Here it is! I am finally ready to share the first complete chapter with you! In order for the rest of the book’s contents to make sense, you have to know where I came from. This sets the stage, like an opening act of a play. It is the foundation that God built upon for His redemption story. It is also available to be viewed on Amazon.com using the “Look Inside” feature when you click on the cover image – see link below. Also, I have found that the “Look Inside” feature works best on desktop computers. Enjoy and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!
Chapter 1: Unhappily Never After
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6
I grew up in a family of five as the youngest. I have always attended church and accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior at the age of eight when I knew I wanted God to be with me always and take away my sins (and, to be honest, I also really wanted to go to Heaven!). I struggle with resisting sin and temptations just like everyone and try to live like the example that Christ left us to follow in the New Testament. That’s a hard path though and I often fall short. It’s only by the assistance of his “helper,” the Holy Spirit, that I even come close (John 14:26)!
Growing up I was always deemed the “goody goody.” I loved helping others; I enjoyed learning and making the best grades possible. I’m a nerd to my core and love to learn new things. I enjoy singing and was very involved in my high school choir and church youth group. Overall, it was a pretty ordinary middle class American childhood; having very few cares in the world and very naïve to problems that other children around the world face. I graduated at the top of my class and got accepted to Miscellaneous University. This is where my story begins to unfold.
My first year of college was pretty smooth. I was involved in a Christian sorority where I met some wonderful ladies who loved Christ and met weekly for Bible studies. Some of my favorite college memories are with people of that sorority and a fraternity who would team up and compete with other groups in a huge musical-esque battle. We worked hard for months to put on a ten minute production of singing and dancing, which we ended up winning my first year! I also made a male friend that then pursued me for about six months before I finally decided to date him. This was my first ‘real’ boyfriend. Yes, I was nineteen before I ever officially dated anyone. He was a nice guy but then he broke up with me on my birthday. My intentions for dating him were all wrong anyway, which I will go into more detail about later, so I guess it serves me right… maybe.
Aerospace engineering was my major and after a short time, although interesting, I decided it was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Midway through my sophomore year of college, I decided to audition for the University’s Mixed Choir in hopes for stress relief from the studying, fun friendships and beautiful sounds filling auditoriums again. It wasn’t too long after that when I noticed a cute boy in the choir who sang bass. Let’s call him Dean. He had a good smile, everyone liked him and I found out he was a Christian. It was so easy to have conversations with him and we were always laughing. He and I started hanging out more and more. It was during this time that I also learned about the Physician Assistant (PA) profession which I knew instantly was my “dream job.” This led me to quickly change my major to Biology to get all of my pre-requisites for grad school. Things were looking good and I had a plan. I love having plans! That summer, our choir took an international tour to Italy for ten days. It was at The Leaning Tower of Pisa where Dean asked me to be his girlfriend. Pretty romantic right? (Ironic that most leaning things eventually fall down and shatter into pieces.) So our first official week of dating was spent touring Roman Ruins, singing in St. Peter’s Basilica, and eating authentic Italian cuisine by candlelight. Am I a contestant on a reality show or what?
As you can see, things got off to a very fairytale like start for the two of us. We continued dating for another year, spending vacations and holidays with each other’s families and making great memories together. While on vacation with his family, he gave me a ‘promise ring’ (which meant that he wanted to continue dating me with the intention of marrying me). Clearly things were getting serious and we were falling in love.
Junior year came and brought new adjustments into the relationship. I continued my studies and being involved in the pre-professional PA group and Dean made the country western dance team. Most of his extra time was spent with them, so mine was by default. Looking back now, I can say that as he was often dancing with another girl, jealousy and insecurity began to brew in my heart. He invited me and was glad I came along to their dance hang-outs at the local club (which was never my scene) but it was kind of a “requirement” or expectation for the team to go. I didn’t like the idea of him dancing with other girls all night so I didn’t mind going for that reason. Hello, red flag!!! Anyway, we would have fun and I kind of adopted it as a new hobby of my own and became a pretty good dancer. I didn’t really have anything for myself outside of choir and studying though. I gave up my Bible study friends. Also, I had started out as the spiritual leader of the relationship but desired to be the follower. You may have heard the phrase, “It is much easier to pull others down than raise them up” and that’s what happened to me. Church wasn’t even a priority anymore. We would just watch it on TV on Sunday mornings. I was so in love and trapped in the “fun” we had together that I didn’t notice that I was rapidly replacing God with my boyfriend.
