A friend of mine is going through a really difficult time right now. Sitting on my couch a while back, she began asking me questions about previous relationships I’d had. One in particular. The one that led me to write this post about depression.
Because of the work God has done in my life, I am not shy to discuss that time. But the questions she was asking weren’t easy for me to answer. I had a lot of flaws to admit. And a lot of the devastation was my own fault. More than I had ever really realized.
At the end of our conversation, she asked, “So why haven’t you written about all this?”
It took me a minute to respond, and I realized the reason I hadn’t was because writing about it would mean I would have to admit my flaws publicly.
I tried to fight it earlier this week. I didn’t know how to approach it, and frankly, I didn’t think I was ready to approach it. But God really wouldn’t let it go. And I’m not in a position to be disobedient on this point.
So, I’d like to tell you about a time I faked being someone else’s Holy Spirit.
I dated a good guy once. He was sweet and kind. Came from a great family, treated me like a princess. Worked extremely hard at his career.
But he was just a good guy. He wasn’t a godly guy. He didn’t pursue Christ, and hadn’t been brought up to. He was analytical and had been hurt by the church. He hadn’t been taught Truth, just Sunday school niceties. And it left him with a lot of baggage and a lot of hard-heartedness.
We dated for a long time while I was in college. And I would be absolutely lying if I didn’t tell you I knew it was wrong from the very beginning. But I hadn’t been in a relationship for a while, and it was so nice to be doted on.
So I just ignored God.
For about a year I completely gave God the cold-shoulder about that relationship. Oh, I prayed. But I prayed for what I wanted God to do and ignored the part about leaving the relationship. I talked, and wanted God to listen.
I had fallen head-first, thinking the relationship was so great. He made me laugh, we had fun together, he was driven and “loved me”. The nagging feeling I kept getting from the Holy Spirit — I think it’s called conviction — I kept at bay. And I suffered severely because of it, at my own hand.
To be honest, I had dated Christian guys who had taken advantage of me and treated me shockingly, and I struggled with the thought that this “good” but not godly guy was so much better than the “godly” but not good guys I’d dated.
About six to eight months into the relationship, I knew we were getting more serious and I began to war with God all of the time. We had begun going to church together, something he hadn’t done since childhood, and I used that as an excuse to stay in the relationship. After a while, I was telling myself, “If you just stick with it, and show Him God’s love, He’s going to get saved.”
I would plan things to say to him I thought would convict him. I quoted scripture nonchalantly to make it seem easy to be a Christian in today’s world. I tried to find Christian artists for him to listen to on the radio. I would turn his car stereo to Air1.
Eeek. The more I write, the more I realize how truly insane I was.
But I did it all. Everything I just told you isn’t an exaggeration. I tried to play the Holy Spirit in that guy’s life so he could become my Prince. My focus was never on God or His plan for my life.
I wanted God to know that if I could get this guy saved, he would be the perfect guy and we could get married and have a super great life together.
Within this twisted mind-set, there was also a part of me that kept feeling guilty, just not about the right things. I had thoughts like, “I’m going to let God down if he doesn’t get saved while we’re together.” I thought God was going to be disappointed in me because I told myself God put that guy in my life so I could be a great witness to him.
Instead, I pray I wasn’t a detriment in the worst way.
In the end, God intervened majorly. The guy broke up with me at the beginning of my senior year amidst a lot of other bad timing. And I fell apart. I was far away from God and I was far away from the person I thought I was. The person I was with Christ. The person Christ died for and was working in. I felt far away from everything that made me who I was. I had traded it in to be a pseudo Holy Spirit for a guy I wasn’t meant for. And I am still not whole after that relationship. I have moved on, I’m married to a wonderful godly man. But the carefree, happy-go-lucky, confident girl I was before hasn’t been seen since. I’m still working through so much of the emotional and spiritual repercussions of my decisions. My heart still breaks thinking of the time I wasted pushing God away. And still, I’m so grateful for His discipline.
When I was single, I was aching for a marriage relationship. I wanted to feel loved and cared for in a way I believe God created marriage for on earth. So instead of waiting on God for a godly man, I played God, and settled for a good man.
What I don’t intend to do is degrade that guy I was in a relationship with. But what I do want to do is tell you that Jesus Christ makes the difference. If he doesn’t have Christ, he shouldn’t have you. Not because you are better than him, but because it is foundational and biblical. Because he is still a dead man, and you have been brought to life. No matter how diligently you try to make him the perfect guy. No matter how many times you change his radio to Air1, or how many times you try to get him to do Bible study or memorize verses or get involved in a great church, only God brings conviction for salvation. You can pray for it and cry for it and let your heart break over it, but you cannot bring conviction.
For my sweet friends who’ve married with an unequal yoke, don’t stop praying. There is always hope through Christ. I understand some circumstances are far far far beyond what you can control, and separations and divorces are a too-common, devastating reality nowadays. But please, don’t put the pressure on yourself to be your husband’s Holy Spirit. Have the gentle, respectful character that comes through knowing Christ, that he might see that and be won, without your words. (1 Peter 3:1) And know that Christ has you in His grasp.
For my sweet single friends — don’t settle. I know you may be aching. I’ve been single. Some days, it hurts like crap. Those are usually the days you feel like every couple in America is out in your town, holding hands, and everything on TV is a sappy rom-com. I get it. Some days, it feels awesome if you think the guy in the Wal-mart check-out line talks to you, while you watch in horror as you load your Half-Baked Ben and Jerry’s, cheesecake and nail polish onto the conveyor. But don’t settle.
Don’t trade momentary loneliness for a lifetime of it with a guy who will not be able to lead your family or love you like Christ. Be strong. And on the days you just can’t be strong, call me and we’ll cry together. Or better yet, call your other single girl friend, cry it out to God, and then go revel in your singleness, because I tell you the truth — even though I am so grateful for my marriage, it has its fair share of baggage — it can be so fun being single.
If you aren’t aching in your singleness, that’s great. But be gentle with your single friends who aren’t feeling the same. Come alongside them and be the friend they enjoy it with.
Whatever life-stage you’re in, don’t believe the lie that you are not worth someone else’s love, and that is the reason you are not married, or dating. It’s just not true. And if you are struggling with this lie, please, go talk to someone you trust to pour Truth into you.
You are held by the very hand of God. Christ went to the cross knowing you. He went to the cross with a promise to you that you would be part of his bride. He died for you and set the bar for every future husband out there. He loves you and knows you and will provide for you in His extremely perfect way. A husband can’t live up to that and won’t replace Him in your life.
I thought this article summed everything up pretty well. The Matt Chandler quote could not be more spot on.
— Praying for you,
*Photo courtesy: britney @baretribe.blogspot.com