I was in a bad place in January of 1998. I was in a relationship that was in transition. He was a minister in a small town. He wasn't sure what he wanted in life or what direction he wanted to go. I was sure I wanted to be part of his life but he was confused. I left his house on January 3rd and drove home. I vowed to not initiate any part of our relationship anymore. If he wanted to talk, he would have to call. If he wanted to see me, he would have to visit. Except, he didn't. And, I was heart broken.
I had invested 5 years in that relationship. He was my best friend. I was sure we were meant to be. I truly loved him. I waited for him to call. I checked the mail every day for a card or letter. Nothing ever came. A week passed. Then two weeks passed. By the beginning of the third week, I was an emotional wreck. My close friends knew how bad it was. They knew how much of my heart belonged to him.
One in particular, Hope, called on January 15 to ask me to go help her lead a Disciple Now in McComb, MS. I immediately said no. I remember that conversation so well. I was sitting at the front desk of Dr. Ramsey & Dr. Owen's office. My friend Kristy sits there now. I told Hope that I didn't feel like being around a bunch of teenagers. I told her I wasn't in the mood to do that. She, being my friend and accountability, told me that sometimes life wasn't about me. She told me that the church was desperate for one more leader and since I had already led 20-30 DiscipleNow groups, that I could step in with zero preparation. She basically told me to get over myself and go.
I'd love to tell you that the spirit of God was so strong in my life that I was compelled to put my own needs aside and focus on the spiritual lives of teenage girls. But, that isn't the truth. The truth was that I just didn't have enough energy to fight Hope. And, the prideful side of me didn't want her telling me I was being selfish and cared more about myself than others. So, I agreed to go.
I loaded my white Mazda 626 and drove 1.5 hours to McComb, MS. We had to be there by 6:00 p.m. I drove into the parking lot and just sat there. Hope and Stephen pulled up and started to walk in. I reminded her that we didn't have to be there until 6:00. She told me it was almost 6 and walked on. I walked in with them and was greeted by a guy in the foyer. I asked him the time so I could prove to Hope that it wasn't six yet. He said "5:56 p.m. I'm Dan Glenn, nice to meet you!" If you know the rest of our story, that 5:56 was SO VERY significant in the story of our relationship. It wasn't until the next week that we knew why the exact time mattered, but for us, it was all we needed to know.
We left that DiscipleNow on Saturday night and went our separate ways. He (smoothly) got my phone number by borrowing some tapes (yeah, pre CD or iPod days). He called the next day. He sent flowers the day after that. We spent HOURS talking on the phone every night. Our phone bills were over $300 each all the months we dated. We got to know each other over the phone. We saw each other as much as we could. He met my friends and I met his. We knew early on that we would get married.
We never did the on again/off again thing. From the time we met on January 16, 1998 until today, we were never "off." We dated for almost 8 months before he proposed. He (kind of) surprised me in New Orleans at the New Orleans Dental Convention. Our proposal was one of the best I've ever heard. It involved flowers, a horse drawn carriage, a river, a saxophone player, a ring and a big fat YES! We were engaged for a little over 8 months before we said "I DO" on May 15, 1999. That was 13 years ago today!
I think back to things early in our relationship that made such a mark on who we are today. I remember someone telling me that I really needed to think about being in a relationship with a minister. That it would be a hard life. You know what? It is a hard life, but I wouldn't want any other life. Do you know what it is like to know that your husband has a part in leading so many people into a relationship with Jesus? Sure, he is away a lot and misses some important family things. Yes, he his often criticized. Yes, our life is lived in a fish bowl. But, the joys far outweigh the bad. Just a few weeks ago, Dan was gone all day on a Sunday. That is pretty typical for him. 3 out of 4 Sundays are 13-14 hour days for him. He crams as many meetings and appointments into those days as he can. That way he can be home at night to tuck his boys into bed.
Well, on this particular Sunday, Jonah saw a man from church walking to his car with his little boy by the hand and carrying his other son. Jonah said "I wish my daddy came home with us on Sunday but he never does!" Then, out of no where, he burst into tears. He cried all the way home. I talked to him about Dan's important job and reminded him of all the times he gets to be with his daddy when other daddy's are at work. I told him about his daddy volunteering in his classroom every Wednesday morning when other daddy's don't. He seemed to be okay. Then, later that day, Dan called to tell me that the couple he had lunch with ended with the lady praying to receive Christ as her savior. I couldn't wait to tell Jonah. He was so happy that his daddy "helped her go to Heaven one day!" I put this as my status on Facebook that day. "Dan got to lead someone to Christ over lunch today. I hope our boys grow up realizing when he is away, other people sometimes meet Jesus!"
Ministry has been tough sometimes on the last 13 years of our marriage but the good so outweighs the bad. To see Dan boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ each week is such an encouragement to me. To see him lead with conviction, integrity and truthfulness is a challenge. To see him live the same life at home that he speaks about in the pulpit shows his true character to the ones who know and love him most. To see him remain silent when he could speak teaches me so much. To see things he does behind the scenes that no one will ever know about reminds me about true integrity. Ministry isn't a job to him, it is a lifestyle and that makes being in the midst of it so easy.
Early on, someone very close to Dan told him that he didn't enjoy being around us because we were "too silly." He went on to say that we laughed too much and that if we wanted to have friends, we need to be more serious. That bothered us...at first. Then, we thought about all the people we enjoyed being around the most. Guess what? They all laughed and enjoyed life. So, we vowed to do the same. And, we do! Man, we LOVE being married. We love being silly. We love laughing together. Sometimes, we have to immediately separate ourselves in situations in order to avoid doubling over into fits of laughter. (It happened once in a funeral. It was bad, y'all! BAD! Totally inappropriate, but it was beyond my control!) We've determined to keep laughing.
We don't yell, fight or scream. I once heard someone say "As a mother in law, would you like someone to treat Jonah the way you treat Dan?" Wow! That wasn't an accusation, it was a question in a Bible Study but it spoke volumes to me. I want my little boy to marry someone who treats him like the wonderful person he is. I don't want him talked down to, yelled at or mistreated. And, I'm sure that Dan's mom feels the same about her son. Granted, it is easier to think about that as me thinking of Jonah as a 5 year old rather than a 38 year old but the point is the same. I want to treat my husband with respect and love. I wanted to be treated the same way. It has done wonders for our marriage. We talk, we disagree, we get angry but we never disrespect. We never walk away from the other one feeling devalued, unloved or unrespected. I read a blog the other day that said something about the most security a child can feel in his life comes from the relationship and respect between his parents. I feel like that is a gift I can give my boys and we work so hard make that a reality.
I do feel like the last 13 years have flown by. We have lived in 5 different states. We have lived in 8 different homes. We have served 5 different churches. We have had 8 different cars. We have had 2 kids. We have had 1 dog. But, most of all, we have had each other. Outside of my salvation, our marriage is the greatest gift of my life. I'm happy to celebrate it today!