Being at an all girls school until Grade 7, made the idea of boys a rather foreign concept to me. I knew they existed, because the boy’s school was literally across the bridge, but I wasn’t very interested in them. My classmates were dating and hanging out with boys and I always thought “Wow,” but never really “I want that too.” In high school, I moved to a co-ed school. At first I was really annoyed that I had to be in a class with boys. I remember being in tears one afternoon, telling my dad that my business teacher had made me share a textbook with a boy. But after a while, I started to really notice boys.
I became the girl who had a new crush every month. The girl that did those weird love tests that prove nothing – except maybe that you should probably let things go. I wanted to be the girl that the boys always chased. The pretty, cute, confident one that guys were basically fighting each other in hopes that she would even glance in their direction. But I really wasn’t.
I ended up being in two relationships in high school. They both didn’t last very long. The first was with a guy who I found out was dating another girl at the same time, and after asking him about it, proceeded to tell me that his cheating was genetic. “It runs in my family,” he said. I know! Now I laugh, but at the time I cried for weeks on end. Especially because when I told the other girl, they ended up staying together. It made me feel like I was the extra in their relationship. The second, I was completely besotted with. He was so kind and so sweet. Pretty much the perfect guy. We had a very strange on and off relationship, but I was like ‘yup. We’re getting married”. The last time we broke up, was because he believed I was in a relationship with someone else. Which funny story, 6 years later, that someone became my boyfriend.
After that last relationship in Grade 11, I lost interest in the prospect of dating. Sure I had crushes, but I wasn’t completely hopeful that they would amount to anything. It was neither here, nor there for me. And it was the first time I really started to own the fact that I wasn’t the girl who wanted to date lots of people. If I ever dated, I wanted to see things through. But what I hadn’t realised was how much pressure I had now subconsciously put on myself for the next relationship to be ‘the one.’
In my first year of Uni, my world was literally turned upside down. An actual boy caught my eye again. But like stop-and-stare-I-can’t-breathe-when-you-hug-me-I’ll-walk-past-like-I-didn’t-see-you-but-please-notice-me kind of caught my eye. And as I got to know him a little more, I became convinced he was the one. I was no longer praying those “Lord bless my husband, wherever he may be”, I was praying a “Lord bless so and so who lives on so and so street” – No I’m kidding. It wasn’t that intense. But I was completely set on the fact that we were getting married. That God had said we were getting married. He was my husband and the people closest to me knew it.
This carried on for about a year. At some point he did start to show a bit of interest and that got me excited that the plan to the altar was about to be set in motion! (That sounded a lot creepier than I mean it! Wow!) God was finally coming through on His promise. And after a few weeks of a little back and forth, he completely stopped showing interest. Without any warning. After a while, I finally asked him what had happened, because I knew I wasn’t imagining the reciprocated feelings. He sent a rather long reply, but the only thing I remember was him saying he was being prayerful and he knew I wasn’t his wife. To which I responded (in my head obviously), “I don’t know which Jesus you praying to honey, because my Jesus said it’s happening!” And after months of “giving him space” because he just “needed time to see that I was his wife” and I just needed to “continue to be prayerful,” I knew it was getting unhealthy. Even if I was unwilling to admit it. And it was starting to negatively affect other parts of my life, which were already not in the healthiest shape either.
So I decided to take 2 and a half months away. I called it my getaway to “The Secret Place.” No social media, not even WhatsApp. I blocked him and a few other people, to avoid the temptation to cycle back. I took time off from serving on platform. I even fasted for a little while. It was a place where I would trust God to breathe afresh on me again. Where I wouldn’t come with any expectations except to hear from Him. It would be undistracted time with Him. We dealt with so much! But when it came to relationships, especially, there were two things we spent a lot of time unpacking.
1. It’s Okay To Take Your Time
One of our Youth Pastors always says “If you’re dating with no real intention for it to be long-term, you’re literally dating to break up. Why would you put yourself through that heartache?” Yes, it’s awesome being with and getting to know someone, but it has the capacity to do a world of harm if you’re not ready for it. I know some people don’t mind casual dating. Each to their own. I am, however, a firm believer in dating with the intention of marriage. It doesn’t mean that every guy I go on a date with is my husband, but it does mean that I will be intentional about figuring out for myself whether the relationship has any long term potential as we get to know each other. – Or even before; sometimes you just know it’s a bad idea – Marriage isn’t my ultimate goal. But I’d be lying if I said it isn’t something I desire to have like many other things in my life. It’s a good thing. From God. And so if you share the same sentiments, I would encourage you to remember that it’s okay to take your time before you date. If you don’t see ‘forever’ with that person, it’s also okay to take a step back. You’re not obligated to entertain anything. Not every crush needs to be a relationship.
2. He Always Gives You The Freedom To Choose.
I remember thinking “Did I hear God wrong? I thought he was the one, God?” And He reminded me that He’s not a forceful God, He’s a directional God. I endured a lot of heartache because I believed that he had to be my husband. There was no one else. Almost like this poor guy had no choice in the matter, but neither did I. And God spent so much time in that secret place shaping the idea of “The only one” into “The one I choose to love.” Who we end up marrying is a choice. That’s why it’s known as the “second most important decision, after salvation”. Because like a lot people have always said, if this idea of “one person being created for me” were true, then if I ended up choosing the wrong person, it would mean that everyone else would be in quite the pickle because I’ve messed up the matching system. The Bible says “He who finds a wife,” not “the wife.” That doesn’t mean God isn’t intentional in placing people in your life. It doesn’t mean that He won’t order your steps and guide you to make the right choice if you let Him. And It doesn’t mean that people don’t sometimes know right off the bat that this is who they want to marry. But it does mean that we need to be careful not to romanticize a decision that is actually a lot more practical than we think.
So take the pressure off of yourself to find “the one” and get to know yourself. Have fun. Figure things out. Dream about life. Dream about your future. And if you notice that the person sitting across the table from you is a good person to dream with, go for it! And if not, that’s okay too. Allow God into it all.
I’m glad that the guy was bold enough to tell me “You’re not my wife” because it made me take the time out with Jesus that I’m sure He had been eagerly waiting for. I’m glad I sought God and allowed Him to rebuke me. I’m glad I was vulnerable enough to admit that I had taken something that was my own desire and led myself to believe it was a word from God. I’m glad I took the time to let God shape me, and ready me. I’m glad I stopped “looking for the one.”
Because I’m not sure I would have noticed this really great guy who has been patiently standing right in front of me, for what will soon be 8 years.