Leap of faith
Tom and Lynn Mount
Tom and Lynn Mount met in San Luis Obispo, when he was a Cal Poly sophomore and she was an incoming freshman straight out of the Central Valley. A mutual friend, Will Wilson—now associate pastor at the Evangelical Free Church of Chico—invited them to dinner. Tom grilled up some burgers (which Lynn hated at the time, “but she never let on”) and they got acquainted.
A line in Lynn’s journal summed up her impression: Please let me marry Tom Mount or someone like him.
Of course, her wish came true, but theirs is not a fairy-tale romance.
First off, they never dated in college. They were friends, went their separate ways after graduation, and only reconnected after Lynn moved home to Madera.
They got married a year later, in March 1983. It was, in Tom’s words, “an adjustment time.”
“I’m laughing,” Lynn said, “because every time we’d go visit my family, the whole way back to San Luis, I’d cry. I missed my family so much, and he was like, ‘What is wrong with you?’ Or we’d get in the car, and I’d be so ready to talk, and he’d be like, ‘OK … … what do you want to talk about?’
“And then I’d fall asleep because he didn’t really have much to say. That’s an adjustment.”
Indeed—this man who became a pastor at Neighborhood Church of Chico is an introvert married to an extrovert. “You think you know someone,” Lynn said, “and then you find out all these things later that either you failed to explore or can’t know until you travel that path of life together.”
They came to Chico in 1985, when Lynn was pregnant with their first child, Lauren. They now also have two sons (Joseph, 18, and Jesse, 17) and a second daughter (Natalie, 10).
“Adding one personality to your life, the level of intimacy required by marriage, is hard enough,” Tom said. “But you add four additional personalities, it’s challenging … and every personality is different.”
There’s another personality in play, however—one who was there from the start. Tom and Lynn don’t see their marriage as a two-person relationship; they’re part of a divine triangle, and this has helped them overcome an array of differences.
“The fact that we have Jesus in our lives, individually and together, is huge,” Tom said. “He’s another person, a very real person, who shares everything that we do. Our first commitment is to him … and that’s something that’s unique to people of faith.”
“To extend that,” Lynn added, “because we see Jesus as the epitome of unconditional love, and therefore that’s a call on our life, when we do encounter trials and hard times, we see our call to love each other and our kids as a call for unconditional love. So it helps us to waver from ‘I’m so disillusioned, you’re an introvert’ to ‘How am I going to work though this? How am I going to use my faith to love him where my natural self wouldn’t love him anymore?’
“I think that’s how our faith would help us to cover over personality differences or differences in upbringing or different views on how we’re going to parent this or that child. We call on our faith to help us make decisions like that.”
Faith also has kept them from taking the easy way out. “Divorce is not an option,” Lynn said—and for them, that resolve comes from their religion. So they’re hard-pressed to offer advice to couples not sharing their beliefs. The secrets of their success simply don’t apply.
“There are always techniques that work—going out for date nights, learning each other’s love languages and trying to speak them on a regular basis. Those are things that will work for anyone.
“But, gosh, I don’t think technique alone would be strong enough. I know how selfish I am, and I think it takes more than technique to keep me in line.”
“It’s always a start to say divorce is not an option,” Lynn said, “but that’s not our story.”