As a young girl I dreamed of marrying a Prince Charming. I admired what my parents had, and since the sixth grade, all I wanted was a husband. I had no clock ticking for children, but I had nothing against it either. I had no career aspirations, only the desire to be a housewife. As the years passed the dream turned to frustration and disappointment.
Over the years friends and family members married. Some of them numerous times. A couple of times I was even a bridesmaid, but as I got older, the bridesmaid selections got younger. Many of the women at church married some of them former Youth group members that I’d worked with. Eventually, all the marriages involved people young enough to be my children, if I’d had children, which I don’t.
The tossing of the wedding bouquet became torture. I used to be one of a number of single gals clambering to catch it and solidify my turn as next. But in the past decade, all the hopefuls were girls under twelve. I would predict the timing and excuse myself to the bathroom. There I’d hang out until the humiliating event finished.
I still went to many weddings and took mental notes for when it was my turn. I decided to have photos done before the event, so my guests wouldn’t be kept waiting for one or two hours. I’d make sure they had appetizers and entertainment, if they had to wait for the main meal. The meal would be the biggest expense, a feast fit for a king. I’d skip the garter event—why should my husband go up my dress and pull out undergarments in front of our mothers when we haven’t even had sex yet.
I had plans. Lots of plans.
I’d do it right. People would learn how it’s done from my wedding. Articles and books would be written based on my planning.
As the years passed, I also watched marriages—the good, the bad and the ugly. I made mental notes on how not to treat my husband. I wouldn’t talk to him like I’m his mother, or as if he’s a three-year old. I would only speak words that built him up, instead of tearing him down, especially in front of others. I’d avoid nagging. I would be a beck-n-call wife—whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted it—somehow without losing my own identity or self-respect. I’d support him in his business endeavors and spiritual growth.
I would be his biggest fan.
It became so important for me to pick well, and probably why I remained single so long.
Following five years of persistent insomnia, and many treatments, I’d received no positive results from specialists. My sleep study showed I woke up thirty-three times. It proved I slept, but at the highest levels, with only twenty-percent of the necessary REM and deep-restorative level sleep. Night after night I tossed and turned. I woke exhausted every morning.
I think the wide awake insomnia would’ve been better, the kind where you’re fully conscious for hours. At least then I could get something accomplished in the middle of the night.
I’d become discouraged and desperate, I needed help. I went to a reputable Christian mental health counselor to learn if the sleep issue was all in my head. I’d hoped she could solve my problem.
We discussed my day job and then a twenty-year unfulfilled prophetic promise from God for a husband. I explained that I went through a period of frustration where I didn’t know if perhaps I was supposed to stay single.
One Saturday a friend prayed that God would reveal to me His will for me. That night at my ‘Bapti-costal’ church, (Baptist on Sunday morning; Pentecostal on Saturday night,) a young man came up to me and said, “I feel that God’s prompting me to tell you that He has a man for you.”
I knew his parents somewhat, but he did not know me enough to know my desire for marriage.
I took that as a promise from God for husband.
God confirmed His promise a few times within the next two years, mostly by strangers at church meetings. One time in particular, I was chatting with a friend before an evening church service with a special speaker from Morning Star ministry. A woman from their group who I’d never met came up to me. “I’m so sorry to interrupt, but God said He can see you sitting by a lantern seeking Him in the morning and late at night. He said He has a husband for you.”
Normally that would have been a weird way to describe a lamp, but what this woman didn’t know was I had two hand-me-down lamps shaped like old-timey lanterns. One, a bedside table lamp where I did my quiet-time prayer and Bible studying at bedtime, and the other a floor lamp by my recliner where I did quiet-times first thing in the mornings.
After hearing this the counselor said, “You need to enlarge your circles.” She leaned forward. “Hear me. I’m not saying you need to leave your church, just find a larger church with a Bible study group you can join. The women will have uncles, brothers, neighbors and co-workers they can introduce you to.”
I had attended a small church for over a decade, but when she told me to enlarge my circles, the word “Freedom” came into head. I thought of a church I’d visited at the other end of our county, but I dismissed it. Surely God would not send me to a church so far from home. I hate traffic and drivers are crazy these days. To get there I’d have to drive for twenty-five minutes on I-95—that’s like driving the gauntlet.
At the same time I had friends leaving our church. I figured I’d ride their coattails and hopefully wherever they landed they’d have a good Bible study I could visit. A couple of months later, they’d settled at a church.
“Where are you going now?” I asked.
She said, “We’ve been going to Freedom Christian Center down in Viera for the past three weeks, and we love it.”
I was familiar with that church from special events that they hosted; they were similar to my current church. At that moment I knew I needed to make the thirty-minute commute and attend there.
After attending two weekends I got caught in a two-hour traffic jam and arrived late to a meet-and-greet at the pastor’s house. I explained the details of why I changed churches to him and his wife.
The next day I noticed a man with salt-n-pepper hair sitting with an older woman, but he didn’t wear a wedding band. (I think ‘singles’ make a habit of checking for wedding bands, or lack thereof.) It was as if I saw the word MAN floating over him. After the service I studied him. He checked his phone, then mingled with people throughout the sanctuary. Social, good.
That week my counselor asked, “Have you seen anyone you’re interested in yet?”
Oh, good grief. Really? This soon? I answered, “Yes.” And told her about him.
She said, “Go to the pastor and ask about this man. He should know his flock.”
At the end of the next week’s service, I asked the pastor.
He said, “Single, never-been-married. Go introduce yourself.”
Completely out of my comfort zone, I took his direction as a “thus sayeth the Lord.” By the time I got back to my seat the man and the older woman were standing right there. I would have had to introduce myself just to get my purse from behind them.
I reached out my hand. “Hi, my name is Sally Hampton, and I’m new here.”
The man shook my hand and said, “I’m Dean and this is my mother, Jean. Do you want to join us for donuts and coffee in the fellowship hall?”
Trying to play it cool, I said, “Yes, I would,” with a little too much excitement. And so within four weeks of making the move to the new church, I had met my future husband. Praise God!
For months after church we ate lunch with his mother Jean, where we discussed many important life issues, including our dreams and disappointments. I wondered if he’d ever ask me out on a date. It took him five months before he invited me to dinner—he was cautious. He texted, “Do you want to meet for dinner without a chaperone?”
After almost a year of unchaperoned dates, he proposed Christmas Eve 2017. He invited my mother and I to his brother’s house for dinner. We walked outside to the backyard dock where he dropped to one knee and presented his grandmother’s engagement ring.
I didn’t even let him get to the question before interrupting with, “Yes, yes. Oh, my gosh, yes!”
He finally said, “We gonna do this?” He explained later he had a great speech planned, but forgot it all during the moment.
We tease each other that when we both finally decided to settle, (presumably for less than God’s best) we met each other. He jokes that I lowered the bar enough for him to step over it, but we both believe that God orchestrated the whole thing without either of us compromising.
I accepted immediately and we let the engagement marinate for a couple weeks. With the marriage in mind we started premarital counseling. Having fingernails pulled would have been more comfortable, but I took away a few tips that will help in the long run.
Dean and I both married for the first time at fifty. Neither of us have children.
Job 42:12 – So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning (KJV)