“When I grow up, I’m not getting married.” I announced. My friend looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. “And I’m not having kids. Ever.”
My teacher speaks up. “You’ll change your mind.” “No”, I repeat, “I won’t get married.”
“Then you should sign a contract. But, if you sign it, you will have to keep the terms of the contract.” I agree and we create the contract.
I, Taunya Marie, will not marry anyone, ever. If I do marry, I will not marry someone more than 5 years older than myself. Whether I marry or not, I will never have children. If I break the terms of this contract, I will owe Sister Anna a steak dinner.
I grab the pen from her hand and sign my name. “I won’t forget I signed this.” I tell her and walk away.
I was 14 years old when I signed the I-Won’t-Get-Married contract. It wasn’t a hard decision, I knew I didn’t want anything to do with the “institution of marriage”. Besides, the end of the world was coming in 1992.
Based upon a mixture of scriptures, historical occurrences and special revelation it was determined the end of the world would be 1992. The exact date wasn’t known but I felt I’d at least see my 18th birthday. I never thought I would live to see my 19th birthday.Preparation for my future involved learning the Bible doctrines and praying I would overcome my flesh by age 15—so I’d have the requisite 3 years without sin to escape the coming day of wrath. Learning about biology and Shakespeare did not matter when I was going to spend an eternity ruling and reigning with Jesus.
Marriage in our church was complicated. We taught it was a picture of Jesus and his bride. The bride was a select group (144,000 to be exact) of overcomers who had reached a state of perfection. Perfection meant without sin and to qualify for the bride one had to live without sin for 3 years. This is where things get messy. One of the beliefs was that the original sin in the garden was that Adam and Eve disobeyed God and had sex. The result was Cain. Sex ,also known as “the lust of the flesh”, was one of those sins to overcome. A member of the bride must be as the angels and not involve themselves in something as carnal as sex. The best way to overcome this particular sin was to not participate in the first place. Therefore marriage became something to avoid. Signing that contract was my way of saying I was committed to God.
I heard rumors that the end of the world was supposed to have happened in 1978 and yet 10 years later the world had not ended I questioned the validity of the 1992 date but never allowed myself to speak my doubt aloud. When I arrived in Portland I realized my new pastor believed things differently. He was not convinced the world would end in 1992. “Plan as if the end will not come in your lifetime; live as if it will come tomorrow.” I had no plans for a future that didn’t include a fiery explosion at the end of 1992. When it became obvious that wouldn’t happen my plan became “make it up as I go along.”
January 1, 1993 arrived. I accepted that I was going to live a long life, God willing. 10 months later I broke the contract with Sister Anna. Not only did I willingly choose to marry, I chose to marry a man who was 8 years older than I. A man who definitely wanted to be a father.
I look back at my decision and laugh. Beneath my facade, I hoped in love despite what I was taught and what I experienced. I hoped that God would let me get married and be a mother. I hoped that God was as good as I believed him to be deep inside my soul. Today that hope is my reality. I am married. I am a mother. And I am loved. Deeply…by Abba…and by the man who gave me his last name. If all I ever have is Abba’s love and the husband’s love…it will be enough.
And every day I’m happy the world did not end in 1992.