404 When We Were United

When We Were United

THREE MONTHS AGO

I was sitting on the couch when I looked over to Katie and said, “What about Charlotte?

I had been asking a variation of this question for the past few months. “What about Austin? What about Pittsburgh? What about Nashville?”

I had no idea where to look. I didn’t even know if we were really going to do this but the topic of moving kept coming up and I was finally ready to explore the possibility. Even though at one point I never would have dreamed of moving from south Florida.

2 YEARS AGO

It was May of 2011 and I knew I wanted to marry her. And so I asked the question that we both knew was coming, “Would you consider moving down to Florida?” She had just moved from Washington DC back to her parent’s house in West Virginia. She had stayed too long in DC and she was way past due for a change. She wasn’t sure what was next but she was open to where God was leading. It turns out marrying me just months after we met online was the next step and it seemed that meant moving down to Florida.

So in October of 2011 we got married and we were both excited to start this new life together. I had just taken the job of my dreams as the Communications Director for my church. I had been in the community for almost 5 years and I was beyond excited to use my gifts on staff.

But the perfect life I had envisioned with me in the church and my wife ministering by my side never seemed to materialize. From the very beginning it just didn’t feel right for her.

It all felt like her joining my life rather than us beginning a life together. I guess a lot of that can’t be avoided when one person moves to another city where the other person is already established.

But from the beginning it felt like it was my church, my friends, my city, my parents. She didn’t have anything of her own.

Add to that some struggles with her first job when she moved down and then finding a great job but not one that she wanted to do long term, she began to feel stuck.

And being stuck translated into some serious tension in our relationship.

ONE YEAR AGO

“I’m trying to make it work but it’s just not clicking for me.”ย 

This was a discussion we had more times than I can count. It was a discussion I hoped would just go away. I was frustrated at her. I felt like she wasn’t trying hard enough. Everything was finally perfect in my life and she was trying to ruin it by being unhappy.

I felt like she was against me. I felt like she didn’t value the things that were important to me. She felt like everything else was more important to me than she was.

So we became enemies.ย 

Not intentionally. We didn’t even realize it happened. But we stopped thinking the best of each other. Our plans became a tug of war, neither one wanting to give in on the simplest of things.

We withheld our love from each other. We withheld joy. We withheld intimacy. All held hostage for the ransom of our own way.

Then everything started to feel miserable. I was no longer enjoying my dream job. I began to despise everything about our city, our apartment, everything. I couldn’t pretend to enjoy these things on my own. I needed her to be on my side. We needed to be on the same page.

Everything else paled in comparison to the need of unity in our marriage.

Exhausted from this tug of war, we decided we needed to call a truce. We were both giving up our plan for something new. Something completely different from what we wanted individually and we began looking for something we could desire together.

TWO MONTHS AGO

“We’ll just be a few hours away, maybe we can drive into Charlotte to visit for the weekend.”

We had plans to meet Katie’s parents for vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC. I knew that if we were going to really consider moving to a new city, we would have to visit. And so in the middle of our vacation, we drove into Charlotte.

On our way we talked and prayed and I hoped that God would write our confirmation on a billboard or send a message in the clouds. I needed Him to tell me that beyond a shadow of a doubt, this was where He was sending us.

But He didn’t do that. Instead, we spent the day in Charlotte and we fell in love. The city was absolutely beautiful, the people were friendly and we found lots of great food!

A huge factor for me was finding a good church. I’ve done the church hopping thing and it’s one of my least favorite activities of all time. But by God’s grace, I found a church months before I was even looking at Charlotte. I had been following Pastor Jonathan Martin on Twitter for awhile and listening to podcasts of his sermons for a few months. When we were planning to visit I put 2 and 2 together and realized that Renovatus Church was in Charlotte.

So on Sunday morning we visited and immediately we felt a connection. We were welcomed by everyone there. The best part of it all for me was to see Katie engaging in worship and really connecting to the preaching. We got to meet Pastor Jonathan after the service and he instantly recognized me from Twitter which was fun!

I didn’t get the audible, crystal clear confirmation I had hoped for but as I prayed I felt God say to me, “If you want to move here, I’ll be with you.”ย That was it.

And now I realize why. He wanted US to decide together. It had to be a decision we both wanted, not just the “right” thing to do. This was our opportunity to be united in purpose and direction.

And so for probably the first time in our marriage, we made a big decision TOGETHER. And ever since then, God’s confirmed this decision at every turn.

We’ve been able to pay off all our debt just recently. We’ve been able to build up our savings. Doors just seem to be flinging open. And it all happened AFTER we decided together.

TODAY

In just 5 weeks we’ll be pulling into Charlotte with a truck full of our belongings. We don’t have family or close friends there. Not yet anyways. I don’t even have a job. And to many people, that sounds like a really bad move. And that’s okay.

Because I know that for the first time in our marriage, my wife and I are on the same page. We’re making decisions together. We’re excited and a little terrified as well.

But we know that regardless of what happens, we’re living this adventure together. No more tug of war. No more enemies. We’re united.

And what God has joined together, no man can separate!

