As I approach another year of possibility and inevitable challenges (whatever the year brings), I want to always try make sure I don’t repeat the same mistakes I’ve made in the past. When it comes to romantic relationships, here’s one truth that has held true time and time again in my life: there’s a huge difference between seeking God’s will and actually walking in it – especially when it comes to relationships. In 2013, I learned that lesson, and I want to share some of the truth God shared with me during that season with you.
I didnt want to put myself what back in the category of, “friends with benefits, so I created my own, “exclusive friendship.” I was super convinced that there was in-fact a way to be friends and still remain focused on getting God’s approval for marriage at the same time.
I desired to be married, but had omitted the idea that marriage is a perfect union made by God (not by my own efforts or even prayers alone). Everything that was recorded as being made by God had no signs of life or even a hint of it’s creation prior God giving it life:
“Then the Lord formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 1:7, NASB)
That knowledge alone is the key to my relational frustrations – if God didn’t make it, it wont work. Okay, so you get that, but how does that relate to my present situation? Well, it’s simple, sorta. I met this guy back in 2013, we started a friendship and that quickly turned into a desire to be married. From that has come a lot of lessons, failures, triumphs, joys and pains. And honestly, I’m still questioning as to why God didn’t tap me on the shoulder and tell me to recalculate my course (or how I missed the big, “EXIT,” signs along the way), but then I wouldn’t have the invaluable lessons to share with you.
Though that relationship didn’t work out (or maybe it did), God used that experience to reveal so much to me about where I was spiritually and how that related to my reasons for wanting to be married.
God has shown me that before Chiereme could be joined with someone else, I had to be made whole as an individual. As I said earlier, marriage is a perfect union and you don’t go into a perfect union any kind of way. When I was new in my faith, I didn’t really understand what being made whole meant completely. I thought that we would be broken people living in grace until we upgraded to chilling with Jesus 24/7, but that’s only half of what being made whole looks like. Becoming whole is a process that starts with our relationship with God and will eventually touch every broken area of our lives until we are 100% renewed (aka with Jesus), but that process starts where we are and wholeness can be experienced if we are open to letting God into our brokenness daily.
Through that failed relationship, God taught me a lot about myself and the areas of brokenness I was still hiding from Him. It took about a year of wandering through this relationship to realize that I wasn’t as ready for a committed relationship as I thought. The beauty of it all is that God blessed me to be able to see those holes in my heart back in 2013, so that now I can look back and trace my journey to wholeness.
Looking back, this is what my journey to wholeness looked like:
1) I accepted Christ and He began to fill the God-sized voids in my heart.
2) As I grew as believers and began to see Christ shine in my live, I saw that there were some holes in my heart left from prior sins that I either brushed under the rug or was unaware of before the Holy Spirit brought it to my attention.
3) God allows experiences, people and the convictions that poke in those sensitive areas and I began desiring to fill those holes with the right things.
4) As God healed my scars (and still is), I moved on to the next stage or level of being made whole where God makes us more like Him – beyond avoiding sin, doing His work and being His hands and feet in our relationships, families, churches, communities and this world.
It wasn’t as clean cut as 1,2,3,4, but essentially, that’s how God works on me. We serve an all powerful ever-capable God, and He will work on different areas of our lives according to His agenda so this isn’t the golden rule for how God heals us.
And that’s the beauty of it all – that figuring out the exact process for how God is going to move and change our lives is not our burden.
I came to realize that in my process of being in an exclusive friendship, that there were A LOT of personal issues, past issue, heart-issues that I needed to work on. There were old memories, sins, and failures that crept back into my mind and heart during this time that I hadn’t felt or thought about in over a year. Was the friendship the culprit of these unwelcome thoughts or feelings? No, but I do think that it served as a true mirror. What started out as a God-focused endeavor turned into a more romantic and sensually stimulating experience. We didn’t have sex (thank God) but we did dabble in what should have been reserved for our future spouses. – even if we thought, “us,” was a part of God’s plan for our lives. I knew then that I was not ready, practically or spiritually.
Marriage is more than just another step for me to reach in my relational goals. I now understand that marriage is another level of spirituality and an even deeper level of intimacy and commitment to God to be committed to another person.
