3 Spiritual Lessons I Learned From My Husband Before Marrying Him
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As many of you know, I've been married for 13+ years to one steamy hunk of dark chocolate, Ryan Stemmons. I married for LOVE and LOVE being married! Ryan is a man of excellence and hard work which means that he is unmovable and unwavering about certain things (in case you can't tell yet, this is code for STUBBORN)! Yep, I said it! I adore and admire my husband with every fiber of my being, but there are times I want to "Holy Ghost" smack him. Lol! I have my reasons for dreaming up an imaginary takedown with my man and I'd like to share them with you with the hope that they will bless you on your marriage journey.
First, let me start by saying I believe that God hand-picked this man for me because he is anointed to handle my issues, insecurities, AND my greatness. What most of you don't know is Ryan married me during my most vulnerable and fragile time. When we began dating I wasn't at my worst, but I certainly wasn't at my best - I was in a fragile stage of healing, closing the door to one marriage and unready to think about another. I was on a mission to heal, work, and raise my child before entering into another relationship with anybody except Jesus! So DEEP RIGHT? Anyway, back to my reason for wanting to SMACK THE HEAVENS out of him!
What if he runs when he sees me not at my best?
As I mentioned earlier when Ryan showed up on the scene I was scared, broke, and broken. At our first face-to-face meet up (it definitely wasn't a date) I remember trembling at the thought of him looking at my emaciated frame of skin and bones stemming from what I like to call the "divorce diet!" My pending divorce had taken a severe toll on my health, wellness, and physical appearance. The best I could do for our upcoming meet up was to get a fresh hair cut and style my thin body with a loose-fitting sweater in hopes to hide my frail frame.
I met him at a restaurant where we chatted, shared, and played catch up. You see, I knew Ryan when he was in college and I was a local in the town where he went to school. When he saw me after almost a decade, he smiled and greeted me as if nothing in my physical appearance had changed. Before the night was up he said to me gently and politely "YOU ARE GOING TO BE MY WIFE so take the time you need to heal because when your divorce is final we are going to get married!" Of course I thought he was crae crae to the 10th power but something about his confidence in what he was saying struck me to the core. Scared and afraid I did what any wounded woman warrior would do - I pushed him away and ran like hell to the nearest prayer conference and godly counsel. I was eager to go hide and not be seen by him, but oddly enough the more I went to hide the more God would reveal more of who he was to me. You guessed it...He was the one! The one God approved and signed, sealed, and delivered just for me.
Lesson 1: Speak what God is telling you into the atmosphere, take your hands off it, and let God bring it to
pass. Ryan said what God told him about our relationship and he was not moved by my reaction or rejection, instead, he stepped aside and let God open my heart to what HE wanted for our relationship. He waited patiently for the word God promised him to come to pass according to Jeremiah 1:12 The Lord said to me, "You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it."
What If I'm Not Ready?
During one of our first official dates Ryan asked me what time should he pick me up so I happily obliged him with a specific time. I remember it like it was yesterday. My door bell rang approximately 7 minutes before the time we had agreed upon. I offered him a seat and a beverage as I proceeded to let him know I would be ready shortly. He smiled and waited patiently on the sofa. Twenty-five minutes later I came from the back all dolled up and ready to go. Ryan looked down at his watch and proceeded to escort me to the passenger door of his car. It felt really good being treated so well and I was anticipating a wonderful night of much needed fun. Before pulling off he smiled ever so gently at me and said, "For our next date what time would you like for me to pick you up?"
I looked puzzled at his question and responded with, "What do you mean?"
His response was profound and left me feeling like a crunch berry to say the least. I will never forget his words for as long as I live. "I had a table prepared for you at a certain time but because you weren't ready I had to call and cancel the reservation while you were getting ready!" My face cracked, my heart sunk to the bottom of my belly, and shame and embarrassment overtook me.
