Jamie and I first started dating my second year at the Merchant Marine academy. Neither of us were Christians at the time, and we were both very involved in the kind of college life that rules our universities and campuses today. In the beginning of our relationship, I cheated on her frequently.
At that time I didn’t think the relationship was going to amount to anything, so I didn’t take it too seriously. When I was a child, my mother once told me she wouldn’t want to know if my father ever cheated on her. She said that sin would be between he and God, and that by him telling her the burden would become hers to forgive. As a young kid growing up, I always took that to mean that I could cheat on the people that I was dating and only have to worry about hurting myself since it was just between me and God.
As the months wore on and Jamie and I continued to date, it became harder to remain unemotionally attached to Jamie. No matter how hard I tried it was impossible. Jamie could always make me smile, with her sweet disposition and gentle smile. Even though I had tried to stop it, we had become friends. As the months passed, the guilt began to weigh upon me for the way I was treating her. And as I faced my second term out at sea, this time lasting eight months, I decided that I wanted to pursue a real relationship with her.
I realized that I could see myself being happily married to this girl. For almost eight months after this decision I remained faithful and ceased to cheat with other girls. But I had not fixed the root of the problem. My change was not based on God’s word.
It was midway through my junior year on a winter afternoon when I received a call one night from Jamie. I knew at once that this was something serious. She was crying hysterically and couldn’t get any words out. Finally, she managed to blurt it out. She had just taken a pregnancy test. The results had come out positive. A long silence hung over the phone.
In those moments, the walls of my world closed in all around me. I tried to breathe but couldn’t. A million thoughts began to run through my head as I strived to escape the reality that slowly began to seep into my consciousness. I struggled at first, trying to shake off this immense sense of responsibility and burden that now weighted down on me like a ton of bricks. I realized though in that same instant that this was going to be my burden to bear, and that it was not going away.
The time passed slowly before I was able to come up with any sort of response. This only made Jamie more upset as she sobbed uncontrollably, pleading with me to say anything at all. I knew in that moment that I needed to step up and be the man, to support her and tell her everything was going to be okay. To my own shame, all I could manage was, “I think I am going to throw up.”
Yet after a few moments I was able to take a deep breath and pulled myself together. “Jamie, it’s going to be okay,” I told her. “Whatever happens we are going to have this baby, and everything is going to be alright. We’ll get through this together.”
The next couple weeks were difficult as we struggled to tell our parents, and to sort everything out. Both of our parents, surprisingly, were supportive in the end. This helped to make it easier on both of us. Unfortunately, after I began to realize that my world was not going to end, I began to settle back down in the same lifestyle I had been living. I knew that things in my life needed to change badly, but I wasn’t yet ready to make that choice.
Three months passed by, and our lives had started to settle down a bit. It was at this time that I began tutoring a girl at school who had been struggling in navigation. After a few weeks of tutoring her, she began to proposition herself to me continually over a period of several weeks. In the beginning I tried to resist, but eventually I gave in to her and my own desires.
The truth was, things like this had become almost second nature in my life. I had become a slave to my flesh, and I truly had no idea just how bound by it I had become. Unfortunately, Jesus had yet to break those chains. Though it had been eight months since I had quit cheating, my resolve had not been tested by any real fire.
In the days that followed, I felt absolutely sick to my stomach. Jamie was my best friend, three months pregnant with my child, and I was about to throw it all away for one night with a woman I barely knew. The reality of what I had done slowly began to sink in. I was disgusted with myself and began to see for the first time the reality of the ugly person that I had become.
I didn’t know many things at this point, but I knew that this was not who I wanted to be. I had to do something about my life, and I had to do it fast. I severed the relationship quickly after that, but unfortunately the damage had been done.
Over the next couple months I tried to forget about what I had done and once again began to try and make serious changes in my life. In truth, the reality of what I had done had showed me how desperately I needed help, and for the first time in a very long time I began to look around to see how I might put back together the broken pieces of my life. I wanted something real, something that could truly change me from the inside out, to save me from this ugly, despicable person that I had become.
