When I was a junior in high school I met this cute, blonde, curly-haired sophomore boy in AP Spanish 3 class. He was that boy-next-door type with a soft, baby face full of shiny braces, and I tried hard to talk myself out of liking him. I was at a point in my life where I really wasn’t looking for another immature high school relationship. My heart had gone through too many hurts from earthly relationships—with friends and boys—and I was done for a while. I had been putting far too much weight on relationships with people and “doing works” in an effort to earn the love of God. I wanted to focus my life on my Jesus…but though my motives were pure, I was idolizing all the things I was doing in an effort to do His will. I prayer-journaled nightly, helped lead worship for youth, volunteered for VBS and Children’s Camp, and went on every retreat on top of being involved in choir, musicals, student council, and all AP classes. My life was busy and full—and I didn’t have time for silly high school relationships. It’s so funny because I came to this conclusion the summer before God would bring my future husband into my life. I know now that God needed to get me to this place in order that I would keep Him first and not end up holding my relationship with Billy too high, like an idol. All this to say: I was not interested in starting a relationship when we first met that fall of 2003.
The problem was that this boy was just so adorable, smart and hilarious that I couldn’t help but be his friend. We became partners for projects in Spanish, which led to hanging outside of school to work on them. Of course, I had to drive him home/bring him with me after school because I was the one with a driver’s license. Everyone loves to joke about that. 🙂 Eventually our friendship grew to the point where we talked/texted regularly and hung out often…but he was just my best friend. We would hug every day after school by my locker—and he gave the BEST hugs with those long, lanky arms. Our friendship deepened and became what others would have described as an exclusive relationship, but I was still on my “single for Jesus” kick and wasn’t ready to admit my feelings. OH to be 17 again—the feelings were SO strong!! I went out of my way to spend time with him and missed him terribly when he was away. I even made him a beaded bracelet that said “Jessica <3’s me” when I knew he was going to miss school one day; he never took it off (until one day it broke haha). Mind you, this was all when we were still just friends.
Then February 2004 arrived…along with the Valentine’s dance, Cupid’s Bash, which was Sadie Hawkins. So the girl asked the guy. It was a no-brainer for me to ask Billy to come with me as my best friend. I think dressing up in coordinating semi-formal clothes and being in a date-like setting put things in perspective for me. All of a sudden I could picture us as a couple—and it felt so natural and right! We were best friends, and we were obviously attracted to one another by this point (beyond the “oh he’s a cute boy” attraction). Lesson for youngsters: hugs are an intimate act and should not be given or taken lightly. I think that in our over-sexualized world today we discount things like hugs and holding hands, but those should be guarded and not thrown out so freely as much as anything else. It’s all intimacy. I wish Billy’s hands were the only ones that had ever interlocked with mine. I wish his arms were the only ones I let embrace me. Ok climbing down from soap box and getting back to story. I don’t remember too much about that dance (10+ years ago) besides the fact that people kept taking our picture and I loved the way those shots turned out. Being with Billy made my real smile explode all over my face, and now when I look back, I just look smitten. Well, I was! We went back to his house with our friends after the dance and I had this strange urge to kiss him! Yeah—I wanted to kiss my best friend—well I wanted HIM to kiss ME!! So I decided to ask him, “Why haven’t you kissed me?” He replied with, “I didn’t know I was allowed to…and I don’t really know how.” So that night—on Valentine’s Day of 2004—we shared our first kiss(es). And for the first time in all the kisses I had wasted…I actually enjoyed the kisses! I really didn’t believe him that he hadn’t “real kissed” anyone. Soon after this I informed him that he could call me his girlfriend—but he already had been.
So that’s how our story began. We were teenagers with little to no knowledge or experience in love…real love. We were hormonal, and therefore full of passion, butterflies and giddiness. It was all about feelings—and those feelings were intense. We both knew we had found “the one” before the end of that first year. We wrote notes (probably hundreds) and listened to tons of emo/punk music that we still consider the soundtrack of our young love. Billy wrote me beautiful poems and stories filled with imagery of his love for me and promises for our future. God wrote our love story perfectly, even better than anything I could have dreamt up from my young, romance-obsessed, girly mind.
