Losing Everything to Win it ALL!
Gazing across the room at Tiffany and Brian Cook, it is as though the love exuberates and seems contagious. They are inseparable and it as if we are all witnessing love struck teenagers who are unrestricted in their emotional display of affection. It is sincere and it is solid. The Cook couple are admired both from afar and upfront and personal.
When I sat down and asked Tiffany Cook a few questions about their love affair, I quickly found that this couple is a solid team. Their willingness to tackle and overcome some of the grit and grime designed to destroy them made them strong intimate covenant partners.
Tiffany and Brian glow when they look at one another and as they talk about one another yet they have not been without struggles in their marriage. Taken from the notes of this interview, the goal is to share the beauty of being team members and fighting to win.
Their love affair began in the summer of 2000. It would become the young couple’s reality of being swept off their feet. Falling in deep love rather quickly, Tiffany had met her prince and Brian had met his princess. Two years later they had a child and were wed. Tiffany settled in and completed her college education while Brian worked to provide for their family. They had everything. A solid family, the purchase of a beautiful home, nice vehicles, and they were confident that they had it all.
Six years had passed by and the BP Oil Spill occurred in the Gulf. Brian, the committed provider, understood that this was an opportunity to gain more money for his family and he seized it. The demands of the job caused an escalation of his time and proved exhausting. Still committed to spending quality time with his family, he would make plans to sit and talk and interact with them yet his exhaustion would cause him to fall asleep, often while he was in mid-sentence.
The family had become accustomed to his exhausted state. Meanwhile, Tiffany was turning 30 years of age. Perhaps a mid-life crisis, hormonal, or unrealistic rationale, Tiffany began to feed into a fear of getting older. The dynamics and elements were the backdrop for creating a turbulent storm. Although subtle and seemingly unrecognizable, they had drifted apart.
Ultimately, the worse thing imaginable came to pass. Tiffany found herself in a place she confidently knew she would not fall prey to. More importantly she knew she would not jeopardize or bring pain to her family. Tiffany and Brian just would not allow anything to put their family at risk and they were committed to doing so.
Tiffany, in her brokenness, had an extramarital affair. Because of the guilt and shame, she could not believe she had fallen to such a low place and refused to tell Brian about the affair. She thought it would be best to leave him.
Aware she had lost what they built, they both moved on and saw other people.
Two years would pass by and although the couple settled that they would never be a couple, they did not waiver in their commitment to co-parent their child. Events began to happen that were as if the hand of God was placing all the pieces back together.
During a St. Patrick’s day outing in 2013, Tiffany and Brian would cross paths. That very night, Brian, came to her home, but careful not to get their hopes up nor their daughter’s hopes up, they would just announce that they were good friends. Being aware that their daughter had been praying and longing for their reunion, they sternly affirmed that they would not be a couple.
Ironically, weeks before the encounter with Brian, Tiffany had been fervently praying and acknowledging God like she never had before. She did not grow up going to church. Brian had grown up knowing the Lord, had a relationship with the Lord, and would share of having a personal relationship and experience with God.
He never demanded or shoved going to church down her throat yet expressed his desires for their family to have a church home and all of them to have a personal relationship with God. Having a personal relationship with God seemed like unfamiliar territory for Tiffany. Tiffany knew God existed but never had a true encounter, a true worship experience with God. Tiffany recalls her beautiful experience of fervently praying and reverencing God. Although, Tiffany, was experiencing these God encounters and Him moving in her life, she had yet to mature in her walk with God.
Another Godly experience happened before her encounter with Brian on that St. Patrick’s Day, she had a prophetic encounter at a local Wal-Mart. This woman made “random” conversation with her which led to an opening to prophecy in her life. This lady gave a prophetic declaration: “The Lord wants you to know that your family will be back together and your anxiety will be lifted.” Tiffany, moved to tears, felt God’s presence and as tears cradled her face, she was awestruck by the move of God. She wondered how this lady knew what she had been secretly prayed – what she had so desperately longed for.
Continuing this dance between two worlds, they continued to buffer their daughter’s feelings and hopes. They maintained their firmness of defining their relationship as friends. Adding to the stern approach of this theme, they told their daughter that they immensely loved her and that the reality of them getting together was non-existent. Further reinforcing this fact her dad, Brian, was committed to someone else. Brian was involved with another woman at the time.
Things got even uglier for the couple. Both being afraid, indecisive, and unclear of what could really be their reality, settled. Tiffany settled being the “other woman” because of her own guilt and shame. Although Brian knew he wanted his family back, it was a scary place to be. After all, they had vowed to love one another yet they had become subject to so many low places that they never could have imagined in the first place. How could he ever believe for restoration.
Fate would have it that Brian and his mate would have a disagreement and things became so disagreeable for his former mate that things would fall apart. Tiffany knew that she had risked and destroyed their family by her own hands and deeds and thought this may be a glimpse of hope.
After his relationship came to an end, they still remained to define their relationship as friends. Meanwhile, God used different situations at pivotal times to bring them closer to Him.
Tiffany was invited to a church service. The church service was only an hour long plus it didn’t start until later in the morning. This was something doable. At the time, she considered Sundays “her day” after working all week long. By the time Sundays came around, she was so exhausted. Unwilling to do anything, especially anything that called for investing a lot of time. Albeit wrong, that was her mindset at the time.
Brian was out of town when she shared that she was going to church with friends the following Sunday. Tiffany went and enjoyed it. When Brian returned home, he joined her in fellowship and he was elated that Tiffany was attending church. In fact, she actually became a regular attendee of church. Throughout the years of their marriage, he longed for his family to be in church.
God began to use several series of event that drew the couple to Him and for them to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They have since become faithful members of Victory International Christian Center in Ocean Springs, MS (Pastors Carlton G. and Marilyn E. McCarter) and have served there for over three years.
Their marriage and family has been fully restored.
When others come to Brian and Tiffany sharing of their brokenness and perhaps hopelessness of their marriage and family, without reservation, as the Holy Spirit leads, they share how brokenness had essentially allowed them to lose everything yet gain it all.
Tiffany and Brian lost physical things as well as ungodly expectations and investing in things of the flesh. They gained it all. They gained it all by God using all the hills and valleys, the ugly ashes that buried them in gritty soot only to resurrect them as displays of God’s beautiful redemptive work. They could not have it all without a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Now they smile, knowing if they lost everything again, they have everything as long as they keep Jesus.
Isaiah 61:7-9Amplified Bible (AMP)
Instead of your [former] shame you will have a [a]double portion;
And instead of humiliation your people will shout for joy over their portion.
Therefore in their land they will possess double [what they had forfeited];
Everlasting joy will be theirs.
For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery with [b]a burnt offering.
And I will faithfully reward them,
And make an everlasting covenant with them.
Then their offspring will be known among the nations,
And their descendants among the peoples.
All who see them [in their prosperity] will recognize and acknowledge them
That they are the people whom the Lord has blessed.
Written by Katrina L Long Currie, M.Ed. Chaplain
Photos by Photographer: Terrence Smith
Make-up Artist: Katrina L Long-Currie