If you read my Throwback Thursday post last week, you know that Mark and I met at Bible study. It was really virtuous. Our pastor introduced us. Super holy.
Following our truly above reproach introduction our relationship progressed like this: I treated Mark like a dirtbag and he treated me really sweetly. That’s what girls who are dumb do. My divorced high school sweetheart parents begged me my whole life to date as many guys as possible and not to marry young, if at all. I obeyed them while keeping Mark just interested enough not to scare him away, all the while arguing with God literally out loud while I walked to and fro on campus. My rants sounded something like this: “Lord, I know you put Mark in my life to be my husband. But I’m NOT READY to know my husband. It’s not time yet! What were you thinking? You’re just gonna have to wait.” I find it’s always wise to yell at the Lord for His will and timing.
After months of tel-netting (if you don’t know what that means then I hope you’re enjoying your twenties), Prince Charming Mark straight up sent me a plane ticket for Thanksgiving so that I--being impoverished and deeply missing the Rocky Mountains--could visit Denver. I’m not kidding. I had known the guy for just over three months and he dropped a few hundred bucks on my rude two-playing self and even said, “You don’t have to see me. I just want to bless you.” And he meant it. It was about this time that I started to feel extremely guilty for my double-life and especially for the part where I never told him my age. I was now barely 18 and he was 21--kinda a big deal at that stage in life.
I did what any conscious-stricken freshman hoochie would do. I sobbed to my roommate, wrung my hands, moaned to my girlfriends, and complained to the Lord even more. Finally, I wrote Mark a letter telling him the awful truth about my age and inviting him to disown me forever if he wanted. Reportedly, he and his roommate had a great laugh on their living room floor over my guilt-ridden letter and he called me to say it wasn’t a big deal and to get over it. I’m pretty sure I celebrated by going to a frat party and tel-netting Mark when I got home.
Over Thanksgiving and Christmas break I went out with Mark a total of four times. While my memory has somewhat erased my wretched treatment of him, he just this moment reminded me that I canceled most of our plans because I needed to spend time with “my mom.” Again, I don’t know why he put up with me.
I returned to school in early January and proceeded to have one of the most painful months of my entire life. I got depressed. My dorm-mates will tell you that for weeks I didn’t leave my dorm room, I sobbed most of the time, and I could not be consoled. It was the culmination of many things: parents divorced for 10 years, destructive step-parents, living one week with Mom and then one week with Dad, as well as the worldly life running dry. Achievements no longer satisfied. The boys, the parties, the grades, the sports, the accolades rang hollow. I became hungry for something more.
The Lord heard my cry and answered clearly. In my heart and soul I heard Him say, “Jen, I will heal you. I will fix what’s broken in your life. But you have to give Me your life. I cannot heal you if you only give me Sunday morning. I want it all.” In the very moment that I surrendered full control to God over my life, I knew His plan for me was to be a missionary. Healing swept in. Clarity rose. The old me started looking really tacky. The new me didn’t know how to act, but she was eager to know the Lord more.
The new me also woke up the next day and said, “Crap! I have been a jerk to the nicest guy on the planet and he’s leaving for the a semester in the Czech Republic tomorrow. I have to call him and somehow convince him to stay in my life even though I so deserve to be kicked to the curb.”
So I called him and he wasn’t home. I resorted to tel-netting him and prayed to God that He would keep healing me, show me how and who to be, and that Mark wouldn’t ride off into the European sunset with another Christian girl who deserved him so much more than me.