I graduated from Christian college with no ring by spring. No boyfriend. No fiance. No husband-to-be in sight.
No one who seemed to like it enough to put a ring on it.
The words “ring by spring”, very common lingo in the bubble of Christian circles, did not make their way into the small diploma I was carrying that day. My friends at college called it getting their “MRS.” degree. Entering college as an Ms. and leaving as an Mrs.
Unfortunately for me, all I had earned was a B.S. in Psychology. And even having been so close to what I thought was “the right guy” – I left college with nothing but a confused heart and a failed dating relationship.
As much as I was trying to trust God’s big picture for my life, if I’m honest, walking down that aisle on graduation day felt like I was walking away from a deep, unquenchable, desire.
This Wasn’t The Plan
Up until graduation, for the last four years, I had attended a Christian-college with good-looking, ministry-minded, “godly men” all around. I don’t know how much you know about “Christian college”- but there is WAY too much pressure when it comes to finding a spouse.
So in a strange way, it felt as though graduation was saying goodbye to my dreams of finding a good man. If I couldn’t find him in this “Christian cornucopia” of endless possibilities- where in the world was I going to find him out in the real world? What had I missed? Where had things gone wrong? Was there something wrong with me?
I hear from a lot of men and women who have similar fears at different stages in their lives. Maybe you live in a small town, with no potential dates in sight. Maybe you attend a tiny church, where the pickings for a spouse are slim because everyone is either taken, or already collecting social security. Maybe you are nearing your 30s, or 40s, or 50s…working long hours and feeling disconnected from opportunities to find love.
Whatever your situation, and wherever you may be in life it’s important to remember that God’s plans for your life cannot be thwarted when you’re truly seeking after Him. If you’re seeking God’s will, you won’t miss it.
The Big Picture of God’s Plan
I used to worry so much about being at the right place at the right time for just the right purpose- as if I somehow had the power to magically align all the stars necessary to cause a perfect fairy tale romance.
I worked so hard at trying to make things work in my “horizontal relationships” with the opposite sex…but all the while, God was calling me to invest in a “vertical relationship”: my relationship with Him. I had to really learn to fix my eyes in the right place…to “look upward” (More on this in chapters 9-12 True Love Dates).
No matter where you’re at in life, when you run after God, you will ALWAYS be running in the right direction.
After graduating, I felt God calling me to the profession of counseling. I’d felt this nudging strongly the whole way through college, and I finally committed to this plan. Through my education and the experiences I had along the way- God had so much to teach me, and so much He needed to do in my life.
Whether I could see it or not, and even when I didn’t believe it, God’s plan for my life was unfolding one day at a time.
The summer after graduate school, I decided to move home – even with all the stigma that seems to be attached to that transition. But I felt peace about spending my summer with my parents, and looking back I’m so glad that I did for so many reasons. A few weeks into the summer, I begrudgingly attending a conference up in Boston thanks to the encouragement of one of my best friends.
I honestly did not want to go, because I had so much going on with work and studies, and didn’t really want to deal with the inconvenience of taking the time to get away.
What I didn’t know, was God had something far bigger planned, because that is the very conference where I would meet, become friends with, and eventually marry a man that exceeded my plans. A man that was so far outside my expectations that I wouldn’t have even believed God if he’d straight up told me about him!
Going into that 4th of July weekend….I have to look back and smile, because I seriously had no idea what was just around the corner.
I now see all the crazy turns, scenic routes, forks in the road, and seemingly dead ends that I’ve been through in life and I realize this one thing:
God’s plans for my life were always so much better (and a thousand times more creative) than I could have thought up on my own.
Each step had a purpose. Each stage was part of a plan. As long as my heart was focused on Him, there was no such thing as “messing up” or “missing out” on His incredible story for my life.
And dear one, I truly believe that the same goes for you. No matter where you are in life- nearing college graduation or just beginning, delving into your career or moving back home, taking an office job in the city or committing to serve God in the jungles of Africa- know this: when you walk toward Him, you are always walking the right way. Don’t get discouraged by what you “thought” your life should look like by now, or by where others think your life should be headed.
Because no one knows your life and future better than the God who thought it up Himself.
Trust Him for that. And then keep gazing upward…you never know what you might bump into while you’re looking up.
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Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, relationship expert, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, and Choosing Marriage: Why It Has To Start With We > Me where she writes candidly about love, sex, dating, relationships, and marriage. You may also recognize her voice from her 200+ articles at Relevant Magazine, Crosswalk.com, and all over the web! She’s the creator of this True Love Dates Blog, reaching millions of people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or book a session with her today!