I’ve been sitting on this one for months. Contemplating how in the world I’d communicate what God has done in my heart and mind over the last nine months. Going back and forth on how I’d convey one of the greatest, most challenging journies of my life thus far. Today I decided I’d just go for it; I’ll let it be messy, I’ll let details slip through the cracks.
This is a story of obedience. I don’t know another way to put it. If you’ve followed my journey at all you know that the Lord has marked my love/relationship journey with obedience. For over three years I’ve heard the tender whisper of the Lord asking me to walk away from great men when I really don’t want to, say “no” to dates I’d love to go on and say “no” to dating in general for periods of time. It’s been a tough journey, but I had settled into the hard of a “no” for the promise of a future “yes”.
I’m not sure what made me think that when the Lord would whisper “yes” into my ear it would be an easy step of obedience. I’m not sure what made me think that a “yes” would take an easier level of faith to step into, but I was incredibly challenged when I heard a “yes” that I couldn’t understand. I struggled through that “yes” more than any “no” I’d ever heard. For some reason, it was easier for me to imagine a God that would take away, rather than a God that would give a good gift.
When Brian and I first met back up he was not a believer. Although we didn’t start dating until he was, I couldn’t fathom why God would give me a continued “yes” on a new believer. Brian didn’t fit the list I had created in my head of the type of man I thought God wanted me to marry. Because of that, I spent two months tearing down the idol I had built in my head based on things I assumed God wanted for me. I took the time to actually ask the Lord what was really important to Him in the man I’ll marry. This meant saying “yes” every day because God was asking me to, and not necessarily because I wanted to. It meant dying to myself and what I had created in my head. Fantasy built by fear is no fantasy at all.
I see a lot of Christian women making lists and building super-Christian hero men up in their head out of fear. An attitude that almost says, “if I can find a man with all these things I’ll avoid the hardship that comes with becoming one with someone.” These men in their heads being protection from the reality of relationships, a safe-guard from actually doing the hard thing with another person. The level of sanctification both Brian and I have had to work through in the last nine months has been so incredibly challenging…I know exactly why I built up a super-Christian in my head…if I only might be able to avoid some of it. God is worthy of the pain of sanctification. No matter the cost.
Both Brian and I had no choice but to walk with incredible faith through some of the hardest months of our relationship. I will always remember the love and faith that Brian exemplified when I looked him in the eyes and said, “I’m sorry, but I’m in this right now out of obedience to the Lord…not because I want to be.” Freaking ouch. I’ll never forget it when he looked back at me and said, “well, I guess that has to be good enough right now.” Brian had to also grip to his “yes” in moments when obedience was all we had. There were a lot of times when we both had to let the dream of this relationship die when we had to completely surrender it. Only to find it fully resurrected weeks later. The peace of the Lord came through the clear resurrection power that God had put on our relationship.
We signed up for a premarital counseling class when we were on a break and not talking to each other because we both separately heard from the Lord that we should sign up…that was a yes that made absolutely no sense.
All the while the echos of worldly relationship advice rang through our heads that, “relationships shouldn’t be this hard. Relationships, in the beginning, should only be fun.” We had to decide to stay in it, we had to decide that God is worthy of our “yes” just as He is our “no”. We had to come to a resolution that a “yes” takes just as much faith as a “no”.
Some of the greatest assaults on what the Lord was doing in my heart and mind in the last nine months came directly from Christian sources. There were countless posts saying, “don’t settle. If that man doesn’t have XYZ then he isn’t from the Lord,” or “if your man doesn’t have a clear mission field then walk away,” etc. etc. I mean you name it…the Christian community has built up an ideal Christian male and until you find him, anything “less” is settling. I have to admit, I held a very similar viewpoint in the past.
Brian didn’t have a clear mission field because he was just spending time falling in love with Jesus. But the constant posts of people spreading this message created an incredible amount of fear in me. The Lord would reassure me, “do you have faith that I’ll give him a mission field? Will you be by his side while he grows into it? Is that enough for you?” Why did I assume that I was just entitled to this idolized Christian man? I struggled thinking that God was letting me down and giving me less…I didn’t understand the ways of God, because He was just preparing me for much much more.
Let’s not get it twisted, I’m not advocating for settling. Brian is FAR from settling for me. He is the man of my dreams. I just couldn’t see that at first because I was in my own way, I had allowed so many other people to tell me what settling looked like. I had asked the Lord to handcraft my love story, customize my hubby, arrange my marriage…why did I assume it would just fall right in line with what I had built up in my head? It had to be so much better than what I could imagine.
My relationship and story with Brian is far better than I could’ve ever thought up, although wildly and completely different. And I’m now living out the fairytale I imagined in my head. To think I was so close to walking away from it all because I was sure God wouldn’t want this for me, to think that I was so close to leaving because it was harder than I thought, it looked different than I thought, the “yes” didn’t feel as mushy gushy as I thought…honestly it makes me sick to even think about.
I am advocating for a Christian community that doesn’t prescribe to others what settling looks like. I’m advocating for a community that cheers on obedience…even if it doesn’t line up with our own thoughts. I am advocating for a Christian community that doesn’t set impossible standards for men, then encourages women to walk away until they meet them. I am advocating for a Christian community that seeks the heart of God, not their own good ideas. I am advocating for a Christian community that allows space for some of the messiness in God’s greatest gifts. I am advocating for a Christian community that allows people to struggle through.
I can’t even imagine this journey without a few of my good friends who pointed out the idolatry in my heart, who told me I was wrong, who said: “I don’t care how hard this is, if God is asking you to be in this…then be in this.” To those friends: I thank you. You have ushered me into one of God’s promises over my life, one of His most spectacular gifts.
I have a lot of single friends still and a lot of them have reached out asking about my story with Brian…asking for advice. Here it is: learn to obey from a heart of love. That’s all. I wouldn’t have made it through if my obedience was based on anything other than a passionate love for the man Jesus. I would’ve kept myself from the promised land. I would’ve missed my fairytale. Ecstatic I get to stay forever, amen.