The encouragements from God to “be still,” the creative confirmation in a gift to remind me to be patient… it all whispered the same thing… the right one will be worth the wait. But I was hearing what I wanted to hear, not what He was actually saying!
THIS IS PART TWO OF A SERIES TELLING ATHENA DEAN’S SPIRITUAL STORY FROM SINGLE TO MARRIED. READ PART ONE … OR SKIP AHEAD TO PART THREE IF THAT’S YOUR INCLINATION.
Nevertheless, I continued my wrestling match with God in my journal. I would whine and complain, Lord where is the man you’ve been saving for me? One friend tried to encourage me, “Athena, you don’t need to wait for God to bring you your man. My goodness, you’re a grown woman and can make grown up decisions about who to date! Quit trying to spiritualize everything…there is nothing sinful about meeting someone on the internet!”
EACH TIME I’D LET GO OF THE REINS, I’D END UP TAKING THEM BACK AGAIN
Even then, I just couldn’t bring myself to try to make it happen using the online dating service. I’d sign back in and try it for a while, and then be convicted to stop. A few weeks later, I’d feel lonely again and boom. I’m back at it again. I’m certainly not saying it isn’t the right vehicle for some women, and that God doesn’t use it to bring people together…. I just knew it wasn’t right for me. It felt for me too much like I was orchestrating things rather than allowing Him to do it.
About that time I reconnected with a former pastor/writer friend I’d met many years before. He had gone through a horrific divorce a year and a half earlier, and had lived through many traumas in his life. After spending a few hours in a Starbucks sharing our stories, there was a real bonding that occurred. He was younger than me, not really all my type, and nowhere near ready for a relationship. But we were great friends, and I convinced myself it must have been God who orchestrated our re-connection. I thought about all the ways he matched my “list” … definitely not a flirt, loved God, and had a heart for wounded people. He didn’t match my entire list, but I saw the circumstance of us meeting again after so many years as God’s doing, so figured I could settle, and determined to wait for however long I had to until he was ready for a new relationship. In the meantime, we were good friends, but that was all.
GOD WAS STILL SPEAKING – PATIENCE!
A few months into this decision on my part to wait for this friend, I interviewed Cindy Godwin on my radio show about the Chosen to Grow Women’s Conference hosted at The Summit Christian Center in San Antonio. I had a table highlighting my radio show for women and visited with lots of sisters in the Lord while there. Toward the end of the event, during a general session, each woman was given a gift. We all received the same bright green flower pot, but there were various words gracing the base…of course, wouldn’t you know it…mine said PATIENCE. Looking back now, it’s amusing to see how I misread that encouragement from the Lord. I thought He was saying to be patient in waiting for my friend, and in reality He was encouraging me to just be patient in this area of my life.
About 3 weeks later, I received a LinkedIn acceptance of my request to connect with Ross. It was something I’d sent about 18 months earlier, and he just finally had gotten around to logging into LinkedIn after cancer took his wife of 49 years. This sent me into a full on tizzy, knowing his late wife had encouraged him to marry me if anything ever happened to her. I immediately assumed that this was the work of the enemy, trying to distract me from what God was calling me to do. Wait for my friend.
Let me ask you. Have you ever had God at work in your life, but because you didn’t understand what He was doing, or it didn’t line up with your agenda or desires, you proceeded to rebuke Him, thinking you were doing battle with the enemy? Well, that’s exactly what I did. In the middle of my tizzy, I fell to my knees and let my bible open to where it may. Out jumped a scripture and I was convinced God was speaking to me through it.
FAULTY THINKING ABOUT GOD’S WILL LED ME TO A COMPLETELY WRONG CONCLUSION
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2 NIV)
After all, I was convincing myself waiting for my friend was God’s will, so it was a sacrifice of sorts, since I had to keep convincing myself that this was the one. And I still carried some baggage from the 12 years of legalistic false doctrine I’d been deceived with. In some ways, I had a hard time letting go of the way I was taught to think that the only way something could be God’s will is if I didn’t want to do it. The only way it could be of God would be for me to sacrifice and surrender everything that would be a desire of my heart … and eventually I would find joy in doing His will. If it was something I wanted to do, it must be of the devil.
So I read into that scripture the belief that waiting for someone I wasn’t really in love with was my way of offering my body as a living sacrifice. And that, while Ross was way more my type and more of the kind of man I could see myself marrying, he must only be God’s pleasing will…. I would have to give up what I would be happy with in order to do His perfect will.
I came to a completely wrong conclusion, so, in order to offer my body as a living sacrifice, I drew a line in the sand and wrote an email to Ross. I had to let him know that, even though Cathy had suggested he marry me, I wasn’t available as “God had made it clear to me” that I was to wait for my friend.
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