Believe it or not, I was very shy growing up. I had my first official "boyfriend" in 8th grade. We'd hug each other after class and at the end of the day he'd walk me to the steps where I'd walk home. Oddly enough, when we were no longer in a relationship, we remained friends and he set me up with his neighbor. I think I was now a sophomore in High School. He wanted us to go out because we both were shy. Who knew two shy people could end up staying in a relationship for 5 1/2 years? Yup, I was in one relationship from age 15-20. As I started growing closer to God, I realized we were not on the same page. As hard as it was, I broke up with him. I remember going to my favorite spot with God and writing him a letter about what was on my heart and why I needed to move on. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. After this, I re-dedicated my life to God and was able to continue pursuing God in the way that my heart desired in all it's fullness with no holding back. I knew I wanted to marry a man who loved God and enjoyed going to church and doing life with the Lord. I wanted someone I could relate to in this way, as it was actually the most important part of me but had been pushed aside. As you can imagine, we did not know who we were at such a young age, and were two very different people.
After ending this relationship, I longed for a Godly man. I dated a man who was a worship leader and in my small group. Though I enjoyed dating him, I never felt fully myself around him. Things started fizzling out, and he ended up dating and is now married to a new friend of mine who I had confided in with about him. Yup, crazy how it felt so fresh and difficult at the time, but looking back you can see God's hand in it all. My life would be so different if I stayed with him, and now he is happily married and I am happy for him and his wife.
The rest of my story isn't necessarily about guys I dated, but more so guys I was interested in dating and let myself get emotionally attached to, that didn't feel the same way about me. I know I am not alone on this journey, as many girls also have this struggle. The struggle is real!
People often say you'll meet your husband when you least expect. Well, I thought that was the case when I met the next guy I liked. He showed up at a ministry night of this ministry I was attending consistently. There were hardly ever any young, single guys that attended these meetings. He came out of the blue, and caught my attention! My friend made sure we were introduced, and it didn't take long before I was intrigued. We ended up hanging out and getting to know each other as "friends" over the course of a month or two. The more time we spent together, the more I liked him. I was getting ready to leave for YWAM, and we had a conversation about this. He reiterated that he communicated we had been only friends from the beginning and was under the impression that I understood this as well. Most likely that was the case, but we girls like to hold onto any ounce of hope possible. I held on, and walked away from our conversation very sad at the reality that we would be nothing more than friends. (A special shoutout to friends who walked through this or any of these with me, in my process, as it seemed to be the only and utmost important thing in my life to discuss at every opportunity). When I came back from YWAM, this guy was getting ready to do a school for missionaries in Africa. I couldn't believe that, as I too, had a heart for Africa. The thing is, we could talk for hours as if no time had passed. I continued to walk through the process as he was gone and returned, only to discover only friends we shall be. Little did I know, we'd both end up moving to Redding a couple years later, during the same year, for different purposes. I could have thought it was "fate", but the Lord had revealed to me this guy was not the man He had for me, and I was able to remain friends with him. We were able to have a great friendship that first year I was in Redding because of this. What I learned from it all, is that you can be attracted to someone, have chemistry, and be able to talk to them for hours, but that does not mean this person is the one you're supposed to marry. Even though he came out of the blue, he was meant to be a friend all along. And, I am happy to say we are still friends and actually hung out last night. We don't see each other often or stay in touch too much, but I am grateful for the time we do get together and love looking back on the growth that has happened in each of our lives since we met.
I began to see how quality time was definitely a top love language for me as the more I spent time with guys, the more I liked them. The next guy was significantly younger than me, but that didn't bother me. I was vocal about it to close friends, but not others. It amazes me how we can change the way we see our lives to imagine it matching with someone else's when we so badly want a relationship and are around someone that's potential for marriage. By potential for marriage I mean someone that we could see ourselves marrying. I had been friends with this guy and his family, but hadn't seen him in this way until I went on a missions trip with him. It was just he and I, and his parents. As you can imagine, we spent two weeks straight together, and it was on the mission field, doing what I felt called to do. I longed for a companion to do life with and wondered if he could be it. Fast forward to reality when I continued to grow and realize that again, my quality time and deep desire for relationship was getting the best of me. One of the things I have learned in all of these experiences is that I am drawn to something different in each guy. With this guy, I was drawn to him by how his parents treated each other, and how he treated women. That, and a call to missions were both important to me.
Sure enough, next guy is again someone I went on a missions trip with who was also younger than me. I think the thing I was drawn to in these younger guys was their spiritual maturity. I do not have a problem with age, but I was also seeing what I wanted to see. Again, I began to imagine what my life could look like or would be like with him if I changed things around a bit to align with his passions and put mine aside. After six months or so of allowing my thoughts to wander about this guy, I began to see yet again that he was not the man God had for me. One thing I was drawn to about him was how he treated me and the words of affirmation he gave me. He saw who I was, and he saw my potential. That was something I hadn't experienced before. Oh, and he called it out continually.
