The Journey of Oneness
The demonstration of oneness is really the most beautiful expression of God’s love there is.
The Journey of Oneness is a real-life story that begins with the preparation for marriage, leads into the wedding, and then unveils the many dynamics that can begin to happen once we enter into the marriage. It discusses the joys and the difficulties that surround the oneness that God ordains when two people meet at the altar and pledge their love for a lifetime.
Chapter 1 - A Good Thing
If you are anything like me, you had to kiss a lot of toads before your prince charming came along. Perhaps you find yourself single for one reason or another, and you find that you are still kissing some toads, and still aren’t meeting the man of your dreams. Hopefully, you will find some really good and helpful advice throughout this book, information you can relate to and learn from. As a single, not only did I have to endure blind dates that turned out near-disastrous, I was also formally asked about six different times by six different suitors for my hand in marriage (the seventh one I said yes to). This is not surprising since I was single until my mid 30s. I had enjoyed a healthy and inspiring social life and tried my hardest to keep myself out of trouble, and also from marrying the wrong man. This was my greatest confusion and my greatest fear — that I would marry the wrong man and then one day wake up to not only. discover it, but to regret it as well.
I can remember even when I was very young, that I always thought I would be married and wanted to be. But I didn’t understand marriage until I got older and began to see some of the major problems that couples I knew were facing. In fact, I can remember that I started counseling couples when I was only 15 years old and since then have counseled couples in one way or another ever since. But when my first serious suitor came along and asked me to marry him, I was only 16, not even finished high school. I think he had only taken me out on one date and then asked me to marry him! I turned him down, because for one thing, I hardly knew him and I certainly wasn’t in love with him. But I know that my parents had liked him very much because he was sensible, had a good job, was a good Christian, and even had a car. His mother was a good friend of theirs as well. He likely would have been a good husband. But I was too young and I had no feelings for him, plus I knew he wasn’t “my type” at all.
Now that’s an interesting concept — “my type.” At one time I wouldn’t have even thought twice about this, but now I think it’s so important that it’s worth some discussion. First of all, for many years, I held onto the idea that marriage would never be possible for me if he wasn’t “my type.” So for many years, I lived in a dreamy fantasy world because “my type” never really existed as far as I knew. He was someone I had invented in my over-active literary mind. Being an avid reader of romance novels (I read every single book of Grace Livingston Hill when I was a young teenager) and also a romantic and writer myself, I cooked up the most wonderful surreal male creature you can ever imagine. Ladies, you would be proud of my fictitious man. He was handsome, had a great sense of humor, would pursue me and hang onto every word I said, would have lots of money, be impressively intelligent but not cocky, a well-respected professional, love me with his life, and bend to my every whim and desire. In short, he would always have time for me and I would be his priority, he’d understand me and all my many moods, and he’d always adore me. I would live in a happily-ever after in a little kingdom of love with me as his queen and he as my king. I loved this dream and I think that in many ways, this idea of the perfect man kept me from marrying for all the years that one day would stretch before me and eventually it would seem that the right one would never come along.
The Wrong Type
It is when we are most vulnerable that we can make decisions that we may regret later. I reached one of those vulnerable times when I was in my mid twenties. My sister and I had been roommates for four years, and then she got married, so I found myself living alone. I experienced an intense feeling of loneliness, even though she just lived down the street from me. I had a great job, good friends and lots of interesting things to do, yet still, I felt very much alone in my life. Some of my friends were also getting married, so I would attend their weddings and see how happy they were, and began wishing I too had someone. It was out of this vulnerability and loneliness that an opportunity arose to meet someone that I came to believe was the right one.
One evening I went to a Bible study at the church I was attending and a few days later, the pastor called me and told me there was a man I had briefly met there that wanted to meet me. So I called Eric (not his real name) and met him for coffee. At first I just wanted to help him and be his friend after he told me all the difficulties he had experienced with alcohol and drug abuse and that he needed a friend. I had no intention of getting involved with him, but he needed my help, so I innocently and slowly began getting involved with him. I thought I could help him to stay away from the alcohol and drugs and the more time I spent with him, the less time he would have to think about returning to these harmful things. At the same time, he was reading his Bible, attending church regularly and also beginning to write me the most eloquent love letters that touched my heart. He would also buy me the most beautiful gifts. I started to see him as a spiritual leader and provider and I really enjoyed my times with him. He walked the walk and talked the talk, so to speak. I was impressed.
