Over the past six months, I have received unimaginable volumes of unsolicited post-breakup advice from well-meaning friends, family and even complete strangers. Some people have told me to “put myself out there” and date around. Others have chided me when I do go out on dates, claiming that it’s too soon after my relational train wreck of a summer.
How soon is too soon? How does someone “properly” move forward with life after a breakup, divorce or failed engagement? If there’s not a right answer – or even if there is a right answer, but it varies from situation to situation – then why do so many people have such vehement opinions about this very personal, very sensitive topic?
Here are things I know to be true:
- It’s probably not a great idea for me to sit at home alone every night, drinking multiple glasses of wine and singing parodies of Taylor Swift’s “22”.
- I am still healing, so getting into a serious relationship right now would probably be about as smart as playing Leap Frog with a unicorn.
- I typically date to marry, but I am also capable of going on casual dates without physical or emotional entanglement (as evidenced by about half of the posts on this blog so far).
Since I live to please God and not man (Gal. 1:10), I threw out the conflicting advice and did what I do anytime I need wisdom: I prayed about it. In the end, I felt convicted that I needed to get off of eHarmony, so I did, but I still felt I should keep myself open to going on casual dates to get myself out of the house and, if nothing else, make new friends. And this week, make a new friend, I did.
Time for some back story. I know, I know… my role model Flynn Rider doesn’t do back story, but in this case, it’s necessary. So here we go:
The biblical Old Testament is written in Hebrew, which does not have a grammatical way to express the comparative or superlative (e.g. better, best). The way Hebrew emphasizes something is through repetition, like small children at grandpa’s house telling their mother that they are “very, Very, VERY” bored (hypothetically speaking, of course)! This style of emphasis is why God is frequently described throughout the bible as “holy, holy, holy,” underscoring his utter purity.
Similarly, I believe that when God is trying to tell me something, He emphasizes it through repetition. And three times in as many days, three different people have spoken to me about the gift of prophesy. The bible lists many “spiritual gifts”, some of which (like teaching and encouragement) are widely accepted throughout the church, but others (like healing and prophesy) create more apprehension and division among Christians. I have grown in an appreciation for spiritual gifts like prophesy as I have witnessed them in my father and, later, experienced them myself.
I remember as a kid, my dad often knew things before they happened – little things, like one time at a country fair, he entered his name in a raffle drawing. Right as the woman drawing the name out of the bowl touched the paper with the winner’s name, my dad turned to my mom and said calmly, “She’s about to say my name.” A few seconds later, my mom gasped, astonished, while my dad – completely unfazed – walked up to the stage to retrieve his prize. My ten-year-old self thought it was completely normal for daddies to have premonitions. After all, my dad was my hero; my role model; my seemingly infallible Gandalf-like figure.
But then I went off to college and realized that not not everyone’s daddy woke up from prophetic dreams to inform the family that a tsunami was about to hit Indonesia. And about that time, I started to experience prophetic visions for myself. For example, this summer, my friend Jill gave birth to her first child. Everyone knew she and her husband were having a boy, but the couple kept the name a secret. The plan was to reveal their son’s name after it was on the birth certificate. But two weeks before Jill gave birth, she and I went out to dinner, and as I sat talking and laughing with her about her soon-to-be-born son, I suddenly KNEW the baby’s name: Elijah. I didn’t tell Jill at that very moment, but I knew with such certainty that when she later sent out the text that her water had broken, I wrote back: “Say hi to baby Elijah for me!” She was as shocked as I had been when God revealed the baby’s name to me.
I’ve often asked why things like that are revealed to me. Knowing Elijah’s name before he was born didn’t change anything. It was a powerful revelation that seemingly had no impact. Why, then, did God choose to reveal it to me? I have come to the conclusion that it was for my encouragement, and for the encouragement of his mother, Jill, that God still speaks. It was a reminder to me of God’s omniscience and omnipotence. It reminded me who God is, and who I am in relation to Him.
With all that as background, last night I went on a date with Jonathan, an eHarmony match I’d connected with before I got off the site. Jonathan is a welding engineer and clearly a godly man, but he’s 9 years older than me and has a melancholy personality. I knew within the first five minutes that I respected him, but he wasn’t for me (there’s enough melancholy in me to go around)! Fortunately, the feeling was mutual, so I asked Jonathan how he felt about being set up with one of my friends. I strongly sensed that they would be a good match – she’s a godly engineer who does triathlons and, like Jonathan, is passionate about the End It movement.
Jonathan looked at me for a moment with a puzzled look on his face. Then he asked, slowly and cautiously, what I think about prophesy. I was immediately overcome with a Presence; a sense of knowing that the words he was about to say were Divine. God had been preparing me for this moment through my repeated encounters with prophetic conversations over the past few days.
And then Jonathan told me that he’d had a dream about me last week. In the dream, he walked into a coffee shop and saw me sitting at a table, laughing and talking with another man. On the morning of our date, Jonathan shared the dream with a friend of his, discouraged. But his friend’s reply was, “In your dream, she may be with another man, but perhaps it’s because she has a friend to introduce you to.”
So far, half of Jonathan’s premonition has come true. I’m praying that the other half comes to full fruition in due time.