I continued to see different things in different guys that I liked over the years. I began stepping out in boldness because I thought to myself, why not? I asked a guy who was an intern for a teacher at our school if he wanted to get pizza one time, and he was up for it. We spent time getting to know one another and had good conversation, but didn't go out again. Then I met a guy at the airport on New Years Eve, literally at midnight. H was visiting Redding, and I gave him my contact info. because he did not know anyone. We ended up spending a fair amount of time together (there's that time thing again!) and sure enough my heart grew fonder of him. And yet again, I wondered, could this be the man God has for me? He left, only to communicate via group update emails and it became apparent that he was not interested in me in the way I saw him. The summer before I began teaching, I met a tall and handsome teacher at the Teacher's Conference. I felt supernatural boldness and asked him if he was going to be in town for longer than the conference. I asked if he wanted to connect and grab coffee or something ,and he said sure. We ended up getting a bite to eat, to which he paid for. It was good, and we stayed connected while he was in town, but it was mostly initiated by me. (I have never had a problem with this, but God told me "let the guy pursue you" before I even knew I was hearing from God. We hung out again at a group gathering, but that was it. We had a mutual friend, who asked him about our time when she saw him. Come to find out, he had no romantic interest in me. Ouch! It was painful to hear, but again, I took the risk and had walked through this before so I knew I could move forward despite the outcome. Then there was a time where I was into a guy for about six months. This time, he was much older than me and was literally what I envisioned physically of a man I was going to marry. We ended up in the same circle of people, and I began to see more about him that I liked. Over the course of six months, my heart grew fond of him but it was not appearing to be a mutual thing. It was kind of confusing because it seemed like he sent mixed signals. Sometimes he was flirtatious and communicating often via text, and other times he was talking with lots of other girls and short with me in text. There are a lot more details but I'm not going to get into them, except that I went on the journey of surrendering him and then holding onto hope. I kept thinking eventually he'll see me and choose me. This is the thing, I think some of these guys "see me" but the protection of the Lord does not allow them to choose me. It's not a personal thing, but it's because of His goodness. I finally received clarity from the Lord and the door closed. It was so important and necessary for me to move on. I get so caught up and invested in these "non-relationship relationships".
There wasn't any more guys in my life that I saw as "potential" for a while at this point. I held onto hope, but sometimes struggled to keep it alive. Then I met another guy. Out of the blue. I met him through some mutual friends, and asked to find out if he was single. I was caught off guard by his handsomeness and that he literally fit the description of what I wrote in my journal to God about the physical features of a man that I like. (God challenged me to be specific in my journal). We became friends, but all along I was interested in more. Eventually we had a conversation. He wanted to be sure we were on the same page. I was hoping he was going to sit down and tell me how great I am, and that he wants to date me. But that didn't happen. I shared where I was at, and he shared where he was at. I walked away understanding he's not dating anyone right now and has lots of friends who are girls, but does not see them beyond that. I did not understand how that was possible, but I was grateful for this conversation. He left communication open, and let me know that I had permission to text him when I wanted or needed to about anything, and especially if I wanted affirmation to encourage me. I felt good in our conversation, but chose to ask him how he had experience me thus far, and was blown away by his response. I felt very encouraged and affirmed in who I was, and hoped we could continue to be friends. A little while later I discovered that the door was actually closed, and God helped me understand that it was possible for him to not view friends in such a way. I discovered that we are not on the same page in regards to looking for a relationship, and that is okay. As I continued to move forward, and we continued to communicate openly, I was able to see so much more beyond this. The reason I was drawn to him was because he was an incredible listener. He not only listened to me talk for long periods of time and encouraged me, but he heard my heart. This is something that is very important to me, and I hadn't experienced before from a man. I also hadn't experienced a man bold enough to communicate and initiate communication, even if it was a not fun conversation. As I began to see this and stay in tune with what God was saying, I was able to move forward. My heart has always been to stay friends with people no matter the outcome. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do this, but it was reassurance from the Lord that empowered me to. This guy has been such a gift to me. We have become even better friends, and he has helped me grow in many ways I wouldn't have had I not chosen to remain friends and continue communicating in a healthy way. Recently I told him that he does not need to worry about me having thoughts about him in a way that's more than friends because I'm not going down that path again. As a woman, you can only imagine the challenge that is. But he's actually the one who brought to my attention once about the power of taking ownership of your thoughts and not allowing them to go in the way they shouldn't. I am able to have a healthy, solid, incredible, and handsome guy friend in my life. I am able to enjoy him for who he is and I am free to be fully me and life in the safety and security of our friendship. He is championing me and believing with me for my husband. He sees me. But he doesn't see me in the way that a man ought to see his wife. He sees me in the way Jesus sees his children. And because of this, I can receive from him and be blessed by the beautiful friendship God has given us in this season. It has truly brought me security in a way I haven't experienced and assurance that my husband is on his way.
I have always been passionate about relationships and family. Now more than ever I have wanted it for myself. Well, I may not have met my husband yet, but God has provided me with an incredible family that I get to do life with in this season and glean from. They are truly a gift, and I am not sure how I lived without them before. I am so grateful to continue to learn and grow as God prepares me for the relationship, marriage, and family he has for me.
And there you have it. My current state of being is expectant. Hopeful. Anticipating. Looking forward to watching the rest of my story unfold.