During college, there was a time where I spent three years being mostly single.
Prior to that I had been in a couple relationships that had ended in a lot of hurt. So in the three years that followed, I used a lot of energy envisioning how I wanted any future relationship to go.
I spent deliberate time thinking about what I needed in a relationship, my standards for the kind of person I would be with, who I was regardless of my relationship status, and how to navigate physical boundaries.
And while this may seem like a lot of reflecting, I just wanted the next relationship to go really well. If I’m being honest, I wanted it to go so well that I would never have to go through a breakup again.
And in addition to all this planning and thinking, there was one thing I knew I could do to guarantee a good, lasting relationship: pray about it extensively beforehand.
In the past, I hadn’t made much effort to pray about the men I dated before actually dating them. “It’s just dating,” I remember telling myself (mostly in high school). Therefore I felt it wasn’t a big enough deal to put much serious thought into whether or not the relationship would actually work.
So after those few relationships inevitably dissolved, I made the decision that next time I would secure God’s seal of approval beforehand, so I wouldn’t have to go through any more heartache.
Needless to say, that’s not what happened.
Before I began dating my now ex-boyfriend, I did what I said I would and prayed about it. A lot. I prayed typical dating prayers: asking for doors to either be opened or closed, and for us to be on the same page about dating or not. And every time, it seemed, another door would be opened, or another feeling would be confirmed.
If God was leading me into this relationship, it was going to be THE relationship.
I definitely held onto the idea that if God was leading me into this relationship, it was going to be the relationship. I mean, God knew my heart, right? He knew I didn’t want to go through another breakup. He knew I had worked hard to know myself and to know Him and to know what it means to be in a healthy relationship. If I was so keenly trying to follow His guidance, He would reward me for that. Wouldn’t He?
Just because I was thinking this way didn’t necessarily mean I felt ready to be married. I also wasn’t naive to the reality that sometimes relationships just don’t work.
But you could say I was looking for a sort of insurance plan, one I hoped would protect me from any future heartbreak. I took what I thought to be the green light as God’s way of saying to me, “Don’t worry, this won’t crash and burn.”
And while that relationship didn’t exactly crash and burn, one year later it ended. And I immediately knew I would never be going back to it.
What had happened? Why had it ended if God had led me into it? Had He really led me, or had I just imagined He did? Did I even know what “being led into a relationship” meant? Do I even know now?
Sometimes it’s hard not to feel tricked by God. I spent years hoping and praying to not suffer yet another breakup. I trusted God with my heart, which had so often been discouraged and sad and lonely and longing for a permanent person, only to have God seemingly pull the rug out from under me and say, “Just kidding.” And of course, this mindset has made it difficult not to feel apprehensive about future relationships I perceive God leading me into.
Sometimes it’s hard not to feel tricked by God.
So I knew I had to re-evaluate the way I trust God with my desire to be with someone.
There is this idea that if two Christian people are dating seriously and then break up, then they weren’t following God’s leading about dating each other in the first place. While this can be true in some cases, I think it could also be true that God will deliberately lead us into a temporary season with someone (and I say this based on my own experience and observations).
Trusting God in these “temporary seasons” is a lot easier when it comes to things like a job or a living situation. But it’s much more difficult to accept this about relationships. However, if we genuinely allow God to lead us into something, the result is always going to be for our utmost good. Breakups included.
For me, this means that the next time I feel drawn to a relationship in that deliberate, nudging way, I will do my best to trust the God who leads me, simply because He is good, not because I am guaranteed something lasting.
Someone once told me that God wants what’s best for us even more than we want what’s best for us.
I’d say that’s a pretty good insurance plan.
Photo (CC) by Sunset Girl.