The Good, The Bad, and The Stunning
As this decade comes to end, it is important to know where you’ve been. From the heartache and challenges one may have faced to the joy and discovery with who you are as an individual. I have learned a lot from this past decade and continue to grow in my relationship with God, others, and myself. I would not be the man I am today if I did not face all that this world had to throw at me. As I continue forward into the wake of this new year, I reflect on the good, the bad, and the stunning moments that I have faced to bring me to where I am today.
I would like to take us back to the year 2010. The beginning of a decade full of wonder and curiosity. I was 18 and only a year after graduating high school. I continued to further my education in hopes and determination to become a fire fighter one day. I obtained my associates degree in Public Safety with a concentration in Fire Science. I know that you do not necessarily need a degree to become a fire fighter, but I was hoping it would allow me to stand out from the rest when looking for a position. Not much happened during the couple years it took to get my associates degree. I had several friends who I am still friends with to this day and a lot of friends who I do not speak with much anymore. I believe that that is something that is completely okay. You don’t need to have all the friends in the world, you just need close friends who think the world of you. I was also working full-time while being a full-time student. On top of that, I had a part-time job where I would work some nights and on the weekend and I also committed the rest of my time volunteering for my church. My schedule was jam packed, but it allowed me to fully understand the value of a dollar and how important it is to have a strong work ethic.
After earning my degree, I wanted to further my education even more. I went back to school and decided to work on a degree in business administration. There I realized that I did not want to become a fire fighter anymore. I admire all that our service men and women do, fire fighting was just not for me. As I continued my routine of working and going to school, I grew incredibly tired. I was facing a lot of inner struggles and finding out where I needed to be in that season of my life.
Living my life day in and day out with the same routine lead me to meeting a specific person. A woman that I worked with whose husband at the time was a chief in the Navy. I wanted change. I had a feeling deep down in my gut that I wanted to serve the way that my grandfather’s before me did. I could not shake the idea of joining the military and I knew that in that moment of my life, it was the right time. I was still young and healthy and knew that this sacrifice was going to make my family and myself proud. In April 2014, I joined the US Navy as Culinary Specialist on a submarine. I had always enjoyed cooking and felt as if that would be a profession that I could be good at. I was shipped out to Great Lakes to begin my basic training. After that, I received orders to Fort Lee, VA where I trained to become a cook. After my short time in Fort Lee, I travelled up to Groton, CT to receive my final training to become a submariner. At this point, I want to shift gears. Because at this moment in my life, I was introduced to something that had changed my life forever. In this case, this something was actually a someone. A girl.
I had met a girl through a mutual friend. She was kind and funny and loved Jesus. We decided to take our relationship further and I asked her to be my girlfriend. Distance is never easy, especially when you’re in a relationship. We made it work the best we could. She was going to school in NC and I was stationed in Kings Bay, GA. In 2016, my command traveled up to VA to be in the shipyard for the next couple of years. I was excited because I knew I would be closer to her. A 6 hour drive turned into a 4 hour drive and we were able to see one another more often. Shortly after I moved to VA, I proposed. We had decided to have premarital counseling, which I was wanting all along. In this moment of guidance and direction for our life ended up taking a turn.
She had a one-on-one with one of her pastors and I received a phone call from her shortly after that. Her tone and approach to me had completely changed. It took a lot more energy to keep her on the phone and engaged in conversation. It felt as if she had a lot on her mind or just had no interest in talking to me. She wanted me to talk to that same pastor and receive the same counseling separately. I feared for the worst, but felt as if nothing was wrong. I took the longer drive in my life down to NC to visit him. Confusion and anxiousness flooded my very being. We sat down and began to talk. He asked me about my relationship and how I viewed us as friends, on a romantic level, and on a spiritual level. I spoke honestly. He nodded and listened to every single word that I spoke. Mind you, I did not know this man that well. I had met him a few times and that was about it. He told me that our friendship was evident and he could see that we were romantically involved, but he did not see the spiritual aspect in which he spoke. I was infuriated. As someone who would lay down his life for Christ and the Father, that was one of the biggest slap in the face I could ever receive. I know in this moment that my faith was being challenged.
