“…God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect…. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.”
1 John 4:16-18
On December 31, 2016, my boyfriend of 15 months took me out to dinner in Atlanta– the city we met and fell in love. When we pulled up to the restaurant for our dinner, I remarked how we were just steps away from the very spot where we had our first date. I recalled our first date – it took place on a warm August night where we grabbed ice cream and then sat on a walking bridge overlooking the Atlanta skyline, talking for hours about everything.
My boyfriend proposed to me after dinner on that bridge. I will share the details of our proposal at another time, but it was so thoughtful, well-executed, intentional. It was so him. I said yes. I said yes to being his wife, his partner, co-heirs of God. I said yes to entering into covenant.
But, when I said yes to being his wife, I was also saying no. When I said yes to being his wife, I was saying no to the doubts and fears that have threatened to destroy our relationship from the very moment we met.
Satan was onto something the night we met, even though I certainly did not know I was sitting across the room from my future husband (my fiancé had an inkling that I would be his future wife :-)). My first perception of my fiancé was that he was arrogant and thought he was better than me. I became so offended during our first two conversations that I told him never to speak to me again. We did not speak for six months.
At the time, I had no idea why I was SO offended – I was vehemently opposed to any kind of arrogant attitude taken towards me. I felt that he was trying to come into my life and make me subject to him. I believed he was trying to make me think less of myself.
Obviously, I later learned that those were not his intentions at all. He did have a bit of a reputation, but I learned that those were not his intentions—my fiancé is the quirkiest but kindest man alive. In his efforts to be honest and not cause hurt, he often came off as blunt, harsh, or arrogant.
Even though I eventually saw his heart and ultimately agreed to go on a date, and a few weeks after said yes to his becoming “official” while we had a date on the Jackson Street Bridge (apparently we have a thing with bridges lol) …
You see, I am a single mother who has been through some things –traumatic situations where I experienced the depths of heartbreak and pain and the dizzying darkness that follows situations like that. I got into a bad relationship in college. In spite of all of the red flags, the relationship continued and, eventually, I had my daughter when I was a 22-year-old senior in college. I quickly became a single mother shortly just three months after her birth. I went on to law school, and had my fair share of challenges with balancing law school and my baby at the time. I decided to surrender my life to God again once I realized that he was not mad at me. And yet…
Even though I surrendered my life to Christ, literally lived by faith, grew in God and grace, became whole, found freedom from my past, and began to minister, I still had deep pockets of fear tucked away in my heart that I didn’t even know were there. My courtship with my fiancé showed me that fear had made a home in my heart.
I had no idea that I still had wounds from my past, but they were definitely there. My past relationship really hurt me, not just physically, but down to my spirit. As a result, my first thoughts were full of suspicion and fear. My first reaction to many challenges would be to go into “self-protection mode” – I would believe I was setting a standard of how my fiancé should treat me, but in reality I was smart-talking, catching attitudes, and quick to get angry all because I was literally terrified.
I knew my fiancé was my one-day husband during our courtship and that I would need to submit to him as my one-day leader. However, I just could not trust him fully. If something happened that I thought was even a smidgen similar to something I dealt with in my past relationship, I was lacing up my running shoes and running from my relationship. “What if he won’t love my daughter?” “He’s just trying to control me.” “I’ve seen this all before – he’s just trying to put me down.” “He thinks he’s better than me.” “He doesn’t believe in me.” These were all the thoughts I dealt with frequently. This is not to say that our courtship was not amazing, but we definitely had some hard times.
It took Scripture, the Holy Spirit, a resilient fiancé led by the Spirit, and good counsel to point out to me that I was being led by fear.
My fiancé is the sweetest man. He always does little things for me, like grabbing small gifts and tucking verses into them. He began tucking 1 John 4:16-18 into little gifts for months: “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect…. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.” My fiancé obviously understood the context of this verse, but he used them to show me that fear and love cannot coexist together. There is no room for fear when perfect love is at play. My fiancé’s love for me comes from Perfect Love Himself –God – and thus I don’t have anything to fear when I know this is a man who has the Holy Spirit living inside of Him. I have nothing to fear when I know for a fact God talks to my fiancé about me– how I am feeling and how to love me through my fears.
I don’t have to be afraid of a man who has conversations with God about me. I don’t have to be afraid of a man who fasts for me, speaks verses over me, and wields the Word as a weapon in the battle against fear. God is ensuring my well-being through many private conversations with my fiancé, one-day earthly leader.
By saying yes, I was saying no to fear. By saying yes, I was taking a final stand in a battle that my fiancé and I have been waging since we met. By saying yes, I knew I was going to enter into covenant with a man who I saw fight and win private battles that the world knew nothing about. He fought for me.
I am happy to share that we have 211 days to go until the wedding! I know full well that our engagement period will be a time of refinement, so I am clinging tight to this Scripture:
“It was thus that Sarah obeyed Abraham [following his guidance and acknowledging his headship over her by] calling him lord (master, leader, authority). And you are now her true daughters if you do right and let nothing terrify you [not giving way to hysterical fears or letting anxieties unnerve you].” 1 Peter 3:6 AMP
Maybe you have dealt with a very painful relationship in your past. I encourage you to find verses addressing your situation, be prayerful, get godly counsel, and allow God to do a work in you. Should you enter into a courtship, trust that God knows what He is doing. When it’s God, it’s good. God used my fiancé to help bring about healing that I didn’t even know I needed.