I had been manipulated, lied to, and now, ignominiously--via e-mail, "Ithink we should just be buddies"--dumped. Pain, uncertainty, andrejection overwhelmed me until, as I cried myself to sleep again onenight, I recalled a phrase that brought momentary comfort.
"The Lord will hear when I call to Him." It was Psalm 4:3, my psalm.Each child in my second-grade Sunday school class had received a slip ofpaper with a different Bible verse to memorize. Our teacher instructedus to repeat the verse until it was fixed in our memory and promised usthat it would always be our very own to use when we most needed it. Asort of verse kept behind glass: Break in case of emergency.
So that night, I used my special psalm in desperation. Please, Lord,take the hurt away and don't ever let it return. I will pay any pricefor that guarantee. I will wait as long as it takes. Just let the nextguy be The One.
Six long years later, still single, celibate, and waiting, I could onlyassume that God had taken me seriously. We had a pact. Granted, itwasn't exactly the covenant God made with Noah or Moses. He hadn'tactually done any speaking or promising. But if He wasn't making mewait for The One, surely I would have met someone, anyone by now.
That was just one of the flaws in my thinking. And I'm not alone. Manypeople treat God like a divine matchmaker, believing that He has onesoul mate destined for them. All that is required is to sit backpassively and wait for the assigned match to appear. But God isn't ayenta. And we are awfully dull prizes if we sit around putting ourlives on hold while waiting for The One.
Waiting around for a divine match can also put an unreasonable amount ofpressure on any potential relationship. The longer I felt God wasmaking me wait, the higher the stakes were raised. During the firstyear, any kind, intelligent man would have sufficed. But by that sixthyear of unbroken singleness, some combination of JFK Jr., Bill Gates,and Prince William had better walk through the door.
Which is why I was initially so confused when I met my currentboyfriend. He was funny, charming, and smart. But how could a man whowears turquoise polo shirts, mocks my college sports team, and dislikesmashed potatoes be The One? Sure, a small part of my rational mindargued that my "pact" with God wasn't exactly binding; there was noreason to assume that this new man was my future husband. On the otherhand, if the matchmaking arrangement was all in my head, why had I goneyears without a hand to hold or a shoulder to lean on? To justify allof the lonely weekends to myself, I had to believe that this man was myreward.
So I stood dumbstruck in a cold parking lot on our third date as mychosen prince explained that he would really like to spend more timewith me, but he should probably tell me that he was seeing someoneelse. "It's OK, though," he assured me--"we've said we can also seeother people."
"I don't know what kind of matchmaking service you're running, but thisis unacceptable. I held up my end of the deal, and, frankly, I expect alittle better than this. The One is not supposed to be some guy whofits me into his amorous schedule when his other girlfriend isn'taround. The One is supposed to get down on bended knee and say, 'I havebeen looking for you my entire life, my sweet. My heart leaps for joyto know that I have found you.' Or something similarly Shakespearean."
Even after so many years, it was very easy to fall back into the troughof pain and rejection, to wallow in self-pity and lash out at God forabandoning me and our deal. But after a self-indulgent amount ofsniffling and late-night brain-anesthetizing television watching, Iexamined the "pact" for the first time. What was this dealessentially? A win-win situation for me. I didn't have to put myselfat risk and cope with any of the hurt that is a part of all humanrelationships, and in return God would present me with my futurehusband. Hmm. I thought of my date--just a nice guy who found himselfin the confusing situation of meeting a woman who intrigued him while hewas still dating someone else. Not exactly a capital crime.
I decided to give both my date and God a second chance. I prayed,issuing no commands and negotiating no deals, but simply asking forguidance. "Lord, I don't know if he's The One. And it doesn't reallymatter right now. Just help me through this. Please help me to enjoythis and remember that, regardless of the outcome, I will be your child,I will be loved, I will be all right."
And then, abandoning my tired passive role, I set out to court my date.It was a pleasure to finally cook a romantic meal, find a screening of aclassic Hitchcock movie, to match wits in trivia games. In turn, heimpressed me with his candor, his gentle touch, and his matchless wisdomin deciding (albeit belatedly) to make me his one and only.
God does hear me when I call to Him, but I no longer think that He hasone perfect match reserved for me. And that's acceptable. Becausewhile my pact was imaginary, I will always have the pact God made withall of His children: "Lo, I am with you always, even to the very end ofthe age." Or relationships.