When I grow up…

When I Grow Up

Photo Credit: eopath via Compfight cc

A few days ago (April 16), my wife and I celebrated our twentieth anniversary… of our first date. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but I’m one of those guys who remember obscure anniversary like that. I remember it like it was yesterday. Oh, not just because I was finally going out with Aime Johnson. I remember it because we had to end it short so that I could go to the hospital to see my twin brother after he had a bad pole vaulting accident. As a matter of fact, my buddy J.T. took her home and spent the evening with her. Lucky for me, J.T. was a good guy and one I could trust otherwise it could have been our 1st and last date.

My wife and I dated from the time she was just sixteen and a Junior in High School until we we engaged on her eighteenth birthday and married six months later (she was eighteen and I was twenty). 

When you marry young like us you get the advantage of growing up together. To be honest, I have a hard time thinking about my life before my wife, because there really wasn’t much life before her. Eighteen years seems like a long time until you’re pushing forty. Every year since the first year of marriage, I’ve asked myself the question:

What do I want to be when I grow up?

That seemed like such a tough question at twenty. There were so many possibilities. My resume’ had everything on it from a Degree in Bible, to a vast array of coaching experiences, to a license to drive a M113 tank  from serving in the Army National Guard as a TOW missile gunner.

So what was it going to be? A pastor? A missionary? A mercenary for hire?  I had no idea.

At first, the decisions of life and work were easy. Just do what ever you can to make enough money to pay the bills. If the bills were paid, then your family would be taken care of and everything else would fall into place. So that’s what we did. I worked as a hardware rep. for my uncle for many years. I was also a part-time Youth Pastor at my Grandma’s church. I coached 3 seasons of sports at a local school, worked production line at my in-laws. I even went as far as buying and selling artwork on this new website called eBay, and built custom-made barn wood entertainment centers and tables and sold them at flea markets. You name it, I did it. Whatever it took.

They often say that the first few years of marriage is the toughest, but ironically the decision didn’t get tough until a couple years into the marriage. After five or six years, I started making a little bit more money. I remember the year I finally only had one W-2 for taxes. That was huge. I was use to doing taxes for no less than five or six jobs. Finally, I was actually making enough money at one job that I didn’t have to supplement with two or three part-timers. When we were first married every dollar went somewhere. It either paid an existing bill or it needed to be saved to pay for one coming down the pike.

Looking back, I think when we were first married, all I really wanted was to be grown up. I wanted to be taken seriously. I wanted to make decision that matter and help people solve their problems. Every time I called my dad for advice on fixing my car I’d wonder how long it would be before I could stop calling him for help. When would I be the guy people called for help?

Time has passed and I’ve had a few more jobs. and now I’m almost forty. Aime an I have been married over eighteen years and we’ve been together over twenty. I have six beautiful kids and I’m still wondering what I’ll be when I grow up. I’m a husband, a dad, and a pastor, and for now it’ll do.  Who knows, in a few years I might be a husband, a dad, and a mercenary… that could be cool too.

…and I still call my dad for help with the car.

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