In 1998, I met I woman whom I’ll call Laura. Now, if you’ve read any of my other blogs, you might recall I suffered through an inglorious history of romantic flameouts. My three-month relationship with Laura was the lone exception, the only serious romantic relationship I had before meeting my wife five years later. It was also a relationship in which I learned a surprising lesson about trusting God.
Things began dramatically, and they seemed to have God’s fingerprints all over them. I had been meeting with a friend for a one-on-one Bible study, and one night after or time together he invited me to attend an event with his singles’ group. I tagged along … and noticed Laura.
Now, because of the aforementioned inglorious history of immediately pulling the trigger with explosively bad results when I was attracted to someone, I decided I would actually talk to God first (which I hadn’t always done). I prayed a version of a fleece prayer, asking God to bring us back into contact with each other. If that happened, I would take it as a sign that I was free to proceed.
You know what happened: Three days later I ran into Laura at a coffee shop. Glory, Hallelujah, God answers prayers, I thought. Surely He wouldn’t have answered my prayer so quickly (and, believe me, other prayers had gone years without answers) if it wasn’t meant to be, right? Confident in God’s providential leading, I introduced myself, then tracked down her phone number through my friend and asked her out.
Unlike my other romantic misadventures, this one went smoothly. Before I knew it, Laura and I passed the three-date threshold, a line I’d never gotten past before. Things were going well.
As we got to know each other, however, two concerns lingered in the back of my mind. First, we were very different, personality-wise. I loved the abstract world of ideas, while Laura was very concrete. That often made communication really hard. Second, I was very involved in ministry at my church, while Laura was quite shy. Being around large groups of people wasn’t her favorite thing.
I talked about those concerns, and it turned out she had concerns about me, too. I was relieved that we both needed some more time to work through our questions.
Let me accelerate the story: Two months later, Laura’s doubts about me had been allayed. Mine, however, remained. I was having an increasingly hard time projecting the relationship into the future — even though we’d unwisely wandered into some conversations about the possibility of marriage.
Though I’d been praying for God’s guidance throughout, I intensified my praying. I wanted to know what He wanted me to do, and I was convinced He would have a clear answer. It turns out He did have a clear answer — just not the one I was expecting.
God didn’t say, “I want you to get married to Laura.” Nor did He say, “I want you to break up.” Instead, I sensed that His Spirit gently said something like this: “Adam, you’re free to choose. You and Laura have some big differences, but if you choose to get married, I’ll help you through those. And if you choose to break things off, it will hurt, but I’ll take care of both of you. What I really want is for you to trust Me.”
That night, I realized that God was more interested in whether I was trusting Him than which fork in the road I took. He had given me freedom to choose, but He wanted me to make my choice in faith, depending on Him. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, but I chose to break things off with Laura.
There certainly may be times when God wants us to make a particular choice, to say yes to this job or no to this person. And we have a responsibility to come before Him, to seek Him for His guidance. That said, I think much of the time God may actually be more concerned with how we are making our choices — whether we’re trusting Him or not — than what we actually choose (as long as we’re not making obviously sinful or clearly unbiblical choices, that is).
A Providential Postscript: Breaking up with Laura was awful, but after several months apart, we were able to touch base to see how the other person was doing. If there’s such a thing as a “good” breakup, I think we had one. A couple of years later, Laura met a guy in the military, got married and soon moved to Germany. I assumed I’d never see her again. Then I got married, too. Fast-forward a few more years, and one day Laura and her husband show up at the church my wife and I attend. I became friends with her husband, and our kids are about the same age. God did indeed work things out, just as He’d promised, though I never could have envisioned that was how He would answer my prayers years down the road.
Copyright 2012 Adam Holz. All Rights Reserved.