About 8 years ago, my sister recalls driving past my school (undergrad) campus, seeing this light-skinned, curly-haired Guy (in a jersey and flip-flops, hair tied in a low pony tail) walking from “Building 3” to “Building 1”. Knowing the kind of guy I have always wanted and prayed for, she calls me and says: “I think I found your Boo!”
Me: (excited!!) “Really? really? Where?”
Sister: “He goes to your school. I just drove past him”
Me: “Is he wearing a jersey, with a pony tail”
Sister: “aha! yes”
Me: “*rolling eyes* Flip flops and jersey? Never my type!”
*Funniest joke I ever told in God’s presence.*
I have been putting this off for the absolute longest time ever, but I am finally happy to share with you this testimony of Love and Grace, and infinite Faithfulness.
A lot of people hold the opinion that there is no such thing as “the one”. To some, it’s about “loving who you’re with”. I can see how that could work out, but in the last 4 years, as and when I have allowed God’s purpose to take its course, I truly believe that there is no such thing (TO ME!) as “just loving the one you’re with.” Why? I have sincerely witnessed the power of what has been written, standing firm, EVEN when emotions fail.
4 years ago, we sat in a little corner in a restaurant- young and exploding with excitement – and we put together and signed a contract, promising to live as purely as God would have us, wholly surrendered to Him. Little did we know that this journey was going to be so much more than not kissing, fondling, or whatever that’s in between. 4 years later, we have NOT done that (Praise God!), yet the real challenge of our relationship has NEVER been anything about resisting the urge to be physical. (Not acting “holier than Thou” at all!) It’s simply been a different journey for us- SO MUCH MORE…or LESS- depending on how you look at it.
4 years later, parts of us have remained, but so very much has changed! And I would not take even a page out of this journey; every word, experience, smile, laughter, tear, heavy sigh, rolled eye, scream,… is the reason we are here.
So the Story begins….unfiltered, and as transparent as it gets. And yes, “his version” approved!
The general impression given (thanks to social media)is that Godly relationships are automatically roses and palm branches. I do not know anyone else’s journey, as much as I know mine. What I do also know is:
“When God wants to drill a man, and thrill a man and skill a man, When God wants to mold a man to play the noblest part, When He yearns with all His heart to create so great and bold a man,that all the world should be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways:
How He ruthlessly perfects whom He royally elects;
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him into shapes and forms of clay Which only God can understand,
While man’s tortured heart is crying and he lifts beseeching hands; Yet God bends but never breaks when man’s good He undertakes; How He uses whom He chooses,
And with mighty power infuses him,
With every act induces him to try His splendor out,
God knows what He’s about.
A lot of the time, one has the tendency to walk away because we think this isn’t God’s will for our lives- usually based on our knowledge of highlight reels and story books.
Our first year together was….. interesting. So was our second, and our third, and of course, our fourth. At every point, my feelings have gathered enough evidence to make a case for me to
walk….FLY away! My mind would tell me I was in an unfamiliar territory, and “all the signs in the books” were pointing to that.
A few months after we got together, I begun my transition to a plant-based diet. Let’s just say I expected support, excitement….at least a pat on the back. My (then) new Boyfriend was absolutely, positively not into it. He flat-out disliked my decision to cut certain (unhealthy) things out of my diet because “it’ll always be awkward with you ‘secluding’ yourself when we hang out with my friends”.
Around the same time, we were going through this ‘I don’t really like how you dress phase’. (I do realize how my sense of style could have been indecent at times…. but Robbie is literally the King of Modesty. I am convinced, that, one of my favorite scriptures to date –
Proverbs 5:15-17: Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
Should your springs be scattered abroad,
streams of water in the streets?
Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you.-
was written with Robbie in mind and for him to preach! He has zero tolerance for showing of extra skin! So summer shorts, rompers, and the like, are not up for discussion. (haha!). Here I was, thinking that I wanted to look good and appear “RIGHT”-again- for my (new) Boyfriend. Yet, my definition of looking good was (verrryyyy) distasteful to my him. *I write about it here* [So ya, a lot of -if not my entire- wardrobe has to be approved by him. ]
So here I am, barely started this relationship, and I already have 2 minuses. I would literally break down and cry, saying: “what do you want from me? You hate that I am on a journey to be healthy, you hate how I dress, what do you want from me??…..” P.S “hate” was quite the dramatic choice of words.
By the books, my definition of a Boyfriend was someone who would support all my dreams and aspirations,… you know, admire you, encourage you, all that good stuff. Well, none of that seemed to be happening…. according to me.