Skip ahead to now—over 10 years after our story began and 6 years after we became a family through marriage. Our love looks utterly and completely different. People warned us about that rough first year, but it never came. We learned how to live together, make decisions together, fight with each other, and resolve fights quickly, but best of all—we learned how to live in community with other Christians, be mentored by those who had been doing it longer than us, and seek the will of God in our every decision. Our love for one another is no longer based on feelings; and praise God for that, because feelings are superficial and change like the weather in Texas. The foundation of our love is Christ. He sustains our marriage because He sustains us each individually. His Word transforms our hearts and minds continually, which then allows us to love one another more purely and fully, as Christ loves His church. When we sin against one another (notice I say when, not if), we are led to repentance and reconciliation by His grace.
Over these past 6 years I’ve watched as God has taken my husband to a place where neither of us thought he would ever be. He has given Billy the gift of preaching/teaching to use for the Glory of God. It is so obviously a gift, because Billy would never have chosen this type of ministry on his own. That young, at times timid boy I fell in love with is now more comfortable speaking from a stage to hundreds of people than he is having a one-on-one conversation with a new person. His passion for the Word of God and its TRUTH inspires and encourages me. He challenges me now when he notices that I am acting from my flesh; and after I’m done throwing a fit about it, I appreciate it completely. He leads me so well.
Over these past 2 years Billy has taken on an entirely new and wonderful role that has grown my love for him even more: His role as Knox’s Daddy. I knew from our hours of discussion in the years leading up to having our first baby that Billy was going to have an active role in our child’s life—shared completely equally with myself. But I couldn’t have ever imagined how I’d feel when our newborn son stopped crying immediately from his Daddy’s touch and voice minutes after he was born. I never knew that Billy would choose to take on bath time as his “Daddy-Knox E time”, and I would literally have to ask him how they do things because Knox is so used to Daddy doing it. Their bond is so strong and special, and it brings me so much joy. Just last week we were up at 2 or 3 in the morning because Knox had woken up crying. Billy was nearly in tears describing how much he loves that he is able to comfort Knox and put him to sleep now. That first year and a half Knox relied almost completely on Mommy’s milk for his nourishment, comfort and to go to sleep…and never took a bottle…so this is a new thing. Billy lays with Knox, talks with him about the day, tells him stories that he makes up about Mommy, Daddy and baby animals (whichever Knox chooses), sings songs, and gently helps him ease into sleep. He has so much patience with our stubborn, recently defiant almost two-year-old. Even more than me!!! (Especially recently with these prego hormones.) He is a wonderful Daddy to our boy.
Our life is currently so uncertain as far as our home, community, friends, finances/jobs, and future are concerned. Most of this is a result of following God’s call to Burleson and being pregnant with baby #2. I complain, covet and worry more than I’d like to admit. I overlook my wonderful blessings—especially my husband. As unstable as our life seems, our foundation (that is Christ) grounds us in our marriage. Even as we both work part time jobs to be with Knox as much as we are able and to make ends meet living in a rent house, I am grateful to be living this adventure with my Billy. He makes my life so much more fun with his random goofy comments, faces and dance moves. He is the most positive person I have ever met, which really helps balance me. J He has the most creative and deep thinking mind. He knows more about more topics than anyone I know…which makes for a GREAT trivia game partner. He loves his family so much, values time with us more than money or status, and still takes such good care of us. On a less serious note, if it weren’t for him I would never know the satisfaction that a chili dog brings…or a tuna fish sandwich…because he forced me to try both!! Haha I just wanted to take some time to brag on my husband and best friend for a bit to celebrate our anniversary and his 26th birthday. I don’t celebrate him nearly enough.
Thank you, Jesus, for forming my Billy Tyler Wells just as you did.
Shabeedle deedle yeedle veedle meedle.