[Guest Post by Arlene Pellicane – I just love the question she asks because so many women ask it before getting married. Now that I AM married, I can honestly say she speaks the truth! Don’t be afraid to wrestling with this question yourself, and be …
[Guest Post by Brooke – We met through iBelieve.com a site we both write for. When she approached me with her story, I couldn’t wait to share it with you all. For those of you who feel like you’re in the desert of singleness–please know that you’re NOT alone!!!]
He planned the proposal perfectly—balloons, a trail of lights by the lake, Clair de Lune playing in the background, and him down on one knee asking me to be his wife.
I had waited 33 years for this moment and I had begun to doubt it would ever happen–until I met him.
We met online on a Christian dating site.
I had been resistant to the idea of online dating for years, but God had slowly opened my heart to it. After a recent disastrous date and a huge blow to my self-esteem, I was hesitant to try again. But there was one email that I kept thinking about, one guy that I couldn’t get out of my head. He had simply written, “What do you like to write about?” There was gentleness in his words and a kindness in his eyes that kept drawing me back. I waited several months before answering him, figuring by that time he had surely found someone. After pushing “send,” I went to bed and prayed. I prayed that if I had made a mistake, please God, don’t let him email me back.
Within an hour, I had a reply.
After a month of communicating online, we met in person.
He was easy to talk to and if I’m honest, I was instantly smitten, but at the same time hesitant. I had been single forever, so I could hardly believe this guy could like me, much less ever love me.
In six months, we were engaged. Then just as quickly as we came together, we fell apart.
The marriage would have involved dramatic changes for me.
I would be quitting my job, moving away from my family, friends, and church, and selling my house. For a girl who loves her comfort zone, all of these changes plus getting married had my mind going into a tailspin, but I felt it was what I was supposed to do.
While terrified at the thought of so many changes, I was also excited to begin this new chapter in my life and to see what God was going to do with it. God had been growing and changing me drastically in the previous two years and I felt that He had been preparing me for a major change. I felt He was asking me to trust Him in a way that I had never done before.
In fact He was, just not in the way I wanted.
Instead of marriage, God was asking me to trust Him enough to let go of my desires and go back into my desert of singleness.
God had given me a glimpse of my Promised Land–the dream of being a wife and mom.
Just as quickly as that possibility came into my life, it was snatched away.
I had prayed about this relationship, so why did it end with my dreams lying shattered at my feet? I had asked God not to let it happen if it wasn’t supposed to, so why did I find myself back where I started only now missing a man that will never be a part of my life again? Why was I allowed to hold my dream in my hands only to have it slip through my fingers? These questions ran through my mind as I struggled with the confusion, sadness, anger and pain.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord (Isaiah 55:8, NIV).
As humans, we only see a glimpse of the grand picture God has created.
We can’t begin to imagine the intricate pieces and the interweaving of lives that God has orchestrated. I may never know why I got to experience a love only to watch it fade away, but I know and I trust that my broken relationship is playing a part in God’s beautiful plan however painful it is for me. I know that God will take the broken pieces and restore them into beautiful things.
So I place my brokenness at God’s feet and I pray let Your will be done, for I trust in a Savior who never fails, who never leaves and who always redeems.
Brooke is a 30-something single woman who loves Jesus and is just trying to follow Him every day. She works full-time in the publishing industry as a managing editor and spends her free time making pretty things, writing and attending as many Vince Gill concerts as she can. You can follow her on Twitter and visit her blog.
[Photo: ghost_67, Flickr]
[Guest Post by Shannon Roy – I met her through StartMarriageRight.com an amazing site for building godly relationships. She and I have stayed in close contact ever since, and I can’t wait to meet her in person when I travel to Chicago later on this year. Also, I am excited for her and her upcoming marriage!!]
A riddle for you to ponder: What is better than experiencing your greatest dream come true?
Before–my answer would be a “few” dreams, but dreams change.
The clouds darkened overhead the bright green fields spread out before us. Our SUV radio buzzed as we listened to the coordinates of the brewing storm. Our entourage flew down the open dirt road; we were determined to get ahead of the storm. If we could just get close enough to perform our test, our information could help us predict the course of a natural disaster, like a tornado.
The towns could alert people earlier and lives could be saved.
Our mission was important and we weren’t afraid.
