|Photo Credit to Free Digital Photos |
(used with permission granted from website)
Many times, it’s easier to look at someone else and fantasize about where they are in life and what they have. I know this because I do it all the time when I pretend I’m a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. Just kidding! But seriously, have you ever played the imagination game before? Have you ever looked at someone else’s life and thought, “God, if only you would give me that”? I think every hand in the room should be raised right now in response to that question.
I used to do this all the time when I was single.
I would look at my usually-confident self in the mirror and think, “What is wrong with me, that no one wants to ask me out?” Because my hair was fabulous and it couldn’t be that… ;)
I didn’t go on my first date until I was nineteen. And that’s if you want to call Batman Begins and dinner with random parents a date. Okay, so they weren’t random parents, they were his parents, but still. Awk-ward. Going through your teen years without so much as a real date and only knowing a few guys who even like you is no piece of cake. I was very blessed to have a guy best friend for the latter half of my teen years who I learned a lot about relationships from, though we were always just friends. I don’t know where I would’ve been without him. So side note: I’m of the opinion that having male friends is a good thing. It can teach you how guys’ minds work, which, let’s face it, is way different from our own, and it can help prepare you for your future spouse. Plus guys are fun to hang out with. They don’t gossip when your shoes don’t match your blouse.
Something about that first relationship just didn’t fit fell. First you have to know that I prayed about each guy I had a crush on throughout my teen years, and without fail, God would take away my attraction to them. Suddenly I would realize they were were hunters or they hated concerts or they’d never read an actual book before. But that first relationship was different. I really believe it was God’s way of giving me experience and teaching me what was “right” and “not right.” The guy I dated was a polite Christian boy who played a killer medley on the piano. But he wasn’t right for me. I think a part of me knew that the whole time we were dating.
There wasn’t any sin in our relationship. Fitting together as a couple just seemed hard. I looked at my parents, my grandparents, friends who were in successful relationships, and I just kept coming away feeling like my relationship was insufficient. I didn’t want to break things off with him because I’d grown attached to him as a friend. And plus, he was cute and smart and had so many qualities I was looking for. What else did I think I was going to be able to find? But I sensed this growing feeling of discontent in my heart, and I prayed about it. Two days later, he called me and broke it off.
After that, I wrote down a list of things I wanted in my future husband. Everything from “musician” to “funny” to “knows who Jimmy Stuart is.”
Five months later, I was at a prayer meeting my campus ministry was hosting, and I started talking to one of the worship leaders, Matt. This guy was part of the cool crowd, and frankly, I was surprised he was talking to me because I’d always considered myself a bit of a nerd. But he invited me to Starbucks with a group of other friends, and even though I had a ton of homework left to do, I went. I’m very glad I did.
We spent the next several weeks communicating online, and I began to realize this guy had all the qualities I was looking for in a man. He was a strong Christian, he had integrity, he was funny, and he was even willing to learn to swing dance.
Remember what I said about knowing who Jimmy Stuart is? Well, Matt didn’t. So he suggested for our first date we watch It’s a Wonderful Life and get pizza. That was when, somewhere really deep down, I knew I was going to marry him.
|Ashley and Matt ~ 2009|
You hear these stories about people having these love-at-first-sight moments where their pulse starts racing and they can’t catch their breath. But with Matt it was never like that. It was always deeper. Things with us have always just felt right. Comfortable. Like coming home. We fit each other and compliment one another like we were meant to be, and I truly believe we were. He gets my jokes and doesn’t care that I’m a vegetarian. He supports and encourages me in my calling to be a writer. And he loves dogs as much as I do.
After a few weeks of dating, I realized that Matt was every single thing I’d written on my list. And so much more. Since then, we have fought, we have annoyed each other, and we have had the happiest moments imaginable. And I never want to be without him. He is my best friend.
Some of you might be wondering about your future and considering the relationship you’re currently in. “Settling down” is such an interesting term because all too often, that’s exactly what people are doing—settling. As young women, we crave romance. We want to be protected, cherished, and loved. We want someone to tell us we are beautiful and mean it, and someone to hold our hand.
Wait for that person. Hold out until you find him.
Your relationship with him should not be hard. Do not settle for someone who’s just another nice guy because you’re hoping to satisfy your desire to be a wife, and maybe even to be a mother. God has got so much more planned for your life.
I titled this blog “The Other Side of the Aisle” because I want to challenge you to think about what that looks like. As single people, we often romanticize what marriage is like, and as married people, we often romanticize the single life. But in reality, the only place you are going to find true contentment is in God’s arms.
Marriage will not fix a relationship. It will only take what you already have and multiply that. I have seen several friends who have gotten stuck in a dating relationship with a guy who was not the right one for them, but they became so comfortable, so afraid of loss, that they chose not to walk away. They are married or engaged now.
Can you imagine that? As hard as walking away from a relationship might seem right now, imagine waking up every day committed to the wrong man. Always wondering what would have happened had you waited a little longer and the right man came along.
Mr. Right will probably not look like your favorite movie star or speak like Mr. Darcy (and if he does, get a ring from him, sister!). He might watch too much sports, play video games, and like Taco Bell.
|Ashley and Matt ~ 2012|
But when you’re with him, you’ll feel like a better version of yourself. You’ll be content and safe. He will support you and protect your dreams and make you proud. When you pray about your relationship, something deep down will have the most beautiful peace. That’s God’s way of saying, “Yes.”
Most of all, your heart will be settled in a different kind of way. Something deep down will just fit with a deep part him. He’ll teach you about yourself and you’re your relationship with God. And you’ll be so glad you had the faith to wait for him and for every one of those days on the other end of the aisle.
I know this because I found this man. I thought for a while he was never going to come. But he did, and I married him. And I’m so glad I waited for that.
Casey here again: All this month I have had a giveaway of Never the Bride by Rene Gutteridge and Cheryl Mckay and hopefully it will encourage you on your journey. Leave a comment on how YOU are NOT settling below and I'll draw the names from all the posts and announce the winners (one from every Settling post) the first Friday of July.