For those of you who do not know me, I separated from my husband in late 2004 and we divorced in May 2006. Until recently, I have not dated. So after an almost seven-year hiatus from physical relationships with men, I think it wise to review some of the lessons the Lord has taught me as I pursue a godly relationship.
During my wilderness journey of loneliness, brokenness, and many hours spent crying out to the Lord, the Lord healed deep wounds, renewed my spirit and gave me a fresh, clean perspective on many levels. He also worked in me a desire for a different type of relationship should He allow one in my future. I know now that only God can meet many of those deep, heart needs within me. Only He can provide the comfort and shelter I seek from life’s blows and crippling defeats, from the words and actions of others, and failures of my own that bring me to my knees. And in realizing that only He can meet those needs, He has altered my expectations in relationships. By accepting that only He can meet my needs, I am free to allow other people in my life to be themselves. I no longer need them to be what I want them to be for I now know only God can truly sustain and love me like no other.
That doesn’t mean I don’t need healthy boundaries (not barriers to shut people out, but boundaries to clearly mark the right path) to protect and provide for constructive communication. That doesn’t mean compatibility isn’t important. But what it does mean is that I am free to show others something different and seek a liberated relationship. While I want the Lord to use me to fill needs in others lives — especially those I love — I do not want, I should not want, it is unhealthy and sacrilege to want a relationship where I am dependently needed. God’s relationship to us/Jesus’ relationship to the church — those are to be our examples by which we enter a relationship. God did not need us. He chose us.
The relationships concocted and promulgated by this world are sick perversions of what God intended. The drama lived out on-screen where everyone is searching for something to complete themselves is dangerous, sinful, selfish, and rank with lust, deceit, and manipulation. This world teaches that relationships and people are expected to be your end-all be-all, the one aspiration and “goal” required for happiness, another to-do to feel complete. Yet these same hook-ups are easily tossed and exchanged for another when the needs and wants are no longer satisfied. Where is the security in that? We wonder why so many marriages end in divorce, or at best dissatisfaction, frustration, and longings for something more. Only God can fulfill that something more.
I want a relationship based on choice, not need. I want the lover God places in my life to be there because he wants to be — not because he needs me or I fill any God-sized holes in his life, but rather because he wants me — warts and all. In addition, I want to be with him because I choose to be rather than out of some twisted obligation which causes me to over-inflate my importance and assume he cannot live without me.
God has allowed me to see over the last several years that I am able and capable of taking care of myself, to make decent decisions, and to manage this journey on my own if need be. God has provided my every need and many of my wants. It is in Him alone that I am to seek validation and direction. Therefore, when I invite others into my life and into my heart,I want those who cross my path or stay a while in my presence to embrace the knowledge that God meets our needs and allows us the pleasure of a partner, a helper, a friend to make the journey more bearable. BUT, God never intended for that person to replace Him. Perspective is key. While I may want a godly man to share in my joys, help me with the heavier burdens, and give me someone to cheer for, I now realize that I need the Lord — not a man — to complete my life and give me purpose.
On that same note, for me to have a fulfilling relationship that man must realize my place in his life. I am unable to fill the shoes of an awesome God and I am ill-equipped to bear the burden of constantly trying to meet that expectation. I’ll crumble under such a weight. I just want to bring some joy, cheer him on, and add some perspective during the journey.
Oh, and having a little fun would be nice too.