I’ve always wanted to get married.
Seriously, like since I was seven. I remember driving home from church and telling my mom, “I’m going to marry Jared.” I daydreamed of turning 18 so I could start college (because as a kid, 18 sounded so old!) and begin dating the cute boy who would I would marry by the age of 20.
Over the years, my crushes changed, as did my boyfriends, but the desire to get married never wavered. I longed for it and craved it, deeply. But as the years passed, I started wondering if it would ever happen to me. I started wondering how many memories I’d have to make alone, without my husband there to share them.
The more guys I met, the more getting married seemed too good to be true. Me? Married to a great guy? I mean, I couldn’t find that many great guys to start with. And the ones I did find always seemed to be more interested in my friends. (I’ve since learned that good guys all hole up together, so if you find one, chances are there are several more lurking in the shadows nearby.)
That’s why, when I met Travis at age 24, I didn’t want to give him up—even though I knew I had to.
I remember the first day I met Travis. He literally “Supermaned” into my life. I was sitting in Bible study when this new guy walked in the door, glanced over at us girls and then careened down the half-staircase to where the guys were meeting—catching himself in a somersault as he hit the floor. I just stared. I was like, “Is this guy as klutzy as I am or is he trying to make an impression?” I still don’t know; he never told me. (I’m guessing klutzy.)
As the months passed, we became friends, and then started dating. And he was wonderful to date. Truly wonderful. He affirmed me at every turn, romanced me each day and showed me a new reflection of myself—of someone I’d never seen before. He showed me someone who was beautiful and generous and passionate, even at her worst moments. He showed me someone who was strong, who was the kind of girl that guys fell in love with. Everything I’d feared I was lacking, he told me I possessed. And I started to believe him.
That year and a half with Travis was filled with beauty. I became a more whole person, filled with new confidence. So when I couldn’t seem to fall in love with him, I didn’t understand why.
Even more, when I felt like God was speaking to me in that undeniable still small voice and asking me to give Travis up, I was stunned. “But God,” I’d pray, “we are so good together! We communicate well, we enjoy the time we spend together and we fit well together. Why can’t I just fall in love with him and marry him?”
But if I’d ever known anything, I knew that I had to let him go.
And so, eventually, I did.
I ended the relationship with tears. I wandered back into my apartment with no one to call, and felt the loneliness begin to strangle me. I’d forgotten what it felt like to be lonely. Life had been so full with Travis that each night when I got home to my apartment, I’d fall straight asleep. But now I noticed the emptiness and stillness again, and it hurt like crazy. And then I felt the Lord’s whisper: “I have what you’ve asked Me for.”
Several months later, just before my 26th birthday, I finished my master’s degree and finished writing my first book, which I’d been working on for years. Skyping with my parents one day, my dad had the craziest idea: “Tiffany, why don’t you quit your job and try traveling and speaking full-time? After all, you’re single. You have nothing to lose!”
My heart skipped a beat. Could this be why I was still single? Could God have had a purpose after all?
So I did. I tried it. It was crazy, but I’d never felt so fully alive in my life!
I packed up my hatchback with boxes of books and trundled around the country, just me and God, for several months out of each year. I spoke anywhere that would have me—colleges, churches, high schools—telling the story of how God set me free from an eating disorder. And at the end of each event, I’d close with a little glimpse into my singleness. I’d say, “I used to want to be married by 20. Now I’m 26…27…28…and I’m still single. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know the One who holds my future. And I finally trust Him.”
On those long road trips, just me and God, I began to trust Him in a deeper way. He became my everything—my companion, my protector, my best friend, my romancer, my provider. Every memory I made, I made with Him. I didn’t walk one step alone or live one moment alone, because I was sharing it all with Him.
On those road trips, I finally surrendered to Him. I gave him my singleness.
And I realized that even if I never got married, I would be okay.
I would be okay because my life was already full, my life was already complete—with or without a husband. Would I feel sad sometimes? Yes. But would I be okay? Also, yes.
I was learning that there is absolutely nothing that compares with going on an adventure with God. No man can make my heart come alive like my Father-God can. And as long as I was sharing life with Him, I knew I would be okay.
I realized that all this time, God hadn’t been holding out on me. No, He’d been offering me the greatest gift of all: Himself. Years ago God told Abraham, “I am your exceedingly great reward” (Genesis 15:1). And now I realized that I was being offered that same exceedingly great reward: closeness with God. And as long as I had that, I had everything I needed.
At 28 I met the man I’d end up marrying, and I finally understood why I’d had to wait for him. We’d both had amazing adventures with God during our 20s. We’d both grown up from the days when we knew each other when I was 7 years old. (No, he wasn’t Jared…but he was in that same group of friends. Like I said, good guys hole up together.) And I knew that the wait had been well worth it. Heck, I would have waited another ten years for this man if I’d had to!
But what I knew more than anything was that my relationship with Christ was the kind of love that most people spend their whole lives waiting for. And my Father-God had never for one second forgotten about me. Whether I was married or single, I knew He’d be with me every step of the way, sharing every memory with me.
How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. (Psalm 139:17-18)