They say that there are two kinds of people in the world: seasonal and lifetime. The seasonal people come into your life to teach you something or propel your journey. They don’t stay long; once the lesson is learned these relationships generally dissolve. The lifetime people come and they set up shop in the middle of your heart. These relationships are for the long haul. When I moved to Valdosta, I didn’t expect to find lifetime people. Valdosta was only a season, so it would be right to have seasonal people. Alyson wasn’t going to let that happen. From rarely speaking to becoming co-therapists, to edifying each other as sisters in Christ, this woman is phenomenal. This week, I’m so excited to share her story of being gracefully single and waiting. Here’s Alyson:
Dry eraser didn’t work, soap and water didn’t work…I had to scrub “Mr. Alyson” off my dry erase prayer board after a series of life’s disappointments. I defined my relationship status as a mission too big for God. Thankfully, my God didn’t give up on me, he was just getting started. In his work through me I discovered five things in my single season:
First, I had to fall in love with myself and become curious about God’s desire and intention behind creating me. I have no business loving another person if I do not love myself as a child of God. Second, I had to work on cultivating strengths in me that I sought in another person. I needed to become more intimate in my prayer life. I needed to grow in my intentions of being kind to myself, believing in myself, and trusting myself. Third, I had to ask myself what my mission and value statements were; more specifically what my standards and expectations, because where I bent them revealed to me where I had let men become God. A relationship would ultimately impact my faith and take time away from God, who is jealous. If I can’t talk to my spiritual father about a prospect of love I had no business inviting them to my table. Fourth, I had to trust God’s time and not mine, both understanding and challenging the desires of my heart. I had to trust and love God regardless of the outcome of my experience. And fifth, I had to ask God to reveal how he is meant to work through this person in support of who he has created me to be. I had to pray in advance and believe in what felt like the impossible…my love life.
Two months before meeting my boyfriend I was filled with overwhelming peace and joy removing myself from a toxic relationship that was a testament to my distancing from God and a low sense of self. Two weeks before meeting my now-boyfriend, the song “Overjoyed” by Stevie Wonder was stuck in my head. I had never heard it, but it wouldn’t leave me. The lyrics felt like a sign:
I discovered confidence in myself within dating. I was not overly investing in situations that were a waste of my time or trying to make a man someone he was not, or make myself into a woman that I wasn’t. Remembering that I am not God, and cannot transform anyone to their “true potential” for the sake of what I want for them and how I’d want to use that for me was essential.
Admittedly, there was a time my aging felt like an expiration date for my love story. Alternatively, I resolved that I’d rather be in my 40s+ and find my soul mate than marry prematurely to a man that would rob my soul. My preference changed to the possibility of going without partnership rather than risk a union that would be a threat to my salvation. When I purposed to seek a covenant love and prayed the prayer in my shower (my prayer war room) “God unless a man respects my purity through you, I don’t want him. Your will and not mine.”
I let go of my superficial list when I met him. God’s time will surprise you and amaze you all at once. It feels right in a way that puts all impatience to shame. Coincidentally, while living in Richmond on a weekend when I visited my parents’ home in Northern Virginia an hour and a half away, my dating app locations setting recalculated to a man nearby in Southern Maryland. (Ya’ll the way my God works, nothing is a coincidence). Love works in accordance with his plan.
In my season of singleness, I learned that finding a person who “checks the boxes” is no match for God’s match. My love at the time was a 36-year-old divorced father of a ten-year-old daughter who was out of work due to a recent infection in his leg from complications with diabetes. These complications resulted in an above the knee amputation five months prior. I was a 28-year-old recent graduate resident in counseling. Upon meeting, I almost let the paper of his past scare me away. He questioned if, due to his past, I would be burdened by his perception of his baggage. Due to stigma, I had previously vowed to never date anyone who was divorced because I feared I would succumb to the same fate, that our “firsts” would be less significant. I intentionally did not date anyone with kids because of the clichés of “baby mama drama”. However, I can honestly say that there was a spiritual gravitational pull that I can only attribute to God that prohibited me from leaning on my own understanding and biases. I’m so glad I chose to follow my faith and heart. It’s so nice when those two are in sync.
Another challenge God had for us was distance. Although we connected in June of 2018, due to barriers and obstacles, we would not get to see each other face-to-face until December 1st. It took 28 years for me to get to him, 36 years for him to get to me, and we were still enlisted to wait for one another. Not every man would wait, but he did. I think in our healing both physically and emotionally God created the space and instilled the patience within us to work on our emotional connection before engaging in the physicalities of a relationship. When I referred to a covenant love earlier, this was just that. As the church is Christ’s bridegroom waiting for his return, we had to wait. Biblically speaking blessings and harvests require attention and waiting. Be mindful, how we wait reveals what we are ready for, and what we can idolize.
We waited as my partner completed his master’s program in Life Coaching and Human Services Counseling. We waited a year until he was able to secure employment in a difficult job market (as God would have it on the first day of shutdowns due to COVID-19, he was hired). We waited for his completion of certification in his field…we waited. What do we gain during our wait? Leaning on each other through the mountain and valley seasons with determination, perseverance, and hope. Sound familiar? The same determination, perseverance, and hope accessed in my singleness are needed for my relationship. The wait for love is actually strength training for your relationship. You’ll need these skills in your marriage.
So today we are still waiting, planning our lives for marriage together as God orchestrates our paths within a career and spiritual growth in preparation for his mission. I found a love that reflects Christ’s love for me. I can’t tell you when it will happen or how, but what I can say is God presents us with unfathomable opportunities and experiences that our earthly flesh cannot comprehend. I had to release myself from the bondage of desperation, doubt, settling, impatience, hopelessness, and fear. Through community and spirituality, I reignited my spark for God, which illuminated the glow and sparkle in me to believe in love again. A timely sermon and bible study empowered me to leave a toxic relationship. Reading biblical love stories like Ruth’s reminded me of the miracle of love. Faith is what weaved together the parts of my story with my boyfriend binding us into the unit that we are today. I found a man that makes me want to have a son because I think there need to be more men like him. Dry eraser didn’t work, soap and water didn’t work…nothing could erase God’s plan for me from his book. Not my baggage, stubbornness, recklessness, ego, or pride. Waiting healed me, waiting led me, waiting protected me, waiting instructed me, waiting revealed the love of my life. If who has been given to you does not feel like a gift of God’s love, keep waiting for his promise.