join me on this journey of waiting, praying, writing
and pursuing after God above all
She looked at us and said, “how do I learn to be single again?”
In that moment, all the emotions of singleness flittered by. I remembered all the moments of spilling my heart at the feet of God, desperately begging Him to take away the loneliness. I remembered the embrace of His arms, spoken over me through His Word or felt through the warm hugs of friends. I remembered desiring, dreaming, becoming cynical, then learning to hope once more. I remembered.
I knew in that moment why I had been single for so many years. My years of singleness taught me lessons I could not otherwise learn about God’s constant character, His immense love for me, and the depth of His grace. They guided me to return again and again to His feet, acknowledging that only He can satisfy me wholly. They were a precious gift that helped me relate to not only singles, but all of those who are lonely, hurt and yearning.
Each one will be like a shelter from the wind
and a refuge from the storm,
like streams of water in the desert
and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.
Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed,
and the ears of those who hear will listen.
The fearful heart will know and understand,
and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear.
(Isaiah 32:2-4, emphasis mine)
I realized that as I grow in my relationship, my callings were shifting too. This passage jumped out at me as I sought out God in the middle of all the changes.
He calls me to be a shelter, a refuge, a stream of water and a shadow of a great rock to those who are lonely, hurting and yearning. I can walk alongside people, sharing in their burdens, having walked through many valleys myself. I can point people towards God as the only infallible source of intimacy - the place where I am so wholly known and yet so wholly loved.
Perhaps one day we together can create a home where people can find shelter and refuge. What a beautiful way to love.
With hugs and kisses,
your future wife
Love used to look like a spectacular display to declare to the world that we loved each other. It looked like a bouquet of reddest roses to greet me at the door. It looked like falling asleep to each others’ voices on the phone every night. It looked like handwritten poetry, wax-sealed letters, surprise midnight picnics and guitar songs written just for me.
Of course, love still can look like that.
What surprised me was that love has so many more shades than I ever anticipated.
Love looks like tugging on my hand so I don’t walk into telephone poles and tree branches. It looks like looking me in the eye and telling me about your big failure from the past week, expecting me to push you away, and instead finding my arms wrapped around you even tighter. It looks like coming home and finding our dirty dishes and cups all over and quietly gathering them up. It looks like driving for an hour on weeknights just to see me. It looks like worshipping God together in the quiet of the living room. It looks like having a stressful day and finding your arms around me, whispering that even though my head is full and my makeup smudged, I am still beautiful inside and out.
Love looks like being comfortable in each other’s silence, looking at each other after we’ve discussed philosophy and theology and marvelling at God’s amazing creation of spirit and flesh sitting right in front of us. It looks like creating a safe space, a small slice of heaven, for each other. It looks like dancing to the tune of serving and receiving and giving. It looks like finding yourself in the middle of love before you knew you even began. It looks like cultivating vulnerability, even with an uncertain future, because God calls us to live and love courageously.
Love, most of all, looks like chasing after God together, helping each other love Him and the world around us more.
I love you,
your future wife
My darling husband,
I have been shrinking for a while in this relationship. This man and I would make breakfast or go for burgers, and I noticed that I would eat very little. I noticed the strong, bold leader inside me slowly becoming quieter, simply going along with what he has planned instead of actively planning. Perhaps most of all, I noticed my body shrinking in weight, my waistline becoming visibly smaller over the past two months.
We talked about it a few days ago. He jokingly remarked, “I thought we were in a relationship of equals, but I’m doing all the planning!” It woke me up to how much I’ve changed. After lots of prayer and journalling, I realized that I was trying to conform to Christian sub-culture’s ideal "femininity". I was more passive, more quiet, less bold, more anxious.
Tonight, we talked about becoming more true to who God made us to be. I mentioned that I want to keep growing in my soul, keep expanding in love, and keep living in freedom. I want to be free to eat, to demonstrate servant leadership in our relationship, and to keep loving God, myself and others. I am Eve’s daughter, and that very heritage points to what true femininity means: "living one", "source of life".
I want to be the woman God created to produce life, to bring life, to create life - to speak truth boldly, love generously and live wholeheartedly. I want to love the people of this world and display the radiant glory of God. I want to love Him passionately, and in all things be true to the image of God set within me.