And then we went through the phase of him thinking I was mostly/always making fun of him. Now, ANYONE who knows me, knows that I laugh as much as I cry at the drop of a needle. You couldn’t pay me to conceal my emotions. Here I was with this man who (at the time) found humor in a situation once every 2 months. So now I was “disrespectful” for just being who I have always been.
Could there be a truer than true definition of OPPOSITE?!
It gets even more interesting.
We started praying together, and I was so overjoyed! If he wasn’t going to laugh with me, but was going to pray..hey! ANYDAY!
Now, bear in mind that we usually have these candid talks where each party is required to say EXACTLY what they feel without mincing words. (A noble thing to do -for anyone who wants to adopt this for their relationship- is to ask for GRACE to receive those RAW words!)
During one of such talks, he said to me: ‘I don’t feel comfortable praying with you.”
*Insert literally the saddest song in life ever(!!!)*
Tell me, what else on earth could go down south?
As humans, we have two immediate instincts- fight or flight. And you would think -as I sit here gushing about how much I love prayer- that my first instinct was to get on my knees and pray about it(fight). It was the last thing on mind. All I knew then was flight! Lord, I love You, …thank You, I.am.DONE!
“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added afflictions, He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.”
I guess that was the beginning of the book I never wrote: “How to lose a Guy in 4years, and FAIL AT IT!
I always, always say I have never met a man as privileged as this man I write about today! Robert does not have to work a second to express his feelings. At all. Many times when we have gotten into an altercation of some sort, where I would get upset after concluding that it was his fault; guess who gets visited in a dream and gets rebuked? ME! I could literally be in a group praying about world hunger (totally unrelated to the personal lives of all present, right?), and then there goes a Word from God: “Nana, are you getting close to any other man besides Robert? God says don’t do anything to dishonor Him.” And I’m like, ‘?? I am sorry, Lord, how is this on me? He failed his promise. That means he (!!!!!) is the one who doesn’t care. So how are you on my case?”
I realized what God had been drawing my attention to, one day when I thought I had reached tipping point, and went to God and said: “God, I am Yours before I am his, and so if he can’t understand this, I think I am done.
“And He is mine before being yours” *God drops mic!*
It’s true; the more intimately you get to know a person, the more you realize and HAVE TO DEAL with their flaws/imperfections/insecurities and everything else that is the opposite of human definition of perfection. This one man who LITERALLY makes me the happiest on earth, also has the ability to hurt me the most. And, I have come to learn that it’s because of the bond we share; the bond that has been assigned to us.
I spent so many days, weeks, months interested in myself. Listing my rights and identifying his wrongs. The truth is, the more I get and stay “offended”, the more I lose track of the purpose of this relationship. I expected the offenses; so whenever they rolled by, I was really quick to identify that!
“… And he is mine before being yours”.
These words wrecked me, and still wreck me!
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Here are the stats on people who cried out to God, asking that a thorn be taken out of their flesh:
Jesus – once (in the garden of Gethsemane, night before His crucifixion)
Paul – 3 times (2 Cor. 12:8-10)
Me – 35789986311369096421 times in 4 years.
Outcome of all three- request NOT granted.
God does not change His mind. His No means No; and I should’ve picked up a few life lessons from Jesus: when you ask once, and you get a no, STOP ASKING!! And do what you have to do.
God works in His own time. He didn’t go to Lazarus just because they called him to. He didn’t postpone/delay Christ’s death because He felt burdened at the last hour. God doesn’t change His mind. And every single day of this year, there is no other passage that has wrecked all that is within me,as much as that Prayer in The Garden.
Luke 22:39-46: Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
This is Jesus, feeling the weight of the shame and pain He is about to endure. It’s going to be hard! The very people He loves so much; the very people He wants to save; the very people who have captured His heart so much that He wants to rescue from perishing, are about to make a fool of Him, and murder Him. He’s telling God: “this is hard; and if it’s possible to revise this plan, can we? If not, let me go through it.”
What does God do? Sends an Angel from heaven to strengthen Him.
vs. 44 “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
God had the power to make the process easier. Even so, take the cup away from Him. Yet what does He do? He sends an angel to strengthen Him. What does Jesus do with that strength? The more He hurt, the more He prayed. His sweat revealed the weight of His agony. YET, He prayed through it!
I don’t know if anyone is catching the revelation here; but this scripture reveals what God means by Robbie is “His, before being mine.”
Adversity will come. And my strength may seem like it can’t make it through.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
Knowing this man intimately, has also meant seeing him vulnerable, and he, me. And so it has been. We’ve crawled, we’ve walked, we’ve jumped, and we are running now. We have fallen in small and in mighty, unbelievable ways. Falling is already hard enough; to look up and find yourself in such a vulnerable state before the one person you never want to disappoint is harder. That’s vulnerability. And we haven’t always given each other a pass, when that has happened.
