I was dating a woman named Christina some years back. We were open and honest, and had lots of fun, and she was fantastic. Most importantly, I’d determined to lead our relationship
in a Godly manner and direction that pleased Him. And I guess you could say that I did that, even during its soul-ripping apocalypse.
I broke up with her because I had fallen in love with someone else. That someone would eventually become my wife. And God’s hands were all over it.
That break-up was the hardest of my life, for two reasons:
1.) I never want to be the one to end a relationship, and 2.) trying to explain to an extremely emotional just-broken-up-with young woman how God orchestrated her horrendous heartbreak, I spectacularly failed the biblical warning to hold one’s tongue (James 3).
Needless to say, even though I was now free to date the woman I loved, I still had that gut-wrenching feeling of being the instrument of pain in someone else’s life.
I remember weeping – sobbing, really – over being “that guy,” wishing there was some other path down which it could have gone.
So my new girlfriend, Anna, and I started to pray for her…
This really isn’t something I’d ever been trained for or a topic any parent or relative had covered, but I just felt that it was the right thing to do, to remember the pain out of which a blessing had come. So, my future bride and I began our relationship by praying for my ex.
The next couple weeks were a bit strange, a new budding romance mixed with the twisting tinge of guilt.
Fast forward to the present. Anna and I have been married for almost seven years, with a 3-year-old daughter and thoughts of a sibling on the near horizon. I have plans to go on a mission trip to Central Asia next summer.
(I also might add that Christina did go on to fall in love, get married and have twins, just so you know I didn’t scar her for life…)
Having just contributed my small portion to the Couch Rebels book, published by CausePub.com on August 14th, and helping proofread most of the book, the last few weeks were hectic, but very enriched by the stories of sacrifice and service to people in both backyards and foreign countries.
Having been through many lows and highs, ups and downs, triumphs and trails, victories and defeats together, I’ve had a peculiar insight, one that I suspect is not at all coincidental.
I explained to a young and lovesick relative once, “When the two of you face each other and stare into each other’s beautiful, bottomless eyes, it limits your vision of what’s around you.
“When you’re staring at someone so intently that they’re all you can see, you can stumble and trip, and fall into pits you would have otherwise seen and avoided.”
I think back to when Anna and I were praying for Christina, offering our own questions and concern for the confusing way God had worked.
As backwards as it may seem, I loved it. I loved the way we began alongside each other by serving someone else, strange and awkward as the situation was. It was freeing.
We’ve recently begun helping a friend of ours by supervising visits with her ex-husband and their son. It’s painful to see things ripped apart. It hurts to see what shouldn’t happen happen, to watch good things come to an end. In the obviously less potent case in point, it was painful to watch my own words destroy someone’s feelings. Tiring and difficult at times though it is, it’s so rewarding to be in those places where I can watch God intentionally heal through suffering.
Having just helped complete a book project about serving and sacrificing for others, I’m more confident than ever about how the important is the hard battle of pushing our own ambitions aside in order to touch others’ lives, to heal them, to lift them up, to encourage them.
And to do “alongside service” with my wife is even better.
May the Lord bless you, and keep you, and may he kick your butt off your couch, out of your comfort zone, and into the fullest picture of Grace imaginable.
the RYM Team