The Quandary of an Answered Prayer
Lately I've been thinking a lot about the importance of being prepared for what I claim to want. Because I believe one of the most tragic things that can happen in a person's life is praying and hoping for something, receiving it, and not being ready for it. It's honestly one of my biggest fears, and something God has recently challenged me to consider.
A few nights ago when I was having one of my Waiting to Exhale moments, I started talking to God about being tired of being single. The convo went a little something like this, "Lord, I'm content. I'm pretty sure I'm content being single, because I'm doing a pretty good job at it. But I'm tired of being content! So please, help me figure out what I need to do in order to prepare myself for the relationship I want. And please...please Lord, send somebody--the right somebody! In Jesus name, Amen."
When I finished my prayer-rant, I decided to remain kneeling by my bedside, relaxing in God's presence. I just wanted to stay in that position of reverence, and bask in the peace and comfort I was consumed by in the quietness of my bedroom. As I was kneeling there, the following question popped up in my head with such clarity I knew it could be no one else speaking to me but God: "What do you want to be the foundation of your relationship?" At first I was a little confused, and then one by one, some of the things that I factor into my idea of a good relationship came to mind: God, education, profession, money, physical attraction, mutual disdain for Fox News, etc. etc. God was asking me out of all of those things, what was the most important. What do I want my relationship to be rooted in? It sounds like such a basic question, but it really forced me to look inside myself and consider the things I really prioritized when dating, because that would be the honest answer to the question at hand. Churchy Ashlee wanted to reply the safe, and expected response--God. But in reality, I have been entertaining every type of man but the type that loves God like Matthew 22:37 says we ought to.
I've dated the academic types, the "good job" types, the law school and med school types, the youth "pastor" types (notice those quotation marks), the model/actor/singer types, but I was never able to connect with any of those men on a spiritual level. And even after I realized I wouldn't be able to, I still entertained them because they had some of the other "important" things going on for them. Now granted, I am the type of woman who dates with the understanding that not every man who walks into my life needs to be potential husband material. I have found that approach to dating very liberating and wildly entertaining (I've got stories for days). However, I recognize that I am now in a space where I know that I am ready and looking for a serious relationship that can potentially lead to a godly marriage. It is what it is; I'm finally there y'all, I'm finally there. I love my single life; I'm having the time of my life living it up with my girlfriends, being independent, and watching myself grow and accomplish the various goals I've set for myself. But I know that very soon I will be ready to settle down with someone...someone who shares the same values as me, which means I have to adjust the way I approach dating.
I think a lot of times we have an idea of what we want, but if we really take time to assess our actual thoughts and actions, we'll find that they aren't always consistent with what we claim to want. For years I've been saying I want a relationship with a man who loves Christ, is passionate about social justice, and living a life committed to service and liberation. I've talked about wanting my marriage to be purpose-driven and rooted in ministry, but am I really ready for what that type of relationship entails? Am I really ready to be the life partner to a man who's committed to those things? And am I really ready to be patient and date intentionally, not haphazardly? I've been pleading with God to bless me with this relationship, but have I really considered what will be required of me once the request is granted? Funny enough, while working on this post, God placed a young man in my life who has forced me to seriously reckon with these questions.
Sometimes we pray and make requests to God like we don't really think He's listening to us; like He won't really give us the desires of our heart. What I've come to realize is our blessings don't just come when we've decided we're ready for them. Sometimes God sends us our blessing when we least expect it, and it's up to us to rise to the occasion and make room for it. What if today God presented you with the relationship, opportunity, or whatever it is you've been praying for? Are you ready for it? What are the things you would have to change in your life in order to make room or prepare yourself for it? And are you ready to make those changes right now? Ever? These are the questions I've been pondering on lately...Am I willing to sacrifice where I am now to be where I've prayed to be? Am I willing to live and prepare myself like God is really listening and willing to answer "yes" to my prayers?