Do you know we will celebrate 17 years of marriage this year? Do you know I lived with my parents for 18 years like most of you and now I have lived with Matt Thomason for almost as long as I lived with my parents? 3 kids later...a different job title...soon to be teenagers in our house for the next 9 years...had dinner with my HS friends last week...out of 15 girls...8 or 9 of them are on their 2nd marriage?? Are we on the verge of divorce? NO!!! But could be if we don't take care of it...Yes...we all could...and if you don't think you could...you need to wake up. That's why we are taking a big step this week as a couple...something we have never done. This post contains a lot of personal info about our journey...it's long...sorry.How we met?
There he was...@ Youthquake in Colorado my freshman year in HS. I didn't know his name...but we all called him Tom Cruise because he looked like him. I was immediately attracted to him. For the next 4 years in HS every time our youth groups would get together ( he lived in Stillwater) I would always think...man he is HOT! And he was so sweet...shy and didn't hardly talk...which those who know me...I hardly shut up!! Our last year @ YQ I was friends with some of his buddies and finally had a chance to know his name and maybe we actually chatted...not sure. Then...we both ended up at Ozark Christian College....ran around with the same group...I dated one of his close friends. We both liked country music so we began to go to concerts together. A strong friendship was developing after all these years...I promise I didn't stalk him...LOL! Then it finally happened...we went to a Steven Curtis Chapman concert in Springfield...an hour away from college...I knew something was up because he paid for my dinner...Matt was a cheap skate so that didn't just happen. I remember him snoring in my car on the way home...yep...I still married him! We officially started dating in October..engaged in February and married on June 5th, 1993 at the age of almost 21 soon to be Seniors in college. WOW! What started on a mountain 9 years ago as a simple little crush...now was real love.
When Matt & I got married I couldn't wait to work with youth. It was my dream to be a youth minister's wife. I loved church camp...getaways...overnighters...girls small groups...missions trips...kids at my house and all that came with it. For 15 years of our marriage...that was my identity...a youth ministers wife. I loved seeing lives changed and thrived on planning events to bring the kids closer to each other and God. It was my gift and I felt totally called to it. We were a team...I was at all the events and was his right hand...he came to me for advice and I freely gave it! When he felt God calling him out of the youth I was very supportive, but knew it meant things would change for us as a couple. It was our life...for as long as we had been married...that's all we knew...doing youth together as a couple and a family.
During this transition I became one of the primary care givers for my Grandparents who live next door and for my dad after his liver transplant. Let me start by saying...nursing and caregiving are not some of my primary gifts. I don't have much patience for it and to be honest...I hate hospitals and any bodily fluids. I Have the UPMOST admiration for nurses. But you know...when family needs you...you do it and they would do it for me if I needed them. I spent a lot of time away from home and helping them out. Glad to do it...but it was hard on me to keep up with everything at home. Meanwhile Matt was developing a new ministry without me able to be as involved.
I also had to say goodbye to a job I loved...I taught preschool and then an enrichment program at our church. I had become the director of the enrichment program and thrived on the planning each day. But with the new church building we didn't have room for preschool so it was time to move on.
I always say churches get a 2 for 1 deal with a minister. They pay the man...but the woman comes for free. And I am Totally ok with that! But what comes with that is we pour our lives into what they are doing also. You don't marry a minister thinking you won't be involved...one of the things that attracts you to him is wanting to serve along side of him in the church. You also have a heart for it and you are a team.
So I have spent the last couple of years trying to find where I fit into his ministry again...kinda angry at him for taking away what I was good at. No one was pressuring me...no one was asking "what are you doing Steph"....not one time! It was a pressure that I put on myself. I like to be used in the kingdom work. I thrive on planning and doing. It is a gift of mine that I think God has given me. But you know...instead...I just needed to just work on me and my relationship with God and supporting Matt in what he was doing for God.
We have been talking about this for some time...it's not because it's a new year that we are doing this. But on Wednesday we will go to our first counseling appointment. This counselor deals with ministers and the struggles they specifically deal with. We are not on the verge of divorce or anywhere close to that!!! But we are not blind or stupid....we are about to enter a stage in life of having teenagers for the next 9 years...it's going to be tough. It's going to be fun...but when they are gone in 9 short years...we will just have each other again at home.
I think back to seeing him for the first time at YQ almost 26 years ago. I can't believe I have known him that long. I don't want to loose that thrill of thinking how lucky I was he actually talked to me. How cute I thought he was...how much I loved our first date. How much I love that we were friends for so long before dating but secretly wanted more. How blessed I am to wake up Mrs. Matt Thomason every day and know he loves me. He loves me...he adores me...he wants only me...he protects me...I need to strive to meet his needs and challenge him and encourage him in his walk with Christ...to have the most amazing marriage God has planned for us. And if I think for a moment someone out there wouldn't want what I have...I am a fool. So we are embarking on a new journey of going to counseling this week. I am excited...but nervous. We want to have a stronger marriage and I know we will. I don't want a plan jane marriage...I want the God's best!
How are you strengthening your marriage?