Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Before I Met "The One"

While although this blog draws in many readers who are married women, I know that there are also quite a few readers who are single and waiting on the one.

I have gotten some emails from some of you over the past few months, and in recent weeks, who have asked me how I curbed my loneliness and remained patient while waiting for God to send me “the one”. This is something that I have never gone in to great detail about on my blog but in wanting this space to also be an outlet for me to share my heart and my faith, I’d like to open up to you….

My first relationship began when I was just a few months shy of seventeen years old. It was to a guy that was around seven years older than me – and while that may sound a bit wild that he was twenty-four and I was seventeen, he was a close family friend and I wasn’t your average seventeen year old. Our relationship was mature and very grounded. I fell so in love with him. He was a Christian, a family guy, super intelligent, had a heart for the Lord, was incredibly talented in the field that he was pursuing – architecture, and we loved one another’s families. He was very good to me and opened my eyes to many beautiful things about life. We dated for two years and then....the break up came. I remember it like it was yesterday. He sat me down on his bed and said that he didn’t want to hold me back from all of the experiences that were awaiting me and that {in a positive way} I would grow and change as I evolved into an older me and he didn’t want our relationship to hinder that growth from happening. I was devastated. His reasoning for dissolving our relationship seemed genuine and selfless - but nonetheless, my heart was broken. I thought that he was the man that I would marry and spend the rest of my life with. We remained friends even after our relationship ended {imagine that! But it was after quite a bit of time a part as to not blur the lines}. We remained in each others lives, as friends {and nothing but} for years…up until his marriage, which happened several years before mine. Naturally, we don’t speak anymore. But I will always remember that relationship as being one filled with good times that I will always remember. And while although I thought he was “the one”…he wasn’t.

The next few years were years that I don’t seem to remember much of because they were comprised of being in a tumultuous relationship with a guy that I wish was wiped from my story book completely. In my early college years, I was with an egotistical, self-centered cheater who caused me a great amount of angst. I stayed in that relationship, against my better judgment, because I thought I could change him. I thought that his eventual willingness to go with me to church would cause a shift in his ways and that he would ask for Christ to come into heart and this amazing transformation would take place in him. But instead of bringing him up to a positive place in his life, he just ended up bringing me down and our relationship kept my heart palpitating wondering which lie he would be telling me next. The things that I went through were mind-blowing… so much so that if I went into details, your jaw would be on the floor – and just might stay that way for days. One day I finally said to myself, “I am better than this” and I ended that relationship. He tried endlessly to get me back – for years – and his attempts were far-reaching…but there was no way that I was returning to that dysfunctional relationship. I had great staying-power and oddly, I loved him unconditionally – but I reached my limit once my self-worth flag popped up. My mom probably has permanent rug burns on her knees for all the months that she took me before the Lord in prayer. When I exited that relationship I felt as though I had been tossed around by a tornado. I knew that I should have never even entered into that relationship – my intuition told me that nothing good would come from it – NOTHING. Needless to say, when all was said and done, I felt mentally battered, emotionally drained and physically exhausted.

A few years later, along came the preacher’s son - who I met during a three night conference that my church [at the time] was having. And wow, was I instantly smitten. Literally the night that I saw him, I felt in my spirit that he was “the one”. He was charming, charismatic, and a total gentleman. He loved the Lord, was actively involved in ministry and our relationship quickly evolved. I took a leave of absence from my job to join him in traveling throughout the southern states, where he was a part of a ministry team. I was excited to be pursuing the things of God, while also growing closer to an amazing man. Just three months into our relationship, he proposed. I said yes and soon after, wedding plans were underway. He moved to California, my Pastor gave him a position as Youth Minister as our fairly large church, and together this was going to be our ministry. Everything happened quickly, but we both felt that it was all in alignment with God’s plan for us. And then a shift suddenly happened. On the way back from transporting his things to California, we had a disagreement that led me to call him up and suggest that we go to premarital counseling. We didn’t speak for nearly a week before I called him to touch base. He told me that he didn’t feel we needed pre-marital counseling because he didn’t think we should be getting married. And just like that, our relationship was done, our wedding deposits were gone, and my happily ever after would never be …and he didn’t seem to even care. I was sick to my stomach. I lost 25 pounds in less than a month. I can’t tell you how many times my mom rocked her grown daughter in her arms as I cried and cried and cried, not comprehending what in the world happened. This relationship was especially hard to move on from because I still had to see him, every Sunday, at church. I questioned God. I didn’t understand the reasoning. I never wanted to go from one relationship to the next. I wanted to be married young. I felt that I was a great partner and that I would make a wonderful wife. And now here I was, on my third unsuccessful relationship. AND THEN…a lot was revealed to me about this man that I was going to marry. The things that came to light are worthy of a CNN special. The details are too much to expound on, but let’s just say that I was SPARED. Looking back, God was completely covering me but at the time, I couldn’t see it. I was just fixated on the hurt and heartache and the confusion and didn’t see/couldn’t see that the dissolve of that relationship was purposed.

