Friday, February 17, 2012

Why My Generation isn’t Getting Married, Part 2 OR Relationships, Elysse’s perspective

(written in Summer 2011)

I have been very open and forthright with criticism towards my generation of homeschoolers and their lack of intentionality towards pursuing relationships, getting married, and establishing families. To that end I wrote an article over a year ago entitled: “Why My Generation isn’t getting married...and what to do about it.”

Writing this article and publishing it was a big step of faith. Many misunderstood and thought I was pointing my finger at specific people or situations. That was not my heart or intention, I simply wished to re-center the focus of my generation an encourage them to live in the fullness that the Lord has set before them. On the other hand, I have received emails from several young people (and also sarents) who thanked me for calling things the way I saw them. Since the article was published I even had a few friends who tried my advice and are happily in relationships and on their way to marriage.

I think that actually what scared me the most about writing the article was being afraid of the extra responsibility I was taking on. Not only did I know that I needed to take my own advice and set an example of pursuing every opportunity of meeting Mr. Right, I also needed to pray diligently and faithfully for my friends that are single. If there is one vital lesson I have learned in the ensuing months, it is the power of prayer.

Shortly after publishing the article I joined a few of the online singles websites that I mentioned. Of course my parents knew, and anytime I received an item of noteworthy correspondence I sent it right on to them. I was very careful in my own mindset that even if were pursuing opportunities to find Mr. Right, I was NOT going to be the pursuer. I didn’t want a man that wasn’t willing to pursue me. Additionally, I set myself some ground rules: 1. if I was to meet someone who interested me online, I would give them every means of pursuing me, 2. I wasn’t going to reciprocate affection until I had gotten a solid green light from my parents, and 3. I wasn’t under any circumstances going to get into a relationship until I had met the person face to face. So, I went about the whole process rather clinically.

Frankly, I was extremely disappointed in my whole experience. Both websites are very good in theory, and I appreciate what they have set out to achieve. Perhaps my experience would have been better if I had invested myself more. With one of the sites it was just too complicated and involved, and I didn’t really have anyone take interest, nor did I find anyone of interest. It was less than slim pickin’s. With the second site, I had 3 guys show interest successively. The first one never made time to come and get to know me. He seemed more than content with a casual friendship, and though I am grateful to have friends, that wasn’t my purpose. The second one was a lot more intentional on his part, but he also got cold feet about coming to see me, and it never went further. The 3rd guy was much more serious about a relationship with me than he was to get to know me. So, I took an entire month to pray and to talk to my parents about it, and ended up telling him that I wasn’t comfortable moving forward. At that point, I had reached the end of the end of giving these online sites a chance. I was never in a relationship with any of these men and I logged out, never to return. I know that some people might consider those months a waste of time and a string of failures, but I learned much about myself, about men, and most importantly about Jesus’ faithfulness. I am thankful for that part of my life journey.

Little did I know the wonderful and crazy path that the Lord had me walking in the midst of all this.

I had gone home for a few months to visit with my family and help a friend run for office. And, during that time I had a job interview for my current job, and the decision to make of whether to once again move almost 2,000 miles from ‘home’ for an indefinite period of time. It was a sweet few months at home, sharing time with my family, helping my friend run for office and getting to know him better, and seeing all my hometown people.

Shortly after taking my job and moving to Illinois, guy #3 came on the scene, and I began to really evaluate what I wanted and how this would work - if at all. The more I talked to him and the more I talked to my parents the more unsure I became of it. It was making me physically sick. I had determined to not move forward until we could meet face to face.

And, then, in God’s perfect timing, just as the old year was coming to a close I received a text message from a dear friend that started out: “you’re amazing...” I have to say I was shocked. Totally shocked. Not more than 48 hours before one of my best girl friends had asked me if I ever saw myself in a relationship with him and I said something a long the lines of: “Well...(insert hemming and hawing)...I doubt it...” Oh, God’s amazing sense of humor and irony. This was a man that I respected deeply, admired, and was rather attracted to, but I had guarded my heart so carefully and diligently that I was literally in shock. It was like finding out that the boy next door - one of your best friends - had a crush on you. I told him I needed a few days to think and pray about it and I did just that - talked to my family, and to my Lord. Since I already had a foundation of a friendship with him I was comfortable moving forward.

