September hasn’t been a good month for me in years. On September 11, 2001, while the country was under attack, my brother and I were involved in a small riot in our high school. A cocky senior, who towered over us, walked over to our table in the cafeteria and threw all sorts of racial slurs at us. My brother answered by hopping on the table and kicking him in the face. What would follow was a bunch of wrestling, chairs flying, and a whole lot of screaming. It all ended with a half-dozen school suspensions. In September of 2005 I was enduring nine weeks of torture in Army basic training at “Fort Lost in the Woods, Misery” (Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri). And on September 24, 2006 the prosecution rested its case against me, passing the buck along to twelve men and women to decide my fate on a second-degree murder charge. That day I was escorted back to my cage a worn out boy, utterly defeated.
Thank God those September nightmares would be broken by a simple yes. September 24, 2014 Samantha and I read our marriage vows before the Lord and one another. It was the day of our spiritual wedding.
I was so excited when I decided to “pop the question” that I literally did just that. While on a phone call with her I blurted the question out. I couldn’t hold back. The moments between her hearing the question, processing it, and responding seemed like an eternity. But when she said the magic word that would forever change my life, every inch of me buzzed with joy. I smiled so hard I think she could see it through the phone.
We agreed to write one another vows and share them on the next visit.
That visit was special. We escaped this place into our own reality. We wasted no time getting into that treasured place where we began to recite our vows. There was no stringed quartet serenading us with soft love ballads. There was no booth in the back of a fancy restaurant with burning candles and flowers. There was just us, seated at row four-table three of Attica’s visiting room. We sat in black plastic chairs at a wobbly table that was unevenly balanced on a wad of folded up brown paper towels under one of its legs. Our view consisted of a line of vending machines stocked with all sorts of goodies. The brightly colored packages tempted each visitor with their tasty treats.
Samantha had written her vows out in small, but neat, penmanship that all fit on one page. I had memorized mine, and they were only a quarter the length of hers when I did write them out. I was so intimidated by the depths from which she wrote. As she read, blood rushed to her cheek bones and she fought desperately to hold back giggles and that amazing smile. For a few gentle moments I lost focus, captivated by her stunning countenance.
She ended those moving words with the scriptures she quoted to me the first time we ever met. “We are more than conquerors, able to do all things through Christ who strengthens us.” (Romans 8:37, Philippians 4:13)
As I read my vows to her a warmth overcame the nervousness, replaced by a joy unspeakable. Later that day I was even able to get on one knee and do the proper thing for my bride.
We just celebrated our one year spiritual marriage anniversary, a sacred marriage that God is using to perfect and draw us closer to Him. I’m so thankful to have been able to legally wed this amazing woman of faith, but nothing will ever be more special than that day.