When I was twenty-seven, I met a man named Dan. Dan is not my husband, but at the time, I would have sworn up and down that he would be. Back then, I was the type of person to see signs in everything. Was that a sign from God? Was this a sign from God? Ooo, what about that tree limb that just fell or how hard it’s raining? Maybe the waves crashing on the beach are a sort of morse code from heaven. Certainly, God is saying something in the stars, or in the leaves, or in the sand. I saw little hints about my future everywhere. I was being so ridiculous.
Well, all kidding aside, I met Dan, and we hit it off. The hints were raining down, the sparks were flying, and I heard words like “love” and “marriage” and “God-sent.” I believed them wholeheartedly like they were saving me. I let myself be vulnerable, and I believed that God was moving. I trusted Dan with unwavering acceptance. In quick succession, I met his family, he met my friends, we went to each other’s churches, we toppled headlong into something we believed was meant to last.
Skip down the road a little ways (a very, very little way, the whole relationship was embarrassingly short), and he stopped calling me, stopped texting me. I was in a sea of bewilderment. I could not understand what he was doing. He had practically told me on our first date that I met his entire list of what He had asked the Father for in a wife. Why would he be treating me this way? We met for a conversation–the conversation. Things went south quickly, and I couldn’t seem to save it. I drove away feeling as though I were outside of time, outside of living, outside of rational humanity. What in the world just happened?
I was wrecked for days and days and days. I had never had my heart broken like this before. I can vividly remember those moments. Nearly in tears from sunup to sundown. I would listen to worship music, and when I had to work, I would be singing worship music in my head. The very second I stopped, I was near sobbing. It was absolute torture, and I was utterly confused.
I had no idea what to do, and to make matters worse, he said that he sincerely wanted to be friends, and I completely believed him. How could I be so naive? It seems almost comical now, but I really and honestly let myself believe every word that came out of his mouth. To this day, I have no idea why. Probably those dang “signs” I was seeing everywhere.
I don’t know exactly when or exactly how, but I began to realize that my hope had been sorely misplaced. I had looked to Dan like he would save me. Like meeting him was the saving grace my life needed to turn a corner. The moment Dan left, he pulled the emotional rug out from under me and I was absolutely lost. I couldn’t make heads or tails out of anything. I was drowning and didn’t know which way was up.
My heart broke again after realizing how very off-base I was to let Dan be a stand-in for Jesus. How humiliating. This was a longstanding issue between Jesus and me: boys. I had never been good at honoring the Lord with men in my life, and I had used boys most of my life to make me feel valued and adored. I thought I had gotten past it, but in reality, I had just put a Jesus-filter over top of it. Dan was a children’s pastor. Dan loved Jesus. Dan was a noble and righteous man (or so I thought), and because I perceived Dan to be almost sinless, I had let him be my savior. I put the hope of my entire future in the hands of a human. Pretty dumb decision if you ask me.
Jesus began to peel back the layers and show me how my hope had been misplaced over and over again for a very long time. He was so kind in this season to be very gentle with me and send a lot of encouragement through friends and prophets.
Jesus is the hope of all the earth. He is all things to all people and has the power to save our lives, not just our afterlives. I didn’t need Dan to change my life, to make my life meaningful, or to make me feel loved. For the next year, I spent a lot of time with Jesus. Hours and hours I’d pour into Him in worship and in reading, in prayer and in simple fellowship. He began to heal the deep places and my hope began to shift. It wasn’t immediate and it wasn’t easy, but it was moving. He became my safe spot, and He showed me that while He was guarding my heart, I needed to guard it, too.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it is the wellspring of life” (NHEB). It doesn’t say “your heart needs to be guarded,” or “I’ll guard your heart.” What it is saying is that I need to play a role in guarding my own heart, and part of that guarding is understanding where my hope is resting. When your hope is in the Lord, there is complete freedom and security. He will never hurt you or abandon you. His love is strong and steadfast. When your hope is anchored in the One who never moves, you know that even if a rug gets pulled out from under you, you’ll just land safe and sound in His arms.
Featured Image by Tekang