Eric and I went out on our very first date on August 19, 1999. That was the day I turned 15 and a half, and got my drivers permit. My parents let me drive to Eric's house, I am sure they were just as scared as I was, but we made it in one piece. They were actually in a Bible study that met at Eric's parents house. I am sure as we pulled away in Eric's hot rod car, a white Dodge Daytona, more affectionately called the "white stallion" (the car, not Eric) all the group members were reminiscing about their first dates, and so on.
I met Eric when I was in third grade when a friend invited me to her church. Eric was the little boy all the girls had a crush on, and we all wanted to sit by him, and we all wanted to be his partner, and he was just like get away from me. I pined after Eric from third grade until the summer before my sophomore year of high school. I even dated another boy for a whole year before Eric and I went out on our first date, but broke it off with him because deep down I really liked Eric.
I think back fondly to our first date, and realize what I was most attracted to in Eric were vain qualities, yet very real things for me at that age. I loved that Eric played sports, I loved that he had a car, I loved that he had a lot of friends, and I loved that he looked out for me. Not that any of that stuff is bad, but was it going to build a future and a marriage?
From our first date back in August of '99, we have been together. Who I am kidding, I have loved that boy since I was 8! Over the last 15 years our relationship has changed, twisted, turned, and flipped upside down a couple of hundred times. We have pushed our vows to the limit of sickness and health, richer or poorer, well maybe not richer, ha! But truthfully there have been days giving up has seemed easier than trudging through. And honestly, I have given up. There are days I throw the towel in because I am too tired to fight, too tired to talk it out, too tired to find a solution. Marriage is exhausting.
Eric and I have always been in the ministry since the day we said "I do." I don't know anything else, and I don't want to know anything else. Ministry has looked vastly different over the years for us, and we have changed over the years right along with ministry. Now that we are planting a church, our marriage is changing right along with our ministry roles.
We always say church planting is high risk, high reward. And so is marriage in church planting. Going through this adventure I have seen my husband go from the mountain top to the bottom of the valley in an hour, I have seen his heart break for people and opportunities. I have witnessed a lot in the last year, and my view of my husband and our marriage has changed.
At the beginning of this journey to plant a church I would have told you we had been through a lot, we were stronger than ever, and we were bullet proof. After some time and reflections, I can only laugh at those thoughts. It's like when you prepare for kids, you read the books, go to the classes, talk to friends, then you have a baby and you realize you have no clue what you are doing. Yea, that's marriage in church planting.
But marriage and church planting is not all bad either. I can say we have honestly found out what the other one is made of. When Eric is low, I am high, and vice versa. I have had to step up into uncomfortable roles for me, and just do it, because we are all in this thing, whether it's comfortable or not. I have watched my once strong and unbreakable 16 year old boyfriend get beat up, knocked around, and weakened during this process. I have always held Eric in high regard, he was my best friend before he was boyfriend, and now the bar of respect has just grown tremendously through this process.
Eric is capable of more than I ever thought, like he amazes me on a daily basis with his determination and courage. My husband is not perfect, he is just a guy who has a calling on his life to reach people no one else is reaching, and to do it in the name of Jesus. And for that I am eternally grateful, and humbled, and honestly I love being in the passenger seat of this marriage while my husband drives the memorable "White Stallion."