Let's be clear - he said what he said in the most loving fashion that anyone could ever say it. He smiled and showed me grace and even tried to come up with something else for us to do, but the lesson I learned from him that day was much like the lesson the 5 foolish virgins found in the Bible - be ready! I had to learn this lesson the hard way, too. You see I was so used to not being treated well in my past relationship that I no longer was ready for all the goodness that God had for me. I had made excuses (self-sabotaging) for why I wasn't prepared for the blessings I prayed and told others about. Before you go judging me and calling me a hypocrite I thought I was ready, but it was the little things that were keeping me from God's best.
Lesson 2: Be Ready! According to Mathew 25:1-13, the five virgins who were prepared for the bridegroom's arrival was richly rewarded with God's goodness, while the five who were not missed out on a lifetime of blessings. God was using Ryan and speaking to him what he wanted him to do for me and I was not ready figuratively and spiritually, but God was gracious to me just as Ryan was and allowed me another opportunity to prepare myself for a greater life ahead. I didn't take that lesson for granted either. From that day forward I'm ret-to-go all dressed up like I am in this pale pink cold shoulder dress and adorable blush peek toe shoes for what God has for me? Yes little ole' me. "I'm ready now" were the words I would rehearse over and over again to myself in the process of being on time for God.
What if I'm not that good?
Ryan was around when I birthed my dance ministry and my group and I would minister in churches all over St. Louis. One day Ryan stopped by while we were in the middle of rehearsal and I asked if he would stick around and check out our new routine. I was eager to get his opinion or advice on how our routine looked so I asked him, what do you think? He said, 'WELL" anytime anybody starts off with well be warned it's not good. After a long pause and much hesitation he calmly began to critique the entire thing from beginning to the end. You talking about heated and on fire...my flesh wanted to smack the holy mess out of him. WHY? because up to this point in my life I only had rave reviews about my group and our routines. My flesh was so outraged and ego was blazing with guns because I knew what he said was true but I didn't want to hear that from him. I wanted him to think I was bomb-diggity and what he was really saying was it was not excellent and you can do better than that! He didn't actually say that, but God used him once again to draw me to a more excellent way of doing things. I was reminded of what was said in Daniel 6:3 Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.
Lesson 3: Promotion requires excellence! Unfortunately I was used to being around well meaning people who allowed me to be mediocre (not by any fault of theirs they meant what they said when they thought I was great.) You are only as good as what you have been exposed to. Although Ryan wasn't a dancer and had no experience in it, he had seen excellence before and was now exposing me to his standard of excellence and not of the people around me. As hurtful as those corrective words were to hear I went to a new level in dance because of him. I studied harder, practiced more, and took a new level of pride in the work that I was doing. I was no longer anointed but skilled and anointed. I took what I learned from Ryan so seriously that I went on to coach competitive dance routines and won every competition! I also launched a non-profit organization, I LIKE BEING ME, a youth program, which used the performing arts as a catalyst for teaching excellence, character, and so much more.
So the cat is out of the bag! I want to smack Ryan sometimes because he MAKES ME BETTER and WON'T BACK DOWN FROM EXCELLENCE. Do I always want to hear it? NO! Does it sometimes drive me crazy? YES! Do I need it in my life? ABSOLUTELY! He has helped me reach my dreams by silently pushing me forward to a better version of myself.
I specifically want to address single women right now. If the man you are dating doesn't make you come higher in God maybe you should consider who he is to you. If this future man became your husband can you say honestly his life and relationship with Jesus is one to model after? Does his standard of living cause you to elevate to your greater purpose or draw you away from it? These are just a few questions to consider because marriage is a commitment and you want to be able to follow your husband's lead with grace not drag him along.
I hope this thought and these little nuggets draw you to think deeply about your marriage (or future marriage)! I have some exciting new books, podcasts, and blog posts coming soon to help you become the woman you've always dreamed of being. Don't forget to SUBSCRIBE to be the first to know when they are released and how you can become a part of the launch team.
Stay jushhy doll babies,
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