The holidays were finally over. For this one time, the holidays seemed far too long. I was about to meet him for the first time; of course we had known each other before, but not like this. It had felt like eternity. We had done enough of the long phone calls and thrilling text messages (some people were just born to ruin others with punch lines I think). We were two weeks old in our relationship. This happened after months of him convincing me and me convincing myself. I finally gave in. Something seemed off, but I managed sweeping the skeptical thoughts under the carpet. I wanted to enjoy this. It had been a long time coming.
Then I finally got to Eldoret. In just a few minutes and I would be in the campus. He had gotten there earlier, so I knew I would find him, waiting for me. My heart, it was playing catch up with the speed at which my blood was travelling. I couldn’t wait to meet him.
The mat seemed a bit slow but we finally got there. It took us into the Student Center, which was just perfect. Nobody loved the journey from stage to the hostel, and with a suitcase. So there he was. The moment was finally here…and…it did not feel as I had anticipated. That spark…it wasn’t there. I tried feigning a smile but it just had no energy. I figured he could tell which made me feel worse. That hug…it was engulfed with disappointment. Some things are hard to hide. However, I chose to still give it a shot. I liked him. He made an awesome friend and confidant. Best of all, he was saved. ‘What else would a girl want?’ I thought, ‘I was doing it for the glory of God anyway. It had to work!’ Consolation Galore!
The following two weeks felt like a huge burden had been placed on my shoulders; trying to play in love. I had to drag myself to check up on him. His calls sometimes just made me sick. The thrill that was in his texts somehow just disappeared. I had to push myself to do anything that would signify my love for him. I was running out of fuel. I just couldn’t take it anymore.
Then push came to shove. I decided to go up to him and tell him. This was just too much for me. He was giving so much of himself. It was evident he was into it, while I was struggling, just to match up. I felt I was not being fair to him. So I decided to approach him with the ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ perspective. ‘I just don’t feel like I love you as much as you love me. I think we should break this off early before it goes too deep’. I couldn’t help shedding tears, yet he seemed so calm; like he knew I was coming to break up with him. I had to pry, which didn’t yield much. So I asked him to pray. I knew he would be honest with God and maybe say something that would help me know the state of his heart. I loved that he did not play the pity card. I feared so. A portion of me held him with so much esteem for that reason. Nevertheless, I was so sure I could not love him. It was official: he was not my type.
Afterwards, I felt much lighter. That load on my shoulders was finally off me. Pheux! Fast forward to two years later and God decides to glorify Himself in a way so beautiful. The same guy that I walked away from is the same guy I am now so head over heels in love with.
When I met Joseph one year, seven months ago in 2015 (one year and three months after our break up), I knew he was just one of those campus guys you cross paths with and then that’s it. Little did I know the awesome plans that God had in store. I had gotten so used to dismissing any attempts of his to ask me to be his girlfriend. I would actually cringe at the thought of being his wife, so I did not even entertain the idea. I knew we were not meant to be.
Then there was this night, it was mid-August 2015, right after I had done my night devotion and prayer. For some time, I had been praying and waiting. In my heart, I felt I needed to be found by that person I would settle down with. In my head, I scrutinized the caliber of men I already knew and sadly, none of them seemed to be ‘it’. Then suddenly, Joseph drops into my mind; sort of like out of nowhere. At that point, it felt like the jigsaw I was trying to fill in was finally complete. I wondered how blind I had been not to know.
It suddenly beat me how, in spite of him knowing my shortcomings, he still wanted me in his life. He knew so much about me, some of which is awful, and yet he still pursued me. Tears began flowing down my cheeks right there. ‘This is not happening!’ Without even me realizing it, we had gotten so close at that time. I wondered how I was going to tell him about my new view of things. Some two days before then, he had asked me if there was any chance of us dating and as usual, I dismissed him, without even blinking an eye. ‘Now what to do?’ I presented it to God and asked Him to direct me if this was indeed His will.
During one of the evenings as we texted, a few days later, I gathered courage and asked him. ‘What would you think if I told you I had a different view of things?’ From the context of the conversation we were having, he could easily tell what I was talking about. We were texting but I could tell the manner of shock he was in at my words. We slept on it. ‘Maybe I was having stray thoughts,’ we concluded. However, I became more sure as the days went by. It was unbelievable, even for me. Joseph tells this whole tale in more detail in the three-part series of Our Love Story. You can check it out later if you haven’t.
How do I know that God worked all this out? I will explain this in four parts.
