Today, I want to tell my story- the part of my story most of you don’t know. I’m going to tell the part of my story I didn’t think I’d ever share- the painful part, the beautiful part, and God’s faithfulness through it all.
I believe that me sharing this part of my life will encourage a lot of people, especially those people who are waiting on the promises of God, the promises that are so big and the promises that they often doubt. This story will help those waiting on the all-elusive “one,” their prince charming or perfect bride.
Some of you, very close to me, know this part of my story, and some of you thought I was crazy for hanging on. There were so many times when this part of my story just didn’t make sense. There were times when I was broken before God, full of confusion and doubt, on my knees with heart-felt, Hannah- like prayers. The biblical Hannah pleaded with God for a son, and time and time again, I pleaded those prayers for a spouse.
My story begins in 2007, when I began dating my high school boyfriend at the time. We dated for over two and a half years, and I was convinced that he was it, the one I would marry. Trust me, I didn’t settle. He really loved the Lord, my family welcomed him as their own, and we seemed to be involved in the same type of ministry. Breaking up was never an option during that time. But long-distance can be rough. A twelve to fourteen hour drive is really rough. Not knowing the next time you’ll see each other is also rough. Long story short, we did break up, and about six months after we did, I started to consider once again that he was the one for me. Years of tension followed, three to be exact. Three years. Three whole years. Can you imagine how much I struggled, how much my heart broke, as time and time again we would discuss old feelings and consider the possibility of getting back together? Many times I walked away from our conversations feeling like my heart had been played with once again. This continued until my senior year of college when the Lord finally, completely shut that door and gave me peace that I wasn’t missing His will for my life. Now you have to understand some back story… We had both thought we were the Lord’s will for each other’s lives, and many times I thought the Lord was speaking to me to wait on him. So if you can imagine, I spent many nights frustrated with God, broken before Him, and angry with Him, so very angry. I asked God why He would trick me like that, why He would dangle this promise of love before me just to rip it away. I wanted so badly to love someone passionate about me and even more passionate about Christ and doing His work. The thing that hurt the most wasn’t the loss of the person, however. It was the brutal doubt that creeped in, leading me to believe that I obviously didn’t know how to hear God’s voice. So after all this, I went through a season of bitterness, where I doubted God, my ability to hear and discern His voice, and where I was angry at all the times people had prophesied that this thing would come around. Now let me leave this paragraph with this thought: “Hindsight is always twenty-twenty.”
Here’s the good news. Here’s where things began to change. There was a beautiful moment when I looked back and realized that those years were not a tease. There was a glorious second when I realized I could, indeed, trust God and that He was up to deeper things. There was a tremendous excitement in seeing that my experience was a part of His plan all along. First off, God knew this would be a part of my story and my testimony. He knew I would help others, broken-hearted over what looks like the loss of their promise. He knew my story would encourage those whose promise seems just a little too out of reach, a little too impossible. He knew that someone would need to trust Him for their dreams, when there seemed to be absolutely no time left for those dreams to be realized. Well, if you read Scripture, you might recall that Sarah, Abraham’s wife, had a child way after she was of child bearing age, and Hannah had a child when she was doomed to be childless. I have found that God loves to operate outside of our time frames. He loves to do the impossible, and he loves to show off. He loves to perform when, by all natural means, it is FAR too late. My God loves this! Why? Because when He works in the impossible, we are forced to acknowledge that we had no part in the act. We are forced to realize that it was only by Him and through Him. We are better able to fully relinquish all the glory back to Him.
This is how this part of the story ends. I was able to look back and be thankful for the years of heartbreak. Yes, thankful, and this is why. All of that drama and all of that pain led me to my husband, the man who is not perfect but who is perfect for me, the man that God intended for me all along. I believe that God knew that James and I were not yet ready for one another. A lot had to happen to get our hearts prepared and to even get us in the same city at the same time. Also, knowing what I had in my high school boyfriend and wondering if he was still “the one” protected me from so much! It enabled me to walk away many times from what would have been settling for me. It gave me the strength to wait for a godly man who unashamedly pursued Christ with all that he had and who sacrificed himself daily to love me like Christ loves the church. Time and time again I walked away from potential relationships knowing that they didn’t quite compare to my high school boyfriend, and this kept me many times from compromising. I didn’t want to walk away from something to walk into something less. I believed that if he wasn’t my person, then God had someone EVEN BETTER for me. Now, that was hard to imagine at first but then came James. I walked into the frozen yogurt store on our first date and had to keep my jaw from hitting the floor. Ok, so that might be a slight exaggeration, but seriously he was so cute and so handsome! And it just kept getting better… Besides the fact that we had SO much in common, he has a passion for the Lord that blew my mind. Over the course of a few months I was able to see that every moment I waited, I had waited for him. Every prayer I had prayed over my future husband, I had prayed over him. In fact, when I met him, I felt like I had known him all my life; and I honestly believe it was because I had spent my whole life praying for him. He was everything I had prayed for, so in that sense, I already knew his heart. And the beautiful part is that he felt the exact same way. About a week and a half into our relationship, James looked at me and said that he thought he was going to marry me. Instead of the usual fear and panic when a guy would bring up commitment, I quickly said back in full sass mode, “I know.”
I tell you all of this to encourage you. I want to encourage you that God does honor His Word, that He does work all things for good for those who love Him and are called unto His purpose, that He does have your best interest and His glory in mind, and that He does fulfill all the crazy big dreams He’s placed in your heart. The bigger and the more impossible the dream, the more likely that God placed it there. My God loves to show off. He didn’t need to, but in so many faithful ways, He has won my trust, and He has won my heart.