I can’t wait to see where He leads me as I keep breathing, living and expanding.
With great love,
your future wife
In all my years of singleness, I never believed my fierce independence was unhealthy.
When friends asked me if I needed rides, or help with moving, or soup when I was sick, I would decline, wanting to be anything but a burden. I would fight through the snow and sub-zero temperatures in the winter to walk to the grocery store, because I was too proud of admit my need. I worked during undergrad so I was never dependent on my parents for finances. I wanted to lavish others with my hospitality and presence and a listening ear, but had a hard time accepting others’ generosity towards me.
I was proud of the way I carved out a life of independence, a life of providing for myself, a life of needlessness.
Then, a relationship happened, and my world of fierce and proud independence was turned upside down. Oh man.
In my years of singleness, I learned to protect myself through various “alwayses”: always carry a loud whistle, always have savings just in case, always walk in the middle of the road at night so no one can easily grab you, always have a stock of Neocitron in case you get sick and can’t leave the house.
By bubble wrapping my life, I lost my ability to ask for help. I lost the vulnerability to say, I need something I can’t provide for on my own. I lost the willingness to receive. I forgot how to be a part of community, how to move to the dance of giving and receiving.
This man stepped into this mess and began to carry my groceries (All the bags! Despite my protests, he wouldn’t even let me carry one!). He began lavishing gifts and words and touch and time - reminding me of my beauty, worthiness and dignity, all gifts from the Cross. He made me encouragement mason jars, held my hands, washed my dishes, and told me I’m an incredible woman of God.
All the while, my fiercely independent spirit fights back: You are a strong woman. You don’t need to fear that anyone will ever abandon you because you can do everything on your own. You don’t have needs.
As my spirit rumbles inside, this patient man says to me, you need to receive in order to give. I think about the many times when I’ve given of myself to community or in ministry, and because I couldn’t receive, I found myself burnt out, spent and ineffective. My pride and my fear kept me from reaching out for help.
He continues: do you think you’re worthy of receiving good things from God and from me? I reflect about how giving and leading defined my identity from a young age. I’ve allowed myself to be defined by what I do, not what Christ has already done.
I’ve newly learned to wake up in the morning, lying on my back, arms outstretched with my palms up, and receive. I’ve learned to ask God, this man and my community for what I need, and trust them with my vulnerability. I’ve learned and relearned that I am made worthy by Christ. I’ve grown to see that my fierce independence was a story that served me well in the past, but it’s not serving me anymore. I have the choice now to choose a new story: a story of interdependence, of the dance of giving and receiving and giving again.
With bundles and bundles of love,
your future wife
You know it’s bad when it’s 10:56 PM on a weeknight and I’m sitting in the middle of my living room floor, hyperventilating a bit while the tears stream down my face.
The pressure started building in my chest when I was on the phone with the young man in my life, and he mentioned that he reconciled with a colleague who he experienced a lot of tension with a year ago after feelings entered the friendship. I knew cognitively that this was a good thing - a closure for him - and he told me a while ago that he was eventually going to have this conversation.
As I was listening though, I felt two things: one, I felt betrayed that he didn’t mention that he was going to have this significant conversation when we were talking yesterday; two, I felt jealous and insecure when he mentioned many men had developed feelings before for this colleague of his. I wanted his affections for myself, and I felt threatened by her presence in his life now that they have resolved the tension in their friendship.
After we said our good nights, I end the call, and held the phone to my chest as I started to sob. Big, heavy, loaded tears came streaming down my face as my heart felt physically squeezed. There were no words to describe the overwhelmingly ugly feelings of insecurity and jealousy brewing inside me.
In that moment, I glimpsed into my heart, and it was not very pretty.
I thought we were doing fine - thriving, even. We have our church community, our families and our friends praying for our relationship, speaking into our lives and rooting us on in pursuing each other. We’ve been told many times that our relationship is the healthiest relationship that they’ve seen, and that we’re really showing others the love of Christ through the way we serve each other and others in community. My friends who know about these letters tell me that the years of growth in writing these letters led up to this point of emotional and spiritual health. We both thank God for each other, recognizing that for this time, we are truly gifts in each other’s lives to bring joy and life and wisdom and fruit.
And yet, there’s still plenty of room for growth in me.
