Many of the details of March-May of 1998 are a blur to me. It was like a whirlwind. Three months that were supposed to be filled with celebrating college graduation and my wedding, were in an instant turned into a time of grief and mourning. There were dozens of embarrassing and heart wrenching phone calls to make explaining that there would be no wedding. Invitations, dress alterations, showers, gift registries, travel plans, all had to be cancelled. Thankfully, most of this was done by my mom. During this time in my life I realized just how blessed I was. My mailbox was flooded with letters from friends and family who were praying for me as I tried to stay focused on papers and finals. Amidst all this I was trying to listen to God as to what to do after graduation. New plans had to be made and I had no idea what I was going to do.
God quickly provided me with a job for the summer. My brother and his sweet wife Pam, who had only been married for a year at that point, offered to let me live with them in their tiny trailer at seminary in Ft. Worth. Through the amazing hand of God I was hired over the phone by the Environmental Protection Agency in Dallas. Instead of spending my summer on a honeymoon and learning to be a wife, I would be a summer intern analyzing military base environmental testing data for the EPA in a tiny cubical in downtown Dallas. (sounds like a blast huh?)
With summer plans confirmed and graduation nearing, I was still walking around in a fog. Basketball had ended so I had never known having so much free time in college. Since for the first time in my college career I was not going to spring off season practices, I found myself sinking into a state of depression. It was something that I had been through before and I didn’t want to go through again.
In my junior year of high school, I blew out the ACL in my knee. For the young girl whose life had revolved around basketball, I felt as if my life and future had been stolen from me in an instant. It did not seem fair to me. I had lived a life serving God, standing up to peer pressure, giving to others, befriending those who others ignored, and I felt as if God was not being fair. My knee injury occurred on a Saturday and the next Sunday morning in church my dad’s sermon was entitled, “Why Me God?” You have to know my dad to appreciate the significance of this happening. Dad plans his sermons months in advance. He is definitely not one to ‘wing it.’ I can remember that sermon on Job as if it were yesterday. I can remember my Dad trying not to make eye contact with me because unlike me he cries very easily (he cried through every Little House episode he watched with me as a kid!)
The next year I went through an intense emotional, mental, and spiritual battle. Though I had no idea what God was doing at the time, He was preparing that seventeen year old girl for future battles that would be even more intense. He was teaching me how to use the Word of God to fight for healing of my body, mind, and soul. I did overcome the depression. Again, I was surrounded by an amazing church family who were on their knees for me and dear friends and family who were always there with encouraging words.
It was because of the spiritual journey I went on that year that I decided to ‘give up’ my dream of playing college basketball and accepted an academic scholarship to a small private Christian school in Southern Arkansas.
Little did I know God was working behind the scenes to fulfill my dreams. When I went to the college campus to talk to the academic counselor, she told me and my mom that she had seen all my basketball awards on my application and had talked to the college’s basketball coach about me. The counselor had set up an appointment for me to go talk to the coach if I wanted. I really didn’t want to because I had ‘given up that dream.’ But to be polite, we made our way over to the gym. The coach was amazing. She told me that one of the team’s spring practices was about to start and that she would love for me to join them if I had time and shoes. I was tempted to lie. I ALWAYS had basketball shoes in my trunk. That day ended with an invitation to join the team. I accepted but would join as a walk on so that I could “walk off” if I decided it was not for me.
I mentioned in a previous post ‘Roots and Wings’ that my college basketball career was riddled with injuries. However, the girls on that team became some of my dearest friends, and I had the privilege of leading a Bible study for them each week. God had indeed turned my high school knee injury into triumph. That seventeen year old girl had no idea what was in her future, but she never lost hope in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Through the depression, I knew that God loved me and was indeed going to use this knee injury for good. Though I didn’t know it at the time, it was the knee injury that guided me to where I went to college, and it is at that college that I made some of the dearest friends I have.
So there I was six years after the high school knee injury, faced with another heart wrenching trial in my life. I knew there would be dark days ahead as I worked through the pain. I knew God had brought me victoriously through trials before and I believed He would do it again.
There is another trial that God brought me through in college that I want to tell you about. I feel like I must share how I came through previous trials in order for you to understand how I victoriously overcame the devastation of a marriage broken off just eight weeks before the wedding. I’ll save that story for next time so that this post doesn’t get any longer!
For now, I must share with you one of the songs that was on the CD my friend Christa gave me on that devastating day. The song is entitled “No Other Love.” Here is a You Tube link of Dennis singing it. I would imagine I listened to this song over 5000 times in the year following that broken engagement. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRBF1Jt1F7E (I know, I know…the video is totally 80’s…but I’m an 80s gal so deal with it!)
If you have never heard Dennis Jernigan’s testimony you MUST take time today to go to his website www.dennisjernigan.com and read his story and hear his music.. Again you will thank me!
Never forget. God loves you and no human is capable of fulfulling the need you have for the love of your Heavenly Father. Allow Him to love on you today. Open your eyes to His love because it is truly all around you if you look.