“I hate this. If this is the love story You’re writing for me – I hate it. This is not better than I could have possibly hoped or imagined; this is the most unnatural thing You could have asked me to do and I am so mad at You for it.”
Who in their right mind looks at the God of the Universe and says those words to Him?
Um, me. I did that.
That moment of angst, pain, frustration – and yes, anger – is forever captured in my journal pages. Reflections of a season when the Lord had gently ushered me into taking steps that felt miles beyond my comfort zone.
Everyone has their stretching experiences, right? It’s different for all of us. For me – it looked like starting an eHarmony profile and putting my 26-year-old-single-white-girl-self out on the internet for all to see. Come on, men between the ages of 23 and 36 within a 1000 mile radius, check out these pictures of me laughing and posing and looking unnatural. Read all about my beliefs about myself and my words that try to convince you that I actually am nice – don’t own 12 cats – am not needy – am not too tall for you – eat healthily – value deep relationship with Jesus above everything else – and can cook really good food for you.
Online dating was the catalyst that the Lord used to peel back my clenched fists of desired control over my life. He used it to reveal to me the areas of greatest insecurity as it related to my expectations for relationships and dating. He showed me how taking risks were possible with Him leading me by the hand.
The morning that I wrote those words in my journal was a cold Saturday morning in January at 6am. I was wrapped in a quilt, legs folded under me as I shivered on a wooden bench on a porch. I breathed in frigid air, thick with fog that had unfolded upon the mountain after an intense and long rainstorm typical of our winters here.
I was desperate for relief from the discomfort, the frustration that I felt with this process of growth. He knew the desires of my heart; He knew how I longed to be partnered to someone amazing; He saw all the broken pieces of my heart, splintered from past relationships and unmet expectations. And yet, this online dating thing that He had led me to do felt like a string of rejections, one right after the other.
I wanted romantic. I wanted the fairytale. I wanted the “meet-cute” story like so many of my friends had. If I was going to meet my husband online – that was the most unromantic and the most unnatural story I could have ever thought of.
How could this be His plan for me?
So I told Him what I really thought. I couldn’t do anything else. The one good thing about the journey of online dating so far was that I was at a newer place of intimacy with my Father where, for the first time, I felt free and welcome to be completely – totally – brutally honest with Him.
Do you want to know how He responded?
As I sat there seething, breathing hard, face hot as I wrote the words quickly and furiously across the page, I pictured Him in front of me. I saw Him looking at me, eyes compassionate and accepting and receiving – hearing me, all of me, with my motives and hurts and desires all wrapped up into the heated words. When I finished my rant, He looked at me quietly, and with an understanding nod, He said,
I sat, breathing, staring at Him. Watching Him take all of the anger I had poured out of me. Watching Him stand there, unmoved, unshaken, unfazed at my outburst.
After a minute or two, I found my heart – which had been pounding fast, the rate rising higher and higher until it felt like it was going to spin like a top right out of my chest – slip back into place, resting and gasping for air like I had just crossed the finish line from a marathon and the relief was heavy and overwhelming.
And I saw myself write these words:
“Well…I guess, if that’s the story you’re writing…and if I’m supposed to meet my husband online…that would be alright.”
I had tried to surrender my desires, my wants, my heart’s cries hundreds of times before.
“Not my will, but Yours be done.”
“I will delight myself in You, trusting that You will give me the desires of my heart.”
“You have my best at heart.”
“Fine, I won’t get married at all if that’s what You want.”
But this is what I learned about surrender that morning:
It began with my brutal, ugly, inappropriate, sacrilegious honesty. This was the first time I had told Him exactly how I felt about what it seemed like He was doing. Seeing how He took it – with such grace and acceptance and zero judgment – moved me to fully give up my perceived right to know better than Him what is best for me.
He didn’t justify.
He didn’t placate.
He didn’t coddle.
And somehow – I didn’t need those responses to make me feel better. Surrendering my desires to Him when I saw how He loved me in that moment was relieving and I felt full of gratitude for Him and His ways.
The Holy Spirit is mysterious and supernatural and I will never understand how He does what He does. He changed my heart in that moment and surrender has somehow felt just a teensy bit easier ever since then.
I think those types of experiences build upon what I call my history with God. His perfect responses to all of my mess cause me to fall more in love with Him, to trust Him more, and remember His faithfulness in the future.
The Lord let me get off eHarmony about 3 months after that encounter. I haven't seen the next chapter of my love story yet but, I'm in a much better place to receive it, however it unfolds.