Back to 1997. The summer ended and it was off to college for my senior year. Since there would still be five hours distance between me and the man with whom I had fallen in love, the long phone calls and letters continued.
Then it happened. The moment most girls dream about from the time they were young girls (honestly can’t remember dreaming about it but it makes for a better story if I just say I had waited on that moment my whole life!). For my birthday that October, there was a box, a ring, a proposal, and an answer of, “Yes!”
You probably know how the next few weeks went. I returned to college that weekend and ran into my dorm room to surprise all my roommates and news quickly spread down my dormitory hall. Everyone came out of their rooms because they knew what had happened….it happened a lot in those dormitory hallways. Screaming girls in the hall likely meant someone had gotten engaged.
The planning began immediately. The disappointments of my senior year of basketball being riddled with injury were overshadowed by the dreams of the future with a man that I loved. By Christmas there was a dress and a May wedding was on the calendar. It was perfect. I would graduate from college and then two weeks later I would be married! I even changed my college degree plan so that I would graduate in May and then could get my teaching certification by taking a test in another state. (Not too much else to do with a Biology degree if you don’t want to go to more school or want to spend your life researching!)
Christmas came and went. Memories were made. My life was in full speed as I travelled with basketball, spent late nights studying in the science labs, and took care of all the little details for wedding showers, bridesmaids dresses, invitations and the other things that had to get done for the wedding. In between all of these things were long phone calls, sweet letters, and quick weekend visits.
March came. Two months until I was a college graduate and a married woman! Stress was building. Mostly good stress. Then it happened. I remember the details as if it were yesterday. My roommate Kim and I were getting ready to go out with her parents to eat for her birthday. Kim was a God send in my life. One of the friends that I believe was prayed into my life by my mom. We had been roommates for three years. HONESTLY, I think that if there ever was a perfect match for roommates it was me and Kim. You probably won’t believe this, but Kim and I never had a disagreement in three years as roommates. I KNOW…seems impossible for two girls but it is the honest truth!
The phone rang just before her parents were to arrive to come pick us up (this was before everyone had cell phone…so I had to actually go into the room to answer it). The phone call was brief. The details don’t need to be shared. But in those five minutes I realized that the man I had promised my life to five months ago was not the man that I thought he was. I had been blind sided. There was a mutual agreement to put a stop to the wedding. I hung up the phone and knew at that moment that there was no getting back together. I had been lied to. My family had been deceived. Though I didn’t know the extent of the deception at that point (you wouldn’t believe the details even if I told you!), I knew enough to know that this was not the man that I wanted to spend my life with. I don’t remember if there were tears or not. Knowing me, there probably weren’t. I walked out the door of our room and Kim knew. At that point she knew me well and I didn’t have to say the words, “It’s over.” I insisted that she go celebrate her birthday with her parents and that I would be okay. I had an anatomy test to study for and my other roommate Christa was in the room.
There was so much to do now that my brain was flooded with a new to do list that seemed never ending. After a phone call to tell my parents, they convinced me to stay at school and take my test and they would make the five hour trip to come get me in two days.
So, that night I loaded up my backpack to head to the science lab to study. I wasn’t sure just how I was going to do it. I was reminded of the words of Elizabeth Elliot when her missionary husband Jim died. When she asked God, “What am I going to do?” God’s simple reply was, “Just do the next thing.” The next thing for Elizabeth was to get up and wash the dishes. The next thing for me was to head over to the science lab.
As I was heading out the door, my roommate Christa did something that seemed to be just a simple act by a friend who really didn’t know what to say at that moment (this was one of those life moments where there IS nothing to say you just listen) After hearing about what had happened and seeing the pain I was in, Christa handed me a CD. I had never heard of Dennis Jernigan at that point in my life. I totally believe that God placed Christa, whose life IS music, into my life that year to hand me that CD. That CD, Celebrate Living, did not leave my Discman (yep…that dates me!) for weeks. I am sure that in those first few days I listened to that CD 500 times. That first night as I walked over to the science lab, I remember an extreme presence of peace. I found a room where I could be all by myself and that night until 3 or 4 in the morning it was just me, Dennis, an anatomy book, and The Great Physician!
There are times when I wish I could whisper in the ear of that twenty-two year old heartbroken girl, “Press on…you won’t believe where this journey is going to take you! In just 10 months you will meet the man who WILL be by your side for the rest of your life. God is orchestrated events even now so that you two will meet. ”
That young girl never lost hope, but the hope often got overshadowed by the pain. The journey I went on in the next 10 months is worth telling. So I’ll end here for today and pick up in the next post. This story really does have a fairy tale ending (well sort of….).
Until then…you need to hear the music of my dear friend Christa Black. Let me brag on her just a bit…since her days as my roommate and the violinist at me and Joe’s wedding…she has gone on to be the violinist and back up singer for such musical greats as Steve Green and Michael W. Smith. She actually wrote the song “God Loves Ugly” that was on Jordin Sparks (American Idol winner) first CD and this past year she travelled the world with none other than THE JONAS BROTHERS!