There was a time not too long ago when I prayed for all the things I have now. It finally sunk in this week that I am not living a dream...all the beautiful things in my life are mine. They're real.
It's also crazy to think that if I hadn't surrendered to God the desires of my heart, then I wouldn't be where I am today. I would be stuck in a place of longing, but chasing the wrong things to fulfill certain needs.
It was sometime in the winter or spring of 2012, I want to say, when I was in a place (one of many) of being on and off with this guy, a long time friend, who had recently moved across the country. My naive self thought things were going well, when one night I found out he was planning on dating someone back at home...who wasn't me. As a 21 year old trying to figure herself out, this devastated me. I had already had plans to go out that night though, so that was at least something to look forward to.
A friend of mine picked me up from my house shortly after and drove me to his friend's apartment in Royal Oak where everyone was meeting before going out dancing. The friend whose apartment we all met at...was Jared.
I remember meeting him and feeling a connection, if you will. I thought he was attractive and funny and nice. He had a girlfriend though. I wished for a brief moment that he was single, but I accepted that he wasn't and went on with my night. And my life...for the next 4-5 years...
I had so much to learn. So so much to learn. And I want to believe that nothing happens by accident. The people God puts in our lives. And when. The situations that we go through, and how we choose to grow through them.
In meeting Jared that night, something I had not really given much thought to until recently, it was like God was giving a sign without me realizing it. In hindsight, it was as if He was assuring me, "you're sad now, but wait til you see what I have planned." A very special plan that only an all-knowing God could see.
But I was too consumed in my own confusion that night. And the summer immediately following. And the failed relationships and other heartache in the years following. All the stumbling blocks building me up for a time when I would be ready and my heart would be open.
The heartache I felt that night with the guy who was out of state, and subsequent continued heartaches from that situation, as well as another long term relationship that would help me in the beginning, but then would go on much much longer than it should have...were because I was searching for a love that I was waiting for my dad to give.
I wouldn't realize until therapy in 2013/2014 that I was drawn to men who were a lot like my dad, so I could fix them...so I could redeem a love that was lost in my childhood relationship with my dad. I knew in my head and heart that I could not change my dad. My heart was tired and burnt out. But maybe I could help men who were reflections of my dad in ways and fill the hole, the longing and sadness, in my heart that way.
The interesting thing though, is that my dad always seemed to be discouraged by the men I chose to date and/or pursue. He knew those relationships left me feeling consistently disappointed and empty. He would always express his desire for me to be happy. "As long as you are happy", he would say. Like any parent's wish for their child. I kept assuring him that I was happy in my own way, and that it was unrealistic to expect me to be in a relationship that was easy. Because relationships were hard. I knew from experiences that this was true. I expected relationships to be hard. So in a way, I was setting myself up for failure.
But these broken relationships that I would pursue over the years excited me. The hope in waiting for these men to change and finally accept and see me kept me holding on. It was like a game that I was consistently losing, but I kept playing for the off chance that I would succeed.
I would never succeed.
And in time, after years and a lot of tears, I learned that that was okay. It would be okay, anyway.
After a failed short term relationship (with someone who wasn't a reflection of my dad) in the summer of 2015, I had a heart to heart with God. I sat with Him for a while at Stony Creek Park. I enjoyed a cake pop. And prayed. I told God that I didn't want a relationship anymore for the sake of fulfilling any desires or needs. I just wanted a healthy relationship with someone normal. I wanted to be with someone where the relationship itself would mean more to me than my own agenda. I told God that if I was going to date someone just to fulfill a need or agenda, then I didn't want it. I would rather be single forever than be with someone for the wrong reasons. I meant what I said too.
Then my dad was diagnosed with cancer shortly after this realization. Which took my life and heart in a whole different direction for a while.
The summer before my dad passed away, I had another heart to heart with God. I was so discouraged that all these people in my many different circles were either married, engaged, in a good relationship, having children...and I was just single. And waiting for my dad to die. I felt hopeless. And sad. Oh so sad.
I prayed that if I was never going to meet anyone, or if I was supposed to be alone, that God would take away the desire to find and be with someone. I just wanted that desire out of my heart so I wouldn't feel discouraged when I saw other people moving forward in that area of their lives. I know the sadness and grief of going through my dad's battle with terminal cancer only intensified my feelings of loneliness.
And then pretty much out of nowhere Jared showed up. The person I felt almost an instant connection to over 4 years earlier the night we officially met at his apartment. The night my confused 21 year old self finally allowed herself to get out of the house and try something new.
Jared added me on Facebook that very summer I prayed to God to help me through my grief and to take the desire to be in an intimate relationship with someone out of my heart. Funny, right?
I've blogged about this before, but it wasn't until spending 3 solid days with my dad at his bedside at the hospital leading up to his passing that I finally experienced the most amount of healing in my relationship with him up until that point. My heart was finally ready for something good.
I firmly believe that through all of my confusion and internal struggles all those years, that only God knew when I would be ready. And once my heart was ready, He showed up on time by bringing Jared back into my life at just the right time. The perfect time.
God always shows up on time. Never too early. And never too late.
Even when it seems hopeless, God is there. And He makes Himself known in all sorts of ways. Bringing unlikely people into your path that you don't even give another thought. Until years later when you look back on God's very orchestrated and specific planning.
My life now is the absolute best it's ever been. All the time, therapy, heartbreaks and heart to hearts with God were worth with it if that's what it took to bring me here.
If you are struggling right now, I encourage you to take heart and keep pushing forward. You never know how God is working and providing for you behind the scenes.
Thank you, Jesus, for the ways You have provided for me...and the ways You were without me even knowing it.