Photos taken by the wonderful Tonya Dixon at TMD Photos
I always knew what kind of man I wanted to marry: Drop dead gorgeous, muscles galore, and a Christian. There in, one can already see a problem. My priorities were out of place and as you grow up, you realize that good looks doesn’t mean good character. Growing up with parents who were totally saved and living for God, I just never thought of my future husband being anything but a Christian. However…as I got older, the world really started pulling at me. There was constant peer pressure at school. It wasn’t like I was behind a building getting offered drugs and alcohol, which, as a kid, is what I always saw portrayed in church skits. It was more the pull of boys, sneaking to parties, and dressing more provocatively than a Christian should. I lived one way in church because I KNEW what was right, but I lived a totally different way when I was away from church and family. Pretty soon, I had no relationship with God anymore. I felt guilty, but I honestly planned to just have fun for a while, then get my life right again, and marry a Godly man. Poof, perfect plan.
Except it wasn’t perfect. Because when you don’t make a flipping stand for Christ and decide that, come hell or high water, you’re going to live for Him….you will eventually stop living for Him. And I did. I was on and off the fence all through my high school years, and then I recommitted my life to Christ after I graduated. I immediately started college and was still doing alright, but not on fire like I needed to be. And that is where THIS story starts….
Anyone who knows Jake and me probably knows about our tumultuous past. It allllll started when I was in nursing school, and there was a school gym right down the hall from my classes. I would play basketball on Monday nights and at lunch time with a group of guys that always met there. I still remember the first night Jake walked into the gym. Actually, he was already in the gym, shooting hoops at the far end, and my little spidey senses went haywire when I walked in and saw him. He had on a black windbreaker pullover and black shorts, just shooting by himself. So I totally play it cool, say “Hi” to all the guys that I usually play with, and start warming up. Meanwhile, I’m just DYING to know who this cool cat is….a lot of the guys were saying, “Hey Jake!,” or “What’s up Jake?,” so I knew he was someone that must have played with them before. I couldn’t just come out and ask who he was though. Finally, we start playing. He was on the opposite team, and he was DANG good at ball. He also kept bumping into me and purposefully made contact with me while we played. He denies that he ever did that to this day. But I know every detail of that day, probably down to the second, because I’m a woman, and that is how we operate. I honestly have never felt such attraction meeting a guy for the first time, as I did with Jake.
We were the last two to walk out of the gym that night, and we were just chatting away. I got to see what vehicle he drove, so I could now plan my gym times when I saw his big grey truck parked in the parking lot (because stalking is how love starts, DUH!). He had just moved back to the area from Oklahoma and was an assistant District Attorney. He had to take his bar exam to be able to continue to practice law in New Mexico….which requires studying. He just so happened to do that studying in MY school library, AFTER I told him I studied there (also another fact he denies!). Bam. Every single day we met up at a table in the back of the library and studied (talked) for hours on end. I knew that he wasn’t living for God and that this could go nowhere, but I didn’t care. I was in the moment, living for the now, writing off my internal warnings to steer clear as dumb and petty. Jake was just so handsome and so stinking funny, and we would laugh all day long. Pretty soon, I started picturing a future with this stud. I did invite him to church, and he came a few times; we talked about living for God and about knowing that was the right way to live, but that was it. All talk, no action. I knew I wanted to date him; I genuinely thought it would be all roses and buttercups, and we could get saved later on down the road. So stupid. So, so stupid.
I ended up meeting up with him all the time, sneaking off to go eat with him, and chatting for hours in the school parking lot. I was still living at home and kept all of this from my family because I knew it wasn’t what I should be doing. I knew that if I told them, they would give me the sound, Godly advice I needed. They would tell me that I was playing with fire and should be smart about befriending a guy, I had a romantic interest in, that wasn’t totally living for God. Of course, I didn’t want to hear that advice, so I continued to sneak around….until the reality of the choices I was making caught up to me. My parents were more than happy to facilitate me living at home as I went through school but they had a standard of accountability that I needed to agree to live by if I was going to continue living with them. When it came to Jake, and my relationship with him, I wanted no questions, no reality checks, and definitely no accountability. I was faced with a choice and I made the one I thought would make me happy. I decided to move out with some friends from nursing school. In my mind…it was PERFECT. I could finally date Jake, we wouldn’t have to sneak around, we could have fun, and I could show everyone that this would work out just fine! Except Jake wasn’t really wanting to commit to a full-on dating relationship just yet and he wasn’t the most honest of guys at the time. Some of those reality checks my family tried to talk to me about but I steadfastly continued in my will, thinking I could push through anything and make what I wanted turn out just fine.
