When I got my first “grown-up” job in New York City a few years ago, I decided to use it as a marker for a fresh start in every aspect of my life. New city, new apartment, new job, new church, new dating. But this “new” dating label was actually code for NO dating; I told God I was done searching for someone until He thought I was ready — not exactly what one expects from a girl fresh out of college and in a city with nine million people. (Trust me, I was more surprised than anyone.)
It wasn’t that at age 23 I felt as though I had learned everything I needed to know about love — quite the opposite, actually. It was my newfound relationship with Jesus that woke me up to the fact that my priorities leading up to that point had been out of whack. Every time I found myself in a new or “potential” relationship, I had a tendency to focus all of my energy around it. I know a lot of people (both girls and guys) who get caught up in this cycle of putting all of their hopes about their future happiness in another person, thinking that finding “the one” will complete you.
As my relationship with the Lord progressed, He slowly started telling me that it was only HIS love that could complete me, and my husband needed to be someone who would point me back to that love. “Ha! Okay Jesus.” I said. “I mean, I’m totally up for marrying a guy like that, but You will have to be the One to bring Him to me, because frankly, I haven’t met someone who meets that description.”
I decided I wanted to press the “pause” button on dating in order to focus my energy totally on God. I figured it would be years before I felt that God was telling me I was ready to go back out there.
What I didn’t realize was that I had graduated from one twisted perception of marriage only to get trapped in another — the idea I had to be perfect before I was worthy of meeting the man who would be my husband.
God taught me that marriage is not about finding someone once you’re “perfect.” Rather, it’s a life-long commitment to grow with another person, and to encourage each other to become the person God created you to be.
But God had other plans. About a month after I proclaimed my “dating fast” a cute guy named Sam asked for my number at work. One text soon turned into a stream of continuous communication; we bonded over our mutual sense of humor and the chemistry was undeniable. “GREAT.” I told a couple of my girlfriends. “Of course this amazing guy came along the minute I decided to stop dating.”
Although Sam was unbelievably respectful and eager to continue growing in his faith, I worried it was too soon for God to have brought me my person. “There’s NO WAY it could be this easy!” I kept thinking. I was concerned I wasn’t “Christian enough” yet to make a God-centered relationship work. I told Sam that although I knew we had great chemistry and he had done everything perfectly in his pursuit to date me, I just didn’t feel certain that it was the right time to begin a relationship.
The next day my mom called me and asked what was new since we had last spoken. “Well, this really cute, sweet guy was trying to date me but I wasn’t sure if it was God’s plan — so I told him we couldn’t move forward.”
My mom had never been the type to push me toward dating someone--that’s why what she said next shocked me: “Sweetie, I think your heart is in the right place. But sometimes in life you have to let go of control so that God has room to move. And who knows, maybe you’re meant to help Sam along in his journey with the Lord.” And just like that, I had my answer.
In my desperate attempt to make myself more Christ-like, I had failed to understand something crucial about the nature of God. He doesn’t ask us to be perfect. He simply wants us to humble ourselves so that He can transform our lives and bring hope into our circumstances. His ways are higher than our own (Isaiah 55:8-9).
After talking to my mom, I went back to Sam apologetically and told him that if he was still interested, I was ready to start dating. We started going to church and reading Christian books together (something I had never done before), and ten months later, we were engaged.
In this process, God taught me that marriage is not about finding someone once you’re “perfect.” Rather, it’s a life-long commitment to grow with another person, and to encourage each other to become the person God created you to be. When we allow God to guide us, He works everything out in perfect timing.