In Florida, when you apply to dissolve a marriage where minor children are involved, they require that you take a parenting course (at least they did in 2000 when I became divorced.) I found it very helpful. I didn’t have any idea of what I was doing. I was walking around pretty disconnected. I had just started a new job. That’s not the most opportune time to start going through extreme family drama. I was within my probationary period and I remember going to work every day crying my entire shift. They didn’t keep me and I totally understand. I was supposed to be offering customer service, but I was crying on the phone. That’s not good. The divorce class teacher told me that divorce is like death. It’s the death of a relationship and dreams. She said I needed to give myself time to grieve. I probably didn’t need 17 years to grieve. I’m sure I didn’t. It didn’t take 17 years, but it did take me time to not want to punch people. It took me a while to embrace my new norm and not be upset about what that meant for my children. Divorce is a death to relationship; however, death is not like divorce.
People who cared about me were concerned when they learned about Terry and me. They were not sure that Terry was ready to pursue a new relationship so soon after losing his wife. Some people who cared about me were not ready for me to fall in love. Being single meant I was always available. I was the one to text late at night with a situation, who would answer in the middle of the night and pray. Some people felt that dating so soon was distasteful and disrespectful to Terry’s late wife Mia. “It’s too soon”. Terry and I heard that quite a bit. We were falling in love and enjoying that excitement that new love brings, but that sentiment wasn’t initially shared. Not with everyone. There were some key figures who were very supportive; without them, there may not have been this “2nd time around for love blog”. I didn’t want to hurt or offend anyone. I considered walking away from this wonderful man because of the disapproval of a few. We prayed a lot. I cried a lot. I thought too much. Terry and I talked a lot. We had long deep conversations. It wasn’t just his words however; I observed a lot. I observed a man who was stable, a man who was honest. A man who was genuine and willing to be vulnerable. I observed how he cared for Ms. Liz, Mia’s mom. I observed how she trusted him like a son and welcomed me without reservation. Finally, I had observed enough. Terry’s character spoke louder than anyone else’s thought that “it was too soon”. I knew that I was loved by him. I Corinthians 13 (NIV) says:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
A wise woman told me that I could measure a man’s love for me by comparing his actions to those 3 verses in I Corinthians 13. I knew was loved which made me feel safe. I realized that I loved Terry when I became more concerned with Terry’s feelings than those of people who thought our relationship was ill timed. I still cared very much about how others felt (probably too much.) I felt a sense a guilt for finding love with Terry. I even carried it down the aisle. I had to grow up in that period. I had to learn that even with the purest intentions, one can be misunderstood. I learned that some people who mourn with you won’t necessarily celebrate with you. And that’s okay.
I prayed a lot for my husband in my period of singleness. I prayed some specific characteristics. The more I learned about Mr. Bryant, the more I recognized him as the man of my prayers. The more I realized who he was, I became astonished that I was actually experiencing the manifestation of years of prayer. People say I’m glowing since I started dating him. I think I look the same, but I also think people see a woman who is amazed that 17 years of prayer could be answered in an instant. I would have never picked Terry for myself. I’m not that astute. Every day, however, I realize why God picked him for me. I said this in my vows: He’s nothing that I expected, but all I had hoped for. Such a beautiful surprise!
Too Fast? Too Soon? Nah…
Terry’s Thoughts (T2):
Before contemplating dating anyone, my mother-in-law had given me some very sound advice: 1) You are a single man. You fulfilled your vows, so you are free to be with whomever God has sent to you; 2) Don’t look for another Mia. You won’t find another like her and don’t compare her to anyone else. He (God) will send you someone that is perfect for you where you are in life. At that moment, many thoughts and apprehensions had fallen away in an instant. Although Faith wasn’t in the picture at that time, I knew what I had prayed and what I hoped to find. I just had to wait, watch and listen. Shortly after we started getting to know each other, I knew that Faith was the one that God had hidden in the bush for me.
Many people who I had respect for said “Don’t do anything for a year. You don’t want to make any decisions until a year has passed.” Well, those that know me, know that I am a biblical scholar and wanted to see if the saying was a biblical principal or religious tradition. I went searching and could not find a biblical precedent on the length of mourning. The only thing that I found was the length of time that Israel mourned for Moses (30 days). So, with that traditional hurdle past me and knowing that God does things in His own time, I had no fear knowing that He may have someone out there for me.
During this period, I had two close friends call me within a few days to tell me that I would be blessed for being faithful to Mia and honoring my vows until her death. This just confirmed what I already felt, and I knew He would bring someone else into my life. So, when Faith came into the picture, my prayer that night after the game was “okay Lord, if this is the woman that You have for me, You know what You need to do to allow me to prove to her that I could be the husband that You have called for her.” It’s a wonderful and blessed thing to have a personal relationship with God. Although many people did not initially agree with my decision to move forward with my relationship with Faith (they thought I was “lonely” or “on the rebound”), I was confident in my own feelings that I wasn’t doing anything out of grief or loneliness, but rather my belief that God was not scared of me to tell me and/or Faith to slow down.
Over the next few months, I observed people become upset and withdraw from me because I didn’t consider their feelings concerning my future. Some stopped speaking, some expressed their disappointment that they weren’t consulted, and some people made accusations with no basis for the allegations to make themselves feel better about their decision to stop speaking to me. All I could think was “Wow!” Faith was experiencing similar issues with people she was close to, but in the end, we supported each other (with the help of God) through daily prayer each night. We knew that if we could withstand these assaults during the foundation of our relationship, then we knew that no weapon that would be formed against us would prosper.