Lore Ferguson Wilbert lives in Flower Mound, Texas, with her husband, Nate. Her book Handle With Care: How Jesus Redeems the Power of Touch in Life and Ministry is releasing in February 2020 from B&H Publishers. Read more of her work at sayable.net or on Twitter.
I gave the ring back on a warm night in November. My boyfriend and I had just returned from a weekend of camping with friends. I can’t remember what started our fight that night, but it had been simmering for a while. “Sometimes I think the only reason you want to marry me is because he didn’t want you,” my fiancé said. I wanted to hate him for those words, but the truth was, he was right. My interest in another man had been unrequited, and in the absence of hope, I let my feet wander and gave myself to someone I sinfully considered second best. After I recognized my selfishness, I gave his engagement ring back.
For months, I carried shame about my failure, especially as we continued our relationship and I tried to sort out my heart. He was an honorable man from a wonderful family, but by February, I knew a wedding was not in our future. I could not find the peace I needed, and the hitch in my spirit was too strong to ignore.
Prior to that engagement, I had spent a lot of time waxing eloquent about the decisiveness of love. I believed strongly that it was a choice. As a single female nearing her mid-30s, I also believed many men in the church saw themselves above that choice and were looking for some elusive “spark” that would never materialize. “Just commit!” I thought and said often. But when I came face to face with my own inability to cross the mountain of commitment in front of me, I also came face to face with my own inadequate counsel. There’s more to marriage than a “spark,” but there’s also more than simple commitment.
Less than a year later, I met the man I would marry. Neither of us felt a “spark,” at least at first, no ah-ha moment of recognizing “the one.” We started out as friends having a conversation over a sink full of dishes (I washed, he dried), then we progressed to a first date, then dating, then engagement and marriage. Now we make the choice to serve, care for, listen to, mutually submit to, and lead one another, and we engage in all the momentary and monotonous deeds of a life together. We are crazy about each another—ask anyone who knows us. But as we look back on our story, we see that somewhere in between the “spark” (which did eventually happen) and the daily work of choice, there was a gentle presence guiding us toward marriage. That presence was the Holy Spirit.
Sadly, his voice often goes unheard in many relationships.
These years later, my husband and I have counseled many couples to break up. Some of them are dating; some are already engaged. As the pastor who married us said nearly every week leading up to our wedding day, “You haven’t said ‘I do,’ until you’ve said ‘I do.’” He was reminding us that marriage is a lifelong commitment to one another, and if there were any hesitations during our engagement, we should pay attention to those hesitations. They could be telling us something.
When we hear of hesitations leading up to marriage, we often think of them as cold feet or fear of commitment. That is certainly the case in some if not many instances. But in other cases, that small check in our spirit is actually the Spirit of God saying, “Wait. Hold on. Pay attention to me. This is not my best for you, or this is not the best time for you.”
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Source: Christianity Today