If you look back on some of my older posts about relationships, it should be obvious that a whoooole lot has gone on in my heart. God has been trying to shape this little girl for decades, but I refused to let him in. I refused to let many things in. (As I've shared before, my friends lovingly referred to me as "Alcatraz" because of my complete unwillingness to express emotion or be vulnerable.)
Lock-down notwithstanding, I still managed to get hurt and have my heart broken by boyfriends, friends and even family. I wasn't protecting anything, but rather closing myself off from the offer of His sovereign love, an acceptance of which would free me to approach my relationships accordingly: not treat them as my subject of worship and therefore set myself up for inevitable disappointment. This is not to say that I no longer believe in or have faith in people. Quite the opposite, actually. I'm more open to love and intimacy than I've ever been before.
(Side note: I'm drafting this in Starbucks while listening to Joy Williams's "Speaking a Dead Language" and my eyes are filled with tears. How's that for growth? I'm showing emotion in public, y'all! More importantly, I'm fine with it. It's a joyful experience, truth be told.)
The difference is that I know my identity and my happiness are safely in the hands of a loving, almighty God. I know that people are broken, sinful and feeble. (And, truth be told, I still sometimes lose my focus and misplace my affections.) In spite of this, we can glorify Him by sharing life together, encouraging each other, loving each other and keeping one another accountable.
The article above considers relationships between men and women seeking marriage (or not, in the case of modern dating). I, for years, excluded God from my relationships. Even if we went to church, it was just that: going through the motions to check that item off the list. Can I be all that surprised that I have yet to marry? (I don't bemoan that I'm of a certain age and haven't yet had the privilege of a family and marriage. The desire is definitely there, but I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I've checked myself before I've wrecked myself.)
Without assuming too much about my current relationship (in terms of what is in store for us), I will say that letting Christ lead your time together while dating (and seeking a guy who is willing to step up and guide the relationship while submitting to God) makes a world of difference. The focus becomes learning if you're a good partner for someone else; not finding the right person for you. As broken people, we can't expect perfection. But we do. I certainly did.
It's far easier to pursue being the women I know God is calling me to be (which is quite far removed from the identity I created for myself) when I place my trust in Him. Relationship-wise, that requires trust in my fella, which is much less of a challenge when I place that faith in someone who isn't a bonehead. (Ladies, don't date boneheads.) Trust, we struggle: with each other, with ourselves, with what God expects from us. But the best stuff comes from struggles and changes. My heart didn't soften overnight, and it certainly didn't happen while I was being carried around on a cashmere pillow and fed grapes. (But how rad would that be?)
I don't pretend to be on a steady path to blissful happiness. I am stubborn and prideful as can be, so I expect some loving shakes and sacrifices along the way. But I am immensely thankful for God's intervention in my life, for opening my eyes and finding a home in my heart.