In my senior year of college, I was on a desperate pursuit of going to a higher level of communion with God. I read and saw how God spoke to others through prophecy, dreams, and miracles and wanted to experience God like I never had before. The result was months, weeks, days and long nights of prayer, tears and frustration as to why I couldn’t reach ‘that level’ with God that I desired. I see the process of getting married the same way. There will always be three seasons in our life:
Planting (dropping good seeds on good soil )
Sowing ( getting rid of the weeds so the seeds can take root and grow)
Harvesting ( reaping the produce/blessings of what was sown)
In each season, God works on different areas of our lives to prepare us for the next season (which is always on the horizon no matter how long or short your current season is). As I considered how to proceed with telling my then love interest about what was on my heart, I began to examine myself and the why behind not feeling ‘ready’ or anywhere close when it came to marriage.
I knew that I was in a season of transition – Literally.
I had just moved back from college, and I was looking for the right job… or any job really.
I had a million things on my to do list that seemed to get longer with each passing day.
There were so many readjustments and changes that needed to be made in my life, and I was having a hard time keeping up with them… and him.
I really liked the guy, and God still used that relationship to teach us both valuable lessons, but I think that we were so busy seeking God’s will that we missed actually walking in His will by fully relying on Him and not trying to write our own story.
We began to be consumed in the ‘preparation process’ and quickly realized that were not prepared – or at least I knew I wasn’t, spiritually or practically.
Initially, I thought that it was perfectly normal to ‘prepare’ together, isn’t that what husbands and wife do anyway? – work together on themselves? But that was the problem! We weren’t married or engaged and though that was our desire, God only ok-ed our friendship which we had taken a step further by making it ‘exclusive’ and interacting as if the deal was already sealed.
And trust me, I’m not saying that you can’t better yourself alongside another person (that’s what friends are for), but that wasn’t working for me in that particular season.
All that to say, I realize that marriage is a serious commitment and a level of spiritual maturity that I wasn’t ready for. I knew that being a good wife was more than just making dinner, cleaning, and being sexually attractive to your husband. It is a commitment to God to honor the covenant you made with Him individually and making the effort to pray with and disciple a spouse. That’s a lot to focus on, and I didn’t want to bring my mess – past scars, sins and shortcomings into marriage, when marriage itself, has its own battles to be won. I knew that the perfect union is of two imperfect people, but I also believe that we owe God our best, individually before we can offer it to another person in marriage.
I knew that I wasn’t in the place with spiritually, physically or financially to join myself to anyone else. I didn’t expect to have everything together either, but I knew that the same way I prayed night and day and sought the Lord in my senior year would be the same hustle plus some, to be approved to be someone’s wife.
And a lot of you may be thinking, ‘okay, I see what you’re doing, but what about the guy? What was his response or take in this?
Well, that was the exact thing I had to pray about. It just so happened (only God) that he was going on a men’s retreat with his church the next day and would be focused on hearing from God anyway so we both had time to pray and seek God . Over that time, I prayed my hardest that God would say the same thing to him so it wouldn’t seem as if i just wanted to stop talking to him without a purpose. I remembered that when we first started talking, I was very skeptical of him and the whole idea of a ‘friendship’ with a guy I didn’t know and who claimed to be all of these things, to love God and later that he wanted to share that love one day in marriage with me. Every time I had a doubt or question, I would pray and literally in minutes or by the next night , the guy would bring it up in conversation or text something to me that answered the prayer I had. God was always moving ahead of me and all I had to do was ask and rely on Him to take care of the rest. God gave me peace about our friendship and that He had something in store. So I trusted that God would do the same this time around. I knew that his family, mentors, friends and others in his life would have questions and he may be a little confused or just hurt ( as was I ) from the pain of separation, but that’s really what we needed. We needed to rely on God and let Him heal our hearts so that our focus on Him would be restored.
I needed to focus my attention on how to become the woman that God was calling me to be. A disciple, a visionary, a worshiper, a writer, a leader and hopefully someday a wife and mother. but before I could get to those heights I had to continue learning as I walked through the valley, learning to trust in God and in what He has already written as my love story.
To our Becoming,
What lessons have you learned in your past relationships?
What has God challenged you to do differently?
I’d love to know, do tell!