At the Coliseum in Rome, Italy at 22-years-old
At 18 years old, my high school sweetheart and I called it quits. Well, actually we still talked on and off my first year of college. We were extremely emotionally attached and struggled to let go, but the truth is that our “teenage dream” had become toxic and our lives were heading in different directions.
Up until that point in my life, I had never experienced anything so emotionally painful as our breaking up. I “puppy-loved” him and he was truly a great guy, but God spoke to my heart and told me that he was not “the one.”
Some Christians don’t believe in the concept of “the one,” but I do. Perhaps this has less to do with my theological education and more to do with me being a hopeless romantic.
When I was 16 years old, my father bought me a car. It was an old Chrysler convertible. The car was only worth about $1500, but to me, it was a treasure. My dad obsessed over keeping me safe in that car. He made sure the oil was changed in due time. He made sure my gas never got too low. Inspections were always up to date. I knew nothing about cars (and still don’t really), so I let my father take care of me in that way.
From 18-23, I remained single. My heart was broken a bit from having to leave my highschool boyfriend behind, so I made a deal with God. I said, “God, I don’t think I am very good at this whole relationship thing, and I don’t want to get emotionally attached to another man until it is the right man.”
My sensitive heart could not handle another breakup.
God reminded me about my earthly father’s ability to pick out the right car for me when I first started driving and implanted this verse in my heart:
You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him (Matthew 7:9-11 NLT).
I desired to get married with all my heart, but I wanted my “soulmate” and was unwilling to settle for less just to have a boyfriend. Truthfully, I think it is better to remain single than to marry someone you are not in love with (or someone that is not really in love with you).
God showed me that when the time was right, He, as my good Father, would escort me to the “car lot” and help me pick out the right “car” for me.
Poor guys, I know you are more than a car, but bear with me for this analogy. I humbled myself and admitted, I know nothing about “cars” (A.K.A men) and I don’t even really know how to take care of one, but my Father can see “under the engine” – into the heart of every prospect.
So, I laid down romance at the feet of Father God.
I gave it to Him. There were a couple of opportunities for love within those five years, but I listened intently to the voice of the Holy Spirit. She would whisper, “No, it’s not him, he will not take good care of your sensitive heart,” or “no, it’s not him, you will have to fight too much for his attention,” or “no, it’s not him, he is a great friend, but not your lover.”
No matter how much the loneliness stung, I refused to compromise.
Sometimes the pain of waiting would be overwhelming. Every few months or so, I had a good cry in the bathtub or the shower. I highly recommend it. But, other than those painful moments, my single years were some of the best years of my life.
I graduated from college. I traveled the world. I spent all my money on cute clothes and good food. I ate at some of the best restaurants. I visited my friends all over the United States. I began my career. I spoiled my first nephew. I networked with people who would later help me in my future endeavors. I went dancing with my friends. I began graduate school. I got to know Jesus more. I made mistakes. I lost friends. I gained friends. I found myself more.
Essentially, I did whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and it was awesome!
My advice is to be picky, but to throw your lists away. I ended up marrying someone who I truly believe was God’s pick for me, but he is nothing like “my list.” I also recommend getting real about what “love” actually is and what it is not.
Love is not butterflies. Sometimes love starts that way, but love is ultimately a choice, as the butterflies will fade pretty quickly. Love is not addiction to on-again-and-off-again relationships. Love is not sex. Sex is an aspect of love, but again, love is not sex. Love is not emotional highs and lows. No, my friends, love is patient, kind, sacrificial, and never-ending.
We over-complicate finding love because we want it too badly and too soon – the grass is always greener on the other side sort of thing.
In my opinion, finding love boils down to these simple questions:
- Would you give up all your money and comforts to be married to him?
- Would this guy give up all his money and comforts to be married to you?
- Does he love God and want to live a Christian life as you do?
- Is his character reflective of Jesus?
- Can you create a real life with him? The life you want? The life you both want?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then I would advise you to move on and stop wasting your precious time. Life is short, my friends, and we have dreams to achieve. Why would you want to be with someone who is going to hold you back in any way?
Women, we do not need a man to complete us. We do not need some sort of “male covering” to do ministry. We do not need a man’s permission to take care of whatever business we are in.
We need God. Period. That is it. Yes, some of us want a man and children more than anything else, but it is not until we realize that we don’t need a man and children, that we will find the security and empowerment we have always been searching for.
Men and women both, you deserve to be married to someone who wants to help you move towards your personal goals and family ideals, not someone who wants to help you move towards their personal goals and family ideals.
Love is equal sacrifice and equal compromise. It’s a slow dance of both giving and taking, comfort and discomfort, passion and pain.
You are worth the very best!
God is a good Father and will give you your heart’s desire if you let go of toxic relationships, toxic thinking, toxic behaviors, wait for God’s timing, and trust in Him alone.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5)
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires (Psalm 37:4)
(This post is part 3 of an #EgalitarianMarriageSeries. Egalitarians are Christians who believe that the Bible teaches husbands/men and wives/women are equal in both worth & authority in the home & church. We oppose “complementarianism” which teaches that Christian husbands/men and wives/women are equal in worth, but husbands/men inherently have greater authority in the home & church).
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