I’m going to fast forward to the time when we became official. For months prior to that, there was a lot of drama and mess, and I thought that when we finally had that official “boyfriend/girlfriend” status…it would all change, and it would be fairy tale time! Eh-eh. We were basically a straight up soap opera; drama, lust, tears and arguing around every corner! We argued alll the time!…not as much in the daytime, but we drank a lot at night, and when alcohol got involved, stupidity got involved too. There was one time when we were fighting in the pickup, parked in front of the house I was living in. Well, Jake grabbed my phone and chucked it in the back seat because I was purposefully playing on it while we were fighting…you know, to show him how much I didn’t care (wink wink). I JUMP out of the truck, run around to his side to open the door, and he locks it. Errhhhmmmm…..not what I planned. Not sure what I had planned actually. So I just stand there, yelling at him to open the door and to stop acting so childish and immature(it was him…not me, being childish). He wouldn’t unlock the door. Finally, I go to the bed of the pickup, which had a camper shell on it. He would put his gym clothes, shoes and sneakers, and some other junk in there, and I start dumping it all out on the ground. I was gonna force him out of the truck. Yeahhhhhhhh, no. He drove off. I was SO TICKED. Not only did he have my phone, but he left me with a pile of his clothes that I swore to him I would leave in the street all night. I didn’t. I picked them all up and brought them in the house…innnn front of some friends that had come to stay with the couple I was living with. Walk.of.shame. Like, I am so embarrassed when I think back and remember some of our fights.
Another fight was out of town one night. He was acting so stupid, and I was so furious with him. We were sitting inside the truck fighting, and I finally just rear up and punch the roof of the truck. My fist happened to hit the light located on the drivers side, and I broke that sucker. It never saw another day of being lit! Luckily, it was on his side, so I could still use the light on the passenger side, heh heh. He was equally as crazy and dramatic as I was. I’m only sharing some stories when I was the one who was particularly crazier, since it is my blog. I mean, he never beat me. It wasn’t that kind of relationship. It was more jealousy, arguing, lust, and everything that is the opposite of Godliness. At this time, I was smoking a lot. Jake would dump my cigarettes in the toilet when we would fight just to really make me furious. Furious doesn’t even describe how angry that would make me. Or he would throw my lighter as far as he could into the black night, and I would have to search for matches or a spare lighter. I’m totally saved and don’t smoke at this time, but I still get irked thinking back to when he would pull that nonsense. I want to go punch him in his stomach for the anxiety he caused me on those nights I needed a smoke. I mean…Jesus was the option I should’ve been focusing on….but I felt like a ciggy was what would reallllly calm me down at the time. Hahaha, all this reminiscing is making me laugh and cringe.
I tell you all this because I got what I wanted. I got the guy. He was dead sexy(to me at least), muscular, and had a great job. He was textbook what I wanted. Except for that little Christian part. We weren’t living for God. I was miserable. I would go to bed every night, and I felt so empty inside. I hardly ever went around my family because it was too painful. I didn’t want to feel the conviction of seeing them happy and living for God. Even more, I didn’t want to know that I needed to repent. I would hear about guys going out to preach the gospel or taking over a certain church ministry in our fellowship of churches that I grew up in, and it was awful. I wanted that! I wanted a Godly leader as my spouse and father of my children. Yet, here I was, shacking up with a guy, fighting all the time, and pretending that everything was perfect. We did have good days, don’t get me wrong. We had a lot of fun and laughs, but they never lasted long. Because, without Christ, you absolutely can NOT fill that void of happiness in your heart.
Another point I want to make is this: Do NOT compare your life to what you see around you, mainly on social media. At the time of all this, I would post tons of pictures on Facebook of Jake and me, looking all cute and being all cuddly. We would write cute little messages on each other’s walls and post sweet things about each other all the time. On the outside, we looked flipping happy! We never fought in front of people (for the most part). So, people would comment about how adorable we were and how they wanted what we had someday (No sugar, you don’t!). Even now, I only post the good stuff. No one posts about how bad life is or about a recent major argument. Facebook and Instagram are snapshots of the GOOD part of people’s lives. But you can’t judge your life based on someone else’s highlight reel! Remember that if you start to look at how crappy your life is in comparison to someone else’s life.
I think we, as women, have a deep desire to be in a relationship and to start a family. I know this isn’t all women, but it is for the majority of women I know. So we live our lives looking for the “right” guy. Always searching and praying that the void would be filled in our hearts with a mate! Which isn’t wrong at all! It’s natural! It’s when the void isn’t filled quickly that problems can start happening. Girls settle for a guy because they feel like it’ll be better than being single for their entire life. Or they decide to marry a guy who maybe isn’t as Godly as they would’ve once required. But, what we don’t see is…how it will be on the other side. Once you’re married…that is it. It’s not like you can turn around two weeks in and say…..”Um, I made a mistake; never mind.” (Unless you’re Kim K;)) When you settle, you suddenly start looking out at all the single girls and WISH you could go back and just wait. Being alone is so much better than being trapped in a relationship and miserable. I have talked to soooo many women who didn’t marry the Godliest guy, and they hate it! They look out of the window of their life and see all of these other men, serving God, doing His will, and they feel terrible because their husband doesn’t have the same desire. You can’t change a man. You can pray…but who you marry is who you marry.
