Friday, February 10, 2012

and I Knew He was the One - {Mary Clendenin}

Please Welcome
Mary Clendenin
writer from
Beautiful Mommy Feet
I first met the one who would become my husband when I was only 13 years old. He was my best friend’s older brother. I thought he was so handsome and nice…I had a crush on him all during my teen years. He was 19 and knew me as his “little sister’s best friend”. He used to pick us up from driver’s ed.
I never dated much and wasn’t allowed to go out until I was 17. Even then, the few nice guys I went out with (usually only one time), I always compared them to Andrew. I didn’t really “know” Andrew, just always liked him and knew there was something special about him. Mom even said that I didn’t think any guy measured up to Andrew…she was right.
I graduated from college and did not have a boyfriend. I was not one to date just for fun and if I didn’t feel that after the first date it would go anywhere, I wouldn’t go back out with the guy. I wasn’t being snobby, I just wanted to save all of my heart and emotions for the one God had picked out for me. Plus, I was very shy.
I had convinced myself that I would be an old maid school teacher. I had also convinced myself that if I did get married, I would either get a good, godly man or a handsome one…not one in the same package. I look back and see silly I was and how little faith I had for the good gifts God wants to bestow on His children.
In 1997, when I was 22 years old…my best friend was killed in a car accident. We took food to the family and I skipped my college graduation to attend the funeral. It really touched Andrew. He called to talk a week later and then started visiting my family. I never really thought it would go anywhere because we were helping each other through the grieving process.
We started dating and getting to know each other. Andrew was as nice as I thought he was. Life had hit him hard with the death of his sister and it was a difficult time for both of us. Grief over her death, guilt over falling in love during that time and that it took her death to bring us together.
We grew closer and enjoyed one another’s company…then he got scared. {I would find out years later why love was so hard for him}. So he said we should quit seeing one another for a while. It was the day before I started my first teaching job. I was devastated and cried most of the day during teacher meetings. That only lasted a few weeks and we started seeing each other again.
We dated for 6 months and then he proposed before Christmas, after asking my parents’ for my hand in marriage and receiving their blessing. We were married 6 ½ months later. I still can’t believe at times that I am married to Andrew...the one I had liked for so many years. A seed was planted in my heart and slowly grew over the years.
We have had a good marriage, but we have had our ups and downs. I am thankful for each day that I had the privilege of loving my husband. I am so thankful for the seed of love that was planted in my heart at a young age. I found out how much I needed that seed that was planted during 2011…when my husband and his siblings were finally able to talk about years of daily abuse {of every type} they received at the boarding school/concentration camp style cult their parents put them in.
It is a very deep, dark, and heart breaking story. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to love and marry Andrew after learning of all this. It is only by God’s grace that he survived - physically and mentally. I am blessed beyond words that he has any desire to know God and walk so closely with Him, because he was only taught that God was a tyrant. I also understood why we had the initial break up in our relationship ~ he had never known love before (unless he was earning it) and wasn’t sure what to do with it.
Finding out about all of this and struggling to make sense of it all took a toll on our lives and marriage. Andrew had been dealing with this for years and had learned how to deal as best he could. He would have never talked about it, but his other sister finally brought things out in the open. It hit me like a ton of bricks between my eyes. I grew up in a normal home and had only read of things that didn’t even come close to this. My mind could not comprehend the evil that my husband and so many children had endured from birth through teens.
I was a roller coaster of emotions, trying to help him heal, be strong for him, and figure out how to move forward and not become buried under the weight of it all. I also had to work hard not to hate those and forgive those who were supposed to love and protect him, not harm him. There were times that I didn’t know how I could make it and thought that this is not what I signed up for…it was just too much to bear.
I thought my dream life had all been a lie. I didn’t understand why he didn’t tell me about all this. I allowed things to become about “me”. I put myself in his shoes (as best I could) and thought about what I would have done. If he had shared all this before we were married, I am not sure what would have happened. I would have been too young and immature in our love to have handled it. I was shocked at all the years I had spent with his family and wondered how I had missed all the pain the children endured.
God has done a great work in our lives this last year. The worst year of my life drove me to a deeper relationship with God. He was the only way that I survived the struggles and didn’t lose my mind…believe me there were days I thought I would. He was the only way we were able to work through the past and move on toward what God had for us. He is the only way our love and marriage grew stronger.
As I look back over our marriage and travel back to the first time I saw Andrew, I am amazed at the journey God has brought us on. His amazing love and grace has sustained us and brought us to a deeper love for one another and a deeper love of God’s grace and plan for our lives.
Oh, by the way, God did answer my silly request… I did get a good, godly, very handsome, kind man …all wrapped up in one package. ;)

Mary is a stay at home wife and mom. She has been married to the love of her life for almost 14 years and they have 2 sons. They live on a busy dairy farm. She blogs about her life and helping others at The Encouraging Home. She writes about home, family, homeschooling, natural living, homeschooling, and the craziness that comes with it all.


  1. Mary, beautiful story of God's love and grace and how love {through God} can conquer all.

  2. God bless you both my sweet friend. I could only imagine. Love you .. ~ Tanya xo