It didn’t take long for Eric to propose marriage to me. When he did, I said yes, because I really honestly thought that he was the right one. He seemed to fit the ideal of what I had imagined so many years before. But the few months I knew him, I was to go through one of the hardest schools of learning I would ever go through when it comes to matters of romantic love and the vulnerability of the heart. I discovered that when you want something so badly you’d do almost anything to get it, you can be fooled into thinking it is right, when clearly, it is not. You know how you can read certain Bible verses for years and just pay casual attention to them, and then one day, those verses apply specifically to you? This is what was happening during my brief, but intense relationship with this man. I started to cling to the Bible for answers because something that seemed so right, was causing me more hurt and emotional pain than I had ever before experienced. Can this be of God?
One day after I had pledged my love to him, I received a phone call from him that didn’t even sound like him. I realized he’d been drinking. Then I wondered if he had been secretly drinking the whole time behind my back. Not too long after, one thing after another began to unravel. He was doing drugs and other-related things that didn’t seem to fit who I thought he was. When I discovered he had even been seeing other women, my whole world fell apart. But I still cared for him and still thought there might be a chance for us. Yet, I was so blinded I couldn’t see that the confusion, fear and anger I felt was clearly a strong indication that he was not the man God had meant for me to marry. I was double-minded, broken-hearted and still, forgiving each and every thing he did, not wanting to let him go. Somehow, I believed the impossible — I believed I could change him and that everything would be alright! Yet it was inevitable that I would have to break it off with him, and after I did so, the pain and disappointment was all-consuming. I had given my all and then felt cheated, lied to and ultimately cast away because Eric’s addictions had gotten the better of him and he couldn’t begin to fulfill the longing in my heart to be loved as I should have been.
It wasn’t until many months later, that I sought therapy through a self-help group and began to see myself as a victim in a relationship where the abuse of alcohol was evident. The results of being involved with him had devastated me and it would take me a couple of years to recover. The most important thing I learned was that when someone is an alcoholic, or has some other besetting problem and they are unwilling to change, is that as long as they deny that they even have a problem, everyone else around them must change to accommodate their behavior. And as long as others continue to accommodate them and accept their “problem,” they will never really see a need for themselves to change. In marriage, this usually spells the end of the relationship, since the person who has to continue to change is the one being abused, ignored and used and their real needs can never possibly be met. Some spouses choose to remain with their alcoholic spouse for one reason or another, but the consequences are usually impossible to live with and in some cases, devastating.
Although my relationship to Eric was the most serious relationship I had ever been involved in prior to meeting the right one, there was another relationship I was involved in that I’d like to mention. A few years after I met Eric, I met a young, nice looking Christian man, also in church. Trent (not his real name) in many ways was “my type” (I thought) and so he became a very good and trusted friend. He had all the right qualities that I would consider admirable in a husband. He respected me, and he was generous and caring. He had a good sense of humor, and he also had a heart for missions. He was stable, sincere and had a good job. We really enjoyed each other’s company and, unlike the previous relationship, I felt a sense of peace and safety when I was with him. We had lots of fun dates together, going out for suppers, going for drives, and attending church functions together. I even took him to meet my parents and the rest of my family. They really liked him and hoped he was the one for for me. I soon found out that, like my family wanted, Trent was also thinking beyond our friendship and wanted more. In fact, after only a few short months, he was planning to propose marriage to me. But, I didn’t have romantic feelings towards him. Considering all the good qualities he had and the fact that my whole family approved of him, I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me?
This was one of those situations that really required a lot of prayer. I felt confused and then every time I was with Trent, I started to feel uncomfortable and pressured because I knew he wanted more and I wasn’t sure I did. I think this might be a very common problem. I sought some advice from a couple of close trusted friends. One friend said that what I was feeling was normal and that some people marry even if the romantic feelings aren’t there. But I couldn’t imagine “settling” when I believed I could really meet someone that I would be in love with. After all, I had seen others when they had met the right one and they were so excited they shared that they couldn’t stop thinking about or talking about that person.
Because Trent was such a nice person and I couldn’t find anything wrong with him, I could have easily said yes to him and then hoped that the romantic feelings would follow. But as time wore on, I was starting to feel so much pressure to change my feelings for him and make a decision to go forward into marriage, that it was becoming increasingly difficult to even be with him. He was quickly and impatiently moving forward and I wasn’t. We were on two different levels. The Bible even talks about this:
Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Amos 3:3
I should have been listening to the Lord more, rather than fret, then maybe I could have just brought an end to it sooner than I did. But I didn’t want to hurt Trent’s feelings and I still valued his friendship, so it went on a few more months, with him trying to get me to change my mind, and me, feeling increasingly uncomfortable and guilt-ridden for being unable to fall in love with him and say yes to a lifetime commitment to him. Finally, out of anguish in my heart and a feeling of deep respect and caring for him, I brought closure to the relationship, leaving the door open for platonic friendship only. Even though I believe he was deeply disappointed and even angry, I felt a peace immediately and, in time, I knew that I had done the right thing.
