Photos c/o Kat Harris
Marian Jordan. I mean what can I even say. We became soul friends earlier this year through my sweet friend Megan Smalley. We had never met in person, but talked on the phone and shared our hearts + dreams + fears. I’m pretty sure there were even tears at some point. Marian runs Redeemed Girl Ministries, and she is out of her mind committed to women knowing their identity and infinite worth that comes from God. As a single woman I am so inspired by her faithfulness to wait for an honorable man. Her story challenges and encourages me to keep pursuing God, and the adventures He has for me…and to wait patiently…(that’s hard for me y’all).
I knew he was “the one” the day we met.
Not at first, mind you. Those first few hours we were both a jumble of nerves, like middle school kids at a dance, heads down, feet shuffling.
We’d never met, and with only a handful of emails between us, we were on a very awkward blind date. Visibly nervous, we fumbled through conversation and both privately determined that this was not a love connection. He was shy, and I had walls the size of Texas.
Bless his heart, he had the full day planned: lunch, coffee, a museum, treasure hunting at an antique shop and dinner. By the time we finished coffee, I had texted my best friends to say, “I guess I’m going to enjoy a free dinner, because I’m definitely not marrying this guy.”
What’s funny is once I told myself I didn’t have to marry him, I relaxed and had a good time. I looked at him as a new friend and didn’t think of all the “what ifs” that normally surround a romantic encounter. Plus, putting Justin squarely in the friend zone freed me to be myself.
So I was just me; loud, awkward, eating off his plate, snorting when I laugh. I didn’t try to impress him. I thought, “I’m never going to see this guy again, so I might as well have a good time.” And I did.
As I became more comfortable, he followed suit. His wicked smart sense of humor and huge heart began to emerge. As we strolled through the museum, he leaned in to explain a painting to me, and I felt a jolt of electricity.
What was that? Definitely not the friend zone!
I was shocked by the chemistry. I’d already written him off, so I wasn’t supposed to feel any sparks. I felt both scared and excited, and I was having a ball.
I should back up and explain the fear. I was jaded. I’d been hurt before. I wasn’t looking for another heartbreak. I’d grown comfortable in my singleness and not ready to put my heart back in a place of vulnerability.
In addition to my fear, there was self-doubt. I’d been waiting for God to bring my husband for so long that I was determined not to settle. But I didn’t trust myself in the love department. Little did I know, but at that moment, “God’s best” was opening my car door.
As the afternoon rolled into the evening, we sat down to dinner at a lovely bistro. One side of me was definitely interested, but the other side was mentally rehearsing all the reasons I should just say goodnight.
Dinner was a game changer. I finally saw him: his huge heart, incredible intellect. My defenses crumbled as he described his relationship with Jesus and how the Lord had carried him through the darkest days of his life. I was mesmerized. I’d met a lot of guys, but here was a man strong enough to shed a tear when he said, “Jesus.”
I couldn’t eat. He couldn’t eat. We kept staring at each other; then back at our plates. In a span of eight hours, we moved from awkward to a little smitten. I kept looking at him and asking, “Who are you and how did you get here?”
That night I knew he was my husband… (Or at least I wanted him to be.) For the past seven years I had prayed consistently for my husband. The things I prayed were just between Jesus and me. As I began to see those specific qualities in Justin I felt like time stood still. Sitting in that bistro that night, I sensed God smile and say to my heart, “I heard you.”
I saw in Justin the type of character I had prayed for. But I knew I had to hold that open-handed to Jesus and allow time to confirm what I sensed God was revealing to me. As we walked through dating, I did so with a heart surrendered to the will of God and I gathered trusted friends and family to confirm what my heart was telling me.
I also waited on God’s timing. We can latch onto something before God has officially given it to us, and it becomes exceedingly more painful if God says “no.” I’d been through that confusion before, and I knew that waiting on His timing was the best protection for my heart. I didn’t let my heart run ahead and declare something to be true before Jesus declared it so. I knew Justin would not be my husband until we stood at an altar and entered into the covenant of marriage. I needed to guard my heart and not run ahead of the Lord.
I speak these words of caution to any woman who is hoping the guy she’s crushing on is the man she will marry. My advice is simply what worked for me: don’t run ahead of Jesus. Stay in constant prayer. Ask for wisdom and wait. If this guy is going to be your husband, God will make it clear and the guy will lead the relationship. Neither he nor Jesus need your help.
I still feel giddy as I think back to our first date. It makes me smile at the faithfulness of God. I’m thankful for all the years of singleness, and that I didn’t settle when it seemed like all the good guys were gone. Friends, trust God (easier said than done right?). Seek Him. Keep praying.