Back to the story..
Alright…back to Jake and me. I started getting to the point where I was really wanting to give my life back to God, but it just wasn’t the right time. I remember holding off for a few events, like a major Halloween party and other things I knew I wanted to do with Jake. If I gave my life back to God, I wouldn’t be able to do those things. Weeks stretched into months, and it seemed like I was never going to be able to do it. Then, one day, I was at my parents’ house to visit. My dad told me something that really struck me to my core. He said, “Emily, you push God away long enough, and eventually He’ll give you to the desires of your heart, and you won’t be able to come back.” (*Punch in my gut.) Well, on November 8, 2011, I went to visit a church friend whose mother-in-law (that I just LOVED) was in town. They were both totally saved and were really sad about me backsliding. So, of course, they talked to me about it while I was there. I don’t remember exactly what they said and there wasn’t any profound phrase that resonated with me; but, I honestly believe God reached down, touched my heart, and softened it. For the first time in years, I really felt the weight of it all. How I was living….how wrong and stupid it was. Man, they had opened a can of conviction on my butt, and it hit me hard! I still didn’t pray with them. I left their house and walked over to the house I was staying at, which was right next door. I remember taking a shower and feeling such a heaviness on me, I mean it was intense. I knew what I needed to do, and I knew it was time.
I called my daddy. It was a Wednesday, and he was prepping for church, as he’s the pastor. I told him I was ready to give my life back to God. He, calmly as can be, said, “Well, that’s wonderful to hear, darlin’,” and said a prayer of repentance with me. I felt wonderful. I knew that if I died….I was going to Heaven! I am SO THANKFUL God softened my heart! Why is He so wonderful!?!?! So then came the hard part. I was still totally smitten with Jake but I knew that the foundation we had built our relationship on was one that would never last. We had talked about it before and Jake already knew that if I gave my life back to God…I would break up with him and focus on really and truly living for God. Six months was a generalized standard in my church, that a couple needed to both, at a minimum, be separately living for God, alone, before they tried to even think about having a relationship with someone else. In my naivety I hoped it’d only be six months that me and Jake wouldn’t talk and that when I made the decision to live for God, he would to. As is often the case in relationships built on sinful foundations, that was not the case.
The first six months were really hard for me. Jake did not take this time to live for God, as I was, and I had to hear about him being seen around town with a couple girls, drinking, and going to get-together’s with people who really wanted to set him up with other women. Talk about rough. We went from being together almost 24/7 to no contact. He had been MY property, and now he’s basically up for grabs?!? Gahhhh, as a woman, it is SOOOO tough to get your emotions in check! Where is the emotional switch that men seem to have!?! Have all my exclamations shown how much frustration I feel for this part of my life? I was living for God but I had made a lot of really bad choices and giving your life back to God is not an instant eraser and the consequences of those bad choices are instantly gone. No. I still had to work through who I was as a Christian and the things God was trying to work on in me…Fast forward to seven long months after our breakup and guess who shows up in church? Jakey poo. He had a bad attitude and sat there looking ticked. And he kinda just thought we were going to pick up where we left off because he was in church now. False. I wasn’t going to date him knowing that he had totally not lived for God for those seven months. Plus, my dad told me, and I knew it was sound advice, that we needed to wait another six months before dating to really make sure it was God-centered. Oooooo boy. Jake hated that! I was just excited that he had come to church! #babysteps
Over the next eight months, Jake started faithfully coming to church, and he’s not sure when exactly, but he completely gave his life to God. You could see a joy in him that hadn’t been there before. He totally transformed into a new man, and he stopped drinking and partying. We started dating Februrary 2013 and dated for a year, while keeping it clean. We didn’t even kiss! Shoot, we could barely hug without igniting the passions in our loins! Bahahahaha, I am not even joking! Wayyyy too hard, especially after you’ve already been there. We didn’t want to mess up, so no kissing for us! Until May 4, 2014….the day we said, “I do.” Raaawwwwwrrrr, I couldn’t wait to kiss his lips off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Fast forward to now. We are celebrating our third year of marriage today, are genuinely happy, and have a wonderful little girl. We still have arguments, I have a bit of that “crazy Emily” in me that occasionally likes to rear its wild head (I can’t seem to turn that crazy switch off, and remind Jake that he’s the one who flipped in on;)), but we are happy and fulfilled. Crew is a year and a half and she is going to grow up seeing her parents love God first, and each other next. But all of that would not have been possible without putting God in the center of everything. It’s not always easy to serve God, but it ALWAYS the right thing. I encourage you readers who maybe aren’t in the best relationship; give it to God. All of it; your lives, your relationship, everything. Let him have the reigns of your life and HE will fill that void in your heart that no one else can. I am so grateful for the multiple chances God has given me, and I pray that I can help other people going through hard times, with our testimony.