As time wore on, I continued to have dates and male friends, yet my loneliness deepened, because each time it didn’t work out, I knew in my heart that they weren’t the right one. I had learned by experience and prayerful consideration, when someone wasn’t right for me. You can think a person is the right one, but if he or she does not somehow reach your heart, and you are also struggling with nagging doubts that won’t go away, then is this really the person God has in mind for you? The mind can play tricks especially when we want something so much we are willing to settle for less than God’s best. I have seen this happen many times to people I have known.
When you get married later in life, relationships that are not God-ordained can and will happen. Some people just go ahead and marry even though they aren’t in love, or even though their fiancé has serious problems that will be difficult to overcome. Sometimes it may work out, but the road ahead will be long and difficult. I was to discover that God had something much better in mind for me. I was able to wait since I had learned to trust God, plus I had a good job, good family and many caring friends. More than this, I had a clear purpose and vision for my life, that God had given me many years earlier. I was to learn how important this is, whether married or single, and this purpose has kept me sane and stable throughout all the many storms I’ve encountered through-out my life.
The Quest for Information
About a year before I was to finally discover the true love of my life, I started asking God specific questions about my hopeful forthcoming one-day marriage. Even though I had no idea who I would marry, I had already been praying, by faith, for the man I believed I would one day marry. If the man God had picked for me wasn’t a Christian yet, I prayed for his salvation first and foremost. I prayed for God’s direction in his life and I prayed that he would find me, unhindered by anything the enemy may try to use to interfere with this happening. (I later discovered that one of my prayers was answered when my husband later shared with me that he was offered a job 1500 miles away, accepted it and then later felt he should turn it down not knowing why at the time!). I also prayed for a man that would love God, since if he loved God, I knew he would love me in a good and godly way.
There are a few specific answers I received from the Lord regarding my forthcoming hoped-for marriage. The first happened one summer day, as I was driving back to the city from the small town where I had been visiting my parents, I was praying and asked the Lord why He was taking so long to answer my prayers for meeting the right one. He had the most interesting response. In my spirit, I heard Him explain the importance of timing. I had never really thought about timing before, but He explained that when He provides a miracle (which it was becoming), it is done in such a way that many people are affected, so that He can receive the ultimate glory. He explained that in my case, many people would be affected, not only those who had been praying for us, but others as well. I couldn’t see then what was going to happen, but I kept thinking of the many miracles Jesus had performed during His earthly ministry and that many of these miracles affected hundreds and even thousands of people (like feeding the 5000 for instance – why didn’t He feed them when there were only 100 people following Him, why did He wait until the crowds reached 5000?).
Sometimes His greatest miracles must germinate and simmer for a long time before they are ripe for harvesting. This was certainly to be the case for me. In addition to the greatest number of people being affected, I was to learn that God wanted the very best for me — so He was preparing me for an amazing love affair with my husband, one that He wanted to last me a lifetime. In a very real sense, similar to me coming to the Lord for a major change in my life, I had to almost come to the very end of myself and my own self-centered ways before He would grant me the deepest desires of my heart. One of these self-centered issues was, as mentioned before, refusing to consider anyone I didn’t think was “my type.” So God still had a lot of work to do in me and this was going to take some time.
After the Lord had explained the importance of timing, I was able to continue waiting with some hope that, since He had answered me, this must mean that in His time, I would indeed be married. I just didn’t know when it would happen. Still curious, and struggling to wait, I continued to query Him about my hoped-for marriage. One day, I was housecleaning my one-bedroom apartment and praying, when once again the issue of marriage surfaced. I asked the Lord directly: “Who am I going to marry?” Although He never mentioned a name, He did say that it was someone I had known for many years, and someone that I knew very well. So I went down the list of friends that were still single, yet no one really jumped out at me! It’s funny that after I discovered the man of my dreams, that he was someone I had known for many years, yet he wasn’t on my list because I wasn’t even sure if he was a Christian, and also because I didn’t think he was even my type! Today my husband still jokes about this, telling others this story and remarking that he didn’t even make my list of potential husbands!
