I went to university with two goals in mind – to earn a degree and find a husband. From as young as I can remember, my love life has been of paramount importance to me. From the age of five, I would sing about a boy until I caught his attention. As a teenager and young adult, I craved the love and affection that I hoped a boyfriend and one day a husband would bring. So much so that I scared away the decent ones and attracted either the equally insecure or downright randy ones. If anyone had asked me if I trusted God with my love life I would have replied ‘Yes’. After all, I gave my heart to Jesus at 4 years old and I prayed regularly for a Godly husband, like all good Christian girls should do, right?
Giving your heart to Jesus. Such an interesting turn of phrase. Over the years I’ve learned that giving your heart to Jesus is more than a one-off event. At first, inviting Jesus into your heart is like inviting him into your house – answering Jesus as he stands at the door and knocks, inviting him to come in and eat (Revelation 3:20). However, just as there are many rooms in my house, there are many rooms in my heart. Following Jesus hasn’t always meant giving Him automatic access to every room. (After all, Revelation 3:20 was originally an invitation for Christians – part of the letter to the lukewarm church of Laodicea.)
Not that I deliberately shut God out of certain areas of my life, it just doesn’t always occur to me to that Jesus might want in. Especially if I’m doing just fine I that area – be it my job, my family, my parenting, my rest time, my finances etc. Usually, it takes a crisis in one particular area for me to realise that I don’t actually know what I’m doing after all. Sound familiar? I believe that’s what happened to me with my love life.
Through a series of events and relationships, God led me to realise that a husband was not a degree – I couldn’t achieve it by working hard or being a good girl. It wasn’t a reward at the end of the obligatory 3-5 years of dutiful waiting and I couldn’t manipulate it into existence with my clever, winning tricks of the dating game either. Believe me, I really did try.
God brought me to a place where I had to submit my heart, bow to His better judgement and allow Him to shine His light into that room of my heart. In other words, I made Jesus the Lord of my love life. For me there was a kairos moment (or turning point) that triggered some self-examination, a ‘renewing of my mind’ as God sorted out my marriage theology, a devastating heartbreak, and eventually the giving up of a relationship I thought was ‘The One’. Each experience painful yet releasing – painful enough to make me realise that I no longer wanted to waste my time or energy on something I could instead hand over to God. And releasing because the more I trusted God, the more I discovered a freedom to my singleness I didn’t expect.
My mind and energy were free to enjoy the benefits of being single and concentrate on the place God had planted me at the time, doing what He had called me to do and enjoying my relationship with Him. I would still accept a date when asked but I took Jesus with me and was able to just be friends afterwards, instead of being consumed with a desire for any old relationship no matter who was offering.
It took a year or two but God transformed me from the inside out. He transformed me from a desperate, walking hormone of a girl, longing for love and acceptance from each eligible Christian man I met, into someone completely different – a woman who didn’t even realise she was being asked out on a date when her future husband, a gracious gift from a loving Father God – finally came into her life.
And so, I started to write about these experiences. In fact, I wrote a book – the story of my single years when I found out what it really meant to have Jesus as Lord of my love life. In the book, I also included the stories of a few friends because while no two journeys are the same, there were several principles common to us all.
For some of the friends I’ve interviewed for the book, trusting God with their love life has been essential for enjoying the single life. I discovered something similar: that giving my heart to Jesus, trusting him to be the Lord of my love life was actually preparation for trusting God with something even more difficult – that wonderful relationship we call marriage.