I was dating a man that was going to be a dad. How in the world was I going to deal with this bomb that was dropped on me? He was going to be the father to a child he had with another woman. Could I handle the life-long connection that we’d be forced to have with this other woman? If I stayed with Steve and we got married, that meant I’d be a step-mom…me a step-mom? Can my heart handle all of this and do I actually want to welcome this into my life?
I had flashbacks to our date at Seven downtown Minneapolis. I told him
I think everything has order. I don’t want to have sex before I’m married, I don’t want to have children before I’m married.When things get out of order, things gets messy and God planned it that way for a reason.
I did the math, and Steve knew he was going to be a dad well before the date in which I “laid down the law.” I couldn’t imagine what was going through his mind as those words came out of my mouth.
I also couldn’t understand why he thought he’d continue to pursue me even though he knew what my stance was. There would never be an easy transition of telling me the truth, yet he never jumped ship.
I wasn’t just dealing with the reality of what the situation was and my feelings about it, but I couldn’t begin to imagine if I chose to continue in this relationship, how would I ever tell my parents? All of this was so against what I’ve stood for all my life.
It’s not that I look down on people that have children out of wedlock, but I don’t agree with it. There is a reason why God says no to sex before marriage. Some people view that as his way of “sucking the fun” out of your relationship, or “it’s my right to do what I want” but really it’s God’s way of providing a hedge of protection for our hearts.
God tells us in Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Why unite yourself as one body with someone to that level of intimacy without having God’s blessing to do so?
My thoughts on sex before marriage also looked like this: if getting married to me right now scares you, then there’s no way I’m going to have sex with you. If you’re not ready for that level of commitment, then you’re definitely not ready for that level of intimacy. You do not have permission to cross my threshold.
This stance doesn’t come from a place of arrogance, but rather identity in Christ. He has gone before me, been tempted in every way, yet he never failed. He knows the lengths that Satan goes to tempt us, but no matter how much you love someone or think you do in that season of that particular relationship, God will bless you much more in your obedience to him, instead of you satisfying your own human desires.
Now this situation was less than ideal, but I do know that even in this mess, God had a plan.
I prayed about our relationship and asked God to guide me and show me what He wanted for my life. Could this really be His plan for me? I wanted Him to make it obvious as to what my steps forward would be. I had countless conversations with Mel (my sister) about all of this and I didn’t have an immediate answer.
I continued to pray…
I was silent.
Thoughts were riffling through my mind.
How could this be?
When did this happen?
I thought we were on the same page?
This wasn’t what I wanted. Surely he knew that.
What was he thinking?
We walked in silence. What had been an evening of joy and laughter quickly turned into confusion, hurt and disbelief.
He didn’t try to fill the conversational void by justify anything about the situation. He didn’t give me any excuses.
We walked up his driveway into his townhouse and sat down on the couch.
Why was this happening? Why was it that I found myself in another situation where I felt like I was again, being faced with dealing with the repercussions of someone else’s decisions? Why couldn’t things be simple?
Things were going so well. There always had to be something. Something I’d have to be accepting of or that I’d “deal with.”
Maybe Steve wasn’t who I thought he was…
I was crushed. I didn’t even know what to say and I didn’t say a word for a long time.
Steve didn’t know what to do. I could see he wasn’t sure whether to hug me, hold my hand, or if he should keep his distance.
Tears streamed down my stoic face. I was in a daze.
He sat by my side and put his hand on mine.
I wiped my tears.
“Ash, I’m so sorry. I wanted to tell you sooner but I wanted to be sure about us.”
Steve was sincere in his apology and he apologized several times. I believed him, and I believed in him, but it didn’t make this news any easier to take. I was hurt and I felt betrayed. How could he leave me in the dark about something so huge? Who else knew? How many people had I met that knew he was going to be a dad and I didn’t even know? For crying out loud, I was dating him and I didn’t even know?
My gaze shifted from a far off place, to his face.