1. I came face to face with the love of Christ
Through Joseph, God has taught me how to love like He does. I marveled at how Joseph pursued me even while he was fully aware of my flaws. I had not known such love before. I knew God loved me, as explained in John 3:16. I had however not seen how practical this could get. Joseph knew me beyond my physical and yet he still loved me. He was ready to take me in as I was. Romans 5:8 puts it even better, ‘But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ This portion of scripture had never been this alive in me. How God loved me despite the mess I was in. He still kept pursuing me, as He is doing for you who has not accepted His free gift of salvation yet. Christ calls us to show this kind of love to others; and trust me, it is not the easiest thing to do. It is why God promises us His enabling grace, which is always sufficient.
This Christ like nature in Joseph moved me to love and respect him a whole lot more.
2. The peace
My heart usually has a way of bugging me whenever I am about to make a wrong move. Even in my stubbornness, it would still have a way of ruffling me. I usually trust that to be the nudging of the Holy Spirit who is in me. This time, our coming together with Joseph has indeed brought me that sense of peace and rest. Our relationship is not the most perfect but then that peace of God has just been the settling factor; that peace that surpasses all human understanding (Philippians 4:7).
3. I ate the humble pie
All through my conscious life, I have loved to be in control; aware of what I had, needed to do, the future and all its possibilities. For this case, God helped me know that this was pride. He brought me to terms with what surrender really meant. The glory was all supposed to be His and that was why I needed to let go and let God take over. Joseph being in full time ministry was not easy for me to take in, even for Joseph himself. It was not easy coming to terms with the fact that we would not be enjoying the ‘security’ of a paycheck from his side of the budget. God brought us both to that place of solely choosing to rely on Him; allowing Him to truly provide for us through His riches and glory that go far beyond our physical needs. For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:32-33).
4. God’s timing
When we parted ways with Joseph back then, that was it for me. Little did I know that a covenant had been made. I believe that if we had gone ahead with the relationship back then, it would have brought on us more sorrow than joy. I am convinced it wasn’t yet time. In the two years we spent apart, God has evidently worked on the both of us. He sorted out each of our weaknesses, still is, even as he prepared each of us for this union. Looking back, I can honestly say that I was not ready to be in any relationship. There is so much more I know now that I believe needed to be learnt as I sought God while on my own. The very same applied to Joseph. The much he did in the two years I doubt he would have been able to do with me in the picture. I can almost see how much of a distraction I would have been. Joseph had made a pact with God and at the right time, which I believe was God’s time, He brought it to pass beautifully. After exactly two years, God softened my heart towards Joseph and poured in me a love I have never felt before. It almost feels like I have never loved before. This could not have been by anything else but God’s hand.
Now I may not know much of what awaits in the future; I still ask myself many questions sometimes. However, the fact that God has promised to walk with us all the way is what we shall draw our hope from. Even through the hard times, we shall fix our eyes on Jesus, and not on other people or the things of this world. For Him, I know, nothing is too hard.
Isla gave me the honors to comment first on this beautifully written article. I’ll do so with a few lessons I’ve learned through the process.
- No kind of presence can replace physical presence. I might have been a great personality on the other end of the phone, but that was it. She had fallen for the Joseph the phone call or text away, not the Joseph the breath away whom she needed to love instead. Initiating a dating relationship through a phone call or social media would be a terrible mistake. At best those mediums can only facilitate a connection, but they can never become the connection.
- It was never meant for people to become friends in a relationship, but to grow in friendship. Friendship just has to come first. In my post on breakups, I point out that we don’t relate to know each other, but we relate because we know each other well enough to risk life together.
- However important it is to hear God before committing into a relationship, neither myself nor Isla received any Bible verse or heard some voice from heaven saying he/she is the one. Why would we confidently take the next step then? Because hearing God on a relationship is not an event. He works with circumstances and makes everything perfect in its time (Ecc 3:11). It’s also all life encompassing and not just exclusive to singular aspects. You cannot ignore Him on matters career and expect you’ll hear Him on the choice of a partner. There are no specific areas of life to get right and so pursue more obedience than with others, there is only one life to live right and all its aspects to be lived as God leads. So, instead of asking you to hear God, I prefer to say be led of Him.
- Finally, simply trust God. He may never explain things, He may never leave a sign, but be assured He will always fulfill His promise. And sometimes, His promise is not as we make it. It may not come with what we asked, but it will come with what He purposed to give; and that’s always what we truly need.