“A Husband for Thanksgiving” may sound like the title of a cheesy, old-fashioned Hallmark movie, but this year it’s a headline that applies to my own life instead. After 39 Thanksgivings as a single girl, I will finally celebrate the holiday as a happily married woman.
And I couldn’t be more thankful.
Those who met their spouses early or easily in life may not understand what a miracle this is, or appreciate how much effort intentional dating is these days.
Especially if you’re really bad at it, like I was.
Thanks to dating apps, I’ve literally met hundreds of men over the course of several years and gone on even more dates. And yet by the end I still had nothing to see but misery and exhaustion. And I had no one to blame but myself.
Now I have God to thank for saving my own incompetence.
Looking back, I cringe at all the mistakes I made. I sought form over substance, mindlessly shutting down nice, stable, Christian men who made sincere, if sometimes clumsy, advances in favor of rambunctious young cads who had no interest in long-term commitments.
Then, every time I met a guy with whom there seemed to be a mutual interest, I subconsciously did almost everything I could to sabotage it. Instead of offering him softness and sweetness, I tried to impress him with razor-sharp humor. I casually texted him to show interest, though I’m pretty sure I just came across as clingy and needy. When those same men flirted with me or took me on fun dates, I assumed they were genuinely interested in me and started making plans for a future relationship.
All too often, those same men talked big but acted small, their interest extending no further than a handful of dates or the hope of a happy ending. Turns out they don’t call such behavior “charm” for nothing. And yet I fell for the magic time and time again.
What can I say? I am a slow learner.
I pictured myself as something of an amalgam of literary heroines: Anne of Green Gables, Elizabeth Bennet, maybe even Ophelia, aside from the whole “descent into suicidal frenzy.” Perhaps studying Shakespeare too intensively, as I did at the time, has unforeseen consequences. hey nonny nonny!
In those years, I tried to steer my life toward an old-fashioned Jane Austen or Hallmark movie ending, complete with a handsome bachelor, an unexpected blizzard, and a sweet, chaste kiss full of promise.
And I thought Tinder and Bumble would get me there. I am nothing if not optimistic.
To the surprise of no one but myself and perhaps my loving and supportive mother, I was still single in my mid-thirties, despite years of trying and decades of earnest, if misguided, prayer. I knew in my heart that marriage is a divine desire, so I knew my intentions were pure. But when I still didn’t find a husband, it felt like God broke his promise. It felt cruel to give me the desire but not the fulfillment. I had determined that God was ignoring my prayers or, worse, answering them, and I still didn’t care.
Only He cared. He cared so much about him that he wouldn’t let me get into a relationship with anyone just because I felt lonely. He loved me so much that He never wavered from His plan, even when I threw tantrums or wallowed in melodrama. He loved me enough to remain completely unmanageable, even though I tried my hardest to sell myself short.
In the end, persistent prayer did not convince God to let me have my way. Instead, it slowly molded me into the woman and future wife God wanted me to be. God used that time to prepare me, not to punish me.
And, through a secular dating app, he brought me the right man at the right time and wouldn’t let me turn him down, as I had all the good men of promise who had gone before him.
This Thanksgiving I thank God for my husband and our new sacramental union. I am also grateful for my former single life, which forced me to seek and rely on Him in ways I never thought possible. But I’m thankful it’s over.
Thank God I now have the answer to my most persistent prayer, and because of His perfect plan for marriage, it will remain the answer as long as we both live.
Until death do us part.
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