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This post is part 9 in a blog series that I have entitled “the wilderness between legalism and grace,” in which I share how I came to realize that I had an incorrect view of God and self and how I became free of the system of legalism whereby I was trying to earn God’s favor. You can view all of the posts in the series here on the series landing page.
It was the summer of 2006. I remember lots of sunshine, lots of happiness, and lots of healing.
In the first few weeks of summer, I became dangerously close to jumping into a relationship with another young man. But after a few weeks we mutually agreed that the timing was wrong, and to begin a relationship would not be healthy for either of us. (This man would end up being my husband, but that is another story).
Coming off of a broken relationship, then experiencing romantic feelings again (albiet very briefly) – all within about a six months time frame…something had awakened within me.
I no longer was a “super-spiritual single girl” who said, “Well, if God wills – I’d like to get married someday, but it’s okay if he wants me to be single.”
The desire for marriage and companionship was strong, and there was no shutting it down. I wanted to get married (and the sooner the better). I knew that’s what God wanted, and the thought of marriage consumed pretty much my very existence.
But God knew I wasn’t ready.
My strong desire for marriage on top of being totally disillusioned against the idea of courtship set me on a quest to discover a new belief system about romantic relationships and what God had for me. In so doing, I discovered some books that helped me reclaim faith in my self, my worth as a daughter of God, and the fact that God did had a plan for me in regard to marriage.
During this time in my life, I did a lot of romantic, fanciful things – like writing love letters and writing and recording songs to my “future husband” – an imaginary person I didn’t know but dreamed about having a life with.
In reality, I was falling in love with an ideal, which set me up for a lot of disappointment when the reality of marriage actually hit me. (That is another post for another time.)
(I promise, there is a point to all of this…hang with me.)
As part of this process, I joined an internet forum for Christian young people who were of the same mindset and had also been affected by the books I had read.
Much like my time spent at College #2, it was an eye-opening experience as I became close with young people from all over the world who desired God, but had more “liberal” ideas about certain controversial subjects. Debates were something we did for entertainment – debates about modesty, sexuality, courtship, theology, and a plethora of other spiritual topics.
These young people not only helped me heal and helped to draw me out of the depressed and despondent state I was in, but challenged my faith, overwhelmed me with love and kindness, and became my friends.
Yes – my best friends became pant-wearing, non-KJV-Bible reading, Josh-Groban-listening-to Christians who actually inspired me to get closer to God.
oh the irony…
That summer I reclaimed my faith that God wasn’t done with me, no matter what the people in my past had told me.
I wasn’t damaged goods. God loved me and had a perfect, beautiful plan for me waiting on the other side of all of my heartbreak. He was writing for me a love story – a life story – worth telling.
And deep inside, I hear you say
You see all my hopes and fears
And if I give to you the pen of my life
You’ll write a tale that all heaven can cheer!
If all my dreams were answered
They still could not compare
To the beauty of your ways
And all your plans for my life
‘cause you’ve been scripting out a story for me
Before the very foundations of time!
Far beyond my deepest heart’s desire
Far beyond all I could ever dream
Far beyond my fairy tale imaginations
Is your perfect plan for me
There’s no limit to romance in all it’s beauty
When the author of love shapes my destiny
Far beyond the most that I could long for
I will find the dreams you have dreamed for me
Far Beyond by Eric and Leslie Ludy
Much like my earlier post hold onto faith, this is a post about hope.
This part of my story was about me not throwing out God along with all the people who had hurt me.
…not throwing out God’s plan for marriage or a God-written love story just because I had a love story end in brokenness.
…not believing that I was worthless because I had “given my heart away,” but believing that I was precious and worth being loved, by God and by another man.
…surrendering again, “giving God the pen of my life,” even though I got hurt the last time I tried.
…and being free to dream of a beautiful future, even when all I could see and feel was pain.
I know that this post is not inherently about legalism or grace, so I thank you for allowing me the liberty to go slightly off-topic. What’s important here is that along the path between legalism and grace, I never let go of God. And sometimes, simply not letting go of Him is the most important thing we can do.
Healing takes time. Whether you are healing from a traumatic experience, the death of a loved one, abuse, a broken heart, or the hurts of legalism – give yourself grace and time while you figure it all out. It has taken me years to sort through my emotions, my view of God, the meaning of certain scriptures – and to let go of everything that was keeping me from accepting God’s grace. Healing didn’t happen overnight, and there were so many moments – moments like the summer of 2006 – that were pauses on the journey where I simply held onto faith in God’s plan.
Dear hurting soul, I pray for you in this moment. I pray that you would not throw out God just because you have been hurt. I pray that you would surrender your life to him again even though you are scared. I pray that you would believe that you are loved, beautiful, and worthwhile. I pray that you would believe that God is writing you a beautiful story even though you can’t see it.
“I will keep believing that God still has a plan
And though I cannot see [it] now, I know that he can…”
Faithfully by Eric and Leslie Ludy
What are you healing from? Have you taken a pause on your journey simply to hold onto God? Have you recently reclaimed faith after you have been hurt? How are you being refreshed? What things or people has God used to help you heal from your hurts and keep faith in God?
To view all the posts in this blog series, visit the landing page.
Next post, part 10: Plan A, 2.0