One would think that Charles and I would have the typical we met at a ministry in downtown Atlanta, fell in love with each other; shortly after we met, we married and have been passionately pursuing God ever since story.
One would think. However we are far from that kind of story.
We did meet at a ministry to the poor and homeless in Atlanta, Ga. I was 19 and he was 18. It was called Blood and Fire and it was amazing. A beautiful mess of a ministry that mixed together the poor, drug abusing, homeless, and white suburban middle class. It was life changing and where Charles and I first spoke. That was about it. We just spoke. And then nothing for 7 years. We had mutual friends so we would stay updated about each other’s lives but it wasn’t one of those we were interested so we were keeping up with each other through friends. It was one of those we were big parts of our friends lives so they would have to tell us about the other person because there was no way to know of their life without hearing about each other.
But pretty much there was nothing. I might have been one of the few girls who made their way through Blood N Fire without a crush on Charles David. I should have known then he would be the only one who could make it through the mess that was me. But I didn’t…and neither did he.
We didn’t really know until I was 25. I had graduated college and moved to a small town 1.5 hours north of Atlanta, to do life and ministry with the family that Charles had just spent the last 7 years with. The family had just left Blood N Fire, which was in the process of almost shutting down maybe less then a year earlier. I was there for 2 months before we both knew we would marry each other.
Enter the love story ending.
Not so much. Our whole relationship revolved around this family, we will call them the Smith’s because it’s popular enough name that it leaves them nameless. We lived and breathed the Smiths. So much so that we missed a lot of red flags. We also had our own set of issues that allowed us to follow the Smith’s so blindly. We believed them when they said, God is leading us to skirts and head coverings. God is saying men are made to be in charge. Women’s place is only to speak truth, and words from the Lord. That Charles and I were to have a different relationship then other couples. That we weren’t to date or hang out alone. That honeymoons are wrong. And all of the other things that got weirder and weirder the longer we stayed. We got married on May 12th 2005. I wore my home sewn dress, and walked down the aisle to meet my husband surrounded by 30 of the Smiths approved wedding guest. None of which were friends or family from Charles or my life. They were friends we had made while with the Smiths, but no one who knew us before. I repeated the vows written for me, and listened to the vows written for Charles. We exchanged our family rings, side hugged and we were married.
Things didn’t get more rational once we got married. They actual got crazier. The control, the demands, the God says this, just got weirder and weirder. Charles lasted less then 3 months once we got married. There was just too much for him to ignore anymore, and he really began to seek the Lord. Trying to figure out how anything we were doing was biblical. What came of that, was a revelation that broke us free from the depths of the control and manipulation. Of course, it took him almost a year and half to get me out. Even with that, it was quite the week long ordeal. I am pretty sure that is for the book I will write one day. It will take a whole chapter alone.
At the end of the day, we left. Although we didn’t leave together, we ended up together. Me, him, and our son Isaac. We were a small family unit which never functioned as a small family unit. Charles and I hadn’t really functioned as a couple. I don’t think at that point that we had ever had an open conversation about anything. We figured the best thing to do would be to get out of that small town, and by word of mouth we had heard about Redding, Ca and knew it would be the best place to heal.
What little we had we packed and made the journey. It was just the three of us, Charles and I practically strangers. Hurt, powerful strangers that felt very powerless after having spent the last years of our lives giving our power away to the Smiths. Being told what to do, how to do it, and when. It was a rough first year or two or 5. We made the best of it that we could. We fell down, got back up and just keep pushing on. Figuring out how to be powerful in an intimate relationship that breathes value and love. That is a lot of work…hard work.
Today, we look at each other and are astonished we made it. Not only did we make it but we actually really fell in love along the way. Not that romantic movie love, but the real life love. The one that is messy, dirty, painful, breathtaking, mesmerizing, and life-giving all at the same time. Our relationship is still this story being written. The chapters we write though, we are the ones writing them. We have become two powerful people who are closer to understanding how to be powerful in a relationship that breathes value and love.