I met Tenika Benjamin, now Butler, in 2002. My good friend, Tony Carpenter, from high school introduced me to her one night after church. I was immediately enamored by her beauty, speech and height. She was absolutely fine and someone that I wanted to know more about. However, I was all jacked up…. see I had recently became a Christian and was trying to sort out the brokenness in my own life. I was a good kid, made good grades, made good decisions – for the most part and I had two amazing parents! However, I had come from a broken home… my parents divorced when I was 9 and I could count on my fingers how many times I had been to church or had an encounter with God from the ages of 9 to 18. Again, my parents were/are both AMAZING… but I needed Jesus to help fill in the gaps and retrain my mind on the spiritual things I missed out on growing up.
We started serving alongside each other with other believers in various ministries shortly after we met. I was a blur to her but for some reason I couldn’t shake this thought/feeling that I wanted to be with this girl. My intensity grew for her more as I saw how dope she was. She was a Proverbs 31 woman before I even knew Proverbs had a 31. More, she absolutely loved God, preached integrity and maintained integrity, was modest, had morals and naturally being a man… I was attracted to her figure. Eventually, we accepted our call to preach the Gospel of the Jesus Christ around the same time and had many of the same ideas and thoughts about God, the church, folk and life.
I never approached her or asked her out on a date until one dreadful day in January 2004.
After a couple of years of seeing this woman serve in the church I finally mustered up the courage to tell her how I felt over the phone after a church event and bowling one night. I was greeted by a disconnected dial tone. #truth, I cried very hard that night because the woman of my dreams had rejected me. Glenn Simpson and Jeremy Canon, my friends, can testify of this today. Now, I’m not Idris Elba or Forrest Whittaker (the eye) either… I handsomely think I’m somewhere in between, but this had never happened to me before.
Over the next few days we had one conversation in which she told me that she’d let me know how she felt after church that Sunday. The suspense was building. My dreadful day turned into a dreadful week because when she finally told me how she felt, the feelings weren’t the same. I felt like “the dude who was always going to be the fine girl’s bestfriend”. I was stuck – she said and I quote, “You’re not my type”. I took her comments as a “yo momma so ugly joke”. I’m a BUTLER, it’s in the blood… or at least I thought. She reluctantly went on a date with me the following week… why? I don’t know. The story gets a bit blurry for me around this part and maybe it’s because I was so happy… but what I do know is this… we went to Subway and I brought with me a box of pictures. They were my life and 95% of them had me in them. More, 50% of the pictures were of me and other girls or girls only. I had a “prized” cheerleader picture from my ex-girlfriend in 8th grade that I was proud of, prom pictures of yours truly with other girls and etc… I mean this was no way to win over the heart of the woman who’d eventually be my wife – I wanted to show her how cool (or niave) I was. I was self-centered and very insecure.
Through my past, struggles and guilt I never felt like I was good enough. I had condemned myself to lose the race before ever getting into the starting blocks.
However, God was at work through my first interactions with Tenika. He began to reveal to me his unconditional love and plan to make me whole in Him. I was tired of being broken, self-centered and insecure. I wanted to give myself away to something greater than myself. Over the next four months God began to transform my thoughts, pour into my life and take me on a journey that would help mold me into the man I am today.
We had a few more dates but I was still in the Forrest Whitaker category up until April 4, 2004. I walked out of my college dorm and answered the phone. To my surprise she explained to me how she felt and heard in her spirit that God wanted her to be with me. The funny thing is… I was going to call her up that day and tell her, “this just ain’t working because I can’t be your ugly bestfriend”. Miraculously the ugly duckling became a beautiful “man” swan over night. But God.
We began courting that day and through accountability, mentors an fathers & mothers in the faith abstained from sex until we got married. It was tough but we got through it.
I asked her to marry on Christmas Day 2004 and we tied the knot on September 17th, 2005.
There have been many bumps, bruises and detours along our journey. Nonetheless, the amount of love, joy, peace and blessing have far outweighed any temporary pain and past shortcomings.
She has stuck by my side as a invaluable confidant and asset to my life. She’s more than a trophy wife or a prized possession. Her beauty is finer than gold or rubies. Her wisdom prepares me to go to war and my heart lies safely with her. When:
- We had our first child
- God called me to pastor students for a season of life
- Was hurt behind church politics, ministry philosophy & BS and needed healing from confusion, unforgiveness, anger and hurt
- People deserted me after I stepped down from pastoring
- Or when I went through a period of slap crazy disobedience before God
- Had our second child
- Started my business: Kingdom Life Media that specializes in church media
She’s been a mainstay, a bag of chips and more.
I’m grateful that I found my bestfriend at such a young age. The best partner in life is someone who is bold enough to you the truth and humble enough to admit when they are wrong. I have that in my wife, Tenika Butler.
I’m humbled that she has allowed me to walk with and lead her and my kids on this journey.
Many more years to come!
[b]A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.