“I know you’re sorry and I believe you… I’m feeling a lot of different emotions right now.”
I told him exactly how I felt.
Hurt. Betrayed. Deceived. Confused. Sad. Disappointed. Upset. Crushed.
His eyes welled up, and we were both crying. We wiped each other’s tears.
It was then I felt God nudging me to say something… He filled me with compassion, and gave me the words that God knew Steve needed to hear in that moment.
“Steve, you’re going to be such a great dad.”
He smiled a little, sniffled, and breathed a sigh of relief. Those words made him tear up even more. It was as if hearing those simple words provided him with the heavenly assurance he needed to hear and the load of his secret had been lifted off his shoulders.
We were now comforting each other. He knew I was completely crushed and I knew he was terrified.
I asked him questions about what had happened. Who was this other woman? When did this happen? What was his plan? And a bunch of other questions I won’t re-hash online.
I could see how shaken he was by the reality of what being a father meant for his life. Major changes were coming whether he was ready for them or not.
Again I wiped my tears. My heart had just taken a devastating blow.
I wasn’t angry with him, but I knew we had just hit a major fork in the road.
It wasn’t long after our first few dates that Steve bought me my own pair of pink Title boxing gloves. I still wasn’t quite sure what to think of him yet.
My initial reaction was, great, now I feel obligated to go to his class…but it didn’t stop there. He also bought my sister a pair too. We were basically a package deal. To get to me, you gotta go through my sister and vice versa. Way to reel her in with a pair of gloves!
It actually ended up being a great thing. Mel and I continued to go to Steve’s boxing classes and I got to know him better too.
Steve and I gradually spent more time together. Some times we’d cook together, work out, go on walks, go to sporting events, or watch UFC fights (Ultimate Fighting Championship).
The more time I spent with Steve, the more I learned about him. I learned he was a very connected guy. He was a smart aleck always prepared with a one-liner or a witty comeback. He didn’t say things in a hurtful way but he had a way of zinging you with truth.
He was intelligent, not only on a general knowledge level, but in his training. He’s the experienced trainer who could take you through a series of movements (exercise assessments) and could tell you exactly what you needed to do to improve the functionality of your body or give you a plan to correct your dysfunction. Steve loved helping people and having fun in the process.
He was a go-getter. If there was something he wanted, he’d work for it.
Well, apparently I was one of those things. We were working out at the gym and he introduced me to someone and said, “this my girlfriend, Ashley.”
I smiled and shook that person’s hand and just went with it in the moment, when inside I was dying, what was he thinking! Did I some how miss the conversation that we were “official” because I don’t remember having that conversation?
After our workout I went home to my sister Melia, who was my roommate at the time and filled her in.
“He introduced me to someone as his girlfriend!”
Now Mel knows me very well. I am what you call a commitment phobe when it comes to relationships. It’s really quite ridiculous actually.
“You can’t just start calling someone your girlfriend without asking her about it.”
We hemmed and hawed about the details of this situation and the positives and negatives of it. It eventually turned into me admitting, “I have a boyfriend.”
It was a regular evening and Steve and I were hanging out after work. We had cooked dinner together and he suggested we go on a walk.
We laughed, joked and talked. Just enjoying the evening together.
“I brought you on this walk because there’s something I want to tell you.” When he prefaced this chat with that, of course I had a little bit of panic…he’s going to tell me he loves me. What in the world am I going to do?
But that wasn’t it.
He said “There has been something I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time. I didn’t know where this relationship would go at first and I wanted to see how things developed before I told you.”
“Okay…well you know you can tell me anything right?” I ensured.
“Yes, I know that.” He paused as he gathered his thoughts.
“Ash, I’m going to be a dad.”
Some people walk into our lives, and the impression they leave in our hearts is eternal.
Some people have the ability to light a fire within us, and that flame gives us the confidence to shine brighter than we ever thought was possible.
Some people have the ability to see beyond the limitations set by the world, but even more than that, they live fearlessly and make strides beyond the boundaries of “the box.”