The winds started to pick up and my adrenaline increased. The tires squealed to a halt on the pavement and we jumped out of the car, anchored to the vehicle with rope. This was the moment of truth; we either performed the test correctly or watched 1 million dollars be tossed into the quickly approaching twister—no wonder Jan de Bont created a film out of this life style. I must say, Helen Hunt played the part well.
The winds began to move and my dreams changed.
The thrill of racing through the fields of North America’s tornado alley faded as I became curious about the rest of the world.
Sweat trickled down my forehead and onto my linen shirt. The helicopter approached the launching pad not far from the Congo River, formerly known as the Zaire River, and the deepest river in the world.
I’d been studying this region of Africa, particularly the DRC post-Second Congo War—thought by some to be the deadliest war since World War II. Many people lost their lives, not only to combat, but from preventable disease.
I hopped off the copter and buddied up with my guide. I was thankful for my studies in Paris the year before; my novice French would be an asset here. We hopped in a jeep a sped off into the rainforest. I needed to find people who were touched by the war; I wanted to hear their stories and reveal them to the world…and I would need to do it quickly.
My deadline was in three weeks.
That dream came to an abrupt halt because my emotional, spiritual and physical health needed attention.
For the first time since I could remember, my chest wasn’t tight with anxiety. I could focus on the moment; and what a relief it was. My hand resting on my abdomen—I laid in bed knowing that deep sleep would come soon. I slept like a rock and woke up incredibly refreshed and ready to start the day.
Breathing in deeply and then out, I could feel my stomach rise as my lungs filled with air and then sink down again. I thanked God for a working body, and that was healing after having done damage to it—a healthy diet turned into a destructive eating disorder.
It gave me some sense of control and security amidst a competitive and fast-paced lifestyle.
But that was my choice; I’d forgotten that I had a choice.
I was no longer, actually I never was, very good at calling the shots in my own life so I gave it completely, with abandon, over to God.
I found Him.
After a few months on rest and rehabilitation, my body was stronger, my face was washed with color again, my anxious thoughts ceased, breathing came easy and my thoughts slowed down from a race to a pleasant trot.
Mugabe and the White African, my dream project as a book publicist back home in Chicago. The press release was perfect. Press kits went out to my carefully crafted media lists. Media alerts scattered the nation. NPR was even going to do a segment on the title! Wow–this was big. The office was buzzing as the other publicists worked hard on their own titles. Every week marked a new deadline and the end of the month a big push. All of the planning carefully timed to gain the maximum amount of exposure for the title. This was a story that could reveal new information to readers and had the potential to stir up conversation.The idea that I could have a part in disseminating this message was exhilarating–a real chance at success.
We laughed and reminisced around a camp fire on a warm Indian Summer night, telling stories about God’s good work in our lives.
This would be the last time that I would see some of them over the next two years. I would be leaving the next week for a mission across the world. The journal that I would keep was contracted to be published upon my return. Maybe I could even write a children’s book based off of it. Marshmallows turned carefully over the orange and yellow flames and I watched my beloved family and friends smile, the light dancing on their faces. I would miss them more than anything but knew that the Lord had important work for me.
The grand opening of my children’s international book store was a great success.
Floods of children and their families from all over the world came for our first story time. They heard a beautifully illustrated tale called Miss Rumphius, who wanted to make the world beautiful. The children listened to the whole story; the storyteller was incredibly engaging and even dressed up just like Miss Rumphius. We served tea and treats and handed out flyers about the English conversation event that would take place each week in our cozy café.
The waiter poured us each a glass of red wine and he shared his greatest dreams with me—a smile flashed across his face—I couldn’t wait to help those dreams come true. We were celebrating a very special occasion. Last night, you see, he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. Our joy made evident by the glow on our faces, we thanked God for bringing us together to do his work as a team. Our dear friends gathered around us now for the occasion, we toasted over small plates of winter comfort food, and took turns telling the proposal story over and over. I never tired of being asked.
So what, in my opinion, is better than experiencing your own greatest dream come true?
Helping someone else’s dream to come true–and then walking with him as it unfolds.
As I wrote these anecdotes, some of them based on true events from my life, I realized how many of my dreams have come true. I also realized how much God’s love changed my dreams. He has blessed me abundantly–and yet I’m still grateful for the little girl in me that dreams up wild adventures and tender moments.
