A few days later I received Ross’s response to my email.
THIS IS THE THIRD PART IN A FIVE-PART SERIES DOCUMENTING ATHENA DEAN’S PERSONAL AND SPIRITUAL JOURNEY FROM SINGLE WOMAN TO HAPPILY MARRIED ATHENA DEAN HOLTZ.
Dear Athena. Thanks for the heartfelt note and your thoughts. You were not speaking presumptuously. I totally appreciate your honesty and openness. While Cathy’s words were certainly not an unpleasant idea I did not take them as prophetic. I don’t know where God will lead me now, haven’t had time yet to even think about it, but my hope is that we will remain friends through the years and that God will give you the desire of your heart. I am actually flattered that you would think enough of me to be so bold and honest.
God’s blessings to you my friend and sister in Christ.
And so, on I went for the next few months, attempting to orchestrate everything so that I could be nearer to my friend and spend more time with him. I guess I figured God needed my help or something.
It had become increasingly obvious that my time sharing a house with my older brother was coming to a close. He had a new girlfriend, and it looked like she was going to move in with him. Here I was trying to stay pure and wait for the one God was saving me for, and having two lovebirds in the bedroom next to mine was a little too much in my face for me to be able to handle, so I started looking for another living situation.
Since my friend lived about 3 hours away, my thoughts immediately went towards options up that way. I remembered a dear author friend who lived about an hour south of Dallas and the last time I’d gone to visit her she had invited me to come and stay with her. After her husband passed away, she was lonely living in that big house alone and welcomed some company.
I began making plans to move in with her and travel down to San Antonio once a month to tape all my radio shows for a month over a few days. Mind you, none of these plans were the result of a quiet time with the Lord…they were all my thoughts in order to move things forward in this potential romance.
We determined that I would spend the Christmas holidays there and see if it really seemed to be what the Lord was working. We had a delightful time, but it wasn’t long before I was seeing that moving in with her would have become more of a caregiver role that I was not prepared for. She’d had a knee injury that made it very hard for her to get around, and while I wanted to be a blessing to her, it was becoming clear that this wasn’t going to work out.
During the holidays I went down to visit my friend and help out with his book table after he spoke at his church. This was going to be his first time sharing his story to include his traumatic divorce. I remember sitting there hearing him say how, after 31 years of marriage, he never saw it coming…that he was not over it and it would be years before he was. I began thinking, Lord, do you really want me to wait another year, or two or three, in hopes that he will want to have a relationship?
It’s interesting to look back and see how God answered that prayer. Between Christmas and New Year’s I was prepping for my first radio show of 2014 and scheduled a Skype call with my author/guest. We knew one another from some writers’ conferences where I’d been on faculty in the past, but didn’t really know each other all that well, so we wanted to connect before the show in a meaningful way. As we shared our hearts with one another, she asked if I thought I’d ever marry again, and I told her my story of waiting for this friend in hopes we would have a future together.
She too had been waiting for someone similar…for 13 years, and her book of devotions had come out of the struggle of being still and willing to wait. I took this as a confirmation that I was doing the right thing in waiting for my friend, but that wasn’t really what God was saying. Over the next 48 hours I became increasingly conflicted…. Lord, is this really what You want me to do?
I thought back to an email I’d received from my daughter, Roby, in early September. After interceding for me for quite a long time, she felt the Lord say the word “marriage” was released to me that day, and that God was going to bring my match made in heaven. She was hesitant to share with me, concerned it would send me off in a direction with false hopes and expectations, but the more she prayed, the more she felt she was supposed to tell me what she heard in prayer. Of course, when I received the email I took that to mean the friend I was already waiting for, and this was confirmation that it would, in fact, come to pass.
I called my daughter and poured out my heart to her…was I really doing the right thing, moving up to be closer to my friend, waiting for another year or more to find out if he’s even a possibility? She admonished me, “Mom, didn’t you say one of the items on your list is that the man God has for you would pursue you, not you pursue him?”
It was like a knife went through my heart. There was no denying it. God had been saying “Be Still” and I had been working hard at obeying Him, in every single area of my life EXCEPT this one! It was New Year’s Eve and I was ready to spend the evening on my knees, repenting before the Lord for trying to get all my ducks in a row, for pursuing, for orchestrating, for trying once again to make things happen.