Words by Terrell Manasco | Images by Al Blanton
Jason and Stacy Guthrie have a story to tell.
It began in November 1994. Jason was a Walker College sophomore. With Jason was his friend—and the catalyst for what would soon transpire— a young freshman named Al Blanton. “Al and I, being the ‘Big Men on Campus,’ Jason says, tongue-in-cheek, “were in Rowland Auditorium near the front.”
Spotting a familiar group of Walker High seniors visiting the campus, Al waved. One of them, Stacy, waved back. “I said, ‘Who is that?’” Jason recalls.
That led to an introduction a few days later—and eventually a date. Their first outing was a double date at Cobb Movies 4 with Al and a friend. The movie was The Santa Clause —but Jason and Stacy never saw it. “We talked the whole way through it,” Jason says, “but we weren’t rude or boisterous. We were finishing each other’s sentences. I’d never had a first date or known anyone like this.”
“We made a connection,” Stacy adds.
They began dating and forged a close bond. For Stacy, whose parents were divorced, that bond became the anchorage of stability she needed. “I remember our first hug in front of the gym, and feeling in his arms like he was home,” Stacy says. “He was a safe place for me, and I desperately wanted that.”
Six months later, storms clouds were forming on the horizon. Their relationship became strained. Stacy thought Jason was the one, but now that seemed in doubt. “We were bumping heads, ruffling each other’s feathers,” she recalls. “I sensed that he was done, he was ready to end it, but he wasn’t going to openly break up with me.”
The handwriting was on the wall. It was over, a fait accompli. Fighting tears, Stacy returned Jason’s class ring.
Devastated, Stacy opened her Bible that night and began reading 1st Corinthians 13. “It talked about how love is patient, love is kind, it’s not selfish,” she says. “I knew what I was feeling for him was something God had given me, and it meant sacrifice.”
That Sunday morning at her church, Northside Baptist, Stacy felt despondent. She doesn’t recall the sermon, but it seemed to be directed at her. Then she had an epiphany. “I remember feeling angry because I had loved him with my whole heart and felt betrayed,” she says. “God showed me that He was my first love, and that’s actually what I had done to Him. I had put Jason first instead of God.”
Two years later, they saw each other at a college basketball game. Stacy told him how God had changed her life. Jason explained he had grown closer to God after attending Faulkner University.
They began dating again. Four months later they became engaged. They were married on August 30, 1997. “God gave me the desires of my heart anyway, in spite of all that happened,” Stacy says. “I thought he was gone, but God brought the same country boy back.”
“In the movie Rocky, he says, ‘We got gaps. We fill each other’s gaps,’” Jason says. “That’s two becoming one. God has to be on the throne of your heart.”
Theirs is much more than a love story. In Jason’s words, it is “a testament to God.” 78