana & Aubrey said...

Wow. That is so true, Mrs. Jones. Thanks for your honesty.