Valerie Jeannis walked away from her engagement just four weeks before the wedding because she finally realised she could leave and her fiancé didn’t have to give his permission. Here she shares her story.
I once ran into a beautiful actress in the fruit section of the supermarket. What started out as a simple hello turned into a conversation about love and choices. She shared how on the day of her wedding instead of walking down the aisle with her father when the music started playing, she held him back, shaking her head and saying “no”.
In response, her dad looked at her and said: “Listen, I paid a lot of money and there are a lot of people sitting in there waiting for you. Come on.” Even though she changed her mind and no longer wanted to marry this man, even though everything inside of her was screaming for her to run, she walked down the aisle anyway and said, “I do.”
When I asked her why, she said: “If my dad would’ve said: ‘Baby, don’t worry about it. If you don’t want to do this, you don’t have to. You go and I’ll take care of everything else,’ I would never have done it. But he didn’t and I didn’t know how to say no.” Unfortunately, her doubts proved to be right. It took years for her to finally find the strength to do what she wanted to do on her wedding day – walk away.
On my way home that night, I couldn’t help but wonder, how many times do we stick with things in spite of ourselves? How many times do we feel uneasiness about people and directions we’re getting ready to take, but we ignore it? How many times do we feel led down a certain path or change our minds about continuing down the path we are currently on, but we ignore our inner voice and knowing or listen to people instead? How many times have you done it? I almost did.
Those four words gave me permission I didn’t realise I was waiting for to do what I’ve wanted to do for YEARS - end my engagement and leave.
As I was walking down the street one Sunday after church, one of the youth leaders came up to me and said: “Separation is not divorce.” That was it. No explanation. No elaboration. Just four simple words: “Separation is not divorce.” And for whatever reason, it made sense to me. Those four words gave me permission I didn’t realise I was waiting for to do what I’d wanted to do for YEARS - end my engagement and leave.
I was 21 and engaged to the guy I’ve been dating for more than four years. The date was set. Wedding party confirmed. Wedding dress chosen. Down payments made. And yet…there was an increasingly persistent nudging saying: “Don’t do this.” But how do you walk away? Perhaps it would have been easier if this was someone I met in a secular setting, but he wasn’t. Though we didn’t have the same circle of friends, we grew up in the same family church. He eventually went down a different path, but then, like the prodigal, he came back with an incredible testimony, which stirred up my desire to know Christ better. Unfortunately, in my innocence, I reached out to him for help with Bible study. He agreed and shortly thereafter declared: “God showed me who you’re going to be with.”
I was so excited God was talking about ME! He eventually disclosed he was the chosen one. Though taken aback, I really wanted to please God, so if God said it or if someone said God said it, then I would do it. At the time, I didn’t think God could or would speak to me directly. So, rather than question that “revelation”, when he said he was “the one”, my response was: “If God gives you something, he isn’t going to take it away, which means we are going to be together forever, right?” He said “yes.” and I said, “ok.” That “Yes” was the beginning of a four-and-a-half-year relationship that could have derailed my life. By the grace of God, it didn’t.
Three months into the relationship I wanted out, but when he said, “no,” I said, “Ok.” It took me years to learn I didn’t need his permission.
Whether it’s your career, your engagement or what you want to eat for dinner – you get to change your mind. YOU GET TO CHANGE YOUR MIND. And, you don’t need someone’s permission to do so. Three months into the relationship I wanted out, but when he said, “no,” I said, “Ok.” It took me years to learn I didn’t need his permission. I just needed to decide and follow through.
Was there a price to pay? Absolutely. But whether you choose to stay or go, there always will be. Your job is to examine the cost and decide which one(s) you are willing to pay. For me, leaving was worth every penny and every tearful nights it took to set me free.