He is EVERYTHING I have NEVER been familiar with! From a man clearing the table and doing dishes, to carrying my bag, to calling me out in the sternest of ways, to thinking my laughter is a way of belittling him (what??!!), to telling me (earlier in our relationship) that his friends will always come first, “and don’t think that’s going to change”… it goes on and on. Being with him has been my biggest,toughest, and dearest challenge. By the books, and relationship experts, I should have ended this a long time ago! But I am still here; (and I have contemplated walking away wayyy more than you could ever imagine!)
Here, because I have learned that this story is MUCH bigger than me. I know how I got into this journey; and it had nothing to do with my feelings. *Read 1st paragraph* I DO NOT look at flip-flop-wearing guys twice. I just don’t. Yes, I have been a fan of Germans ever since Season 1 of Soul Food (life-long fan of Boris and family!)! That’s how long I have prayed for a German. But, God… He has a biting sense of humor. The fact that He would bring this German in flip-flops and a jersey (men’s wear is EVERYTHING to me!) is something I can never stop laughing at!
I have learned that everybody’s journey is ABSOLUTELY different. Some people put forth the notion that their spouses come ready-made. They are perfect physically, emotionally, Spiritually. Their women and men are the Proverbs 31 and Ephesians 5:26 women/men (respectively) pre-packaged . Some people’s “struggles” are leaving toothpastes open, and toilet seats ajar. Some people go through the “humble beginnings” and -what I call- learning experiences. Some like me. And through it all, I have drawn SO SO close to the Giver of the Gift. I have learned to enjoy this season of courtship. Because with 4 years, comes the most beautiful story I have ever been a part of. Every cut, every hurt, every scar, tells a profound story when we look back at it in the rearview mirror. Every year reminds me of the power and finality of God’s word. EVERY.SINGLE.MINUTE, I realize that this (very challenging) journey is bigger than ME, bigger than him… and this is a platform for God’s Glory.
I’ll share one story:
We went through a season where I could’ve sworn I was DONE(for the …th time)! I was done, and I was such a meanie, because he wouldn’t stop calling me and I didn’t feel like talking to him. I shared all that was going on with some of my Christian family whose counsel I respect and love. They give it to me as is- meaning if it’s just me being prideful, they would tell me. And even they looked at me like “I don’t knowwww. You have to see the signs here. I think he’s just not ready”. The killer line was “mine is said to have been the worst, and it’s nothing compared to what you are going through, so… but pray about it.” Those were some hard times! To be honest, during that season, I really wanted someone to tell me I was the problem; so that I could change something about me. And then as the days went by, I begun asking God to give me the go-ahead to end this. He was silent for like 3 months, and then I finally have a dream.. and you guys:
I had a dream where we were in a room full of people we both highly respected. When I walked in and took my seat, there was a card before me. Mind you, I didn’t know Robert was there. I opened the card and felt ALL OF THE EYES in the room on me. I read the card – which said “I am sorry for everything I have done. Please give me one more chance to make it right”- and looked up to people clapping. I was confused wondering what they were clapping for. Did they know the content of the sealed card before I did? Only to see Robert walk through the crowd, up to me, to apologize.
Some context: Let’s bring it back- Now, for 3 months, IN THE PHYSICAL realm, not once did I get anything close to a sincere apology from this guy. And God, I am praying, asking you to pull the plugs, and this is what I get?
I shared this with my pastor hoping he would tell me it was just my mind and God wants me to break up (jokes!). He tells me: “You know the meaning right? God doesn’t change His mind. So let everything go”.
All I am thinking at this point is: Really,God? You’re serious right now. How does this fall back on me? To let it ALL go? And why isn’t he the one having the dreams?”
As I mentioned, P.R.I.V.I.L.E.G.E.D!!! Has the Biggest Advocate, and doesn’t have to work hard at saying anything! lol.
I share this to say: God’s first focus is me (and you)! On that fateful night in the Garden of Gethsemane, it was NOT about the disciples sleeping, it wasn’t about these poor sinners who appeared so ungrateful- so much so that they had the guts to crucify the Messiah; it was NEVER about the harsh words that were said to a WHOLE KING OF GLORY . Whatever the lot, what had been written needed to be fulfilled. Christ had to die. God had Graced Him for the process.
A lot of people say marry someone you like, not just love. I would say my story has been the opposite. I liked him; always have, always will. Anyone who knows Robert can attest to his amazing personality. He has an out-of-this-world personality!