I had grown up in a Christian home and was fortunate in that I had seen God move in powerful ways at a young age. I had always been vaguely inspired by it, but had decided that there were too many things in life I wanted to experience before I would ever worry about that. However, this time I was at the end of my rope. Faced with this reality, I began to truly seek God out for the first time in my entire life. I knew there was something real out there. I knew that my God cared about me and loved me, but I needed to know that He would take me back after all I had done. That even after all the horrible things I had done that He wanted me back as a part of His family.
And so, I began to go to church again. I even started to open a book called “The Purpose-Driven Life” as well as the Bible each day. One night, I decided to attend the weekly CFC (Christian Fellowship Club) meeting. I had not been there since early my freshman year. I came in late this particular night, and there was a Christian midshipmen who I had seen walking around recently giving the message that night. He was preaching a hard-line message about not having one foot in the world and one foot in Christ. He said that we needed to not be lukewarm, and that we had to have either two feet in the world or out.
I remember thinking that this message was a little harsh to be preaching in this environment. They were lucky half of the kids in this room even bothered to show up. I had never met anyone at our school willing to live the kind of life that this student described.
As the days passed by, I realized wanted to talk to this young man. I needed to tell someone what I was going through who might be able to steer me in the right direction. I was sure that this guy had something real, something different from all the rest.
One night as I passed him in the hall he put his hand out and stopped me: “Hey, God spoke to you the other night didn’t He?”
I responded, “Umm…maybe? Why?”
He looked at me smiling, “Well, if you ever want to talk about it my room is on the second deck closest to the mess hall.”
That night, propelled by an unseen force I would later learn much about, I wandered into his room and began to tell this young man who I had just met everything about my life and what I was feeling. By the end of the conversation, I had told him practically my entire life story.
In the end, he told me it was up to me, and I could make a real, lasting commitment right then and there if I truly meant what I was saying. I made a commitment to the Lord that night. Once and for all time, I was going to leave behind the person I had become never turn back. I didn’t realize how much my life would be changed forever that night.
A few weeks later I began having extremely frightening, demonic nightmares. I would wake up so scared that I would go and wake up one of my best friends, Glenn, and talk to him about the dream. I had never really had nightmares in my life, so I didn’t know how to deal with it. One weekend, though a couple of pastors were at our campus and I talked to them specifically about a bothersome dream that I had. He told me that it sounded like I had some serious issues in my past and some things that God wanted to dig up. I had a vague notion of what he might mean, but shuddered at the mere thought of what that entailed.
I asked my friend Glenn what he thought. At this point he was the only person in the world who knew what I had done. He didn’t waste any time at all in telling me what he thought. He looked me in the eyes and said, “Brendan, you need to tell Jamie what you did.”
I told him that was the most stupid, idiotic idea I had ever heard. I told him I thought he was crazy. I had already hurt myself enough and there was no reason to hurt her. After all, I was a changed person now. At this point, I began to yell and became angry at the notion that I needed to tell her what I did. Glenn responded that he didn’t think that God wanted hidden things in my relationship with Jamie. Finally, he told me that he couldn’t say what God wanted but said I should get down on my knees and ask God what to do.
I knew he was exactly right. So that moment I got down on my knees, and I asked God what I should do. For the first time I gave up my whole situation to Him. I said, “God, even if it means I lose Jamie, and I don’t get to be with the woman I love I will follow you whatever you tell me to do. Even if it means I have visitation rights with this child, I know that somehow it will be okay so long as I am following you.” And so I laid it down before God and for the first time I felt a willingness to tell her, no matter what the cost.
About fifteen minutes later, Jamie called me on the phone and one of the first things she asked me was, “Brendan have you ever cheated on me?” She went to tell me that she had had a dream the night before in which I cheated on her. I had to tell her the truth. I took this as a direct sign from God that I needed to tell her the truth. I told her about all the times in the beginning of our relationship and most painfully the time not so long ago when she was three months pregnant with our child.
