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My Journey to Marriage (#16)

BLOG SERIES: MY JOURNEY

I always knew that I would be married someday, I just didn’t know when, or to whom. But I knew that I would one day make someone a good wife. I was a young, sweet, innocent girl when I fell in love with and married my husband. I was just shy of my 24th birthday.

Ahmed and I met at church. He just one day started going to our church. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. He was just a young man who attended our church. And no, it wasn’t love at first sight, not for me anyway.

At the time, I wasn’t thinking about any of that. I was focused on finishing high school and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I knew college was in my future, but not having anyone in my family to have gone to college before me, I really didn’t know exactly how to pursue this goal. But I knew that I needed to go to college.

After high school, I decided to stay close to home, and enrolled in a two-year college, which allowed me to remain at home with my family.

I was never truly keen on the idea of staying in a dorm room anyway. Who would be my roommate(s)? What kind of person(s) would they be? I could never have survived living with an irresponsible, immature party-type roommate. I’ve always liked my space and my peace and quiet. So living in a dorm was out of the question for me.

After completing my course of study at the two-year college, I decided to enroll in a four-year college. I thought that I would need a degree past an Associate’s degree. But, I had no idea what I should study. Nothing in particular interested me. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of guidance during this time. As I said before, no one in my immediate family had gone to college prior to me.

But I did eventually settle on Business Administration as a major. I liked the idea of being able to get a little bit of everything (marketing, advertising, human resource management, and insurance) with this degree.

Ahmed, who was three years older than me, had already left for college prior to my attending the two-year college. And because he was still a member of our church, and his family still lived in my same town, he would occasionally come back home for the holidays and semester breaks.

I would often see him at church and around town during these breaks. But we never really had any significant conversation, other than how are you doing?

He told me that he remembers once trying to ask me about my plans for college but that I blew him off. I don’t really remember this. But I do remember that I was extremely shy then and not a great conversationalist anyway, with anyone. So it’s highly possible that I did blow him off.

Ahmed told me years later, after we were married, that he thought I was stuck up. And I can imagine, being very shy, that it could have come across that way. It was very hard for me to come out of my shell during that time.

Once Ahmed finished college, he was offered a job at a major insurance company in Illinois. And as was his custom, he would often come back home to Michigan during his vacation to spend time with his family. And he would often stop by the church, which I was still a member of. He seemed to be doing quite well in his new job, and seemed to have transitioned well from a lowly college student to a career man.

Wedding9This was also the time when he started to change the pronunciation of his name. He was always Ah-med Jin-nah to us (with the emphasis on the first syllable in AH-med, and the emphasis on the first syllable in JIN-nah). But one day he came back from Illinois, looking very successful, and saying he now preferred to be called Ah-MED Jin-NAH (with the emphasis being on the second syllable in both names. (But we still called him AH-med JIN-nah. And, who do you think you are?) LOL. (We still remember your jheri-curl wearing, moped-riding days…Mr. Ah-MED Jin-NAH!) LOL. (I would be in big trouble if he were here today!)

Okay, back to the story…

I was always impressed with the way Ahmed carried himself. He was not like most guys. He was not flirtatious with women (I cannot stand flirty men!), and he wasn’t one of those charming men who liked to woo women with their charm (go sit down somewhere, you’re not that charming!).

He was never always up in a woman’s face, grinning and skinning — as the old folks used to say. You know the kind of men I’m talking about. There are some women who are attracted to these types of men, but I’m not one of them.

Ahmed was a respectable young man who carried himself well, loved to laugh and talk to people, and was serious about his relationship with the Lord. The kind of man that you could take home to mama.

Top 10 ListIt was around this time that I had already enrolled in the four-year college and started to think about my future. It was also around this time that I started to pray to God for a husband. And ladies, you know how we do it… I wrote down all the qualities I wanted in a husband, in a letter to God. And I eventually put the letter aside because I needed to finish school.

I was never one to date. Dating to me seemed…trivial. I was firmly convinced that God had a husband picked out for me so there was no need to date around. All I needed to do was wait for the husband that God had prepared just for me. On a side-note: I think this (dating around) may be how we end up in relationships with the wrong guy/girl. We tend to settle for Mr. or Ms. Right Now, instead of waiting for the spouse that God has prepared especially for us.

And there is also a process in the waiting. While you’re waiting for your spouse from God, God is preparing BOTH OF YOU for each other. Why settle for second-best or sloppy seconds when you could have God’s best?? But, God will not give you His best until you are ready to receive His best. Wait on God, and trust Him in the process.

Ahmed was the husband that God had planned for me, although I did not know it at the time.

I began praying to God for a spouse. I was finally ready to dip my feet in the matrimonial springs that God had prepared for those who understood the commitment involved with marriage.

One day, as I was praying, I asked God about my husband. And I heard God speak a name: Ahmed. What?! Him? I was never attracted to Ahmed, and never saw him in that way. But it made sense. I had watched his life, from a distance, and knew that there would be no hidden skeletons in his closet. No baby-mama drama. Only a young man who had carried himself his whole life in a way that could be commended. And, did I mention that he loved the Lord? But even with this, I still wasn’t sure. I had never actually had a real conversation with him.

