If it isn’t already clear by the rolled bangs and baby face, Josh and I were, by almost every definition of the term, “late bloomers.” We were church kids. Fly under the radar kids. Do the right thing kids. It’s just who we were and how the chips landed for us. Or rather, it’s how God laid the chips out for us. Let it be said, though, that I’ve always had a bit of a rebellious – streak feels like too strong of a word – itch. I’ve always had a rebellious itch and, quite frankly, it had never been scratched upon meeting Josh. Let’s be real – it’s never really been scratched.
All that to say, there came a day in high school when I began to feel restless in Josh’s and my relationship. It wasn’t that I ever stopped liking him or enjoying his company or thinking he was all around a really great guy. It was simply that I grew bored with being “Josh and Emily.” I had never dated anyone else, really, and I liked boys. I thought there was something appealing about a great deal of them. In some ways, it is for this very reason that I feel grateful for a magnet-like attraction to Josh – who doesn’t have a rebellious bone in his body…well maybe a tiny little toe bone or something. In this way, I think God protected me from being a boozer and a floozy. I’m just being honest.
Regardless, I broke up with Josh several times in high school. I don’t really remember a lot about those because they were short-lived and happened mostly just because we were getting on each others’ nerves. Not long after we married, I got so frustrated with him I (sort of) jokingly said, “If we weren’t married, I would so break up with you right now!” Over the span of about a year, I was all, “Josh is cute but so is that other guy over there. La, tee, dah!” I broke his heart into pieces because I wasn’t as invested as he was at the time.
Like a stay at home mom and her yoga pants, though, I couldn’t stay away from the comfort and perfect fit of Josh. Getting back together, after all, was the MOST fun!
By the end of our senior year, though, I was all in. I was wild about him – probably too much so. He had become my entire world, and we were both planning to go to LA Tech. Obviously we were going to get married. Obviously. He would join me while I babysat for our youth pastor’s kids. I would imagine all sorts of scenarios that involved him as the father of my children. I kid you not. I so wanted Josh to be my baby-daddy beginning at the age of 17. He, however, was oblivious that I had such plans. He just liked hanging with me and the Fiscus kids.
Sometime during the late fall of our senior year in high school, it became clear to me that I really wanted and needed to be at Ouachita Baptist University. It is one of the only decisions I remember making separate from Josh. I knew what making that choice meant – that he would go to a different college and our relationship would get very tricky. Still, I felt a very clear pull to attend OBU. So, one night on the phone I was gearing up to break the news when Josh said, “So, I’ve been talking to mom and praying about it, and I think I need to go to OBU.” I could’ve died. DIED. Well, it was all set. We would date through college, get married, and live happily every after. Hooray!
Remember that bit about being late bloomers? Well, Josh got to college and BLOOMED. Suddenly, he was no longer awkward-but-pretty-cute-in-a-goofy-way Josh. He was becoming sort of beefy and very dreamy. He was carrying himself differently, and he had friends apart from me. There were girls – so many girls – that begged for his attention without any effort of his own. He very clearly did not need me, while I felt that I very much needed him. It ultimately culminated in a nasty break-up in which I asked him if he loved me, and he said he didn’t know. I was devastated. My sister, Molly, and my dad both offered to kick his butt. It’s what we do for each other in times of devastation – we offer to wail on the offending party without actually intending to do so. Well, except Molly. She really would do it.
Regardless, we were broken up for about six months. We dated other people. Watching him with other girls is, to this day, one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced emotionally. But, as God always does, He used that time of brokenness in me to breed something new – a vibrant, honest, growing relationship with Him. Suddenly, I found myself desperate to know Jesus more, and willing to let go of Josh if that’s what He wanted for me. I reached a point when I was able to pray that Josh would find someone better for him than me, and that’s when I knew – this beautiful business of knowing Jesus beyond what I could offer Him, and beyond what He would give me, was something I wanted more than I wanted Josh, and that felt enormously freeing and empowering.
Really, that’s what everything comes down to in every piece of our relationship today. Do I want to know my God and make Him known more than I want anything else? More than I want an easy marriage? More than I want my own way, dad-gummit? Really, really more than anything? Because if that is true, marriage is still crazy hard, but staying in it isn’t a hard choice. Staying in it is the only choice.
I’m so glad for those 6 months of heart-breaking loneliness – when I almost transferred schools but didn’t. When I built incredible friendships and scratched just a teensy bit of that wild itch and laughed hard and sang loud to songs about my Jesus, all without Josh. He would always matter very much to me, but God gave me a grand gift when He forced me to discover Emily apart from Josh. I would need those glimpses for later on down the road.
|Sophomore year with some of my dearest forever friends – Vanessa, Christen, and Katy. We built a friendship that looked and felt more like a sisterhood that remains to this day!|
|Remember that wild itch? This is about as crazy as I got…playing in the Ouachita fountain with Sarah and Katie. Bless it. I don’t even care. We laughed until we cried that night!|
Now, lest you think that I was – or am – the poor wronged party, we BOTH dated other people and had fun doing it. And next week you’ll get to see Josh in all of his romantic glory! He really is a champ at grand gestures. The way he won me back will impress you…promise!
Can you see the way God has woven threads of HIS faithfulness through your marriage story?
New to this saga but want to read all of it? I’m so glad. You can find the rest of it here!