On September 2, 1992, just before 8a.m. I walked into Music Theory 101 a week late to Mobile College with no books. So, I asked the prettiest girl in the class if I could share with her. Praise God she said, “Yes.” But He already knew she would. His sovereign hand had been guiding us to this moment. The many ways God gently, or not so gently, corrected us and kept us heading to this point is simply miraculous. Here is a little taste of what our life has been like these past 20 years.
And, if you haven’t read or heard it before, here is our story:
Sonya and I met in Music Theory 101 on September 2, 1992, during the first semester of our freshman year at the University of Mobile (it was called Mobile College then). I was late getting to school that year because I’d been touring with a musical group, had no books for my first day of classes, and needed to share with someone. Naturally, I asked the prettiest girl in the room. When the class was over, we introduced ourselves and I said something dorky like “My name is Brian, but my friends call me Odie.” Yes, my college nickname was Odie, but that’s another story. Incidentally, Sonya never called me Odie.
I was dating someone from that tour long distance at the time so Sonya and I just “hung out.” We quickly became good friends and soon would call each other “best friends.” We went to the 1992 Homecoming dance together as well as every concert we were required to attend as music majors. In fact, if the seat next to one of us was vacant, people would leave it vacant for the other. Many people asked if we were dating and we denied it everytime. We were just good friends.
Now, about that homecoming. I would learn much later that a significant event took place the night before at the talent show. I had practiced for weeks on a jazz band solo called “Nichole.” Sonya listened many times, so we nicknamed it “Sonya.” (I know, very creative, but it helps in a minute). It was a very mellow yet emotional fluegel horn solo. As I played it that evening with the jazz band behind me, Sonya sensed that we were going to be married some day. While I would like to believe that I wooed her with my very passionate performance, I don’t think it had anything to do with the way I played the song. God was speaking. Now, that was in October. Sonya committed to be patient and let God work. She began to pray that He would either remove her feelings for bring me around.
Somewhere around that time Sonya asked me to come to church with her on a Sunday when she was singing. Wow! She was amazing. Little did I know how blessed I would be by that voice in the future.
Fast forward to Valentine’s Day 1993, my girl friend from Texas came for a visit so, I asked my best friend if she would provide accommodations. For some reason S0nya politely declined to help. But I found a mutual friend of ours who would let her stay the weekend. While staying with our mutual friend in the dorm, my girl friend asked “So what’s with this Sonya chick?” Apparently, I’d been talking about her quite a bit. Our friend reassured her that we were only friends.
Fast forward to March. We continued to grow closer and closer. I drove most Thursday nights to her home in Daphne, where she lived with her parents, to watch Seinfeld and Frazier. (Now you know why we quote so many lines from Seinfeld.) Then, she went on a date. Not with me. Someone else. The best part of it was that I encourage her to go! When they schedule the second date, I began to feel differently. Oh yeah, I was still dating a girl in Texas. But I didn’t like this idea of Sonya dating. Our time was threatened and he like to put his arm around her. He began to talk about their “relationship.” To my relief, Sonya quickly began to confess her lack of enthusiasm for the relationship and I obviously encouraged her to end it!
April 1993 came quickly and with it, the Spring Banquet: an off campus event with a catered meal and dancing. (I believe it was the first one with dancing – lucky for us.) Sonya did not want the aforementioned young man to ask her to it so we agreed to go together. Three days before the dance, my girl friend from Texas broke up with me. I was heartbroken and my best friend came to comfort me. We sat on the front steps of my campus house (girls were not allowed inside – it was a baptist school!) and she consoled me with sweet words and side hugs. Now I know that inside she was smiling and just a bit giddy. She confesses to also feeling a little guilty, thinking that all of her praying about our relationship had finally worked and now I was upset!
Because we were just “friends” we had agreed to go to the Spring Banquet as a part of a 5 person group. Two couples and a single guy named Eddie Gross. The other couple made new plans, so Sonya, Eddie , and I went to the Banquet together in my Blazer. We began the night dancing like friends with a safe distance between us. By the end of the night, I’m not sure there was any distance between us at all.
I took Sonya to her sister’s apartment and walked her to the door on the second floor. Eddie, who had not said a word from the back seat the entire time, stayed in the car. There was a awkward hug followed by a quick, glancing peck on the lips from the clumsy guy not sure what to do. Not knowing what to do I tried it again. I mean, this was my best friend. I’m a guy. I don’t know how to read “signals.” I can’t sense feelings. That’s when Sonya took things into her own hands. As I turned to leave she said “Wait,” wrapped her arms around my head and did it right. Boy am I glad she did! It really was magical. We say that was were we crossed the “platonic line” – April 3, 1993.
The transition to “dating” couple was pretty seamless. We had really been dating for several months without actually dating. I see God’s hand in it all. We became best friends first. We are still best friends. As people noticed us holding hands, some would actually cheer. Most just said they already knew we would be together. Some asked when the wedding would be.
The next December, I took Sonya back to the apartment door where her sister once lived, reinacted our first kiss, and proposed to her. That was January 8, 1994. We were married on December 30 that same year.
Sonya is my best friend. She is an incredible wife. She has given birth to five amazing children who remain to be amazing because they have such a wonderful mommy. She has been through the dreaded Seminary years with me as well as a very tough ministry stint. I couldn’t have done any of it without her. And those of you at Lynwood know that my ministry now would not be the same without her. She sings and leads, which means that most Sundays she gets all five children to church on time to be in her spot by 8:00 a.m. Our kids have such fun with her. She brings laughter to our family. Her smile is captivating. There is no one like her and there is no doubt, God created and molded us for each other. She’s my soulmate. Thank you, God, for my wife. And thank you, Sonya, for listening to Him.
I Love You!