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In Unison: The Unfinished Story of Jeremy and Adrienne Camp

In Unison: The Unfinished Story of Jeremy and Adrienne Camp

by Adrienne Camp
Jeremy Camp

Learn More | Meet Adrienne Camp | Meet Jeremy Camp


Not My Type

Jeremy and I met in September 2002 while we were both on a tour called Festival Con Dios with about ten other bands. Before the tour started, I chatted with one of my friends who worked at our record label, expressing my disappointment in how few godly men I thought there were—or at least who hadn’t yet been taken. I had toured with many great guys over the years who all became my friends, and I expected this was going to be no different.

She mentioned I was about to meet a special one on this upcoming tour. This guy, Jeremy Camp, had withstood the devastating trial of watching his young wife pass away from cancer, and he was one of the sweetest, godliest guys she had ever met.

I was vaguely familiar with Jeremy through the music industry, but since I was into a completely different style of music than his, I adamantly responded, “Oh no, I’ve heard his music. And he’s definitely not my type.”

I was convinced I would marry a visual artist—a painter, sculptor, or photographer—perhaps tall, skinny, and oozing creativity. I also had the youthful notion that in order to marry someone, I had to enjoy pretty much all the same things as him. Oh, and since I am from South Africa, I had vowed never to marry an American. (I had a misconception about our cultural differences and wanted to stay as connected to South Africa as possible.) So post-grunge, athletic, American Jeremy did not fit my description of the guy I thought I wanted.

I had only ever dated one person, and although it was a silly, brief relationship, it had a bit of a messy ending from which I was still feeling emotional effects and insecurities. All I wanted was to throw myself fully into Jesus. I certainly didn’t want a new distraction in my life after all the restorative work the Lord had been doing in my heart.

Early into the outdoor tour through 40-plus cities, I sprained my ankle quite badly trying to escape a torrential downpour. I ended up having to play my shows while wearing a huge ankle brace for a couple weeks, much to my dismay. As the front woman of a passionate rock band, The Benjamin Gate, it wasn’t my style to be hindered. I believed you had to leave your heart bleeding on the stage when you walked off, and if I couldn’t do that, then I didn’t feel as if I had done my job properly.

Shortly after my fall, Jeremy introduced himself to me and told me that he and his band had prayed for me the day before. I was surprised but encouraged, and I mentioned to him that we had a mutual friend at the record label.

That was it. No sparks. No flame. No further thought.

But I realized Jeremy was very kind and more tender than most people I had met, and it was evident he had a deep relationship with the Lord.

The Hotel Stranger

Our merchandise tables were providentially set up near each other’s, so over the course of the next three months we saw each other and had some form of interaction every day. Typically while touring, especially during festival season, I’d head to the hotel for a shower after the show was finished before hitting the road and traveling to the next venue.

On one occasion I was hobbling toward my hotel room, still wearing my gigantic ankle brace, when a guy standing in the hallway greeted me. Thinking he was one of the crew guys on tour, I smiled back and said hi. He proceeded to invite me into his room and told me he had some beers, if I liked that kind of thing.

I was shocked and instantly afraid. He was obviously not with our tour. I didn’t know what to do and definitely didn’t want him seeing which room I was staying in. If he tried anything, then my escape would be limited—I wouldn’t be able to run very fast in my ankle boot.

At that moment, one of Jeremy’s band members came around the corner. I was relieved and quickly signaled to him to stand with me until the creepy guy went away. But it was Jeremy who caught wind that something was wrong. Immediately, the most intimidating looked crossed Jeremy’s face, and I saw him puff up in a Hulk-ish way as he asked, “What happened?” I was convinced he was going to punch this guy in the face, and I would embarrassingly be the cause of a ruckus.

I called his name to slow him down. “Jeremy!”

He didn’t flinch. He strode directly toward the man and very firmly but calmly said, “Hey man, you leave our girl alone.”

I think the fear of the Lord entered that guy, as it did me, and he sheepishly backed into his room.

