I was fairly certain I would never date again, let alone be married again.
When you find yourself wrapped up in a crisis of an unexpected divorce that takes you from being with one person for almost a decade to being alone and it happens so fast you’re a balloon that has been slowly punctured with a needle so you don’t pop, but instead the air and life leak out of you until you’re limp, well, it kind of messes with you.
Once the initial shock wore off, when sleeping alone became normal and I stopped making dumb choices that only reinforced loneliness as a curse instead of accepting it as a gift, I realized I was quite happy being single.
I lived in west Michigan a mile from the lake and spent the summer on the beach or visiting friends or in Africa, and when I returned, I got an email from a Christian dating site asking me to visit and check out the new matches they had for me. Surely I’d find someone. Surely it was God’s plan. God’s timing.
I laughed but I clicked.
And I saw a picture of a guy on a mission trip who loves telling stories about what God’s doing in the world, and loves serving the local church and the big church. And I sent him a message and blamed the jet lag for falling into the dating site’s trap.
The girl who was fine without a guy, who was happy being single and hopping on planes whenever she wanted to wherever she wanted, was secretly afraid to be hurt again with a pain so dark she was certain she could not survive.
But she said yes to the first date, she said yes to being his girlfriend, she said yes to his proposal and she said yes to being his wife.
People sometimes look surprised when they realize Tim and I have only known each other for a little over a year and we’ve been married for half that time. And marriage is not some thing to enter into lightly. We both come from marriages that broke like glass and did not reflect Christ like a mirror and we know that’s what a marriage should do. When Tim approached me even before that first date, it was with the sole intent on getting to know each other so that we could commit our relationship to serving God.
Even with our weaknesses and in the places we need to grow, and with the things we have to learn and the new things we get to experience, I continue coming back to two things that I think not only apply to marriage, but apply to everything we face in life where we feel like the resistance is too much to push through.
- It’s about being holy: It’s not about us. It is now about how I feel, or how Tim feels. It is about my decisions and asking myself if those decisions bring glory to God or don’t. There are many other things like dates and flowers and friends and dinners and holding hands on a walk, but this covenant is about how we reflect Christ to each other and to the world. And when you’re in the throes of it, in the mundane and the dirty dishes and the taking for granted and the heat of raised voices, sometimes it is so difficult to remember that. It’s is wonderful and is not easy. Marriage is hard and I tell my engaged friend this; but it is the hard things that make us holy. The same holds true for anything. It’s not about you. It’s about being holy.
- It’s about taking a chance: I know there are people who are on the verge of commitment but fear (sometimes a just fear) keeps them from pursuing or being pursued. I think I was one of them. The old saying of “you’re never ready” generally applies to marriage, to having kids (I imagine), or to taking that big leap – whether it’s marriage or a new job or something else. It has been said a million times by a million people but the things we fear the most are usually the things we’re meant to do. In regard to relationships, one friend comes to mind. Tim and I met him over pancakes on a rainy day and he told us how he thinks he likes a girl, and he loves her kids, but was he ready to not just become a husband but a father? Tim said some things about just making a decision, whatever that next step was, anything to not stay in limbo. And our friend listened. He committed to her, proposed a couple months later and they’re getting married next summer.I think of friends who have quit jobs or taken a shot at their dreams, who have done “crazy” things like give up health insurance and took a million part time jobs so they could do that one thing that makes them come alive.
Everyone says it’s terrifying. Everyone says it’s worth it.
What is that thing for you? That desire that won’t go away, that longing that is glued to you like your shadow? And what is that thing that’s keeping you from diving into it, giving it all (or at least, giving it something)?