Just a few days later, he talked to my Dad. Since then we’ve been working hard at communicating and deepening our friendship and he’s been getting to know my family better. And...I’ve been learning several lessons. Lessons I never thought I’d be learning through being in a relationship.

The first lesson I’ve had to learn is repentance. Yes, repentance. I never, ever thought that would be the primary lesson that I’d learn from a relationship. I was the girl whose shoulder OTHER girls cried on. I was always giving a hug and saying, “Don’t worry...God cares more about your love life than you even do. He’s working on Mr. Right as we speak. Be patient. Trust Him!” In fact, I think that I said it so many times that I forgot to believe it for my own life. Somehow I figured that was for everyone else, but not for me. I thought that I’d spot Mr. Right in my own strength. A week or so into this brand-new relationship I was praising God, saying - “Wow! I never saw this coming!” And, I heard the Lord whisper in His ever gentle, but rebuking voice in reply, “You see how I have blessed you in spite of your unbelief?”

Whenever I was punished as I child I would tell my parents how unfair it was that kids got punished, but adults didn’t. Mom would smile and say, “But, honey, that’s not true...parents get spankings from God.” It was at that moment I understood what she meant. I felt like I had just gotten walloped. I, a daughter of the King, had professed with my mouth over and over my fealty and trust, yet I had betrayed Him in my own soul. And still He delighted to bless me with every good thing.

If that doesn’t drive a person to repentance, nothing will.

Secondly, I’ve been learning patience. Yes, I also, thought that was a lesson I’d already learned. But, somehow, being in a relationship with someone who is 1,635 miles away makes patience relevant on a whole new level. There’s so much opportunity for miscommunication...and, the waiting. Waiting for the natural development of a relationship, waiting for parental input and approval, waiting on the Lord. Always waiting. In God’s amazing irony once again, I just happen to be studying Isaiah in my Bible Study. Isaiah 40 has a rich promise for those who wait, specifically on the Lord. This season I’ve been challenged to find and embrace the Biblical promises made to those who wait.

And speaking of seasons, being in a relationship has somehow mysteriously made my time living by myself, far away from family a blessing. I am savoring my peace and quiet, enjoying the time to do reflect, read, be master of my own house and vehicle. Things that before seemed a burden are opportunities to embrace, lessons to learn, and discipline to be mastered. I wouldn’t trade this season.

Thirdly, I’ve once again been powerfully reminded of God’s Sovereignty and timing. It’s one thing to always be talking about it, but quite another to stand back and see Him at work. It fills one with a sense of awe and a sense of smallness. I am almost daily reminded of the hymn that was played at my parents’ wedding - He Makes All Things Beautiful In His Time. He truly does. His fingerprints are everywhere - if only we step back and look.

And, lastly, I’ve been learning ever so much about trust - the importance of trust in a relationship, trust in God, trust in my parents, trust in my boyfriend. Such a small word, and yet so important. I had naively thought that the hard part of trusting God and your parents was before being in relationship. Not so. That’s when its easy because you have nothing to lose. When you’ve entered a serious relationship trust becomes what it is all about - trusting the Lord that He continues to be faithful and work out His plan for good, trust that one’s parents are hearing from the Lord, and trust in the other person’s pure intentions. Another hymn comes to mind, “Trust and Obey...for there’s no other way...”

Since the moment this journey began, I have begged God to be glorified and honored in and through me. That is my only heart’s desire, and yet He has added to me blessings and joy beyond compare.

And, remember that text message I received a few months ago? The truth is that he’s pretty amazing too...and the story has just begun!

To be continued...

1 comment:

  1. Very encouraging, Elysse! Thanks for posting and I can't wait to read the next part. :D