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In 30 years, I’ve been in three relationships. The last relationship was probably the best I’ve ever had because God was the center, He directed everything. So often as a single, people give us advice on how important it is to place God first above all and everything second. I did, we did. Ultimately though, the relationship fell apart.

There are times I blame myself, I blame him, and at one point, I asked God, “Why? Now, I sit in thanks and praise. Not because I’m glad it’s over, but thankful for what I’ve learned.

The thing about relationships most of us overlook is everyone is given free will. Free will is what ended our relationship, not God or faith.  Regardless if God and the Holy Spirit worked and continues to work, free will is still a choice and the choice was to end it.  And I have to respect it. Not because it’s right, but because it’s best.

It’s hard moving forward knowing everything in the past year was led by the Lord and realizing somewhere along the way our focus changed. We never took our eyes off the Lord, His hands were in everything but we took our focus off Him together. Individually, He moved in ways I, to this day can’t put into words. Together though, the focus was more on us and less on Him. Factor in past wounds from childhood to current, it’s a recipe for conflict.

Everyone will come into our life with baggage. It doesn’t matter if the baggage is past or present, it still exists. If the baggage isn’t unpacked and collects itself over the years, issues which never existed before will begin to slowly spill over in areas it was never meant to. This is the reality of allowing another person into our life with history too long to trace each step to its beginning. Harder when the other person isn’t open or vulnerable to communicate it.  Where there is trust, there is communication regardless of its content.  When we’re fully exposed to each other … raw, naked, vulnerable,  exposed, it doesn’t matter how the content is communicated, there’s a level of trust and it’s safe. This is why communication is crucial for a relationship’s survival.  

Lack of intimate, vulnerable, and intentional communication means no relationship. We’ll build nothing on nothing and lose everything. 

Everyone will come into our life with characteristics hard to love. Inconsistent, check. Always late, check.  Insecurity, check. Pride, check. I learned to look past certain things and give the benefit of doubt, I extended grace and forgiveness, not judgement or condemnation.  This is the hardest lesson we’ll ever learn about loving others despite our differences. We all deserve grace. Most  issues I’ve seen in others, I refused to stand and see the inconsistencies in my own character and issues in my own life.

Easier to point out someone else’s junk than face our own. It requires a humble and repentant heart to fully surrender the “junk” in our lives to God and leave them there, for good.

Everyone will come into our life with expectations and expectations always lead to disappointment. I can look back on all the times I expected more than I knew I’d be given. I always felt if a man loved God with all his heart, mind, and soul he would know how to treat a woman.  The reality though, we all fall short.  There comes a point when we have to lay down our expectations and stop making excuses for allowing a man or woman to take the place of God. Expectations create mini “gods” and they become idols. It’s no longer God on the throne, but our expectations.

We need to let our expectations go and trust God’s wisdom. God’s Word is filled with wisdom about relationships because it all points to our source, Jesus. He is love and every relationship should be founded on love, not expectations.

Everyone will come into our life with fear of love and being unconditionally loved in return. I was afraid to put myself out there and lay my heart on the line again. This was different, it wasn’t forced or planned. I didn’t look for it, it found me. And I can still thank God for it all knowing He knew what I needed and when but we can’t force love. Love isn’t something we magically create, it grows over time. “I love you” is exchanged long before a relationship has time to grow.

We need to leave relationships in the hands of God. We need to allow our hearts to heal from past wounds before we can give it away to someone else. This may never happen in my own life but the more I seek God, spend time with Him, and lean on His promises, my past doesn’t hinder my present much like it used to. Not because I’m fully healed, but because Jesus redeemed it all when He died for me, the way He died for you.

If I’ve learned anything over the last month it’s God is still good. He is a God of surprise and He knows. He hasn’t failed to reach into the depths of my heart and point me to truth. There have been some low points but the high points far out weigh the low points of my singleness. I do wonder sometimes if  I will ever find someone, but I rest in God’s promise to me . He has promised to never leave or forsake me, He has promised He is doing a new thing, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19) and while I can’t see the road ahead, I trust His wisdom more than my heart.

Relationships founded, built, and cultivated with God at the center will always thrive, regardless of our baggage, expectations, and fear. This is the bottom line. It’s free will  that collects baggage, creates expectations, and creates fear. It’s the refusal to surrender these things that end relationships.

If relationships have taught me anything, it’s God is still good. God is still the author of my life and I’ll be fine. It hurts some days, but God is a God of healing. He is greater than anything any one can ever do to me. Free will or not, faith is a choice and so is love.

I’m lucky the choice was made for me from the very beginning, the rest is in my redeemer’s hands.

What have relationships taught you?

photo credit: ‘Ajnagraphy’ cc