Things did not go well after this. There was a lot of screaming, yelling and crying on both sides. She broke up with me almost immediately after our conversation, saying that she didn’t want to ever see me again and there was no way I was ever going to have any sort of relationship with this child. I had planned on going to see her that weekend. And even though she said she didn’t want me to come anymore, I went anyways. For some reason, she let me stay, and by the end of the weekend she had said she wanted to try and make things work between us. Although I could see she had a desire to try, I could tell she was badly hurt and there was a lot of inner healing that needed to take place for her and I to ever be okay. I knew only a miracle could save us now. I also knew deep down I deserved no such miracle.
What I did not know and what I would learn much later from her was that for most of her life, Jamie had been suicidal. She had told me once she had tried to slit her wrists a few years back, but I had thought it was an isolated incident from when she was younger. She had a rough life growing up and had experienced a lot of pain from the way people had treated her, bad relationships, and other things that she herself had done that she couldn’t manage to forgive herself for. I didn’t know this either at the time, but she was planned on killing herself once the baby was born and leaving it with a member of the family.
Jamie went on to tell me that a month before I told her that I had cheated on her, she’d had a dream about Jesus. In the dream they were in a long hallway, and He was speaking to her, but she had no idea what He was saying. She couldn’t make it out, but she told me she had just remembered waking up with the most inexplicable sense of peace.
One day, not too long after I had gone home to visit her, I received a call from Jamie, and I could barely understand her she was so excited. I asked her what was the matter, and she told me I would never believe what happened to her that day. She told me she was at her desk that morning, organizing her files. Later she told me that normally during this time of day she would get depressed and think about what I had done.
Yet for some reason this day was different. She decided to pray for the girl I had committed the sin with, and that this young girl might be saved. She identified with this girl in some ways and with times in her life when she had been the “other woman” and prayed this young girl would be saved from the misery that she was facing. As she began praying, she said that all of the sudden she was in the room from her dream. And again Jesus was speaking to her, but this time she could understand everything He was saying. She was in a big room and there was a large cross at one end. By the cross on either side, she said she saw my “sin” and her “sin” in the shape of dark clouds. She noticed though that they were on the same level.
And then she said that Jesus told her that He loved me in a way she never could, and that really, I had hurt Him so much more than I had hurt her. And that He still forgave me. She told me she remembered standing there stunned, thinking to herself, “How could I not have forgiven him?”
And because of this revelation she told me she realized that because I had been forgiven that she was as well. And as she realized this, she saw her sin cloud drift away. She felt all of her hurt, pain, sorrow, and the sadness she had carried around with her for so long lift off her shoulders all at once. She said she had never felt so light in her life, and all of the sudden she was filled with this intense joy and a desire to tell others about what had just happened to her.
As the clouds lifted, Jesus took her to different times in her life when she had tried to kill herself . Except now each time she saw Him in the room with her. I asked her what He was doing in the room and she replied, “Waiting.” “Waiting for what?” I asked.
And she answered, “Waiting to stop me if I ever tried anything”.
Jamie was never the same after this. God changed her entire life and took away the pain she had known and lived with her whole life, and He replaced it with a joy that is written all over her face.
I had made a horrible mess of my life, and I had almost lost everything that was dear to my heart. But because I had decided to follow Jesus the rest of my life, He had blessed me and answered my prayers for Jamie and myself in a way I never thought possible. I knew that it would take an act of God for her to ever be able to truly forgive me, and for things between her and I to be made right again. However, I had no idea of the immense scope and nature of what God had planned.
It wasn’t until I gave the situation up to Him and said that I would follow Him to the ends of the earth, EVEN if it meant that Jamie and Rhianna wouldn’t be coming with me, that He gave me what I thought I had lost back better than when I had lost it. Today, because I have made this decision to follow Jesus in my life, I have the most amazing family, a wife that loves Jesus as much as I do, and the most beautiful little girl you have ever seen.
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these other things shall be added unto you.”