Another time I was visiting my parents and getting ready for the day ahead when the Lord spoke to me again about the man I would one day marry. He said that my husband would be financially able to support me and I would be able to write, which was my life-long dream! He said I wouldn’t have to continue working at my office job, which I wasn’t really enjoying anyway! He also added that my husband was very time-conscious and would want me to be on time for things (sometimes I could be tardy)! So I began to have a mental picture of the kind of man I would be marrying. He was successful in his career and he cared about the details — like being on time. I felt that since he cared about the details, he would also take special care of taking care of me! He sounded like a dreamboat!! Yet still, I hoped that this was not just all a figment of my over-active literary imagination, since I knew how to cook up a really good romance story! But I believed this came from God and, later, I would discover that everything He was telling me would unfold!
The Sense of a Change
The spring of my ultimate discontentment at still being single, I was working in an office and had graduated a year earlier with a BA in English. I was working steady in a government office, which was perfect for the time, since it paid me well enough to finance my education and give me the time I needed to complete all 15 full-credit hour courses. It wasn’t a difficult job and I had made good friends there. But it offered no future, and certainly had nothing to do with my chosen profession, which was always writing. I had applied for an office job in the Premier’s office and I was really excited about the possibility of getting this promotion. So when the Lord gave me a definite stirring in my heart that something BIG was about to change, something so great that it would change my life forever, I thought that He was going to provide me with a great new job. I had also started a small greeting card business out of my love of photography. So I thought maybe He was going to open this up and enable me to write and also further develop my small greeting card business. Any which way, I knew in my heart that God had a BIG CHANGE OF PLANS for me coming up soon in the fall. I knew it without a doubt, yet, didn’t know exactly what He had in mind.
Consider the Cost
But something really important needed to happen before God could bring about this change. The final and most important thing that had to happen occurred in the late spring of the same year the Lord was going to perform a miracle of a lifetime! I was walking from my car into the apartment building in the back of the block. What a beautiful sunny day it was, with the poplar leaves in full bloom and the warm summer air blowing through the trees in the park-like setting of the block. I was thinking about the same old thing — who I would marry and when I would marry? This day, the Lord chose to ask me two very hard questions. It was very difficult for me and I had to think a long time before I answered. He asked, “Will you be willing to work at a job for the sake of your husband if he asks you to or needs you to?” And, “Would you be willing to support him in this way if you had to?” Why did the Lord ask me these two specific questions?
After He asked, I was taken aback so much that I had to really think about how I would answer, because He had already hinted that my husband would be able to support me financially! I wanted to write — that was all I ever wanted to do! So I almost cried when I had to think about this, but still, I trusted the Lord, so I said yes to both questions. After I said this, I realized the importance of the questions He had posed. What He was really asking me was if I would be willing to lay down my life and the things I wanted and desired almost as much as I wanted a husband (which was the freedom to write), for the sake of my husband. He was asking me to love my husband even more than I love my writing and even love myself. Isn’t this what the Lord asks of us as His children? To love Him with all our heart, soul and mind?
Relationships are costly. They cost us our very lives if they are worth anything at all. And, other than our relationship with God, there is not a closer relationship on this earth than the one you have with your marriage partner. If I wasn’t willing to lay down my hopes, dreams and the things that I love and love doing, than I am not fit for marriage. I would be too selfish and choke the life out of the marriage not to mention short-change my husband of the love and devotion he would be deserving of.
Isn’t it interesting that many marriages are unfruitful today or have even ended, perhaps because people have never really sacrificed their all for their marriage? Some women marry specifically, not so much because they don’t wish to be alone, but because they love children. They want to be married in order to bear children. While this is normal, natural and healthy, is it really fair to marry a man for the sake of raising a family, and then focus on the children and neglect your husband? Or is it right that a husband justifies working 60 or more hours a week to make a living and neglect his wife and family? So we must be careful to remember that our spouse comes before our jobs, our children, our homes, our dreams and any other hidden agenda we may have in our heart.
All summer, for one reason or another, my good friend Craig and I were spending more time together than usual. Craig and I had met 10 years earlier when we both worked for the passenger trains. I worked in the ticket office and he was a red cap, and also worked in the stores. We became friends there, but after I left to take a newspaper advertising sales job, we didn’t see each again for about five years. When we met up in a local grocery store, which was about central to the same area where we each lived, I discovered he was still unmarried and was taking university courses in computer science. He was a techie!! I needed a computer and so the friendship seemed to naturally resume, and he also became my trusted and much-needed computer consultant.