After I spoke with him, I went to meet with her to talk. I told her that I believed the conversation went well, but he pointed out that he did not think that I would be a good spiritual leader just yet. She was quiet and nodded her head in agreement. From the moment her and I met, God had already worked in our lives grow closer to Him and have a deeper love for Him and each other. Somewhere along the way, she felt as if I had lost that. She told me that she did not see me being a spiritual leader for her and that I probably never could be.
I had never felt so broken in my entire life. I remember feeling a physical pain in my stomach for weeks afterwards. I could barely eat. I could barely sleep. Every night I would go to sleep crying. Every morning I would wake up in tears. I have never felt like this before and had the most difficult time trying to recover. Everyone at work knew what had happened. I did not hide it. I never felt so alone and hurt in my entire life.
In this moment, God spoke to me. In the quietness, he spoke to me through the suffering. Through the pain and misery, he spoke. He presented me with two options. To desert Him completely and turn my back against Him. To continue believing the lie that being in love is a joke and that there is no true plan for my life. Or, to continue trusting in Him and finding the truth in which he has spoken. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” God never promised us that our life on earth would be easy, but He did say that there is a time and season for everything. In my case, this season of brokenness had to have an end and He had a plan all along.
I chose to give Him all that I had. I wanted to strengthen my relationship with Him. That is all that I wanted in that season and that is what I want in my life today. I found an incredible church who brought me in with open arms. I made many new friendships and even joined the worship team. God was working rapidly in my life and I continued giving Him praise and thanks. As I was growing in my faith and relationships with others, He had surprised me with the most special gift in my life. What I am about to share next proves how God WILL provide for you and He WILL fulfill all of your needs when you least suspect it.
As I was attending this church, I had met a very special friend. This friend posted on her Instagram story a picture of breathtaking woman. My friend had a friend that she was grabbing lunch with. I was incredibly interested in getting to know her. I messaged my church friend and told her that I thought that her friend was cute. After this moment, things started happening quickly. My friend told me that her friend and I would be perfect together so she told me to message her via social media. I gathered the courage to send her a message and everything began to unfold from there. Messaging on Instagram turned into texting. Texting turned into talking on the phone. And just like that, we met for the first time when she came to visit for the weekend. At first, we both were tremendously nervous. She would barely speak to me and I felt as if I wouldn’t shut up. I even text one of my best friends and told him that I didn’t think things were working out. After I sent that text to him, everything was getting much better. Her and I began talking more. I reached out my hand for her to hold and she held on and wouldn’t let go. We spent time with each other every day of that weekend and even a one-on-one date on that Sunday. I was falling hard for this girl that I just met, but I continued trusting God and trusting His plan for my life.
I told myself that if I was going to allow someone back into my life that I wasn’t going to mess around. We discussed the most difficult topics and she answered all of my questions flawlessly. We could not get enough of each other. We wanted to talk to one another and be with each other as much as possible. Every good thing that would happen between us, I would give God the glory. Every bad thing that would happen (which wasn’t that often), I would pray to Him to give me wisdom and direction. No matter what we did in our relationship and no matter what challenges we may have faced, we always turned to our Heavenly Father.
I knew early on in our relationship that Taylor was God’s gift to me. In some ways, we were God’s gift to each other. Through it all, I have given my Father the credit that He deserves. Even with all that I have gone through, I did not hesitate when I asked Taylor to marry me. I knew that she truly was the one that God had prepared for me. Although my heartache was unbearable, I believe it was necessary in order to meet my wife. I could not imagine a world without her now. She is beautiful, loving, and caring. She is truly stunning. It is sometimes hard to believe how much He has blessed us, but I know that He is faithful and I am beyond thankful for all that He has done.
In June 2019, I had the pleasure of saying “I do” to my very best friend. I love her unconditionally and will continue loving her until the day we meet our loving Father. As this decade comes to an end, I am thankful for all of my past experiences. These last ten years have been a challenge, yet rewarding. Full of brokenness, yet followed with hope. Filled with pain and sorrow, yet filled with peace and love. I would not change one thing about this decade. A wise man once said, “to live in the past means to die in the present or future”. It is important to know where you came from, but it is more important to know where you are and where you’ll be. I am excited for the next chapter in our lives and I look forward to what the next ten years has in store.