Friday, June 22, 2012

Not Settling ~ The Other Side of the Aisle ~ With Guest Post Ashley Clark

Throughout the month of June, we have talked about "not settling", being content in where we are as young women, waiting for our Prince Charming. And until the day comes that we meet and fall in love, we will not swerve from our standards anchored in the word of God. If you wish to read the other posts in this series, please click on my page "Committed to Purity" where they have been gathered. 

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.  

23 comments:

  1. Ashley,

    This is SO beautiful. AMEN to all this. And I love this part.

    "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."

    I'm so glad you're part of the Writer's Alley and I can't wait to meet you in Dallas!

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    Replies
    1. Ashley's heart shines in this post. Gives the wonderful promise that trusting in God's best is always perfect.

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    2. You two are so precious! Thank you for the opportunity to stop by today, Casey, and Julia, I'm looking forward to meeting you too! :)

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  2. Love this, Ash!! I had the same experience. Dated a few guys who just ended up being friends. Found a friend who became more. So glad I waited for him. He gets me. Gets my heart. God knew what he was doing. ;)

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    Replies
    1. Lindsay I loved what you said "found a friend who became more". That is a prayer my mom and I have together, that my future husband and I will be best friends. :)

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    2. Such an important aspect of marriage, in my opinion! Everyone focuses on the romantic, magical aspects, but when it comes to the rest of your life, you also really want someone who's fun to be around! And that itself is a pretty magical find! :D

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  3. after 26 years of marriages sometimes it is hard to let him make the decisions.

    sounds like a wonderful book I'd love to win thanks

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

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  4. Aww, that's just beautiful!
    Just like you two look together.
    Congratulations and thank you for coming by! :)

    Ganise (cannot enter the giveaway. I'm in Canada.)

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    Replies
    1. Aren't they a CUTE couple? Their smiles say it all. :)

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    2. Thanks so much Ganise! I'm so happy to be here!

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  5. This is the way love and marriage should be. My husband and I were 27 and 28 when we married. There were lonely years before we began dating but I learned so much. We met when I was 19 and he was 20. No way we were ready then. We had to experience other things first. God brought us together when He knew it was time.

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    1. Susan, I'm reading a book right now about living joyfully at home and it's been a conviction to use my years a single for His glory and the glory of my family. To learn and grow and change and be molded for His plan in my life. Thank you for sharing your story, what a blessed encouragement!

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    2. What a great testimony, Susan! I think people don't always consider that you can know you've found "the one," but still not be ready to enter into marriage yet. That shows a lot of wisdom on your part! Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Loved this post from the title "From the Other Side of the Aisle" to the end. Such wisdom.

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    1. It is a wonderful title. That's a writer for ya. ;-)

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  7. Ashley, A beautiful picture of how God brings kindred hearts together! His timing is always best. Even if we chafe at His pace at times we can look back and always appreciate His protection and grace over and over again in hindsight. Love the pics of you two! You both look so happy:)

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    1. I've learned over and over again that God's timing is ALWAYS best. When I try and rush things, I only end up upset and put out because it's not working. Trusting God always relieves a weight off my shoulers!

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    2. Thank you Laura! We are very happy. :) What you said about God's pace is SO true! It's so easy to get ahead of God instead of stepping back and allowing Him control over our lives.

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  8. Awww, this is such a touching story. You are both beautiful people.

    I too don't do the love at first sight thing, I met my partner as friends, and from that day on we have been 100% comfortable with each other. I'm convinced God had a hand in it because there were just so many little coincidences and things that had to happen for us to meet, and we are so similar.

    ReplyDelete
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