Aliceas

Comments

  1. Tony — This is great writing! Follow those signs — don’t worry about the job — God brought you to Charlotte for reasons WAY bigger than we know! ๐Ÿ™‚ Keep writing! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. What an adventure- with God guiding your footsteps!
    Praying for the settling in madness & unpacking.
    Carolyn recently posted..Hanging on!

  3. Dusty Counts says:

    Welcome to Charlotte and Renovatus Tony and Katie. The Renovatus Prayer team meets every Thursday night. We are praying for you two now that we know about you. Please keep us posted on your progress.
    My husband loves to cook and I love to invite. Hope to have you for Sunday lunch once you’re in town.

    • Wow, thank you so much! I can’t tell you how much it means for us to hear you will be praying for us.

      I’ll keep you posted as the day gets closer. And count us in for Sunday lunch! We would love to get to know you and your husband!

  4. This is amazing, Tony! Loved hearing your journey and process leading up to this big decision — mad respect and love for you guys! I’m excited about what this next season is going to hold for you!

    I have another friend who is moving his family to NC for Renovatus soon as well. Similar story… I’m gonna connect you two…
    Alece Ronzino recently posted..Doing Good Well

  5. Tony,
    This was beautifully put. My husband and I have felt similar stresses, but are more recently united as well. It is a daily decision at times.
    I wish you all the best and safe travels for your upcoming move. I know God will continue to lead you and bless you in your new adventures. Charlotte is a beautiful and active city.
    We have friends in Charlotte, many that are newly wed and also some new parents, such as yourselves. If you would like, I would love to pass on their information to you (or yours to them, if that’s less awkward). They are great people and resources. I’m sure they would love to help you find the good restaurants, things to do, some “mommy groups,” and just be genuine friends for both of you.
    By the way, I loved your comment to Ken that God opened your eyes and gave you permission to dream again. He wants you to always be dreaming. I even heard recently that if you can see your dream coming true, it isn’t big enough. Wow, did that stretch my thought process.

    • Thank you for your words and encouragement, Kathryn. And thank you for your offer to connect us with your friends. I’d love that! We don’t have any friends or family there so we’re looking to make lots of new friends and connections. My wife will be staying home to raise our baby so she’ll definitely need some good mommy groups.

      Thanks again for reading!

  6. Matt Reed says:

    Love it! Excited for you two!

  7. Tony, reading your story was like reading my own. Matt and I have wrestled with some of the same issues, and are in the midst of trying to decide what to do and where to go next. I’m really encouraged by this – that it’s not just us and our issues, but something all couples struggle with and can overcome. Praying for you and Katie and Mr. Baby, that the move goes smoothly and that you find work, community, and happiness in your new place. Much love!

    • That’s cool. I love it when people can personally relate to my stories. Like you said, it helps to know you’re not the only ones wrestling with these kinds of issues. Thank you for the love and we’ll be praying for whatever might be next for you guys as well!

  8. love you, Brother and Sister. Can’t wait to see what else lies in store for you

  9. Congrats! I loved reading your love story. It was like watching a movie. Love the adventure.

  10. The first year or two of marriage can be tough. It’s a strange growing phase that no one ever tells you about. Two independent people adjusting to being a single cohesive unit can sometimes feel like trying to force a leopard to change his spots. I won’t lie, this won’t be the last time marriage feels like a tug-of-war, BUT after making it over the initial hump of really learning to work together in unity — it gets so much easier. (Also, when you quit tugging and meet in the middle there’s that whole fun splashing in the mud and goofing off thing! Literally and metaphorically speaking haha)

    It sounds like you all have worked through it splendidly though!! I am so excited for you both! Charlotte is such a beautiful place and I have a sneaking suspicion you all will find great joy there! Congratulations and big hugs to y’all!!
    Cam recently posted..Wisdom Teeth and Rage

  11. Love the story. Love how you guys decided together. That’s huge!

    We feel similarly about Louisville.

  12. Tony,

    Know that your family is being prayed for during this transition. I’ll be waiting for updates along the way and to hear how God uses the two of you in Charlotte.
    Dusty recently posted..Light Dawns Even in Darkness

  13. Wonderful news for you and Katie! Your story parallels mine when I came to Georgia in many ways. There will be times when you will miss your South Florida family and the Harbour (trust me on this!) but the Lord will be there with you in your new adventure giving you opportunities for ministry and the fact that you and Katie have made this decision together, will only strengthen your family!! Blessings!!

  14. Cool stuff, Tony. I know how you feel looking for a billboard or cloud formation to verify your impending change. We were looking for an email to explain it all when we move to Paraguay. It never came. I guess God didn’t do email then. He did however lead me to believe that many times He doesn’t care our locale as long as we are fulfilling His plan for us through the gifts He has given us. I am excited for you for what the new venue will bring in challenges and blessings.

    • Wow, that’s so good Ken. I’m feeling that same lesson coming. Even though I’ve been tied to a location for awhile and it’s almost felt like God can’t be anywhere but HERE for me. He’s opening my eyes to the silliness of that thought and giving me permission to dream again.

  15. Wow!

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