When people ask me my story, oftentimes, I find myself struggling to know where to begin. Like all of us, it’s more than a sequence of events, but tends to look a lot like a tangled web of feelings, places, and people. It’s so much more than a chronological unfolding of what has happened in my life. We don’t realize that in moments of our greatest pain and heartache that it wasn’t simply an issue of here and now that created the problem. It was things that stemmed back all the way to my childhood, through my teens, whatever the instance may have been.
Everyday is a battle to face your problems head on or sweep them under the rug. The problem is that many of us as children don’t know how to do anything but run from them or ignore them altogether. I lacked confidence when doing much of anything growing up. I can’t tell you why, I just did. I never really saw it for what it was worth until recently in life. The truth is I was scared of failure. I was scared of looking stupid. I was scared of missing that shot, striking out, or getting rejected and so I avoided it. When things got tough I was the one that would quit or give up or make an excuse as to why I didn’t want to do it anymore. Baseball, basketball, football, I played them all. And guess what? I quit them all. Why? Because of what others thought. Because it got harder. Because it was easier to just run from my problems instead of run to them. I was never confident in myself or my ability even when others believed in me. Other people saw so much potential in me when I rarely saw it in myself.
Fast forward through the sports and struggles of what I was or wasn’t. Later in high school was a period of my life where I began to show interest in dating people and trying to find the guts to ask someone out. Prom, someone asking you out, rejecting someone, someone rejecting you, the whole nine yards. We’ve all been there in one way or another. Then comes along an absolutely amazing girl named Ciara Cowan. A name that I hadn’t heard since second grade when we played at recess together in elementary school. A name that popped up in Facebook messenger towards the end of my junior year. A name that I thought of from time to time but didn’t think anything about other than “I wonder how she is doing or what she is up to these days?” Ciara and I picked up right where we left off. We never skipped a beat. We truly became best friends and inseparable. We had so much in common. We went to different churches and different high schools but found ourselves with each other more than we weren’t. Things progressed to dating. Dating led to college together and then marriage. All in a span of four years or so. This is where the story will begin to get a little dicy. Get cozy. Grab your popcorn.
Remember that kid that I told you about in the beginning of this story? Yeah, that kid was now an adult and had no idea that he was about to face himself head on like a car collision. There was no more running from problems. I know without a doubt in my mind that God placed Ciara and I together for a reason. There is not a person on planet earth that I’d rather be with. But you take a kid who doesn’t even know who he is and give him a girl who thinks the absolute world of him and it seems so beautiful from the outside. And in many ways it was. But it was a recipe for the perfect storm. She was the first girl who actually showed long term interest in me (long term, meaning longer than a few weeks). She was my first kiss. She was my first “I love you.” She was the woman I married. And without even knowing it my identity came from my relationship with Ciara. Without even knowing it, my world really revolved around her. She was my everything and I don’t say that in a positive light. Granted our relationship wasn’t perfect. We had our fights and arguments but we worked through the best we knew how. Little did I know that a year into our marriage I’d come to find that my wife was struggling with same-sex attraction. It was a definite blind side. I was hurt in a lot of ways but I did what I knew to do and we pressed on.
Year two, a similar occurrence took place that was similar to the first involving someone on the internet. I do what I can to fix the situation. We heal the best we can, life goes on. I’m being as concise as possible just for a moment. A short time after year three in marriage I feel as if we have made steady progress. Our marriage was in a better place from my point of view. I began to forget the past and we began to move on. Little did I know that around the corner was going to be the hardest season of my life that I’d yet to endure. I discovered that my wife was having an inappropriate relationship with someone that she knew personally. Someone that I knew personally. The other instances, though online, were painful to me. This time was personal and the pain cut deeper. Much deeper. And to be clear this isn’t a time of digging up dirt on anyone or making me seem like such a saint and “How could anyone do that to someone?”, etc. This is simply my side of the story and my point of view and how God was working in and through it all.
So I was in a lot of pain. I took a drive for hours, wondering how to assess the situation. I came home and I did the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I confronted my wife on the situation and I drew a figurative line in the sand. I didn’t beg her or plead with her to stop. I didn’t say that we can fix this. We can work this out. I didn’t say please just be more transparent with me about your problems. I didn’t try to act like none of it happened in hopes of keeping the love of my life around a little longer. I said the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to say. I told her that I loved her but that I couldn’t do this anymore. I told my wife to either stay and make everything right once and for all. If she wasn’t willing to do that then she needed to leave and figure herself out. I told her that I wasn’t giving up on her but that if she wanted to leave then I wasn’t going to try and stop her. I can’t tell you that I felt a sigh of relief or that a weight had been lifted from me. I hurt deeply. I knew in my heart that she was going to leave. The difference was that I was finished trying to stop her. God told me to stop trying to fix Ciara. God told me that I couldn’t do it and so I let her go.
The most pain I had ever experienced in my life but I am so thankful for it. Yes, I am thankful for it. I never would have asked for what was about to take place. Nobody in their right mind would. But I wouldn’t take it back now that it happened. That season changed me. That season God dealt with Ciara and God dealt with me. People think I’m the hero. I’m not. I had and still have my issues to work through in life. That season just happened to be me asking the hard question of who is Jeremy Weese without Ciara? How confident can Jeremy truly be with nobody? As a kid you never had to deal with it. Now you have to face it head on. Are you going to quit? Are you going to walk away? Are you going to give up? What if she stays gone for 6 months? What if she stays gone for a year? Who are you, Jeremy? My identity was in my marriage and when my marriage crumbled I didn’t have a leg to stand on. That insecure little boy had grown up to make marriage his god, his idol, without even realizing it. When everything you’ve ever wanted is taken from you, you find out real quick where your identity is and what you truly put your faith in.
I could have walked away when she did. I’m not tooting my horn because that isn’t what this was about. My side of the story really isn’t about Ciara as much as it was about me. My struggles, my problems, my flaws, and my insecurities. The things that I needed to grow in and change in. God was shedding light on that in me. I didn’t stay because “I’m gonna be the bigger person.” or “Woe is me, the poor husband whose wife left him.” I stayed when she left because God had to do something in me that couldn’t have been done if Ciara and I stayed broken, together. It had to happen, it had to. It needed to happen. It needed to get that bad. Our marriage needed to hit absolute rock bottom for God to begin to work things out. I needed to know who I was in Christ, regardless of the status of my marriage. I needed to know that I was capable of being confident while being alone. Happy while being alone. Joyful while being alone. At peace while being alone. Fulfilled while being alone. Content while being alone. Thankful while being alone. God did what needed to be done in me and that is what was most important during our year long season of separation. The pain, the tears, the sleepless nights, that feeling in your stomach, it was all worth it in the end and I wouldn’t trade who I’ve become for it to have never happened.
I have no regrets. I am not perfect but I’m thankful to the one who is. I'm thankful to the one who shines the light on our weaknesses and gives us the grace to go to greater heights, even if it means enduring great suffering. God did restore our marriage. God is faithful. We have an amazing son, Asher. I cannot tell you where we’d be today if Ciara hadn’t walked away on that day and, likewise, if I had chosen to quit when things got tough. Let God be God in people’s lives and actually let Him be God in yours. I quit trying to fix her and though it required me to give up control, God did it all and more. When we allow God to do the greatest work in us, however hard or painful, He will just as easily do it in others. We just have to be willing to get out of the way.