However, I’d be lying if I said I have always loved him- in the true sense of the word. Our love and the bond we share has been a journey and a process that I am eternally grateful for. I always say if we never worked out, I would look back with absolutely NO regrets! Because, I have seen my heart torn apart, my pride trashed, my strength reach an all time high- ALL thanks to GOD!- and I will definitely walk away a better woman.
A week after we officially started courting, we sat and put together a contract (which I believe we will look at some day soon). We both wrote -without prior discussion with the other- that we would never use the words “I love you” until our wedding day. For us, it was (and still is) more important to live out those words, so that saying it would just be a confirmation of what we have experienced with the other for however long we court. And boy, has that promise given me a run for my money!
I can promise you that I didn’t know the intensity of what I wrote on that fateful day. But as the days go by, I understand what love means; and most importantly, what it means to LOVE. It always shatters me (in the best possible way, of course), and moves me to tears to think of the fact that this is what I did(and STILL do) to Christ- how many times I break God’s heart. How much He forgives me. I am constantly reminded of what He went through on the night before His death, in the garden of Gethsemane. The agony He felt knowing what was before Him; the drops of blood as sweat, the mockery, …. for me, and all others who were not even sorry! Love, so amazing and SO divine! But it makes me the happiest to know that He did it for me, that I may live, and carry on that legacy of Love.
For a really long time, it felt as if I was waiting to exhale. Always one thing after the other. Nothing was working full-time. Yet God says stay. It isn’t about me. It isn’t about him. I have a higher charge to keep. And although it sometimes feels like I am still waiting to exhale, this has been the best journey of my life! I don’t say it to him, but everyday I think of him, …this journey, and cry tears of gratitude to God. Even on the harsh days, I find myself confessing my Love for him to God.“I don’t like him so much right now, but I know I love this man!!” Because of him, and for him, I understand the Love of God in a way I never imagined. Through the hurt, the disappointments, the breathtaking joy and laughter, I have come to understand and appreciate the power of The Prayer in the Garden. I am challenged to take His yoke upon me, and learn from Him.
There is something in every wrong word said, every mistake made, that should urge me to pray harder, to forgive harder, and to love even stronger.
Is it easy? God, NO!
And today and everyday forward, that is my goal for my relationship with… anyone! Of course, it’s usually a lot harder with “The One.” I am not going to live like Love means there are no offenses! Offenses do come; but I have learned of the need to make use of the Grace that empowers me to CHOOSE to pray through the “pain.”
I resolve to strive to play “Jesus”, and let God be God, till I see His face, and hear the words- WELL DONE, MY GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANTS (because we are running together on this journey).
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will bear.
Key takeaways (someone may have read too many case studies! lol) : *Please let the record reflect that I am speaking to believers, who know that they know that they know they are in a God-ordained relationship. (I am not asking you to stay if your boyfriend is abusing you!)*
- Your journey is hand-written by God, that He WILL be Glorified.
- It’ll sure be nice for all Love stories to go the same way- same beginning, same plot. Fortunately, that’s not how God works. One thing I am certain of, is the end- God always gets ALL THE GLORY!
- GET AWAY from the (social media) “#goals”’, and the desire to be it. Take time to learn of and from God.
- Rely on Him for -literally- your next breath. Because that can surely be the difference between humility and pride.
- Regard no man according to the flesh. I have learnt that so well just by seeing the same person who isn’t sorry in person, sincerely apologize to me in dreams.
- BEST OF ALL: The Love of God is unfathomable! Life has a beautiful way of reminding me of how oft and deeply I hurt God; yet (!!!), He forgives and loves me. The more I go through it, the more I learn that GOD’S LOVE IS EVERYTHING! However hard, unbearable, trying, the situation may be…. It endures, it doesn’t change, and it triumphs over ALL!
I could’ve written to tell you how OBSESSED I am with my Boyfriend, and he with me. I could write to tell you what a Hunk he is, and how he literally makes me laugh the hardest! He’s wonderful, and I could write a series on that. But so is everyone else’s spouse (in Christ) to them. Right? If not, they wouldn’t have married them.
I am led to share this piece I have been writing for the last 8 months ( or
so longer :/), to share the nitty gritty, praying that this strengthens the one who feels like Love is hard, and certain goals will never be reached by them!
Till all my flights have turned into fights, nothing is impossible! Spiritually and physically. And if there’s any truth in what they say about saving the BEST for the last:
- Guess who is literally Chief of Social Media Marketing for my food blog?
- Guess who INSISTS on us praying EVERY night when we speak- regardless of how out-of-this-world-in-your-feelings you may be? #noexcusezone
- AND, pony-tail haired, jersey-wearing, flip-flop-wearing German, turned out A LOT more than alright!! LOOK AT GOD!
I really LIKE him!