As I wrestle with insecurity and jealousy, I realize that I’ve once again forgotten that I am enough:He made me enough. I am an image bearer of God. Jesus’ blood shed on the cross purchased freedom forever for me. He covers me with the robes of righteousness, making me new. I have been given meaningful Kingdom work. I am loved so incredibly deeply that nothing - not death nor life, the present nor the future, height nor depth - can separate me from God’s love.
God whispers softly into my heart: Come back home. Come find true rest, not in man’s affirmations and words and touch and presence, but in Me.
I slowly unclench my fist and let go, surrendering my dreams for the future and hopes with this wonderful young man, and lay them all at God’s feet. My heart, still a bit heavy, finds rest through these words:
Let my sighs give way to songs that sing about your faithfulness.
Let my pain reveal your glory as my only real rest.
Let my losses show me all I truly have is you.
I am satisfied in you.
Oh God, I am coming home to you. I am satisfied in you.
With great love,
your future wife
My dear husband,
So often I forget.
I forget to pray for you as much as I could. I forget to pray for you in a way that seeks God’s will above mine. I lose focus and shift my eyes away from the God that deserves all my praise and life onto temporal things.
So, I will learn to fervently pray and cling onto God’s promises.
I will pray for His will to be done above all. I will pray Scripture over our lives, praying that He will restore wholeness into our lives. I will pray that you would walk through both the mountaintop experiences and the shadows of the valley knowing that His rod and His staff are with you. I will pray that your soul would thirst for God as deer thirst for streams of water. I will pray that all your hope is in God, and He truly is the source of all your joy and celebration.
You are so greatly loved, my dear, dear love.
your future wife
My darling husband,
"If he is the right person for you," my mom’s voice is full of certainty, “then I pray that God gives you the courage to keep pursuing him and pressing forward.”
"I don’t want to talk about the future," I say, as tears well up in my eyes. "How can you know? How do you get past the fears? How can you even talk about weddings and grandchildren while it’s so early on in our relationship?"
She smiles at my dad, sitting across the room, and continues, “we only have two criteria, and it seems like he meets both: love God fully, and love others sacrificially. That’s all that matters.”
We say our good nights and I turn off Skype, ready to head to bed. My thoughts are still sprinting around my head, so instead I open Common Prayer. As I read, the very first line hits me like a ton of bricks:
Naked I come from my mother’s womb, and naked will I return. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
It’s not exactly relationship advice, but suddenly, my mom’s words and these words mingle together.
It’s not about him. It’s not about me.
Everything in my life is meant to bring my Father glory, honour and praise. He redeems the ugly parts of my story to make something beautiful out of it. He makes beauty out of the ashes, allowing me to love again. At this moment, He gifts me with the presence and affections of an amazing man of God who chooses to pursue me as I pursue him.
Naked I come. Naked will I return. Ultimately, who we get married to is less important than the question of who can we become together to bring glory to God, and love to the world and each other? It’s not about compatibility, personality types, love languages and even spiritual gifting, but it’s a willingness to give all of who we are, our naked soul, for the work of God in us and through us. It’s the willingness to work together to create something better than what we can create individually.
The Lord gives. The Lord takes away. Marriage is beautiful, yet it is also finite. We will all one day pass away, and marriages will end. The finite nature of marriage means there’s urgency to bring life, encouragement and dignity to each other. We know that life is short, and that means every moment is one more chance to love.
In all this, I realize that none of it is about me. Our marriage one day will not be about me or about you, but beautifully, it’s all about God. When we focus on God and partner with Him to restore the beauty of His Kingdom on earth, we will also grow in love for each other. I hope we live lives of great faith, and one day “those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever” (Daniel 12:3) - how beautiful.
I can learn to soothe my overanalyzing mind and take steps forward in faith, trusting that my Father loves me more than I can know or imagine.
Dreaming and hoping,
your future wife
My dear husband,
Tim Keller once said: “Within this Christian vision of marriage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of what God is creating, and to say, ‘I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne.’ And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!’”
This vision of working together to restore the beauty of God’s kingdom here on earth is what excites me most about building a strong relationship, and by God’s grace, a strong marriage with you one day.
One slice of that restoration looks like serving each other with our whole hearts, and serving out of passionate, intimate and committed love. It means we strive to serve one another with more tenderness and affection every day. It looks like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control - the fruits of the Spirit that God can produce in us when we seek to love Him above all.