A Budding Friendship
For five years, we developed and enjoyed this friendship. We went for walks together, bike rides, went to the movies, and then one day, Craig opened up and started sharing his need for God. He started attending the same church as me, yet he still wasn’t committed in his heart to knowing the Lord fully and completely. In other words, he was searching, but not yet born again (or saved, as the Bible says). By the fifth year of our close (completely platonic) friendship, many things had happened to me, from being stocked, assaulted and harassed to major dental work that had left me weak, frightened and needy for emotional support. In other words, a husband’s support, protection and strong shoulder to cry on is what I needed. So rather than a husband, Craig, my trusted friend, was there at every crisis I had, it seemed. Isn’t God faithful to meet our needs?
In the fifth year, not only was Craig there more often, I found myself enjoying his easy and fun way, and I knew he was enjoying my companionship, too. He had taken holidays the previous summer and I remember I felt a strange feeling of missing him, almost wishing I could go with him. I couldn’t understand this, since other “guy” friends would also go on their holidays and I never thought twice about it! But, by the following summer, when Craig was going away for three weeks, I, strangely, wanted to go with him. We were both photography buffs and so we planned on meeting in Banff, Alberta and take pictures of the mountains. Craig was going all the way to Vancouver Island to also visit relatives, while I would drive with my parents to Calgary to visit my relatives and then we would drive on to Banff.
The day that Craig left, I can’t remember ever feeling so lost in my whole life, except when my slightly older sister Marlene got to go to Daily Vacation Bible School and I didn’t get to go because I was too young. I think my parents said I ran outside after the car as they drove down the street to the highway, crying and screaming for them to stop and take me too. When Craig left, God began working on me in earnest. For one thing, because I had all these conflicting emotions, I immediately sought counsel from trusted people. My biggest question was, “If Craig is just a friend, why am I pining for him and missing him so much? After all, it can’t be more than a friendship, since he’s always been just a friend, right?”
So after I had received considerable counsel and people were really praying for me, God spoke to me again. I had asked God about Craig and what was going on because I had these conflicting emotions. Remember the first experience I shared when I prayed about when I would get married, and God taught me something about timing? Well, God said something very profound to me that began a big change in my thinking and I still think about it to this very day (almost 14 years later). He said, “WHEN I SEE THE TWO OF YOU TOGETHER I SEE A GOOD THING.” When He said it, I immediately saw an image of Craig and I together, as God sees us. I saw a compatibility there that I had somehow missed before. We had very similar interests and we were both seekers after God. I felt such peace when I was with him, something that had escaped my attention until now. And I missed him more than I had ever missed anyone before and in a different way than I had ever missed someone before.
More than this, God said that He saw a good thing. When God sees a good thing, you must pay attention! The word “good” when it is mentioned in the Bible, especially Genesis during the creation miracle, means that since God makes it or creates it, it is perfect, and will not get any better. It also means that it is something that is complete and will not need to be improved, changed, rearranged or redone. If God declares that it is GOOD, than it is final and it is magnificent. This was the beginning of a revelation that would unfold to me over time, that God was putting something beautiful together, that neither Craig nor I had much to do with in its creation.
The title of this chapter is called “A Good Thing.” The first thing about marriage and the journey to oneness is that it must begin with prayer. Whether you know who you will marry or not, or whether you are married already, you must always begin with praying for your spouse. So the first foundation begins with prayer and bringing God into the whole process. When we pray for God to bring the “right one” instead of trying to pick him or her out by ourselves, according to what we think is “our type,” our forthcoming marriage will begin with the very best of God’s blessings, because He will bring you together and bless you as a “good thing.” When God said He saw a good thing with Craig and I, it shocked me. I was still thinking Craig wasn’t my type at all. I loved him as a friend, and I wanted God’s very best for him, In fact, I can remember praying for him that God would send him a great wife and companion, one that would be deserving of his good nature. But in my heart, my ideas, my will and my pride were all getting in the way of what God had for me. But God’s “good thing” statement began a change in my way of thinking and worked its way into my heart. The other men I had met were not of God’s choosing. He didn’t say they were a “good thing” for me to be with them. In fact, those relationships resulted in confusion and sorrow (read James 1:17). They added nothing to my life. My heart didn’t change and there was no excitement, no lasting joy and no future with them. But with Craig, there was something there.
When God declared me being with Craig as good, this really meant, that there was no one any better for me. The buck stops here — he is the one! When you think of it, when God saw that Adam was alone, He said that it WASN’T GOOD (see Genesis 2:18). So He created Eve. Now it was good, the man and creation were complete.
This is the beginning of the journey of oneness. If God orchestrates it, then it is going to be good. It is tangible and it will work. So in the next chapter, we see that marriage is something that God puts together.
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