I had just pulled my car over to the side of the road during a rainstorm as I choked back the tears.
In the midst of a summer camping trip, I had been dumped, and I was in the middle of nowhere suffering from unbelievable levels of rejection. I wanted to dissolve into the pavement on the road and wished the earth would just swallow me up.
While feeling a great level of defeat, I wondered where God was in my dating life?
I had just walked out of a long-term relationship with a man who was afraid of commitment. I thought that my just reward for all that wasted time would be a “happily ever after.” On the rebound, I ran to the arms of another man, only to be bounced off of him into my own mud puddle of self-pity.
Now I was alone on the side of a road; the person with whom I saw a possibility of “real” love just told me that I was boring—that he didn’t see a future for us together. In my love-starved state, I was now forced to swallow the largest pill of rejection ever!
After scraping my wounded self off of the road of despair, I got back into the dating saddle and tried this all over again, hoping God would finally bring me love instead of adding to a mountain of growing disappointments.
For another two years I continued to date, only to suffer more rejection as well as upsets, although none were as dramatic as my roadside camping episode. During these experiences, everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and I was an emotional mess.
I have to confess also that my faith was starting to waver. I thought God had given up on me or didn’t really like me much. I felt the burden of what appeared to be the inflicted punishment of being single. What I did not realize was that God was with me the entire time during my dating years. The Lord wanted me to discover the reason why I was tripping in the first place.
I was in a “love-starved state.”
I didn’t feel like a complete person, and I hoped that love would fill me up and make me happy. A new love, the rush and thrill of a relationship, the constant companionship of someone else to be there for me. These were the ideals I held constantly in my mind. I had never considered that I was connecting to men rather than connecting to God for my self-esteem, identity and strength in life.
When we put our faith in man or woman, we fall flat; in my case, this was an emotional nosedive onto concrete.
Yet, I was on track for finding true love. When my soul mate did arrive, I was ready because I had learned to be responsible for my own happiness and to hold steady in my own value while having God at the center of my life. In fact, I learned along the journey to release myself from the emotional prison of love starvation and step into my own value. I had a lot to offer someone, and if a man on a camping trip didn’t see my value, then he quite simply just didn’t see me.
This did not mean that my value was not there at all. I learned not to give people the power to determine my value. What God thought of me was way more important in life.
Then one day … out of nowhere …
One of my “teenage crushes” called me up, and we reconnected.
That “crush” became my husband. And after 13 years of marriage and three children, I am happy to share that I love and appreciate him more than ever before.
Our dating time together was not easy at first, and with a long-distance relationship, I had to learn to love him with an open hand as I stood in my value, not being starved for love. Early in the relationship, he doubted whether we would work out because of the distance between us. As a result of my earlier dating experiences, I learned to hold steady in my value and let him go. In a cheeky way, I even told him that I could be his friend, and if he was ever in town again, my future husband and I would invite him over for dinner.
He panicked at the thought of me having a “future husband” that was not him and committed to our relationship wholeheartedly.
My dating years were not fun overall, and I don’t look back on that time with fondness. Those years served a purpose, however, and God was with me every step of the way. I learned that if things are so wrong, there is a reason—because God was leading me to what was right in accordance with His plans.
What looked like closed doors of rejection were actually part of a narrowing path where bigger doors opened to God’s plans.