September 1, 2012
A day after the relationship ended, a friend asked, “So, why do you think God allowed that to happen?”
Without an understanding of the goodness of God, it would be difficult, if not extremely hard, to answer this question.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself.
One of the biggest lies that the enemy threw at me growing up was that I can never trust men. I grew up without a Dad, had a stepfather for a while, got defrauded a couple of times, and witnessed quite a lot of relationships fail because men couldn’t decide to keep playing their roles as men, as leaders. I don’t know about you, but these did not paint a very good picture of men for me. And so, consciously and unconsciously, I built walls around me. I felt like I always had to protect myself.
Protecting myself became a lot easier when I became a Christian. Or so I thought. Thank God for the verses that say, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure, who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)” and “Do not awaken love until it so desires. (Song of songs 2:7)”, I always had a reason to say “no” to suitors. There were a few times when I almost gave in though, but I made it through college without getting into a relationship.
A year after I graduated from college, with the purest of intentions, I decided to make it my goal for my first boyfriend to be my husband. That would be my way of honoring the man God prepared for me, I said.
So, what’s wrong here?
I built walls. I protected myself. I worked for what I wanted.
I was sincere in wanting to have my first boyfriend as my husband but that was MY plan. That was how I wanted the picture of my life to be painted. I was trying to write my own story.
A month after this guy talked to me about his desire to pursue me (this was late last year), my uncle gifted me with the book Captivating for my birthday. This, my friends, is something every woman should read and re-read.
Here’s something I wrote, in tears, on my journal on December 21 of last year:
“God pointed out to me that I have, for the past couple of years, built walls around me to block people, men specifically, out. I have built them strong and sturdy because I see the world as dangerous. I refused to be beautiful because I feared it might draw danger towards me. And now, He has used the pursuit to break the walls. Now, I am beginning to open up, be vulnerable, lay the contents of my heart down in front of a man I badly want to trust but with everything that I’ve been through before, I’m finding it hard to do just that. It’s scary. It’s painful. It feels like a huge part of me is about to be taken away. I’ll be out of my comfort zone if I do that.”
Before I write about what my answer to my friend’s question is, allow me share the questions that I have asked God when the relationship ended.
I consulted You.
There were prophecies.
I asked people.
Did I hear You wrong?
Why did it have to end?
Why did it have to end that soon?
I foretold the former things long ago,
my mouth announced them and I made them known;
then suddenly I acted, and they
came to pass.
From now on I will tell you of new things,
of hidden things unknown to you.
They are created now, and not long ago;
you have not heard of them before today.
So you cannot say,
‘Yes, I knew of them.’
See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.
How can I let myself be defamed?
I will not yield my glory to another.
I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.
-Isaiah 48:3, 6-7, 10-11, 17
My answer to the question are the things I’ve learned that I wouldn’t have fully understood had I not allowed myself to take the risk of being in a relationship.
Being vulnerable. This means allowing ourselves to live sans the walls we’ve built. Walls keep people out and when we build walls, we will not be able to enjoy the beauty of relationships in general.
Hiding. The psalmist phrased this beautifully in Psalm 17:8, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” We do not do the hiding ourselves. We allow God to hide us. We allow God to protect us. And when we do get hurt, it doesn’t mean that He stopped protecting us or that He shut His eyes when something went wrong. He sees every tear. He hears every prayer. He gives ear to our every plea. Only, His thoughts, His ways are way higher than ours, they are unfathomable. But we can be sure of this: His will for us is always good, always pleasing, always perfect.
Trusting. We can spend our whole lives finding people we can trust but allow me to burst the bubble now. That would never happen. At some point, the people we would choose to trust will fail us and that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Why, we can’t even trust ourselves! Good thing there is a verse such as this: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)”
Just because people aren’t trustworthy doesn’t mean we give up on our relationships. We trust people and still value relationships because God IS trustworthy. He is truth. He is love. And love covers over a multitude of wrongs. The presence of God in every detail of our lives is enough to cover for any wrong done to us. That is why despite of, in spite of, we can still trust. We can still love.
(I have also written my answer to this question in the form of a poem a few months ago and I decided to call it Keep Me Hidden.)