Exactly one year ago today I returned to Buffalo from my first trip to Haiti.
Exactly one year ago today, I also was proposed to by one of the most amazing, godly, wonderful men I’ve ever met.
I can only imagine the reactions of some of you reading this right now…
How didn’t I know about this?
What’s going on?
Did I miss the invitation to the wedding?
I guess I should continue by saying:
Exactly one year ago today, I made one of the best decisions of my life this far and said, “no”.
The story of how Isaac and I met (in Uganda) and the journey leading to a proposal is a great one and I’d be willing to share it with anyone who wants to hear about it. But for today, the ‘no’ is the important piece of the (extremely long) story.
As I said before, Isaac truly is one of the most amazing, godly men I’ve ever met in my entire life. He is passionate about sharing Jesus with others. He is well respected by the people in his family, at his job, in his town and by everyone who meets him. He cared for me and made sure I was protected while in some possibly dangerous situations in Uganda. He encouraged me in my calling to ministry and my calling as a child of God (and continues to do so as an amazing brother in Christ).
By now some of you are probably wondering why in the world I said “no”. While there are many reasons, one of the biggest reason is that I simply wasn’t in love with him.
Throughout the discussions about marriage that we had, and despite the fact that HE truly WAS in love with me, I slowly came to realize that one of the only reasons I continued to consider the prospect of getting married to Isaac was because I thought maybe that’s what God wanted me to do and I needed to prove my willingness to sacrifice for God. Sure, Isaac had many of the characteristics of the man I hope one day I get to call “husband,” but to move forward in a big life decision like this simply out of duty is NOT the life God has called us to.
In my striving for perfection, I set aside one of the most important gifts God desires to give us: JOY.
In the weeks and months of me seeking God for wisdom, guidance, and direction, I realized that if I stepped forward in this relationship and it really WAS God’s plan, he would bless it with joy and peace. Yet, as my heart leaned that way, there was nothing but confusion, duty, and sacrifice. I’m not saying that God’s plans for our lives don’t involve sacrifice, because they often do, but in my trying to follow God perfectly, I had forgotten that following God is just as much about finding joy in our lives (IN HIM) as it is sacrifice.
Another big issue was that God gave me my passions, gifts, desires, and talents for a reason. At that point in my life, I didn’t know where I was going to end up after my internship, but I could sense God’s calling loud and clear that I was supposed to be in America. Throughout the time I knew Isaac, I could tell that his passions and gifts were rooted in ministry in Uganda. As I said before, God’s plans for us are often different than our own and often include sacrifice. However, nothing I read in God’s Word points to a God who creates us with unique desires, passions, and gifts for ministry in His Kingdom only to tell us to ignore it all. Instead, the God I know and love gives us opportunities to use all that in a way that brings Him glory.
In my striving for perfection, I lost sight of this truth:
My God loves me.
He doesn’t love me because I was willing to give up everything and marry a guy (I didn’t really love) and move to Africa. He also doesn’t love me because I stayed here in America to serve him. He doesn’t love me BECAUSE of anything I do.
He just simply loves me… imperfection and all. No ‘ifs’, ‘ands’, or ‘buts’.
He LOVES me!
Sometimes recognizing that love, joy, and peace comes … in saying “no.”