I was entirely relieved that Jeremy had come to my defense and still nervous about being alone, so his band helped me switch rooms for the night. The next day Jeremy came and apologized for possibly scaring me. He had, but we had a good laugh about it. I was honestly thankful to have been protected.

We quickly became friends. The ice had been broken by the hotel-Hulk incident. We then had a blast being goofy, trying to out dance each other during TobyMac’s set that fall. We still had no romantic interest in each other, as neither one of us thought we were each other’s type, so we had an opportunity to simply enjoy our friendship. Little did we realize how foundational that friendship really was.

As the tour progressed, I heard Jeremy share briefly from the stage, and my curiosity was piqued by the reams of people lined up at his merchandise table after a show, pouring out their hearts to him—and by seeing him minister to them and comfort them in return. I watched him treat every person the same, always deeply compassionate and encouraging, no matter how many times they shared their hurts with him. Touring for him wasn’t just about music; he was resolved and bold about his faith even after a heartbreaking trial that would have shaken absolutely anyone. He declared God’s faithfulness unreservedly. I had never met anyone quite like him, and I was intrigued. I began asking Jeremy lots of questions about his testimony.

Neither one of us really knows when the turning point came, but I began to notice that I actually cared about where he was and what he was doing. Later on, I confessed to one of my band guys that I thought I may have had feelings for Jeremy. I wrestled with those feelings, though, because I recognized I had been in a very unhealthy place in my relationship with God, and I didn’t want anything to distract me from the much-needed growth that was taking place in my heart. I had prayerfully committed to setting this season aside for just me and Jesus.

But then, Jeremy was such an anomaly. We ended up sitting next to each other often, looking for each other across the room, taking note of where the other was and what he or she was doing, and finding excuses to have conversations. It became more and more obvious how we felt about each other. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it all, so I continued to hang out with him, ask questions, and pray the Lord would take away my budding affection if it wasn’t from Him.

No Games Allowed

True to his athletic nature, especially in his younger years, Jeremy was very competitive. Once, we were with friends playing a game of pool. I’m not nearly as good as Jeremy, but it was obvious he was letting me win, and I took note of it. Hmm...I think Jeremy likes me. From there, our friendship rapidly evolved into something deeper. We both found any opportunity we could to interact with each other and soaked up any ounce of conversation we had with one another.

When Jeremy and I first started dating, we spent an afternoon hanging out at a mall close to where our show was that night. He walked ahead with his friends, not paying much attention to me. I was absolutely bothered by it and decided to give him a bit of the cold shoulder. If you won’t pay attention to me, then I won’t pay attention to you! I thought.

He kind of ignored it at first, but after a while he pulled me aside and asked, “What are you doing?”

I was taken aback by him acting as if he didn’t know what the problem was—I was just doing what he was doing. Two can play this game.

He very sweetly put me in my place and told me if we were going to be together, there would be no games. He was simply walking with some friends. No harm, no foul.

Maybe I should have been put out by that, but I was instantly impressed. For him to clarify so early in our relationship that there would be no games set a standard of honesty for which I’m forever thankful.

Later, I was able to return the favor. I promised Jeremy I would never give him freedom to hang out with his friends or go do something fun if I would be silently sulking and wishing he were home with me instead. It would be unfair of me to tell him, “I’m fine; you can go,” when I’m not fine and secretly resent him.

So we made a deal: Don’t say you’re okay when you’re not. Keep it simple and uncomplicated.

- Jeremy 's Journal -

One of the best things I learned during this season of basically courting Adrienne was the importance of laying all my cards on the table. In the beginning stages of getting to know someone, most people like to put their best foot forward. But because of what I had walked through before I met Adrienne, I was going to do nothing of the sort. Questions were asked, hypothetical scenarios were brought up. We discussed basically anything so we could really get to know each other.

That may sound a bit aggressive or perhaps too regimented to some, but committing to honesty definitely gave us a crash course in understanding what made the other tick. I don’t regret that. It is better to learn about each other before you dive into a marriage with unknowns looming than to find out the truth about your spouse when it’s too late.

That doesn’t mean that when you get married you’ve learned everything there is to know about the other person; there are things you don’t even realize about yourself until you are living day to day with someone else. Part of the beauty of marriage is learning the ins and outs and good and bad of the one you love and walking through it with them.

