The first time he asked me for my phone number, I said no. Didn’t even hesitate. I knew it wasn’t what I wanted; he didn’t have the same vision of life – of faith – that I did. It wouldn’t be enough. I was looking for more.
Yet between that first attempt in mid-December and the second time he asked me just a few weeks later, something happened. I couldn’t tell you what it was, only that things had changed. Perhaps it was the loneliness of the festive season far from home. Or perhaps it came from seeing everyone else paired up and wishing that I had someone special to share it with as well. Or maybe my ego was tickled and didn’t want to let go of the possibility of being admired and loved. After all, who knew if there would be another? Whatever the reason, when he asked again, my answer was different. I was in: both feet, deep end, wholeheartedly in love.
It was going to work.
Sometime later, on the night before I left to fly home for a couple of months, he looked me straight in the eye and told me that he was sure nobody could ever love me the way he did. I melted on the spot. God raised one eyebrow. “Just who does this guy think he is?” He seemed to say. As it turns out though, “this guy” wasn’t so sure after all. When I came back, it was clear that there had been another change, and just like that, it was over.
The funny thing is, something else happened to me back in November, before I ever met him. I had found contentment. True, deep contentment.
It hadn’t been easy. As a lively woman in her (early) thirties, I can assure you that singleness wasn’t my first choice. I think my friends sometimes thought it was, as they declared over and over again how they just couldn’t believe that there was no spark on the horizon. “What’s wrong with all the men these days!?!” they would exclaim, meaning well but only leaving me feeling as though I was the one there must be something wrong with.
And something was indeed wrong. The months leading up to that November had actually been some of the least pleasant; a period in which I was anything but content. I can clearly remember walking along the beautifully lit streets in the city where I lived, actually entertaining the idea of going into a bar, having a few drinks, and just picking up some guy. Any guy. Now.
Maybe I sound like a crazy person. I certainly felt like a crazy person. Inside, I was seething bitterness, the “injustice of my situation” breathing so close to the surface of my skin that I could barely contain it. Some very unsanctified part of my angry little heart just wanted to give God the finger. In neon lights. I honestly believe that if the opportunity had presented itself, I would have taken it, heedlessly breaking promises I’d kept for over ten years.
Thankfully, there was no opportunity.
Instead, God spoke to me. He shone the light, and I looked inside and came to the realization that maybe I was getting angry with Him about something that He hadn’t actually done. I was acting like He’d cheated me somehow, when in truth, He’d never really said anything about it. He’d broken no promise. I had no right to be angry, and I was certainly not justified in making demands. I had been deceived, sure, but not by Him.
Truth brings honesty. I started to come to God as myself – messy and inconsistent and hurting and a little bit scared – and I found Him… and peace. The hurt and disappointment didn’t go away (another promise that was never made), but I found that I could hold the pain alongside the hope and the need, denying neither the one nor the other, and that somehow that sincere plea created just the space He wanted to fill. I was content. Really, truly, happy.
Then along came December…and the man.
I remember thinking when it happened that the timing was strange. What a coincidence that a man should enter my life just when I had accustomed myself to the idea that one might not come anytime soon, if ever. I questioned if he was a gift or a test, but his name meant something along the lines of “God has heard my prayers” and, of course, deep in my heart that desire was still there. So I went with it.
Don’t get me wrong, at first it was great. Perfect. Only later did the compromises start, little by little and almost imperceptibly, as is the usual way. By the time I realized where I was, it was too late. My heart was on the wrong altar, and I’d put it there with my own hands. The damage was done, and I could blame no one but myself.
Now, safely on the other side, I have a little more objectivity. I can look at the situation and see the good that came of it, but I still think I chose wrongly. God wanted to take me to a new level in my relationship with Him, a new dependence on His provision and a new sharing in His sufferings – a new surrender – and I turned away. When the opposition to fully following God came, I fell not because it was too strong or too evil, but because it was too good. It came disguised as a blessing, a blessing to take my eyes off the Blessing. A blessing tailor-made for my needy heart… I only wish I could say it was the first time.
“As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats [her] foolishness” (Proverbs 26:11, NLT).
I’ve learned an important lesson. In order to avoid repeating the same errors, I must talk to God and find out what He wants and then decide what I want. Be certain of it. Know what it looks like and not let it out of my sight until I get there.
That’s why I’ve taken the next year as a “becoming” year – a time to break completely from anything that even hints at romance and focus on who I am and who I’m becoming (you can read more about it here). And again, I’m facing opposition. Not only from myself – from those deeply ingrained habits and ways of thinking – but from the outside. Opposition – temptation – disguised as a blessing.
Thank God! Truly, I’m glad, because the opposition in this situation is proof that I’m on the right track. It’s a good thing. I welcome it, recognize it, give thanks for it… and I just keep on walking.
Don’t be afraid to move toward the better thing. God has promised to give you everything you need if you’ll follow Him. So follow. Get to know Him, learn what He’s really promised and what He’s really waiting – wanting – to give you. He will ALWAYS give you what’s right for you, and it will come at the right time. If it’s not the right time you can be assured that it isn’t the right thing either, so don’t be afraid to wait – He won’t let you miss out. He cares about you more than you know.
So if you’re facing opposition right now, rejoice! And if you’re not, maybe it’s worth taking the space to ask yourself and ask the Lord… where are you headed?
Who are you becoming?