For a few years prior, Ahmed’s sisters had also become members of our church, and we became friends. Around this time, I had particularly become close with one sister in particular, and we would speak regularly. She would occasionally mention her brother.

Ahmed’s family was very proud of him. I remember her telling me once about a “girl” who had tried to take advantage of him. She was trying to use him. I guess this “girl” was trying to snag herself a good man.

So during one of these conversations, I just happened to ask this sister how her brother was doing. It was a casual “how did that situation turn out?” And do you know what this sister did??????? SHE went and told him that I asked about him and that I liked him. Now can somebody please tell me how you can get “I like your brother and want to marry him” our of “oh by the way, how’s your brother doing?”

I guess because I had never really asked about him before, she just assumed that I must like him. Or maybe…this sister had a plan all along to get us together. (Hmm.. I never really thought of this before.) But I was never interested in Ahmed before…not even a little bit. But, when God spoke his name to me, it did begin to pique my curiosity.

Well, needless to say, the damage had already been done. There was nothing I could do to undo it. When Ahmed came back to Michigan on his next vacation, he approached me and we talked for the first time. I could tell right away that he was interested, but I was not about to get too involved until I was certain that this was God’s will.

I think we went out to dinner one Sunday after church. (Which is what church folks love to do.) LOL. He eventually went back to Illinois and we began to communicate by writing letters. This was prior to cellphones, email, and Skype. Back then we had snail mail and long-distance calling (which was expensive back then).

Long Distance Relationship CropThis began our long-distance courtship. We would write letters — he wrote way more than I did, I could hardly keep up — and occasionally he would call on the phone. And maybe three or four times a year he would come back to Michigan on vacation, and we would almost have to get reacquainted with each other.

Looking back on this time now, it’s amazing to me how we could keep a long-distance relationship going, under the circumstances. But this was what we had to work with at the time. And I, of course, would keeping talking to God to make sure that we were pursuing His will.

This back-and-forth went on for a few months. I must admit, it was very hard once we started developing feelings for each other. I had never been in love before and I remember asking a girlfriend “how will I know when I’m in love.” And she said, “you’ll just know.”

Well I remember the first time I knew that Ahmed must be in love: One Saturday morning, I received a phone call from him. He asked me if I had plans for later that evening because He was thinking about driving up for the weekend. I told him that I did not have plans — even though I really did, but those plans could be easily changed.

Well this man, my future husband, drove six hours to see me and arrived around 8 or 8:30pm that evening — because he lost an hour when he came to Michigan, because of the time zone change. We went to get a bite to eat that evening, went out for breakfast the next morning and then on to church on Sunday morning. And after church was over, he was back on the road heading back home to Illinois.

This is when I knew he was in love. My wake-up call came rather unexpectedly. I remember one day thinking “Oh, this must be what it feels like to be in love.” It wasn’t thunderclaps or a lightning bolt from the sky.

One of my favorite movies is called, “Love Comes Softly”. And as the title of this movie so poetically states, for me, love came softly. It came when I wasn’t looking. And when it came, I immediately recognized what it was.

Well, seven months after Ahmed began to court me he asked me to marry him. And I said, yes. Because I was trying to finish school, we waited almost another year and a half before we were married.

I was nervous and afraid because I had never been married before and I didn’t know the first thing about marriage. And I remember praying during the entire ceremony: “Lord, you’re going to have to help me because I don’t know the first thing about being married.” But God was there helping both of us through the process, because we were in the center of His will.

I must say, in my opinion, nothing’s better than waiting for the spouse that God has prepared especially for you. And when two people keep themselves solely for their spouse, their union can’t be anything but magical, because there are no outside influences popping up and interfering in your marriage, and no memories of past romantic partners creeping into your marital bed saying “remember me?”

Nothing could be better than doing things, and this includes marriage, God’s way. God’s way is always pure and holy, and right.

     

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3 Comments on "My Journey to Marriage (#16)"

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Jackie Darling
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Jeanita, Thank you for sharing this personal memory and beautiful journey and courtship into marriage. You outlined many truths that are applicable today because God’s Word never changes and neither does He. As I mentioned in another posting, I wish that my mother/church had been able to instill in me the wisdom you already had as a young woman in the Lord. I would have been spared much pain and sorrow and I know that my life and the life of those I love would have been very different; in a better way. I used to feel great remorse and… Read more »
Jeanita
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Jackie, I need to get a t-shirt that says “Trust God in the Process,” because I find myself saying this quite often lately. There are processes we go through in life. Some people call them “seasons.” Some just call it a “waiting period.” But I’m learning that sometimes things don’t always happen right away. But for those of us in the church, and who are trying to seek God’s will for our lives, there is often a process or waiting period that we must go through. God, especially, knows WHEN we are ready to receive or handle certain things from… Read more »
jackie darling
Guest
Amen, Jeanita! The process of waiting on the Lord is an act of surrender and sacrifice, indeed. As you said, you could throw up you hands and give in to the world’s way of thinking. That is what the enemy wants. But, in the waiting, the Father has time to mold us, heal us, prove us, and seal our hearts to Him for when the difficult days come. And they will come. He loves us enough to steel our hearts. I pray for ‘peace’ more than anything else for myself and those that I love. Peace is a reality and… Read more »
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