A year after we started dating, we were looking at a PA school together as the time for me to start applying to grad school drew near. After touring the school and program, much to my surprise, he took me on a carriage ride. At the end he got down on one knee and gave me a pair of cowboy boots with an engagement ring inside of one of them. He asked me to marry him and I quickly told him yes! We were so happily in love and excited about our future together, not being able to picture it without the other. Our parents were all there witnessing incognito and ready to celebrate with us. It was a joyous event! All of our friends new we’d be happy together forever and life seemed perfect. The one word to describe our relationship was: Fun! We talked in our own language of inside jokes and just laughed all of the time. We had songs that were ‘our songs’ and we genuinely enjoyed the other’s company. But a new season was upon us that brought even more change.
Senior year was flying by. Neither of us had jobs planned out and I did not get accepted to grad school. Wedding planning was in full swing, as well as a full load of college courses. Things in our relationship started shifting. We started arguing more when it came to certain details about the wedding. Most of the topics of conflict were around my mother-in-law to-be. My fiancé was the eldest of two boys in the family and, in my opinion, a momma’s boy. Now I’ve come to learn that there is a difference between momma’s boys and men who love their mom. I will discuss more on this topic in an upcoming chapter. Anyway, once I had a ring on, the way Dean’s mom treated me was completely different than when we had just been dating. There were so, so many nights of tears and frustration and misunderstanding that never seemed to resolve. Instead, it just kept building as the wedding approached. I don’t remember all of the details of the arguments, just the fact that my fiancé always seemed to side with his mom and never really understood my point of view or how that made me feel.
To make matters worse, we were going beyond boundaries that I didn’t feel comfortable with. I will tell you right now that we never had sex, but we still let our guard down more than we should have as an engaged couple. This pushed God further from the center of my heart and contributed to taking my focus away from the one who was supposed to be my cornerstone. Honestly, it went back to me not feeling secure in my relationship with my fiancé, whom I never should have placed my security in in the first place. I was longing for more of his attention and I knew this set my relationship with him apart from the kind he had with his dance partner. I felt trapped, like I wasn’t good enough by just being myself. I felt like I had to prove myself to him. He knew I was struggling with our behavior but did nothing about it to help me because we didn’t have a good foundation in our communication, amongst other things. It was so twisted and messed up. I was usually the smart, confident one and this relationship took all of that away from me. I thought to myself, he loves me. I said yes to him when he proposed so I was already committed to him for the rest of my life in my mind.
It was a month before the wedding when things reached the hardest point in our relationship. Not having plans beyond graduation made us both uneasy. I told him it would be alright to postpone the wedding date due to the uncertainties but he insisted that we would be alright. We had already been engaged for a year and he didn’t want to wait. I never brought it up again. Graduation day came and the wedding was two weeks away! Despite the hardships of the past year, I was still so excited to marry him! I even embroidered my black cap to say “Bride 2 Be.” After finishing up in college, I went back home to spend time with my family and work on all of the final touches. Everything was coming together perfectly with the help of my amazing mom, who had become an excellent wedding planner by now. Meanwhile, Dean had set sail on a seven day cruise with his dance group to the Caribbean.
It was now five days until the “Big Day!” I remember this part vividly. I was sitting at my parent’s breakfast table and adding sparkles to our customized toasting glasses when someone rings the doorbell. My dad answered it and went outside. I didn’t know who was at the door so I continued the task at hand. Soon after, my fiancé walks in and surprises me! I was so happy to see him so unexpectedly. He asked me if we could talk and I said of course, slightly concerned and bewildered at this point. We went up to my old bedroom and I could tell he is holding back tears. The next thing I knew, he was telling me how he couldn’t marry me and the wedding was off. He said over and over how much he loved me but couldn’t go through with the wedding. He could never give me a single reason why. Nothing. Zero explanation of what was going on in his mind that led him to this conclusion. I was in shock and we both were in tears. While I’m still sitting there stupefied, he ended the conversation with, “I still love you” and then he was gone. I remember that his parents had come with him. They didn’t get out of the car, but drove him back due to his distressed state. I was in total shock. It was all over. I did not see this coming at all! The engagement ring that he had given to me was at his jewelers getting the wedding band soldered on for the ceremony, so I never saw it again. No refunds were available with a FIVE day cancelation – the beach for our ceremony, the ballroom for the reception, the cakes, the dress, the DJ, Everything was fully paid for and it was all for naught. My hopes and dreams and whom I believed to be the love of my life, gone. Everything I had hoped for was ripped away without any understanding of why. What do I do with my life now?
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