Shackin' Up Saved Me
What the devil meant for evil, God turned it around for my good!
When I think back circa 2002/2003 I would have never thought that when I coerced my then friend with benefits, Jacks, into a relationship that God would use that to change my life.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 21 years old in Chicago and remember living with my aunt, but I was ready to be grown and have my own place. Well, I wanted my own place but didn’t want to pay the bill. Jacks and I had known each other since I was 16. Poor Jacks, he would consistently fall victim to my deceitfulness. I was underage in the clubs when I met him – I believe at the time I met him he was in his early 20s.
Back in the day I was a very charming young lady – the older folks would just say I was fast. I didn’t tell Jacks I was underage until I was 17 years old. We went out once or twice but would primarily see each other on the club scene. Because I knew I was underage I was strict about not having sex with older men, I wouldn’t dare put a man in that position of risking his freedom – Jacks wasn’t feeling the underage thing either.
I remember seeing Jacks in a club one summer, I was 18 going on 19 and made sure to remind him that I was grown now. That was the start of our friendship with benefits. He was my go-to, my lover. We were having fun because that’s what you do at that age. I wasn’t really looking for a relationship – he was just my homie-lover-friend. I’d say that we were really good friends but I don’t believe either of us ever considered being in a relationship with one another.
Fast-forward to being 21 and living with my aunt. One day I had the bright idea that maybe it was time for Jacks and I to move our relationship a little bit closer. How I was going to convince him of that? I wasn’t sure. I remember going with the first idea that popped in my mind, I would tell him that I was going to move away to go and live with my mother in Ohio. To my surprise, he felt some type of way at the thought of me moving away. Feeding off of his emotions I used that as my segway and said to him, “well, I can come and live with you…”
I never would have guessed Jacks’ response. This man said, “Oh, no. We can’t do that. My grandmother raised me not to shack up.” Funny thing is I never even heard of the term shacking up until Jacks had said it. Even now I’m saying to myself that he didn’t feel bad about having premarital sex, but how dare he shack up??? Jacks wanted the cookies but didn’t want them invading his space.
So me being a cunning woman I remember saying to the effect that I would just go ahead and move with my mother. I believe I told him that I would be in leaving in a week or two. We ended our conversation and didn’t speak with each for the rest of the week. Honestly, I never had any intentions of moving to Ohio with my mom. I moved to my thought of plan B, which was figuring out how I was going to get a better paying job so that I could afford my own apartment.
Now, imagine my surprise when Jacks called me a week later with an interesting question. I thought he was calling me for a normal bootie call. I didn’t expect nothing more, nothing less. After some small talk he candidly asked, “You still moving to Ohio?” Quickly my interest piqued and I replied, Yes!!! And decided to put a sense of urgency on it and said that I was leaving that following weekend – I believe our call was on a Tuesday or Wednesday of said weekend.
I remember him being very apprehensive. Clearly I was selfish, I really didn’t care about how he was feeling about what he was about to agree to do. As I felt the inevitable coming, I was caught off guard about the stipulations that came with me moving in with him. Jacks said to me, “Well, if you move in with me we must go to church every Sunday. That’s the only way that I’m going to feel good about this.” Without hesitation I said OK.
It didn’t dawn on me what I was getting myself into. Honestly, I didn’t really care. At the time the few people that I knew who went to church were doing the same thing I was doing. At the time I didn’t really know any real saved people, I didn’t even know what it meant to be a part of The Church. All the people that I knew who went to church was in the club with me turning up and drinking. They were having premarital sex, smoking, and being a sinner like me. Honestly, I didn’t even know I was a sinner. I was just living life. I really don’t remember talking about salvation or what it really meant to be saved. I was just doing me. I lived under the guise that I was a morally decent person and that I was going to heaven because I never killed anyone.
Jacks and I was having a good old time shacking up! We’d have Saturdays where we would have sex all night and get up and go to church Sunday morning. It was nothing for me. It was part of the requirement that didn’t make a bit of difference for me. But God is mysterious in that way. The innocent obligation of going to church every Sunday was God working behind the scene on the ratcheted mess of me.
