“Pop, you need to go and have an affair,” my young and ignorant self said, “you need someone to talk to and to hang with and mom cannot be that for you right now.” What the heck?! Did I really suggest that to my father when I was a young girl of about 14 years old? Yup, I sure did.
"Jo Jo, love means you stay. Marriage means you stay…I gave your mother my word that I would stay through it. She did not ask for the struggles she is having now that keep her from being the woman I married. I promised her I would stay for better or for worse, and this is worse. I gave my word and it is all I am and all I am worth. If I don’t keep it there is nothing you can trust about me. Marriage means you stay. Love means you stay. And when you give your word, you need to keep it. That is honor and that is integrity.”
Before I knew Jesus, I knew George. That’s my Pop. The Navy man. Before I knew truth, I knew honor and integrity the George man way. I would rather have been beaten and fried than to have disappointed that man. There was nothing worse than hearing, “Jo Jo, I am a little disappointed in your choice, but I love you.” That SUCKED. My heart would fall and my only desire would be to make the next million choices I made to be ones that he would smile nicely and say well done.
My parents have now been married 50 years and he was right. By sticking it out, it all turned out. My mom’s struggles became her strengths and his challenges became his credits of faithfulness. THEN later they met Jesus.
I met Jesus about a year after that fateful conversation. I was a 20 year Christian when I left the Way. The most difficult challenge was not my believing that God could forgive me. It was my believing that I could ever stand again knowing the integrity and honor I had tossed aside. Could I ever be a person of honor and integrity again, once I had lived in that sin for a time? I was dying inside. I did not tell my father of all that stuff I had chosen, and don’t know that my heart could withstand it, although I know he would forgive me. I felt even worse looking into the word and talking with God and knowing that I had totally betrayed my Savior. I had betrayed my call to walk in honor with Christ. I had failed and lost who I was completely. Not just in Christ, but even without Him. I had no honor and no integrity. That was heart rending for me.
My father, the Navy man, did not tolerate dishonesty. He did not respect it. He did not like when we did not keep our commitments and went to our sports events even if we didn’t, because he figured our commitments became his commitments to support our teams. My father taught me what honor is. My father had high expectations and even greater love for us. My parents were my greatest fans and best encouragers. I was brilliant, kind, wise beyond my years. I was selfless (to their limited understanding of my heart), generous. I was thoughtful and I was … everything good and everything wonderful with a great future and a ton of beautiful things to offer the world. They believed in me and saw my gifts even when I just knew I was a mess.
Then I met Jesus. I already knew that I was living to please my father and now I had met THE father. A life changer. I went from “Pop, you should have an affair,” to “Pop, thanks for never breaking your word to my mom.”
There are so many broken promises in this world, from broken marriages to broken dates to broken hearts because someone let us down in some other way. The one thing I have learned without a shadow of a doubt is that our FATHER in heaven is all promises kept. “We are only as good as our word,” according to my father. And, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it..,” (John 1:1-5). God is as good as His WORD and “the Word was God.” Jesus was the incarnation of God’s WORD. He spoke it and Jesus came to be. I trust that.
My word is good enough and honorable as it can be…BUT GOD’S WORD is it. Just it. IT IS WHAT IT IS AND HE IS WHO HE IS AND WHAT HE SAYS HE DOES. Period. He is the promises kept in this world. And promises I make can only really be kept when I am in Him. I missed myself when I found myself bereft without him “all of a sudden”, as if I hadn’t been slowly walking away a step at a time for a while. I was just waking up to it one day and realized I was lost without Jesus. Without the promise kept.
While we wait for things we desire in our lives and pray for them…stay standing on HIS WORD and walk in His Way. Without it, we are just lost.
Jody-Lynne is a Christ follower who is very grateful to be allowed to walk out her journey by journeying with others in her career and in her service to the church as a counselor. She is a Christ follower that has been the prodigal and the welcoming father at different times and she is humbly grateful for both. She longs to share the work that God has done in her life and encourage others to see the work God can do and is doing in theirs. Her joy is growing and journeying with others.