When I was a little girl, I loved my fairy tales and Disney princesses, especially Cinderella. She was my girl. Sweet, hard-working, beautiful, and determined to make the best of a bad situation, she always held on to the hope of her dreams coming true.
Having a solid affinity for the stories and romance, one of the dearest dreams to my heart was one day meeting my own Prince Charming and beginning our happily ever after, helpful mice being optional.
Inspired by my parents’ love story where they met in junior high and married the summer after my mom graduated high school, I grew up hoping to meet my Prince early, as in while I was in high school or slightly thereafter. The idea of spending as much of my life as possible with my guy and having our family while we were young was my ideal plan and dream.
As it turned out, that wasn’t God’s plan for me.
Jesus had my heart from the time I was a very little girl, around 5 years old, so even though I swooned over Disney movies and books like Little Women and Anne of Green Gables growing up, I was confident that He was orchestrating a beautiful love story for me that would match any that I’d read about or watched on the big screen. Again inspired by my parents, I began praying for my future husband when I was 10 or so.
My prince was going to be a man of God, first and foremost. He would love God, and he would adore me. He would have a heart for ministry, love children, be a diligent worker, be intelligent, have a delightful sense of humor, and be handsome and charming (of course), plus a lot of other awesome stuff.
By the time I was old enough to start dating, which in my family was 16, there were very few guys whom I would actually have wanted to date. I had guys that were good friends but nothing more. So, I prayed more consistently for my guy and spent my high school years being romanced by my True First Love, growing closer to God and finding ways to use my talents and giftings to minister to others and bless Him. I was aware of the boys around me, but I was patiently waiting for God to bring my guy along when the time was right.
After high school, my family moved to a very small town (one-traffic-light small) where my dad began pastoring a church, and I began to wonder what God was doing. Despite having graduated with honors, I didn’t feel as though I was supposed to pursue a college education. Instead, God led me to a job at the local weekly newspaper.
So, I worked, I continued to serve in ministry where there was opportunity, and I continued to pray for God to lead me to my prince (or him to me – I wasn’t picky).
As time went by, we moved to Ohio. I worked at a couple of different jobs, served in Children’s and Youth ministries, developed good friendships with both girls and guys, and was still single. The only guys I knew of who had wanted to ask me out since high school were the creepy uncle of a friend (the man was older than my parents), the strange dad of one of the youth girls I taught at church (almost as old as my parents), and later a heebie-jeebies-inducing guy at work. I was getting a little discouraged. My Cinderella, “a dream is a wish” heart was confused and frustrated.
My sweet mom was kind enough to point out the positives to all the weirdos, though: “At least you don’t have to wonder if they are ‘the one,’ because they clearly are NOT.”
Of course, that didn’t stop my questions for God and the doubts about myself. Of all the dreams in my heart, my biggest dream and desire aside from following God was to be a wife and mother. But what if that wasn’t His plan for me?
Nearing my mid-twenties, suddenly it seemed as if God was going to answer my prayers when I began seeing a Christian guy that I’d known a long time. However, even during our relationship, I felt unsettled, as though I should be watching the horizon.
Clearly, that wasn’t a good sign, and shortly after, I was packing up my dreams again and really asking God, “What is YOUR plan for me?”
I thought I had been seeking Him and His will for me, but I had my ideas, my hopes, my dreams, and my ideals. I needed to surrender even my deepest desires to whatever HE desired for me. I thought that I had, but was I willing to never be a wife, never be a mommy, if that’s what He called me to? I sincerely hoped and prayed that that was NOT His plan, but I had to be willing to accept it if it were.
So, I came to a point of complete, complete surrender, and it was hard, but I knew that “unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1) I had a plan and a dream, but if it wasn’t God’s plan for me, it wouldn’t work.
It wasn’t easy letting that go and saying, “Not my will, but Yours,” but it was necessary.
A few months later, I found myself being nudged to join eHarmony, and I fought it. A LOT. Online dating sites were NOT for me. Surely, God was teasing. I mean, seriously.
But God was persistent (as I’ve shared before, He has to be pretty persistent with me sometimes), and then He got my mom in on it. I mentioned to her that I had thought of going on the site to just do the personality test, and she was immediately encouraging me to go ahead and sign up for the whole site.
So, I did…under protest.
Not long after that, I was matched with Brad.
He was everything that I’d prayed for in a Prince Charming, and then some. He was a man of God, first and foremost. He loved God, and he quickly came to adore me. He was leading the youth ministry at his church, loved his little niece, had a good job at which he worked hard, he was smart, he had a goofy sense of humor, and he was handsome and charming (in his way), plus a lot of other awesome stuff.
Suddenly, there I was – at the beginning of my own fairy tale. (Actually, God had been writing it all my life. It just had a lengthier prologue than some. ;))
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
Feature picture courtesy of Picture Bliss Photography.