The conversations went something like this:
Me: You know I want to have babies and be married! It’s not fair that everyone around me gets to do that! I’m 29 for heaven’s sake!
Him: I didn’t promise you I’d be fair, I promised you I’d love you and be just.
Me: Well, if you really love me, you’d give me what I want. Now.
Him: Ah, it doesn’t quite work that way, darling girl. I give you what you need when you need it– when you’re ready for it.
Me: Hurumph. That’s not fair! I’m just going to keep on trying to make him love me.
Him: I don’t recommend that.
Me: Aw, come on! You’re such a tease! You send this wonderful, professional, Christian guy my way, he fits most of boxes on my check list… just let him ask THE question.
Him: You think he loves you?
Me: He sure acts like he does.
Him: What about that time he didn’t want you to meet his family?
Me: Uhm, yeah, that hurt a little. But he was being prudent not to rush things… I guess. I eventually met them! And I love them.
Him: And, they love you.
Me: (Proudly) Yes, they do. They think I’m perfect for him.
Him: You’ve given them hope…
Him: And they may get disappointed when things don’t work out.
Me: Well, if their stubborn son would just ask the question, that wouldn’t happen!
Him: And, well, what about that other girl that seems to keep hanging around?
Me: He doesn’t love her… she’s no good for him. She’s Jewish!
Him: And you believe they’re just friends? And all of the “other girls,” the “Ex’s,” the “Pals?”
Him: You are sure…
Me: Well, no. I’m jealous and I’m suspicious… He says he doesn’t want to make enemies and wants to keep friends… but I don’t get it, why would he act so loving towards me? We’re perfect for each other.
Him: Are you sure you aren’t confusing warm fuzzies and lust for love?
Me: Now, why would he hold my hand that way, squeeze me that way, make love to me that way if he didn’t love me?
Him: You’re avoiding my question. It’s because he’s sinning and succumbing to sins of the flesh. And so are you…
Me: Oh Lord… it’s so hard not to… If you’d just make him marry me, we wouldn’t be sinning! He’d not be tempted! We’d have lots of Christian babies. We’d have a great marriage. We’d glorify you!
Him: Hmmmm. I don’t think so. I believe your vision is clouded by lust.
Me: Well, what’s wrong with lust? Didn’t you create that too?
Him: Well, sure, I created desire between men and women, and pleasure too. But I was pretty clear when I said one man-one woman…
Me: Yes! We ARE one man and one woman…
Him: …Hold on a second, let me finish. I designed that union to happen in covenant relationship, a marriage. And I had some very good reasons to do that. He’s now taken a piece of your heart, made you less whole, and I am powerless to get it back for you; and he feels under no obligation.
Me: So, what are you waiting for Lord? “Direct his heart…” Convince him to marry me, and it’ll all work out according to your plan!
Him: MY plan, hmmm? Oh, my precious child, you KNOW I have a plan for you, for hope and a future. BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD!!! You are impatient, you are anxious, and you are wise in your own eyes. I tell you time and again, I’VE GOT THIS. I DO have a promised land for you, but you are not trusting me. Instead you are going your own way, pushing on those doors I keep slamming shut. I hate to tell you this, but you are in for a lot of hurt very soon. It will be something that will clutter your heart for a while. You are not in my will. And you don’t want to follow my will. The only way I can get your attention is to make it hurt. I don’t like doing this, but it’s for your own good. You need a little fire, a little testing, to turn back to me. Your desires are misplaced. I don’t know how else to make that clear to you.
Yes, that is a conversation that would be held between God and me for many years in my 20s. I may not have always fully listened to God’s side to it! Sometimes it was even “let this man want to know you, God; show me how to lead him to you through my love,” with the agnostics and atheists. But after some heartbreaks, I thought God had finally sent me a man “of faith,” and I was certain he was “the one.” A year together, then a painful break up, then a reuniting, and so it would go back and forth over the next 5 years. Through one man, I’d found my way to salvation, in the midst of rampant sin and rebellion. His family had as good as married me. I just need him to sign off on it.
Staying single and faithful to God’s will during your 20s can be so hard.
My 20s got off to a rocky start. I believed in God but I hadn’t been saved. I knew sex outside of marriage was wrong (but I wasn’t altogether clear on why, now that we had birth control). I never intended on sleeping with anyone other than my husband, and the first one was supposedly going to be my husband. And despite his intentions to marry me, after a year it surprisingly became very clear to this 19 year old that marriage was not the plan (my decision). But once I slipped I just seemed to keep on slipping. All I ever wanted was for someone to love me, to want me. When men expressed their desire for me, I immediately translated that into true love… commitment… a future… marriage. After all, my first man had wanted marriage. After a few of these mess-ups, I learned, and I knew better, and I had run out of excuses. I had learned that man (and woman) is full of sin, full of lust, and full of lies. But still I couldn’t break the cycle of wanting to direct my own life without consulting God. Even at 26, having finally accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and accepting His forgiveness… I kept backsliding into addictive sexual sin, convinced that if I slept with him and gave him pleasure, he’d want to marry me. Sometimes I sinned destructively and cavalierly, knowing full well it was “only sex.” Each time I tried to fill that void of a torn heart, it just got larger. I kept searching in vain to fill up this gapping hole inside me, looking for unconditional love, and missing out on how only God loved me unconditionally, and that this emptiness was a chasm that only God could fill. As big as it got, there was no one other than a perfect God who could fill it.
And so He kept me waiting, patiently seeing me through my cycles of defeat: slavery to sin => deliverance => testing => prevailing unbelief => and back to sin and slavery. Thirty. Thirty-one. Thirty-two. Tick tock, tick tock. Oh, I did so much want babies!! Maybe I’d do it on my own, a single mom? Or, maybe I’d “accidentally” get pregnant and his eyes would be opened to a future together…
I don’t know why I finally said, “enough.” Maybe God had blocked the pathways for a man to tempt me into delusion. He’d certainly winnowed down the eligible pool to fewer and fewer single men (many of whom were looking for younger models), and many divorced or widowed, some decades older who hinted at making a go of it (and somehow I realized this wasn’t a good plan for an active young woman who wanted several babies; who wasn’t thrilled to walk into a step-mom role with teens; I was doing the math– yes, I was 32 and he was “just” 50… but then it’d be 42 and 60; 52 and 70. Perhaps this works for some… but it didn’t feel right for me). I know I had become more faithful to Bible study and scripture memorization. I had many more mentors to help me stay accountable. I had stopped “looking” so actively, and starting believing Jeremiah 29:11. I had actually resisted temptation (“no temptation has seized you… pray and you’ll be given a way out” 1 Corinthians 10:13) in a couple of short-term relationships with candidates I deemed “suitable,” that hinted at being “perfect.” When the physical attraction started humming,I honestly told the (Christian) guy I wouldn’t have sex before marriage, and watched them quickly move on. I went through a period of re-consecrating myself to God’s will and plan for sexuality.
The decade in which I was having these conversations with God, I felt he’d pretty much abandoned me. Looking back now, I know God was there all the time, even though I had abandoned Him. He didn’t bully me or strong-arm me into behaving. He allowed me to suffer testing and consequences and return to Him, time and again, until finally His fire had done its work in refining me to meet the person He had intended for me from the beginning of time: at the exact right time and place. Instead of ”prevailing unbelief” in His Promises for me, I finally believed and was able to enter the Promised Land He had set apart for me.
No, I wasn’t perfect when I finally met my husband. There was plenty more work to be done, plenty more refining. It wasn’t always easy.
But God also had a plan for that.