As you've most likely read, I have 'almost' dated three guys in the past two years. None of them worked out, for various reasons. After the third dude fell through, I embraced my singleness whole-heartedly. And was determined that the next guy I got to know/started dating was the one I was going to marry. I was tired of this whole Find Your Future Spouse game. I was going to diligently pray and seek God's direction with this future guy. And just have a better overall experience with him.
At the beginning of this year, on January 30, I met a guy and instantly felt a connection. We both did. And over the next couple of months, our title quickly changed from 'friendship' to a 'dating relationship'. It was fast. No doubt about that. But we both were at peace with moving forward. We had prayed about it, our closest friends all supported us, we had same goals and visions for our lives. So far, there were green lights on our path.
I was happy. Here was a guy who loved the LORD, who I thought was extremely attractive, we both had a love - and felt called to - music ministry, his family loved me, our friends loved us together (even strangers loved us and thought we were a beautiful couple)... Things seemed to be in our favor.
To quote a fellow blogger who wrote a very similar post:
"Before I began dating my now ex-boyfriend, I did what I said I would and prayed about it. A lot. I prayed what I imagined were typical dating prayers, ones that consisted of me asking doors to either be opened or closed with this man, for us to be on the same page about dating or not, etc. And every time, it seemed, another door would be opened and another feeling confirmed. I definitely held onto the idea that if God was leading me into this relationship, it was going to be the relationship. I mean, He knew my heart, right?...He knew I had worked hard to know myself and know God and know what it means to be in a healthy couple. If I was so keenly trying to follow His guidance, He would reward me for that. Wouldn't He?"
This is exactly how I felt.
Sure, I knew that I may not be ready for marriage quite yet. And sure, I knew that not all relationships worked out. And sure, this all happened so fast and unplanned. But God was in control and it was all gonna turn out all right. And besides, my boyfriend 'knew in his heart' that God wanted us to get married, that I was the woman he'd been waiting for, and we were meant to be together forever.
But seven and a half months later, I found myself calling things off with my boyfriend. Putting my foot down and finally saying 'No' to things about him that I was not willing to put up with in a life-long commitment. Finally realizing that the certain issues he had in his life and I had in my life were complications that, if we ended up getting married, were just the stage for failure in the future. I didn't want that. I didn't want that for myself or for him.
What happened? Where did it go wrong? Why had it ended if I was so sure, so at peace, so positive that God had led me into it? Or was it some sort of trick? A test? Did I fail?
Was it all a waste?
The time, the emotions, the driving, the money, the letters, the phone calls, the gifts, the words, the pictures, the songs, the promises... Was it all for nothing if it brought me to this sort of ending?
How could something I feel was so right for me, end up being so wrong?
This was a question I asked myself for the first week after our break-up. And it's a question that God has so gently and graciously answered.
It was right for me, though. It was part of His perfect plan for me.
To care so deeply for this guy? To feel myself falling in love with him, only for that affection to be cut off? To walk away from a guy who was so sure that we would get married someday?
Because I believe in a sovereign God who loves me more than I can imagine, I trust that yes, this whole relationship - from beginning to end - was exactly what was right for me.
Because of this situation, I have learned much. Maybe one day I'll be able to write about it in more detail, but for right now, I want to be sure I clarify three things:
1) I feel like there's some unspoken law that if two Christian people are dating with the intention of getting married, but it ends in a break-up, they weren't truly following the LORD's leading and should never have dated in the first place. While this can be - and is - true in some cases (though extremely rare), I believe with all my heart that God does purposely lead us into temporary seasons of life. Just like a job, a living situation, or a friendship. I worked as the reporter for a local newspaper for 6 months then got let go. Why? Because the company wanted to downsize and needed reporters with 4-year journalism degrees. Was it a mistake that I had gotten the job in the first place? Was I not following God's leading in accepting that position? No. It was the perfect job for me, in the perfect time, in the perfect place in my life. And when God wanted me to get a different job (another dream job #baristalife), He allowed the reporter job door to close and moved me to the next season of life, the next step, the next chapter. The same goes for relationships. He teaches us individual things through each one. I was in this relationship for as long as I felt God leading me into it. And then, over the course of a couple weeks, diligently prayed that He would make it clear to me whether or not I should continue in it. And He said no.
2) I learned so much through this relationship. Lessons I needed to learn and only could have learned by going through this. And you know how people always say that 'one day you'll look back and understand'? Well that is so true. I can testify to that in many different life circumstances. This is no exception. I look back and see how I would've done things differently. I look back and see where I went wrong. I look back and understand the things about myself that I needed to realize. And I am so thankful for all that I have learned.
3) I hate the term 'break-up'. It makes me think of a stick that someone breaks in half. It's horrible to think of a relationship being broken like that. Both parties would feel hurt, used, and incomplete. And sadly, this is how many of the people I know have felt after breaking up with their boyfriend or girlfriend. I want to clarify that I don't necessarily consider this a 'break-up' (even though that's the most used and easiest phrase to refer to it as). It was more of a 'calling off of a relationship'. It was something that needed to happen for both our sakes. I have only cried once - the first day - not for myself, but for him. Because I know him, I care for him, and I knew that he was experiencing much pain. It was the right thing to do, though. I know that with my whole heart. We both understand that God has better things in store for us. We weren't right for each other. Even though we wanted to believe that we were. We wanted to make things work. We tried. We really did. But the last couple of months were the hardest for us. There was endless conflict, arguments, feelings being hurt, asking for forgiveness...and then it happening all over again. It was a continual cycle that I didn't see ending any time soon because the root of the problems were all issues that we had - and still have to - deal with personally. In our own hearts. Between us and God. They were aspects that couldn't be changed through just being worked on or loved through. And unfortunately, these were traits that neither of us could have known would be such horrible issues before going into the relationship. We are both great people. He is someone whom I will never regret meeting, never regret caring for, and never regret investing in. And I know he thinks the same of me.
I would like to end this article with proclaiming that my God is faithful. He is good. He loves me so incredibly much and I have felt His presence so genuinely close in these last few weeks. I have asked His forgiveness in the failures and shortcomings that I am guilty of in this relationship, and I have also thanked Him so so much for protecting me as much as He did - and continues to. He knows the desires of my heart. And in due season, He will bless me because I have trusted in Him. What a beautiful thought.
This is the chorus to a song I recently wrote:
"Through it all
Faithful You remain
Through the good times and bad
Still I see Your hand
You've brought me this far
I trust in Your plan
Never let me wander
Never let me fear
You will see me through till the end."