It was just another cold snowy New England winter. I was leftovers of a broken marriage, living in a wretched apartment, piled under crippling amounts of debt. All I had was, Jacquin, my Golden Retriever and the relationship that was being mended with God. Marriage was the most difficult thing I had ever done and I never expected to ever do it again. Quite frankly, I never wanted to do that again. It was too painful. It wasn’t worth it. People lie, break promises and hurt each other.
2 Chronicles 16:9
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…
“God, it’s just me and you.” This was a very bleak time in my life. I was hurting. My whole body ached and I was physically melting. I had lost 15 pounds in a month. At 5’6″ I weighed 114 pounds at my lowest. Nothing fit me, not even my underwear. Outwardly I wore my lipstick and smiled, I pretended to work, I fashionably pinned my clothes to me so that people barely noticed. I became a creature of routines, almost zombie-like. Monday through Friday I would get up in the morning, get ready, pray, walk the dog, drive to work, stare at my computer, drive home, walk the dog, eat dinner, read a daily devo, walk the dog, pray, go to sleep, repeat. Monday nights was Financial Peace University (FPU). Tuesday nights with a counselor. Thursday nights with a small group at church. Sundays were church services followed by some quiet prayerful volunteer work.
My Saturday routine is when I felt God the most, when my heart would be filled with joy and peace. There’s nothing concrete to pin it to but I felt connected. Moving was very important; getting up and out of the house. Stepping over hypodermic needles and black ice, I would run errands through town. Jacquin and I would walk to the vegetable market to purchase groceries for the week. I would take my library card to browse through the stacks with the local homeless men who were sheltering themselves from the cold. Before heading back, I would pick up one fancy cupcake from Queen City Cupcake and a coffee.
My prayer life was a constant and I began to feel God wrapping his arms of love and grace around my soul as prayed, “Please fill my heart with Your grace and unconditional love, so that I have the strength and perseverance to have faith in Your plan for me.” I leaned into the pain and was held up by grace. I was loved by the Father. I was sure of it and surrendered to His love. I was preparing myself for this being the way things were going to be and nothing more.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Over the months, I started to laugh again. The snow melted. I started to date without intention of depth, just companionship and dinner company. I knew that if I did ever have a sustaining relationship, I wanted it to be centered in Christ but I wasn’t looking, at all. Memorial Day weekend, I posted a silly barbecue picture on Facebook that started a chain of comments that led to texts that led to a Thursday night date.
I had known Jason since February. He attended the same church, same small group, same FPU class. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of months, probably since around Easter. He travels for work and is away for weeks at a time. I had recently been traveling myself. Last I knew, he was in a relationship and was nowhere near my radar of dating potential. A lot had happened in those weeks and now he was making his interest in me known.
We privately met at The Republic for drinks on Thursday evening after small group. Since we had the same circle of church friends I felt more comfortable not announcing our first date with people who intimately knew the ups and downs of my previous struggles. We had a lot to talk about, almost as if we didn’t know each other at all. Even though I felt bundles of nerves that I haven’t felt it a long time, conversation was easy and comfortable. With his intense eyes, he told me he wasn’t looking for someone to casually date but that he was looking for something serious, a wife. He wanted to be a spiritual leader of a family and find someone to build a life with. I honestly let him know, that I was NOT looking for anything serious. I had just started to date and put myself out there for the first time in six years. The pursuit began.
1 John 4:19
We love because he first loved us.
Next thing I knew, all of my time was being consumed with Jason. I had accidentally fallen into a relationship and June 17th, he said “I love you.” We became intentional, dating with purpose. We kept God central to our relationship and when we started to get clouded with physical attractions, He sent Jason away on 12 week work project. At the recommendation of a church couple, we decided to read The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas. Each chapter had study questions and we worked through the book together over the distance through FaceTime. It’s not an easy book to read if you want to stay pleasantly floating in infatuation. When taken seriously, each chapter challenges your intentions and shines a light on your good, bad, and ugly. The last chapter even talks through how to firmly break it off no matter what stage dating you are in. In jest, we called our courtship, “Accelerated Dating” since we went straight for the honest truths that people hide from each other to make a good impression. God had placed this man in my life: someone who I admire and respect; someone who is committed to unconditional love; and someone who wants to provide as a leader with integrity. And before I knew it…