With a BA in Public Communication and certificate from the Denver Publishing Institute, Shannon has worked in book publishing for 5 years and also works in children’s ministry at her church. When she’s not at work, she serves with World Relief Chicago. Shannon is grateful for devotional time, coffee dates with friends, laughing over kids’ books with her teacher mom, early morning swims and dance classes. She lives on Chicago’s north side and is getting married on June 1, 2013 to her best friend and fiance, Joe. Follow Shannon on Twitter.
[Photo: border.garaku, Creative Commons]
[Guest post by Tracy Steel. We met online (where else?), and quickly became friends after we realized we both shared similar stories of staying single for longer than we both wanted too. Her story is quite touching and I couldn’t wait to have her share …
[Guest Post by Ruth Rutherford] – Picture this, ladies: You’ve been dating an amazing guy for a while now and things are going perfectly.
He is sweet, funny, smart and driven. When he looks at you, his eyes sparkle. When he smiles at you, your heart melts. And, most importantly, he really, truly loves God. You pinch yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming because (deep breath) you think you’ve found the one.
You spend nearly every waking moment together, often falling asleep in one another’s arms while watching the latest Redbox release. Rustled awake by a nearby car alarm, you look at the clock near his couch and it says 2 a.m. You both groan as you slip on your shoes and coat, and crawl toward the door, secretly wishing you could both just crawl into his bed instead.
The subject of your future together starts to come up more often.
You talk about marriage.
You talk about where you might live.
You talk about finances, which turns into quite the Debbie Downer dinner topic.
Between his car payment and your student loans and both your apartment rent payments, money is tight. The math tells you to move in together. You’d only pay rent once, could share a car, and would see each other more often. And, hey, you could even read the Bible together every morning over coffee!
Although you feel a bit uneasy about it, the logic is there.
And you do love him with all your heart, and plan to marry him. So, why not? Why should you abide by some archaic, Christian dating guideline from days of yore? It’s 2013.
Times have simply changed.
And you’d be right to think that–times sure have changed. But that doesn’t mean that many of the guidelines around faith and relationships aren’t still incredibly relevant.
It’s like your mom used to tell you when you got too close to the stove: “Hot! Don’t touch!”
You were curious, drawn to the gas flame like a moth to a front porch light. But you, with your inquisitive streak, just wanted to touch. What your mom knew that you didn’t is this: If you’d just wait a few more minutes, you could taste what was cooking and actually enjoy it…without getting hurt.
So here you are–older, more mature, but with that same inquisitive streak.
The man you love–who you want to spend forever with–is inviting you to live together with him.
In his apartment.
In his space.
In his arms every single morning.
Sigh. It’s hard to resist. The upsides are clear. Yes, you would save money. Yes, you’d spend more time together. Yes, you would learn more intimate details about each other and grow closer. But don’t be blinded by the heat of the moment, by the lure of the flame.
I can tell you with complete certainty–and with many friends’ experiences to back me up–that there are, indeed, downsides. And they are dangerous.
Living together will open the door to experiences reserved for husbands and wives.
The intimacy you’ll share will be beautiful, but will come with a level of commitment that can be scary. And without marriage vows to hold you together, it will be way too easy to simply walk away when the going gets tough, leaving your heart in the balance. And if you’re trying to save yourselves for marriage sexually, you’re acting as your own worst enemy by tearing down all practical boundaries against temptation.
If he’s the one for you, and if you’re the one for him–you both deserve the commitment.
Notice the operative word here is “the”– the commitment, as in marriage. You both deserve to hear that mutual promise from the other, and to act on it.
When it comes to living together before marriage, hear me when I say, in my best mom voice: “Hot! Don’t touch!” Just wait a little while longer.
What you’ll taste in a loving, committed marriage relationship will satisfy any curiosity you have over what kind of toothpaste he uses or whether he wears boxers or briefs in bed. It’ll satisfy your curiosity as to what true, patient, sacrificial commitment is all about.
And most importantly, it’ll protect your heart for the long haul.
A freelance writer based in Washington, D.C., Ruth Rutherford (@ruth_rutherford) enjoys blogging about faith and life as a Christian single. She hopes her words will inspire others (and herself) to embrace their place today, instead of obsessing over tomorrow (ikissedmydategoodnight.com).
[Photo: .nate, Creative Commons]
I’m not ready for kids because I have anxiety. I never thought I’d share this information publicly, but I never thought I’d be married and dealing with this problem privately. As some of you already may know, I was single for 12 years, 10 months, …