Monday, October 10, 2005

Junior Year

I have told you guys multiple times that I would write about the "God stuff" that happened my junior year of college, so here it is:

I had been dating a guy for almost 3 years. We started dating my senior year of high school, got engaged without telling my parents, I broke off the engagement, and then we got engaged again. I have to say, this was a nice guy. He didn't drink, didn't smoke, and went to church, but there were problems. He was in his early 20s, didn't go to college, and worked at a factory near my home town. He lived with his mom, who took care of all of his finances. She paid his bills, deposited his checks, and literally told him how much money he had to spend each month. I was only 17, but I saw the red flags. He was in a lot of debt and did not flinch at paying thousands of dollars on a "system" of speakers and such for his car.....which he would get upside down on and trade at the drop of a hat once someone else he knew bought a new car. I knew deep down during our first "engagement" that we would not get married, but I stayed with him hoping things would get better. I prayed that he would change because I knew that the way things were going, I would graduate from college, move back to my home town (which I really didn't want to do), get married, and never go anywhere (and by that I mean my life would never go anywhere). And part of the "hoping things would get better" came because our relationship was not pure. I told him over and over again that I wanted our relationship to work but that things were going to have to change. And things would change....for a little while. Then we'd find ourselves back in the same trap again. But I kept praying for God to show me if I was supposed to marry him.

This was going on my entire college carrier. I loved being at school because it meant that we could still have a relationship, see each other on weekends, and the chances of us "messing up" were much lower because I was 2 and a half hours away. But this entire time I never started wedding plans. We kept telling everyone that we would set a date once I graduated from college, which was my way of hoping that he would get sick of me and break up with me before my parents spent any money on anything "wedding."

My junior year God was really working on my heart. I was taking some very difficult upper-level Bible classes, one of those was a preaching class that I had to take for my Bible major. I was not upset about this. I was one of the few girls in the class, but I loved to speak. I went in with the attitude of, "this may be the only chance I get to preach, so I'm gonna preach!" Dr. John York who also ministers at Woodmont Hills CoC was my professor. I had never met him before until this class. Our first sermon was supposed to be the story of our spiritual journey, so I told the story of my upbringing and my struggles with my health. People were moved. I couldn't believe it. I was the first person to speak during class that particular day, and the last. Class suspended after my talk because they all felt the need to pray for me. It was incredible.

After each sermon, we were to stop by Dr. York's office and he would "grade" us and give us constructive critisicm on how to better our preaching style. I stopped in one day, and it was the first time I ever spoke to Dr. York.

Me: "So, how do you think it went?"
Y: "Fine, but I don't want to talk about that."
Me: "Ok......"
Y: "I want to talk about that ring on your finger."
Me: "What about it?"
Y: "When did you get engaged?"
Me: "A year ago."
Y: "Are you going to get married."
Me: "I don't know...."
Y: "Yes you do."
Me: "I don't know...."
Y: "You keep saying 'I don't know, I don't know,' but you know. You're afraid. You're afraid that if you break up with this guy that he will fall away from the church or hurt himself. You can't blame yourself for his actions. You have to do what is best for you and what you know God wants you to do. This guy is childish. You have plans and goals and he has none."

But he didn't stop there. He kept telling me details of my relationship that I had shared with no one but God in my prayers. I did not mention this guy in my sermon, and because of that I had been thinking all week that I had to end it. This guy had no impact on my spiritual life, and I could not marry someone who did not influence me or help me grow spiritually. I had been with this guy for three years. If he did nothing spiritually for me in three years, the chances are that he would do little for me over the years if we were to get married.

I walked out of Dr. York's office knowing that I had just talked with God. Knowing that John York had allowed God to, literally, speak through him. And I knew what I had to do.

I made a clean break. I gave him back the ring and did everything I could possibly do to make sure that he knew that it was really, really over. That this wasn't going to be one of those relationships where people break up and get back together and break up and get back together again. I didn't call him. I didn't see him. I would talk to him very, very rarely when he would call me just so he would know that I didn't hate him, and I don't. I haven't seen him or heard from him in years.

But I have to finish telling you about my preaching class. It was incredible. If I had to pick a "mountain-top" year for my relationship with God, it would have to be that year and that class. Guys would come up to me after class with tears in their eyes and say, "You make me so uncomfortable. I have been taught my entire life that women can't preach, but how do I reconcile that when He has so obviously given you that gift? What kind of God would gift a woman with the gift of preaching and then tell her that she can't use it?" Even years later when I'm with Rick and run into a guy or girl that was in that class they look at Rick and say, "Man! That woman of yours can PREACH!"

My life changed that semester because I saw God use me in ways that I had been taught that He never would. My professors that year encouraged me to go on and use the gift that God had so obviously given me....even in a Church of Christ school! My view of women's roles in the church have obviously changed, but more importantly, my faith multiplied. I have now seen how God can speak to me and use me if I am only faithful and open to Him doing so.


At 8:50 AM, Blogger Andrea said...

Such a powerful testimony, Amanda. I was in a similar circumstance one time but chose to not listen to God. It is no surprise that marriage ended in divorce. You were very smart to have been so young. I have to hear you preach, girl!

At 9:41 AM, Blogger Phil said...

Wa-ha-wow, Amanda. This is an incredible testimony. It gives great hope and great frustration all at the same time.

Thanks for sharing this with us.

At 9:41 AM, Blogger Debi said...

Thank you so much for your post Amanda! Your story is helpful to me - specificially in the situation I find myself in currently. Thank you for your testimony.

At 11:44 AM, Blogger Brandon Scott said...

Great story, Amanda!!

John is one of my favorite people. I hope he knows the impact he had on you.

At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why am I not surprised that you can preach? You are articulate in writing, so I know you must be tremendous in preaching! Can you lead singing and clean restrooms too?

(Move over, Oprah, for "The Amanda Show!" HA!)

Thank you for listening to God. You've blessed my life with your writings.

At 12:12 PM, Blogger Amanda said...

Thanks for the comments.

Anon - I could lead singing, but I'm not so sure that it would be a very, um, pleasing experience. I can clean a toilet, though! :oP

At 7:27 AM, Blogger Tony Arnold said...

I am deeply moved Amanda. I am also so glad you had a mountain top experience. It sure does provide a foundation to get through tough times later, even though those time still mightly test your faith.

On a lighter note, I bet Rick will attest to your ability to preach--you probably preach at him all pretty well. ;-)



At 4:07 PM, Blogger Eric Bucklin said...

Amazing testimony and I was moved when I read it.

May you continue to hear God when He wispers through others to you. May you be blessed and thank you for being so bold in your faith!

Amanda, continue to ride on the tide of changes and use your gifts to save the lost, one by one.

Eric Bucklin


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