40 years ago today I said ‘I Do’ to Dennis Leon Bryant.
I’ll start at the beginning….
The year was 1978 and I was 17 years old. I had spent the last two years partying like a crazy girl. I realized that winter that I had been drunk every weekend for a solid year. Although many would think that was awesome, it truly wasn’t. I was lonely (yet with friends). I was hurting but not sure what to do with my hurt. I was a young girl without hope. I lived in a nice home, had decent clothes to wear and my very own car and yet I felt empty. Empty enough to take a razor blade one night and started carving the letters ‘death’ in my wrist. I wasn’t too keen on the sight of blood so that ended pretty quickly.
It was a series of events that led me to Christ as I look back. It began with an aunt who had cancer who visiting us and we all went to church with her. How can you say no to someone dying. We went and although I don’t remember much about the service that day, I knew that what whatever it was the people there had…it was missing in my life.
Then one Saturday morning this couple knocked on our door and my mom welcomed them in. They were so excited about their church (same church we had went to with our aunt). What intrigued me about them was they were not just interested in my mom, but me too; I found out later they were youth group leaders.
And then a girl I knew from school, Sherri, got saved! I mean she got radically saved and I believe I was her target. I don’t know why she sought me out…we really didn’t know each other that well. But she did. I remember calling her one night telling her how hopeless my life was. She said I’ll call you back in a few minutes. True to her word she called me back and when she did she read bible verses to me over the phone. I didn’t get it. Yet, although I didn’t get it, she did and she continued to witness to me.
God was really speaking to my heart and that same church was having a revival. I was afraid to go and afraid not to go. Sherri went to a different church, but she offered to go with me. She went with me Monday night and then again on Tuesday. On Wednesday she needed to go to her church, so I got the courage up to go alone.
I have no idea what that preacher said…I cried all the way through and at the end I walked the isle and surrendered my life to Jesus. My life has never been the same.
Soon after I accepted Christ there was a boy in my school choir, who also was in the party scene. We came to school one morning to find out that he had a heart attack. When a senior in high school has a heart attack everyone pays attention. With my new found faith I decided to go visit him in the hospital. Come to find out he had accepted the Lord when he was twelve years old but peer pressure and wanting to be popular with his friends led him down the party scene. It was the partying that landed him in a hospital bed. When he was released from the hospital he went back to church. That boy…Dennis rededicated his life to Christ and never looked back.
We actually didn’t date at first…Dennis liked my best friend and I had a crush on the pastors son. We started visiting our friends homes and sharing Christ with them. We were really good friends and somewhere in that journey we fell in love.
In January of 1979 Dennis kissed me goodnight for the first time. In April, he proposed and one short month after I graduated from high school, (3 months later) on July 27, we said I Do! How have we made it 40 years? I have an answer…GOD!
Without Christ being at the helm of our marriage we would certainly have not made it. We were kids when we married and just dumb enough to believe that love and our faith in Christ would be enough. It has not always been easy, but it has been worth it.
Whether you’ve been married two years, twenty years or fifty years I want to encourage you today. Maybe you’re on your second marriage or even your third…let God steer the helm of your marriage and your home. There will be rough waters and storms will come and rock your ship, but with God all things are possible. What if your marriage starts to sink and there are no more holes to plug to keep the water out? Then grab the life raft, toss it into the water and float safely to shore. When you get there, to the shore…and you will get there; Let Jesus help you. If you ask Him and seek Him, He will be with you, whatever may come.
For Dennis and I that Life Raft through the years has been God’s word, the Bible. Praise and Worship encourages us in our faith. We haven’t always prayed together but we do now and that strengthens our marriage also. Being faithful to attending church and the fellowship of other believers is something we have always tried to remember and be attentive to. In recent years we both have realized more and more how much we need our own daily personal relationship with the Lord.
So, today as we celebrated forty years… we enjoyed a cup of coffee on the back deck and exchanged anniversary cards. We joined hands and prayed and thanked God for these forty years, knowing without Him, we may not be celebrating today.
I am thankful and grateful to God with blessing me these forty years with a Godly man who loves Him and loves me.
“What God has joined together, let not man separate.”