Lately I’ve been in the practice of noticing. My husband and I are in a time of transition, undoubtedly. But to what, and where? We’re not really sure. We can see the beginnings of something happening — by noticing. Choosing to see and consider even the small, almost-coincidences. Noticing when peace or anxiety rises in our chests. Conferring with each other to ask, “Did you see that?” not out of fear, but out of the kind of wonder one might watch a single comet shoot across an otherwise empty sky.
We know something is afoot, but really that’s not a stretch: we believe in God and we believe that he is always working things together for our good. It’s quite possible that anything at any given time will play some role, small or large, in our dreams coming true. We’ve seen it before — though we had the advantage of reviewing 15 years in retrospect, tracing together the dots that eventually lead us to each other. We met when we were 12 — and then spent our young adult lives growing and learning apart from one another. Two completely different people worshiping different things, finding different answers to the same kinds questions.
I can see it all so clearly now, with full expectation that as the years go on we will see more, understand more, be further amazed at the depth of it — but there were times when we were dating that I saw none of this. I saw significantly less than this, though what I saw felt pretty significant at various points in our 15 year friendship and then two year dating relationship.
Now, from the other side of vows and almost one year of marriage, I know I am living in the abundance that came from the process those many years held — designed just for us. I value process, and I value dating. My story is no less and no more magical than anyone else’s. I know friends who knew the moment they met they’d be married and all was said and done in under a year. I know friends I greatly respect who dated for 5+ years before getting married. Both ways, and everything in between, are as intentional and romantic and holy as the other.
What if we are failing to see the things God is doing because we want it to look a certain way? When we compare our stories to each other’s, it robs us of the wonder and hope noticing our own miracles will provide. I didn’t catch everything the first time around when my husband and I were falling in love — but lately, there is little I see that I won’t at least consider for a moment to be God, and ask him about it. Because I know that he has been faithful to the desires of my heart in the past — specifically, with my marriage.
Instead of comparison, envy, or fear, I see the small changes in my life and wonder at the Lord. At the same time, I see friends having babies, getting married after say, less than 15 years of orbiting, getting job promotions and launching careers and I can do the same: wow, God. Look at what you’ve done. Look at how perfect that is.
I wonder what would happen if with all things, dating, marriage, intimacy, and more — if instead of asking God to fit the story into our expectations, we forwent the structure completely and simply noticed and wondered at what he was building instead. Moment by moment, brick my brick. Not holding him to my blueprint, but trusting him with his.
Don’t miss out on your own love story. Right now, no matter if you’re single or married, you are smack in the middle of the greatest love stories of your life, plural. There’s the love story in which you are pursued and transformed by Love itself; the love story of you becoming empowered and loving who he made you to be; and the love story involving those you will date or marry. All of these separate stories matter to God, and each one can compliment and strengthen the other.
When my husband was pursuing me, Jesus was pursuing me harder. While I dealt with emotional wounding and my traumatic past with God, He was comforting me one minute and redeeming that very thing the next through my interactions with my best friend. It’s not co-dependence — it’s the working of all things together for my good.
This is all good news, and way more exciting than making a list for a husband or waiting for God to nudge some guy into asking you out for coffee. Trust him to do His part. There are no damsels in distress here: you are pursued as you pursue. As you partner with God and seek him, you will be found. As you give credence to your own heart’s desires and learn to trust yourself, you will find him there, too — just where he has been, all long.
Get good at simply noticing: looking with wonder as the pieces shift around you without fear or comparison to what may be happening elsewhere. Be anchored in hopeful expectation. Look not at what is happening alongside you, but look up instead to the One who will work it all together for your good.