When that relationship ended, I pressed in and sought God fervently. In my pain, I wanted to be consumed with His presence. I didn’t want to just have a temporary touch – I wanted to be/felt that I NEEDED to be, submersed in His presence day and night. I wanted His plans and purpose{s} for my life to begin being birthed and I made a choice to draw close to Him like never before. I refocused my thoughts and detoured off of “Why Me? Lane” and onto “Better Things Avenue”. I started an online magazine for Christian youth, I traveled to Haiti to be a speaker with Youth for Christ, I attended numerous Christian conventions, concerts, and conferences…I was in church three times a week, every time the doors were open….and I was reading book after book to strengthen my walk in Christ. I was so on fire for God…for a good few years - until my yearning to be with someone resurfaced.

{Insert here a few half-hearted relationships with men that I knew weren’t the one but for the sake of not wanting to be alone, I attached myself to momentarily. Hey, just keepin’ it real. And then I told myself, “enough is enough”. I felt convicted for returning to the world’s ways and not trusting God and His timing as to when my life-long partner would come. I made a concrete decision to keep my eyes on the Lord and not worry about my future – that the Lord knew the desires of my heart…that I was always on His mind and that His intensions towards me were always good}.

Naturally, the above are short versions of my real-life stories as it would take me months to write out all the detailed things that transpired throughout the course of my relationships and things that took place during those years of my life. But the summarized versions still relay much.

When I moved from California to Atlanta, I was twenty-six years old. I was excited to be in a new place, have a fresh start, and was eager to plant myself in a church home and excel in my new job. I was no longer fixated on meeting “the one”. Instead I was looking forward to seeing all that God had in store for me as I remained consistent in His ways. As it turned out….He did produce the desire of my heart…in His timing. It was Dele. {We met at church; you can go here to read my version, and here to read Dele's version}. Our relationship took quite a while to develop. It wasn’t a relationship that was rushed into. We prayed individually for months, seeking God’s will – not wanting to go further without the Lord’s release. During that time, Dele walked softly and took delicate care of my heart. It was during this time that I read a book called “Boundaries in Dating” and “coincidently” our church was doing a series on courtship. Although I was incredibly anxious to know if Dele wanted to be with me, I stayed in my rightful place as a woman and didn’t initiate the relationship or question his intensions {you have no idea how hard that was!}. Clearly this was something unlike anything I had ever entered into, but I wanted to know for sure that it was the Lord’s doing and that Dele was hearing from Him. It required me to fully trust God and man. Our relationship obviously did end up transpiring : ) I remember one night, sitting on the edge of my bed, questioning if I was in love with Dele. I “knew” what love felt like and what I was feeling for him was so very different. In that moment I felt the Holy Spirit tell me that the love that I had been shown before, in my past relationships, was imitation love. It wasn’t the real, pure thing. That what I was experiencing with Dele was the type of love that the Father has towards me….a lasting kind of love. A love that doesn’t hurt, a love that trusts, a love that is binding. To be loved by a man in a way that God loves me – for him to strive to love me that way – was unbelievable. I had never had it before to know that it indeed was the best kind of love to be given. And…well…you know how this story ends : )

I thought that I would be married in my early twenties. Instead, I got married in my late twenties. Twenty-nine to be exact – there’s no other number more closer to thirty than that – I barely got in there! Ha! But God’s timing…is the right timing. While although I might wish to go back and erase some of the hurt and pain that was endured, to do so would also be erasing some valuable life lessons and the turning points that drew me closer to God.

I want to encourage all you single ladies who are still waiting on the one. Those of you who long to be that couple that you see holding hands. Those of you who watch wedding shows yearning for that to be you. God knows the desires of your heart. Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above {James 1:17}. Trust that He hasn’t forgotten about you. Have faith that He is working things out for your good. I heard a saying once...“When you see the least happening, that’s when God is doing the most work”. Keep seeking Him in all your ways. Keep thanking Him for holding your life in His hands. I know it’s hard to wait. I know what it’s like to settle…to get impatient and force something that you know isn’t meant to be. I have been “that girl” who had one foot in the world, and one foot in church…wanting to follow in God’s ways yet was also following in the world’s ways. And then I became “that girl” who decided to fully trust in the Lord and solely concentrate on what it was that He wanted to do in me, and through me, while I was still single. I wanted to be devoted to Him – and I made the choice to do just that. And when I surrendered, so many wonderful things followed. Don’t lose heart. God was still refining me for Dele, which is why I didn’t meet him earlier. Perhaps God is still refining you. He was polishing me and wanted to present me to Dele as His perfect gift, in His perfect timing.

I know this post is quite long but I didn't want to break it a part into two separate posts. If you've made it this far, I hope that sharing my story has provided you with hope and encouragement. Hold onto 1 John 5:14-15 that says: "This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him".

Lastly, I want to share with you a song by Rita Springer off of her first CD {entitled “Effortless”}. This was a song that I listened to a lot during my “waiting” period, knowing that all of the pain that I had gone through was going to be worth it one day. As you listen to the words of this song below, let them resonate in you. And remember….YOU ARE ALWAYS ON HIS MIND.


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