One of the hardest things to go through in life is a break up with someone you really loved and once cared about whether it be voluntarily or involuntarily. Somehow, I had managed to go through 25 years of life without experiencing that kind of heartbreak, but that didn’t make the pain of it all any more bearable when it did come rearing its ugly head during the Fall of 2012. I never saw it coming either. As a matter of fact when the guy told me he wanted to end things, I thought sure he was just being dramatic and would change his mind in a few days once he realized what (or who) he was losing. Well, that day never came, and I was left to face my own demons...alone. That began one of the hardest seasons of my life. Not only did I get broken up with for the first time ever in life, but this was also the season when I felt the Lord leading me to leave law school (without having any idea what I was supposed to do next). So I was manless, schooless (is that a word?), jobless, purposeless and I felt worthless. I thought this whole walking with Jesus thing was supposed to make my life better, not worse, yet there I was in a semi-depressive state because of everything that was happening (or wasn’t happening) around me.
Honestly, part of me tried to block that season out of my mind because it was just so hard, but another part tries to keep those memories alive to remember just how far the Lord has brought me. Either way, there was one day in particular I will never forget. On that particular day I came across a Bible verse I had never seen before (I was still pretty new to this whole walking with God thing). This was the verse I came across in the NLT: I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. -John 15:1-2. It was as if the words on the page of my little Life Application Bible were jumping right out at me. I sat up in my bed and said outloud as if there was someone else in the room with me “OMG, He’s pruning me”. The lightbulb had turned on, the revelation had come and I had been enlightened. I then proceeded to look up what pruning actually meant. I found out that pruning is an essential part of the gardening process. It encourages healthy growth, but requires for all of the bad stuff to be cut off in order for the plant’s true beauty to come forth. If God is pruning you, just know that you didn’t necessarily do anything wrong. As a matter of fact, it probably means that He is pleased with you because that verse tells us that He only prunes the branches that are already bearing fruit. Why? So that they can produce even more. You would think that with all of the revelation God had given me on that scripture that it would have made that season a little easier right? Well it didn’t. I didn’t want to be cut, but I knew that in order for God to pull out my full potential and get the most glory from my life, I had to lean into the pruning, not pull back from it.
Ok Rita, I hear you but what does all of this have to do with you not dating for a year? Well, I’m glad you asked. There were several reasons I chose to not date for an entire year. One reason was because I wanted to take some time and work on myself...in every aspect. I wanted to get my mind right, my emotions right, my spirit right, my temple right, my cash right (hello somebody?!) before I even thought about bringing another person into the mix. Many times we are so focused on what a person can do for us, but I wanted to be sure that I was bringing the best possible version of myself to them. Secondly, I was so very tired of the “dating” cycle I was in (and I use that word very loosely because I can only remember going on a handful of actual dates). After someone completely rejecting me for wanting to wait until marriage for sex, a 24 hour engagement that ended in a failed relationship and my first real heartbreak, I was just ready to take a step back and do some reevaluation. Something deep inside of me knew that it didn’t have to be all of that, and if I could just recalibrate and hide myself in God, I could see things more clearly. I actually never said that it would be a year. I didn’t really have a specific amount of time. I just told myself that I would know when it was time and when I was ready. All I knew is that doing it my way was getting me nowhere at all, and so I decided that this time I would try it God’s way once and for all. There comes a certain point where you have to look at certain areas in your life that tend to go awry and say ok, maybe it’s not them, or it, or that. Maybe it’s me and maybe I just need to take a step back for a second to get more insight.
So what happened after I came out of my little hiatus? Well, right around the 1 year mark I began to feel a release. Like, I just knew that I was released to actually be open to the possibility of love and romance again and start dating-this time with the Lord’s blessing. I knew I had learned so much about myself and more importantly about God, and it felt as though I was viewing the world through completely different lenses, giving me a brand new perspective. I still didn’t go out chasing it though because I knew that it is he who finds a wife finds a good thing, not the other way around. Well, a few months after I began feeling like I was ready, an opportunity presented itself, and in typical life fashion, it was a counterfeit-a test to see if I really did learn the lessons. But just 3 months after that, the real thing presented itself. God removed the veil that was over me, opened my husband’s eyes to me and the rest is history. This man was in my church worshiping with me, serving with me, going to the same events as me and so much more for 2 WHOLE YEARS, but I wasn’t ready; neither of us were. But that year off put me in a position to be ready at just the right time. When it seemed like I was losing so much (potential mates, free dinners, shallow good times), the truth is I was gaining so much more.