Another slice looks like pouring life into each other, bringing each other closer to the image of God inside us. It means speaking words of encouragement into the souls of one another, reminding each other of our God-given identity. It means using healthy, dignified touch to remind each other of the amazing truth that we’re all weaved bodies and souls. It means encouraging each other to grow and take risks, and to press on even harder to listen to the Living Word speaking into our lives. It means honouring each other by bringing the best out of each other, and seeking to do everything out of recognizing each other’s incredible worthiness and dignity.
A third slice looks like bringing each other closer to our communities, within and outside of the church. It means loving one another so that we can love others even more effectively. It means partnering up as a team to minister to and serve people more effectively than in our singleness. It means being present, and giving the gift of availability to marrieds, those in relationships, and especially those who are single.
My darling, I’m so incredibly excited to walk with you, hand in hand.
your future wife
My dear husband,
I read my first relationship book at the age of 13, and since then, I’ve spent hours reading books, articles and blog posts, learning about singleness, relationships and marriage. I believed that if I gained wisdom vicariously through others’ experiences, I could prevent myself from ever getting hurt.
Oh man, was I wrong.
Some of the early books led me down a path of legalism in relationships that brought death, not life, to my opposite-gender friendships. I was so careful to “guard my heart” in these friendships and budding relationships, which completely misapplied that verse. I thought that I could prevent heartbreak and pain if I was a good Christian girl who kept my heart locked up in a box until the day the clouds part, I hear a voice from the heavens and a beam of light shines directly on my future husband.
God doesn’t (usually) reveal our husbands that way, nor did life happen the way I expected. I thought my heart was securely locked up, or “guarded”, but as grief and heartbreak came into my life, I prolonged the healing due to my naivety. Instead of facing the grief and pain straight on in mourning and having difficult conversations, I thought my heart was fine and that time would heal any residual feelings.
After plastering bandages over bandages on a festering heart wound, I finally woke up to the damage I caused. I began addressing conflict, reaching out for help (and hugs!), and celebrating my tears. Most of all, I knew my Father was in the business of reconciliation. He loved me enough to give me a place in His kingdom story and He will never give up on me. I saw grace in action - grace from God, grace for others, and (sometimes the hardest one to apply) grace for ourselves.
This was not the story I once wanted to tell. I wanted to tell the story of a woman who patiently waited during her single years and focused her attention solely on God. One day, God suddenly dropped a husband out of the sky so they could partner in His work and live happily ever after.
That is not my story, but my story is so much more.
My story is that I kept failing and stumbling in my singleness, trying so hard to do things right, when I realized that God cared far more about my heart than my behaviours. My story involves disappointment and grief when the plans of my heart didn’t become reality. My story had way more plot twists, tough lessons, years of waiting, tears, and undeniable grace than I could’ve ever imagined.
My story is beautiful, redemptive, and most of all, uniquely my own.
Reading books and articles to gain wisdom is not inherently bad. They helped reconnect me with hope during the most painful moments, and whispered to me stories of men and women who have made it to the other side of grief.
Books and articles became dangerous when I lost sight of the story God was unfolding in my own life. Instead of living out my life in faith, I tried to avoid pain by living out lessons from others’ lives. And, as I’ve learned the hard way, pain is good. Pain is a beautiful emotion that tells me very sharply that I am not enough on my own, that I need His healing, and that I need community in the shape of the Church.
In the last month of growing in relationship with a wonderful young man, we’ve both repeatedly learned to get go of control. We’ve learned to laugh when our plans are sidetracked by reality, and we’ve learned to take the pulse of each other’s heart while listening attentively to the work of the Spirit.
We talk about topics and visions for the future that we both didn’t anticipate discussing until months down the road, but we know that the timing is right for us. We anticipate and discuss conflict, failures and disagreements. We know that there’s no guarantee that our relationship will develop into marriage, and that’s okay too, because it means for this time we get to pour life into each other and help each other see God more clearly.
In all this, we pick and choose the pieces of human wisdom that are helpful for the story God is weaving in our lives. This story is different than the one I would’ve written for myself, but as this man and I make choices while listening to God and community, it grows into something even more nuanced and beautiful.
your future wife