You know what’s hard to figure out at nineteen? Well, let’s be honest. A lot of things! But do you know one thing I especially couldn’t quite grasp yet? It was the fact that God had my best interest at heart, always and forever, and even when I couldn’t see it. I believe this more now than I did over twenty years ago, but I think most of us still forget it’s true. We forget His plans are to prosper us, or His ways are higher than ours. I mean, we hear this stuff over and over through the years. We even read it ourselves in the Bible, yet it’s easy to forget. It’s easy to think maybe that part is for someone else. That makes it hard to give God something you want to hold onto. It’s hard to hand over control of the things you hold really dear.
I found the man of my dreams about twenty-two years ago. He was handsome, but he was also kind. He was unique and talented, but also humble and personable. He was unlike any young man I had met before. He was slow to anger, but so quick to forgive. He loved me. And the best part? He loved me for me. I didn’t have to pretend to be someone else. In fact, never before had I felt more at ease and comfortable with someone of the opposite sex.
I was new at this comfortable kind of love. We didn’t fuss, and we didn’t have to try so hard to be happy. We just were. I also was new to another relationship at the time, and that was with Jesus. I mean, I had attended church for years, but it wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I understood there was a difference between religion and relationship. I was growing in a way spiritually I had never experienced before. I was finally able to understand the Father Heart of God and how His love for me could heal all my past hurts. I was studying the Bible, praying more, seeking God each day, and my beau fit in perfectly with it all. He was the one!
Yep, I said it. The One. Capital “O.” I felt like God told me so. I was new at this hearing God’s voice thing, but I understood it didn’t have to be a burning bush to be Him speaking to me. I was finding that I could hear Him through others, through the scriptures, but also through the quietness of my own heart seeking His will. I had witnessed His miracles, and I had found that when I followed through with the things His Spirit placed within me, He worked in mighty ways. He revealed things to me I would never know on my own. So many things. Naturally, when I felt Him impress to me that the young man described above would be my husband, I took Him at His word.
Have you ever lost something you loved? Something that you knew was right? I did. I watched my college sweetheart go away, and I felt my heart rip in two over that broken promise. I knew God had this man to be my husband. Even after we broke up I still felt like it was true. It was like the Lord had taken him from me, this one thing that made me so happy, and I couldn’t understand why He would do that. I couldn’t understand why we had to give up our relationship.
They say, in Christian circles, that you should willingly give over everything to God. They say He knows better than we do. They use words like “His timing,” or “everything happens for a reason.” Well, that doesn’t help a thing when you’re in the midst of loss. It’s hard to see God’s plan as it is, so never mind the difficulty when your vision is clouded by a veil of tears. I did not give my love life to God back then. I didn’t say, “whatever you say, Lord.” Instead I cried, I begged, I yelled, and I pleaded. I didn’t surrender my plans in favor of His; instead I became bitter and distant. What kind of God hurts the people He loves? Why even tell me this man was the one if he so obviously wasn’t?
The amazing thing to me is that even if you don’t give your life (or most precious possession) to God, He is still faithful. I didn’t hand my future husband to Jesus! He took him from me! But then He gave me now.
Twenty-two years later and I am married to the man of my dreams. It’s the man God told me I would marry. It just didn’t happen when I thought it would. I realize now that we weren’t ready. We were not the man and woman God needed us to be. We were distracting one another from the plans God had, and He had yet to refine us to the vessels He would need us to be for His kingdom purposes. At nineteen it’s hard to understand that your life has more purpose than just yourself. It’s hard to see the impact God wants to make through you for the world at large. Heck, it’s hard to always see that at twenty-nine, thirty-nine, and beyond. But I’ve discovered He always has kingdom purposes. You don’t have to be a minister or missionary to change the world for the better. If you impact positively even one life then you have served a purpose higher than yourself.
We were not the husband and wife we needed to be two decades ago. We were not the parents we would need to be to raise our amazing daughters. And while the Lord can work with any kind of mess, at any age, and at any time, His purposes for our lives together needed to ruminate. We needed to wait.
I am a better wife today than I was yesterday, but especially better than I would have been at twenty. The same goes for him. I appreciate my spouse. I have no problem being a humble wife and laying down a desire to always be right. I wasn’t always this way. He has grown in leaps and bounds also. I sometimes wonder, would we be as happy as we are now if things had gone differently? Would our life be just as amazing had we married at age twenty? Would I realize how wonderful, selfless, and truly loving my man is, or would I take him for granted? I don’t know. What I do know is that God’s timing is always perfect, His promises are always true, and His will extends beyond anything I could make happen. His way brings true, lasting happiness. I didn’t always realize this was so true.
I wish I could say I acted super spiritual when God took my husband from me. I wish I could tell you I got down on my knees and prayed, “thank you, Jesus, that your plans for me are so good. I completely trust you will bring him back to me better than before and bless our future together exponentially!”
I can’t tell you that because I did the exact opposite. I acted like any teenager would. I stormed off and slammed the door in my Father’s face. Sigh. I’m glad He didn’t let it go at that.
Despite our ability to follow God’s plan perfectly, He still lays the foundation. Despite our ability to trust, He is still faithful. Despite our ability to surrender, He still gives abundantly. I mean, doing it His way with a smile and knowing nod the first time would always be better, but seriously, how many of us have ears to hear?! The wonderful thing is that even when our faith flounders, He still loves us. He still blesses us. He takes, but then He gives back even more. I am blessed today because of yesterday, and now I try to always see my life with that mindset. If something falls apart, I anticipate how my Father will piece it back together, better than it ever was before.