Recently, I received news that a family member was diagnosed with cancer.
I was not too happy with this news given my past experience with losing my mother, as well as family history. My guy (I omit his name for privacy reasons) was with me. Soon after hearing this news, I shut down on him. He told me to call her. I told him I needed time to process what I had just heard. It had already been a rough and trying week. He assured me he would be right beside me.
“I got you,” he said reassuringly.
“I’m fine,” I shot back definitively, lost in my own thoughts.
“I know you’re fine, but we are better together.”
The end of an era as a single woman.
Something in me shifted. Reality began to dawn on me. I was really not alone. I was not the single Siobhan, who’s used to navigating life and hardship completely alone, as I’ve been in past years. I’ve been through the trenches alone. I weathered my mother’s deterioration and death alone. I struggled through grief alone. When I lost most of my friends along the journey, I picked myself up and bandaged my own wounds alone. I lived overseas alone. For the past decade, I’ve navigated my ongoing battle with mental health alone, including weathering a psychological crisis alone…and when all was said and done, I bounced back alone. Even though I have since been gifted with the most amazing community I could ask for, even the beginning stages of my process through faith and sanctification was carried out alone. I never complained. Used to it all, I simply bootstrapped it and did what I had to do. All I had was myself.
This didn’t make me lonely. In fact, I rarely felt lonely. There are/were plenty of individuals in my life who love me. I could call on them and there were no doubts that they would show up if needed. I simply got used to being in the routine of carrying out life, and all that entails, alone.
This is why his words completely stopped me in my tracks. It was the first time I became cognitively aware that it was no longer just me. I became aware that I had to accept the fact that there was someone in my life to weather life with. For the first time in my life, its me and someone else.
In spite of my hesitation, he knew from the beginning that I was his wife. This was honestly not news I necessarily wanted to hear. Although I am now secure in my decision to follow him, it did not come without a fight (from me). At the tail end of my sabbatical, marriage was not something I desired. If I am allowed to be completely transparent, I still have to pray daily and pursue God regarding this decision. He came into my life out of nowhere. This man knew two weeks into knowing me (women, it really doesn’t take them long to know). My hesitation was long and hard. It still is.
Honeymoon stages lie.
Because of how I am wired, God had to orchestrate my relationship in the unique way he did, hesitation and all. The abruptness of it all coupled with the particular season I am in simply didn’t afford either one of us the time or opportunity for a “honeymoon” stage in our relationship. I simply had too much life going on. My poor guy had to jump, almost immediately, right into trenches he didn’t ask for. To my advantage, however, he was more than prepared for it. Without any effort on my part, God grew his heart and gave him a special grace for me. All he did was say yes to his calling to serve me in this season of my life. He got to work right away. It was only through my witnessing his persistence, commitment and diligence in this process that my heart has been able to grow for him more.
Nobody loves a honeymoon stage more than me. There is always something so life giving about seeing people in love (if they are in love). Love makes the world continue to go round, as they say. Honeymoon stages, however, can also be very deceptive, and are not great indicators of the ultimate trajectory of how a relationship or marriage will turn out. After all, most of my prior relationships ended as soon as this stage subsided, as it was found that neither one of us possessed anything substantial to sustain our commitment with each other, outside of infatuation. I wholeheartedly appreciate the way God has made things happen in my life, given that I wasn’t even given a slight opportunity to enter into an infatuation stage.
Fairy tales don’t exist.
I fully confess to being raised by Disney’s damsels in distress, cherry topped with my favorite teen classic Boy Meets World, who instilled within me the most unrealistic standards of love and marriage known to mankind. I grew well into my mid to late 20’s believing that Cory and Topanga set me up for the perfect love life. It also led to the false belief that in order to “arrive” in life, I needed to be married. This belief that my value as a woman would be “accentuated” or “confirmed” once I was permanently claimed by the opposite sex, eventually led me down a slippery slope of feeling worthless for a season. That other human being didn’t come, and all the times I previously perceived it did, it never sustained itself. Even in my current relationship, he does not complete or validate me. Even on our best days, neither one of us subscribe to an illusion of arriving.
I don’t want to give the impression that everything is a Debbie Downer in my current relationship. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. This is the most incredible, beautiful, edge-snatching-sanctifying experience God could have ever gifted me with (I’m sorry y’all, as skilled of a writer as I am, some expressions you just can’t code switch on). Within the context of the gospel, however, we both fall miserably short in the department of arriving and validation.
Obedience is always better. Especially when it hurts.
My sanctification process hurt. Even without the distraction of male attention, I was cut like a knife. It didn’t help that during the entire course of my sabbatical, as soon as I put a stop sign in this department it would be the convenient time where every potential suitor in the state of Texas would make his presence known (they came out of the wood works y’all). It really blew my mind. Saying no was easy at first…but as those potentials became more and more attractive and tempting, it became harder and harder. In fact, the very last “no” hurt. After I cut off the last potential out of obedience, I cried for more than a week. Saying no to something good to say yes to God is hard. He was too perfect for me. We vibed. We had chemistry. We even had the same theological stances….in fact, we listened to all the same pastors. We had so many of the same tastes. We just…clicked. But that didn’t matter. I heard God’s no loud and clear…and I didn’t like it. I didn’t understand it, but I submitted. It felt like death.
But that’s just it. God needed me to die, especially to myself. It didn’t matter if I was approached by a hundred men who were absolutely perfect for me. What would that profit me on an eternal scheme of things? He needed me to lay down my will for his. He wanted to be glorified in my life, not my desires. I made a commitment to give him everything. This meant trusting his “no” when that commitment to him became hard. The only thing to gain, was Christ for Christ sake. Soon after my tantrum, I began to find contentment in my singleness. Even dream guy became a distant memory that equated to a grain of salt the few times the thought of him actually did come up.
…and of course, it would be months later in this season of contentment that would be the exact timing when he would show up, seemingly out of nowhere. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself, and the way God works. We think we know what’s good, but we have to remember, its God who knows what’s best. And had I not listened to God, even when it was difficult, I would still have the blinders of my own will attached to my limited vision, and would still be chasing men who were never purposed for me in the first place. If not for obedience, I wouldn’t have even recognized the one God had for me.
Believe me, he did not come in the package I expected, or wanted. This is why clear vision is so important. We can be so blinded by what we believe is good only for our vision to turn out to be distorted by our own will.
I am so thankful for this Sabbatical experience, for significantly clearing my vision. This season of my life brought me so much closer to God, and helped me turn and keep my eyes on Him, especially in the midst of the current journey into marriage that I am on.
Written By: Siobhan Blot