As promised, I am rewinding the tape and filling in a lot of details I didn’t get to sneak into my first blog post. I am rewinding this VHS tape WAY back to our dating days (when VHS was still around), so I apologize in advance if it’s a longer read – I even divided it into two parts because it was so long. Every single part is important, so don’t be tempted to stop reading or cut it short (that’s for my skim readers, I know, because I am guilty). And be sure to come back for Part 2 in May!
Kenneth and I met in 2006 and dated for five years. I was a recent divorcee with a two, going on three year old little girl. To recap, I was born to Christian parents and raised in church, or like my Pastor likes to say, “I survived church!”. I was there 2-3 times a week – we were in plays, choirs, played musical instruments, you name it. Every time the doors were open, we were there. On the contrary, Kenneth was raised in a Catholic home. He knew little to nothing about attending church (typically Easter and Christmas) or a true relationship with God, and ironically, neither did this “saved by attendance” church girl. When we met, I was distanced from God and I was no longer attending church. I was angry at Him or so I would say, blaming Him for what I thought I had done the right way – married a Pastor’s grandkid, the church drum player, did things “right in the sight of God”. Little did I realize, so blinded by love, that all this was so far-fetched from His will for me and He tried to gently warn me through my family, through my Pastor at the time – yet I didn’t listen. Seldom do we ever hear God, when we have earplugs in and our tune is the only one we will listen to. It was just easier for me to turn around and blame Him when my plan failed, as most times we humans tend to do, asking Him why He allowed something to fail that was never His will in the first place.
I turned to salsa dancing, it became my addiction – I need something to numb all the emotional pain. I danced all my weekends away and I got pretty darn good (if I say so myself). It was my new lifestyle and I lived it for two years before cupid came along, dressed as Kenneth’s Uncle. He was someone I had met through a co-worker and he got tired of seeing me dance by myself. “You need a man and I have just your type! Six foot, two inches, light skin, dark hair, Puerto Rican, and he dances salsa like a pro.” And just like that, he got him on the phone and he friended me on My Space (yes, you read that right, this was pre-Facebook – hard to believe, I know). He was dating someone at the time and I was ok with being long distance friends (we lived an hour and a half from each other so the phone was our only recourse, there was also no Facetime back then, man I feel old). He would call me every day at the same time, right before I headed into Chemistry class (I was finishing my Bachelors at that time). Every time we talked I would ask “what’s your status?” and he would always respond “it’s complicated.” Until one day, four months later, his status became “single” and we met – August 25, 2006.
You can imagine our lifestyle – two passionate salsa dancers who danced even to the commercials on T.V. We went out every chance we got. He was popular in his town of Orlando, he knew everybody. For a small town, shy girl – his world was overwhelming but I went along for the ride. After six months of living this “vida loca” where I was J. Lo. and he was Marc Anthony (or so we thought), the Holy Spirit started tugging on my heart strings. I would talk to Kenneth about God, I would describe the church I used to attend, I would cry myself to sleep with conviction – all the while the Lord was planting seeds in his heart and I didn’t even know it. It’s a shake-my-head, baffling kind of moment when you can look back and see how God can use you even in your most broken state. I couldn’t take it anymore and I broke up with him (the first time).
I missed my God way too much and His love for me was conquering any fleshly desire that had conquered me for nearly two and a half years. He never stops pursuing us, no matter how far we try to run away, we are worth the wait to Him – and He won’t relent, until we come back. And I did. After a week of being broken up, God was doing something in Kenneth that in my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have made up. The following weekend, he attended a local church on his own and gave his life to Christ all by himself. During that service he called me and put the phone on speaker so I could hear the worship since he said it sounded just like all the times I would describe my old church. That day God did a miracle in his life and life would never be the same for him. We gave up a lot of stuff, we made a commitment to stay physically pure until marriage, the drinking became social instead of habitual, the dancing became casual (at birthdays, weddings, etc.) instead of a lifestyle. But God wouldn’t stop at that, He wanted it all.
Fast forward to August 6, 2011 – the day we finally said our “I do’s”. We had a blissful ceremony on a yacht with 120 of our closest friends and family. We honeymooned in Jamaica and came back to our happily ever after. BIG. SCREECHING. HALT. Little did we know we were walking into this marriage with pre-existing conditions, at least the naked eye couldn’t see them. Mine was an untrusting heart coming from a first broken marriage and his was a physical condition we didn’t even know about yet. The first eleven months of marriage was hell, if there was a more graphic word, I would use it. I resented that I had moved to his world – his church, his home, his city, his circle of friends. We argued about everything – his work, his family, my family, my attitude, my anger, you name it, we argued over it. We threw around the forbidden “D” word every chance we got. “This was a mistake! I made a second mistake! We should just get divorced and end it all.” Because that would make it all go away, a quick fix, we wanted an out and that seemed to be the only way. What the heck was going wrong here? We were doing the Christian Wednesday and Sunday thing – check. We were tithing – check. We were still doing the social casual thing with the alcohol and dancing, most of the people at our church did also, no harm there – check. We were hanging around decent people – check. What had gone wrong? I’m doomed to be part of that second failed marriage statistic, right? “God what are we doing wrong here? HELP!” His gentle yet authoritative reply, “You know those pre-existing conditions that were there all along, even during your dating phase but no one paid attention to? I have to deal with those but not here. You wouldn’t survive a heart transplant here. Pack your bags!”
To be continued…