- Adrienne’s Journal -

I never felt unsafe with Jeremy. I knew he said what he meant, and he wasn’t stringing me along. We were building our friendship for a reason. Our intentions for a long-term relationship had been made clear, and I could trust him to keep his word even though we weren’t engaged yet. His honesty showed me his maturity and the strength of his character.

Relationship games only hurt—and there is never a winner. Back up your words with actions. Build a lasting friendship and talk through as much as possible before you get married.

Applebee’s “ Proposal”

One day Jeremy invited me out for dinner. But contrary to what you may be thinking, I had a sense he was going to shut down our whole relationship. I even told a friend that I thought he would break it off with me. Although we hadn’t fully defined our relationship yet, we both knew we were more than friends. I was bummed at the thought of that changing, but I didn’t know for sure what would happen, so I just waited until the evening to see what he was thinking.

Although I was enjoying hanging out with Adrienne, I constantly felt guilty about having feelings for her. It had been a hard season getting used to life without my first wife, Melissa, and the thought of entrusting my heart to someone else again left me feeling extremely vulnerable. But something drew me to Adrienne and kept me wanting to build a friendship with her. I knew I would have to decide whether or not I was going to continue pursuing her and make our relationship serious and permanent. In that moment, I was leaning toward taking a huge step back.

I took Adrienne to a restaurant close to that night’s venue. Unfortunately there wasn’t much to choose from—too cheap would be disrespectful, but too nice and she might get her hopes up—so Applebee’s would have to be the one. We sat down and ordered our food, sensing some kind of tension as we floundered through conversation. All of a sudden I blurted out, “Do you think you could marry me?”

Without hesitation, she opened her mouth and said, “Yes!”

I couldn’t believe she responded so quickly, and I couldn’t believe that’s what I had asked her.

There was a moment of stunned silence, and we stared at each other awkwardly while nervously picking at our food. I told her I’d had every intention of breaking things off with her that night, but when it came time to follow through with it, I couldn’t bring myself to say the words.

She told me she had sensed that was the case, but she was glad I chose not to follow through.

Neither one of us were really sure what had just happened. We hardly ate anything. Filled with nervous excitement and so many thoughts rolling around in our heads, we headed back to the tour buses hand in hand. We knew we weren’t officially engaged, but our conversation had most definitely set the tone for our relationship. We were committed to building something with the intention of marriage.

We were protective of our tender new friendship. It was immensely precious to us—like nothing either of us had ever experienced—and we didn’t want anyone to mess with it or anything to disturb it. It was a relief not to have the emotional game playing so many people experience in their relationships.

We began praying for each other often and started reading the same passages of Scripture so we could talk about what the Lord was showing us each day. Our friendship deepened. We didn’t know when or how our relationship would unfold; this was just the beginning.

I still battled with guilt from time to time, but the Lord spoke to my heart one day and said, “If I’m giving you a blessing, you can receive it with joy.” And Adrienne felt she needed the approval of my family and all my friends who had faithfully walked the hardest of roads with me. Our situation was very delicate in many ways, but we knew it was the beginning of a deeply special friendship, and we were so excited about what God had for us together.

Contract vs. Covenant

There is a big difference between a contract and a covenant, as this partial list from UpCounsel shows:

  • While a contract is legally binding, a covenant is a spiritual agreement.
  • You seal a covenant while you sign a contract.
  • A contract exchanges one good for another, while a covenant is giving oneself to the other.
  • You can opt out of a contract, while a covenant is about having the strength to hold up your part of the promise.2

Today, one of the most common types of covenant might be the neighborhood covenant. When you buy a home, especially in a planned, suburban neighborhood, you are sometimes asked to sign a “covenant” that commits you to paying certain fees, maintaining your property to a set standard, and maybe even behaving in a certain way. It doesn’t matter whether or not your neighbors are following the covenant—you are bound to fulfill your promise to the community. Your dues must be paid, your lawn must be mowed, and your music can’t be too loud.