I remember calling my good girlfriend one day trying to go out to the club. It had been a while since we spoke because unbeknownst to me she’d gotten saved about a year earlier. It made sense because I remember calling her on multiple occasions prior asking if she wanted to hang out and she would always say no. God made sure that the knowledge of her salvation would impede my mind. I remember asking her on this day that I called this last time, after feeling some type of way of what I felt was rejection, why was she acting funny. Her words, “Cause I’m saved!” penetrated and for weeks I couldn’t get her voice out of my head.
After that phone call, it seemed like all of a sudden I was paying attention to the sermons when Jacks and I attended Sunday service. The Lord was somehow now reaching me through the sermons through the minister. I began to become curious about God and his word. I remember calling up my friend and telling her how I was feeling. She encouraged me to read the four Gospels. So although Jacks and I were still shacking up, I was coming home and reading my Bible.
I wasn’t quite ready to fully give up my lifestyle of sex, partying, and drinking, but I was taking notice that my life wasn’t lining up to the will of God. I remember calling my friend with more questions and she encouraged me to come and visit her church on a Wednesday. I would always say that I was going to come but Jacks wasn’t too keen on visiting different churches.
One week Jacks went out of town, I think it was for his birthday. So I decided that on that Wednesday I would go to Bible class at my friend’s church. We got there a little early and had a talk with the pastor, who is also her father. I can’t remember everything we talked about but I know the pastor prayed for me that day. I returned back to the church on Sunday because Jacks was still out of town. I don’t remember what the pastor was preaching about, but I know that it felt different. Hindsight, I realize what I was feeling was God’s conviction on my life.
That was the beginning of the breakdown of me and Jacks relationship. I stopped going to church with him and I would attend my friend’s church on Sundays. They have this congregational song they would sing every Sunday. The words were, “My peace I give unto you. It’s a peace that the world could not give.” The lyrics would make me cry every time because I didn’t have any peace. I was in an inner turmoil with myself. Nothing was making me happy nor satisfying me. I wasn’t myself. I almost cheated on Jacks, and the only reason I didn’t follow through with it was because I got caught. While I was supposed to be calling the guy I was going to creep off with, I accidentally called Jacks and didn’t realize I was talking to him until it was too late. I was disappointed in myself because I hurt someone that I was supposed to love, but I didn’t realize that God was pulling on me and it was him breaking up house.
After talking to the pastor of my friend’s church he told me that it was time for me to get in God’s will and move out from living with Jacks… I’m not going to bore you all with the rest of the details. The short story is that I moved out, tried to be saved for a couple months, backslid and got in some mess that I may tell y’all about at a later time, but then eventually found God again. I moved out of Jacks’ apartment in Spring 2004 and by August 2005 I had fully given my life to the Lord. My home church now is the church that God lead me to through my friend.
What did I learn about God during this experience? I learned that you never know what God is doing in the background. Was it his will that I shacked up with Jacks? No. But he chose to use it as a vehicle to engraft me into his kingdom. The Bible says it’s one who plants the seed and another who waters it. God started the planting in me by Jacks obligation of going to church every Sunday, and reunited me with my girlfriend so her father could water it. And here’s another tidbit of info, my good girlfriend I have known her since I was 15 years old. In all that time I knew her I didn’t remember knowing that her father was a pastor until we were reunited.
Would I have found God if it had not been for the situation? I believe I would have, just think I would have had to bump my head a lot more times. But truly I believe it was always meant to happen that way. God had had my life planned out from when I was in my mother’s womb. Unfortunately for Jacks, he was a casualty of war in the situation. He got used twice, by me and then by God. Always know that what the devil meant for evil, God always turns it around for your good – if you’re predestined to be an heir of salvation. I don't believe God's intention is that we live in sin before we come to live his life - but it shows he will use any situation to save you.
Jacks and I are still pretty good friends and I think he eventually forgave me for my indiscretions.
Photos Credit: Facebook, Ty Waller
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