Some people face circumstances that would paralyze most, but rather than seeing those same circumstances as an obstacle, they’re used as a stepping-stone.
Those are a few of the words I wrote not long after Steve had passed away. These words not only describe Steve, but also my approach and response to losing him.
Steve Toms: A man who has left an eternal impression in the hearts of many people throughout his short 35 years of life. Steve pushed me and others to be their best not only from an athletic standpoint, but in all aspects of life.
He had the ability to see your potential and not only that; he’d do whatever he could to help you reach it. He wasn’t limited by the expectations of others or the rules of this world, but instead pushed the limits. A loving father, husband, and friend; Steve will always be a driving force that reminds us to live life to it’s fullest.
What started as a dream and a call to action from a dear friend, Stien Davis, is now a reality. With your help, the Steve Toms Foundation will be able to carry on the legacy of what Steve was all about, teaching people to live a life of Vitality.
We’re excited to officially launch the Steve Toms Foundation. Please join us in the first annual State of Vitality golf tournament on Monday June 30, 2014.
For more information and to register for this event, go to: www.stevetomsfoundation.org
Like our Steve Toms Foundation Facebook Page
Follow the Steve Toms Foundation on Twitter: @stevetoms22 #stateofvitality
As Steve would say, “LET’S DO THIS!”
Enjoy the day you’ve been blessed with,
Our next date that stands out to me was on May 24, 2010. We went to the Nickelback concert at the Target Center with Rod and DeeAnn, two of Steve’s friends and clients. It was the first time we had met in person, although we had heard about each other before.
I was nervous because I was the young one of the group, and I didn’t know what they’d think of me. I was just barely getting into my teaching career and they were both well established with two grown kids. I wasn’t sure what we were going to talk about.
Steve introduced us and we greeted each other with a hug. DeeAnn was in great shape and had a smile that was so inviting. She made me feel comfortable right away. Rod was easy to talk to as well.
I enjoyed watching Steve interact with the two of them. DeeAnn was one of Steve’s hardcore clients. This woman can do lunges for days and has a heart of gold. Now Steve and Rod, aka “meathead” (Steve actually called several people meathead) would razz each other. Dee and I got a good chuckle at those two goofballs acting like teenage boys.
We were going to get some beverages before the concert when Steve realized he forgot his ID. I had to laugh. Here is this grown man who is unprepared for our date, and I end up purchasing our beverages. It wasn’t a big deal to me, but we had a good laugh about it. I went and purchased two beverages from Wally the Beer Man.
The concert started with a bang! I’d heard of Nickelback before and knew a few of their songs, but of course I did more research before I went to the concert. A girl’s gotta be educated!
We had great seats second level, but close to the stage. It was a hot one, and I thought I had prepared by wearing a tank top, shorts and heels. It was bad enough to be roasting because of the warm weather, but things got worse.
I started to sweat, and not just the “crap my face is getting shinny” kind of sweat, we’re talking beads. Beads of sweat running down my face, back, chest and even legs.
I didn’t want to sit down because what was going on was the type of sweating situation that when you stand up you feel like you peed your pants; and for a second you think, did I? Gross.
I glanced over and was happy that I wasn’t the only one who was struggling. All four of us were blazing!
To make matters worse, Nickelback’s staging consisted of firing off 20-foot torches, blazing a flame that was packing heat comparable to the sun. Once, was cool and the response was many ooohs and ahhhs, but for crying out loud, quit with the flames! Every time they fired the flames the temperature of the Target Center seemed to increase 20 degrees. Ugh!
It became a joke. When we’d complain about the flame action, it’s as if the stage manager was secretly in on our conversation and tripped the switch just to aggravate us even more.
We ended up taking our own intermissions throughout the concert. The heat was out of control, and with all of that sweating we had to rehydrate.
When the concert was over we thanked Rod and Dee for inviting us and said our goodbyes. Steve and I both looked like we had just finished working out, but we still had a great time together.