After hearing more of my high school dating experience, one of our board members recently asked me, “Where’s the Happy Ending”?
As a teen, I survived a three-year abusive relationship; I’ve been divorced for about 17 years. To be honest, for many years, I’ve longed for that happily ever after ending. For the man of my dreams to spend the rest of my life with. For me, it’s been elusive.
There's Hope in Healing
Growth and hope for something more came as I healed and grew from an unhealthy relationship I was in as an adult. The man I dated pushed for physical intimacy in our relationship. I’d run into this with a few other dating relationships and was used to the man walking away from a relationship with me. As I dated, I came to expect it. (Disclaimer, although I wanted to wait, I had sex before marriage.)
In the relationship I’m mentioning, he didn’t leave when I said no to sex. I was confused and didn’t understand why he’d stay in a relationship when he wasn't getting something he wanted. I hoped that meant he was okay with waiting. I learned later that he thought that, in time, he could change my mind. I’ve learned this is common and places ongoing pressure on the person saying no.
I’ve listened to podcasts or people I go to church with who shared they wanted to and did wait for marriage to be sexually intimate. It may be less likely to find someone else with this belief, but they exist, and with God, all things are possible.
Although I’d been exposed to this, I hadn’t changed a piece of my mindset yet.
As I reflected, I thought about what I would want in a relationship. I realized I had anticipated, even come to expect, that a dating partner would want sex before marriage and that they would end the relationship if I didn’t. What I should have expected was that the other person would also want to wait. IF I encountered a dating partner who shared their need/desire/want for sex before marriage, I should be prepared to be the one to walk away as soon as this is expressed. Rather than bracing for disappointment, I should be prepared to say this isn’t the right fit for me.
This knowledge made me feel stronger. It gave me peace. For me, that is the silver lining, the hope for something better. I’m stronger than I thought and can hold onto my new mindset, continue to learn and grow, and when the next person comes along, decide if they’re right for me to go on another date with…or another.
I also take great hope in the story of Abram and Sarai (later known as Abraham and Sarah). Abram was childless and 75 years old when God told him he would have a child with his wife Sarai (age 65). Abram and Sarai continued to follow God, but made several missteps over the next two decades, including Sarai suggesting Abram sleep with her maid servant to conceive a child – and Abram did. But God is faithful to us, keeps His promises, and can make anything happen. Twenty-five years after his initial promise, Abram and Sarai, now known as Abraham and Sarah had Isaac. And Abraham became a father to many nations. (Genesis 12-21) God is good.
I will remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.