Covenants were much more common and meaningful in the ancient world. The first thorough description of one in the Bible comes in Genesis 15:7-21. God asks Abram to butcher several animals and lay the halves on the ground in two columns: each animal’s left side on the left, and each animal’s right side on the right. Between them was an open path.

Under normal circumstances, when two men were involved in making a covenant (instead of one man and God), both participants would walk down the path, symbolically saying to the other, “If I break this covenant, then may this type of death be done to me.” In Abram’s case, only God committed Himself to the covenant; only God passed between the carcasses. He promised that Abram would have many descendants from his biological offspring, and that those descendants would rule the area.

Even before God made a covenant with Abram, He knew He would faithfully covenant Himself to an unfaithful people. No matter how many times they failed to follow Him—and the Old Testament is filled with stories of just that—He always made a way for restoration in their relationship.

In the New Testament, God’s relationship with us is described as a way-less-gruesome kind of covenant: a marriage covenant. God loves and pursues His church, the bride, based on who He is and not based on our faithfulness, for we know we have fallen far short (Romans 3:23). God the Father loved us first and sealed us with the promise of His Spirit, through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.

He is a covenantal God, not contractual. We do not earn His unending love; He has given it to us freely and unreservedly, even though we did not choose Him. There are so many people who know the Holy Spirit was wooing them even before they committed to following Him. He is ever patient and never gives up on us. Jesus has an unquenchable love for His church, an unyielding, never-ending fire in His heart for her. He pursues her passionately and fiercely.

God’s covenanted love is outside of time. It transcends boundaries, cultures, hurts, dysfunctions, pain, scars, and the deepest wounds. This is also the type of supernatural love offered to each of us for our marriages. When we get married, yes, we sign a legally binding contract, but we also make a beautiful covenant with each other before God. As husband and wife become one, each promises to remain committed to the other regardless of the other’s willingness to pay dues, mow the lawn, or turn down the music. Such unconditional love is not possible in human hearts, so God—who has never broken a covenant—is the best one to hold the couple together.

A Wedding Story

Adrienne planned our wedding while living out of a little vintage green suitcase in The Benjamin Gate’s white 15-passenger van as they traveled around the country. When she finished up her season touring with the band, she moved to Indiana to live with my family for three months, where she continued to plan the wedding from an old table in my parents’ basement. She made all the invitations and created all the decorations. Needless to say, there was glitter and glue stuck to every nook and cranny of the room.

The plan was for us to be married in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in hot sunny December, but due to complications regarding Adrienne’s visa just three months before the actual wedding, we had to hastily change plans to a winter wedding in Lafayette, Indiana. It was the Christmas season, so the only available date was Monday, December 15, 2003—right smack-dab in the middle of a cold winter. It snowed the morning of our ceremony, covering the ground with a white, soft dusting.

Despite the oddities and hiccups, the details of our small wedding came together beautifully. A few of Adrienne’s close friends from South Africa were able to make it to the States, and I was finally able to meet her family three days before we were married. It’s a good thing they liked me! Can you imagine how awkward that would have been if they hadn’t?

- Adrienne’s Journal -

Some people tell you to “date around” so you can figure out what you want in a partner. I entirely disagree. The more people you date, the messier things get. There is zero part of me on this side of “I do” that wishes I had kissed more boys or had more relationships.

Don’t believe the lies of the world for a second. When you find “the one” who is more special to you than anyone you’ve ever met, you realize what a deep treasure every part of your relationship is, and you don’t want anyone but your best friend to have all of you. There’s no way you would wish you had more interactions and memories with other people—what good would those be? You would just end up with pieces of your heart scattered everywhere, baggage you have to carry around with you, and a world of insecurities to sort through.

You’re building your story, not some unrealistic romantic drama. You don’t need to find out whether you’re physically compatible (that’s a no-brainer and the world’s way of thinking!); you have your whole marriage to grow in this area. The best and most lasting way to grow together is to follow God’s plan for your relationship. In doing this, you will find the sweetest and greatest rewards. Why would you want to spoil the lifelong adventure you can have with your spouse as you learn about each other and grow old together? That is the best kind of love story!

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