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The Pursuit of Love

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

I had the perfect boyfriend in high school. He was kind, funny, full of joy, gentle, he treated me like a princess, told me I was beautiful, and he loved me. He is still all of these things 16 years into our marriage. I have, of course, figured out by now that my prince charming is not perfect. His smelly socks lying next to the dirty clothes hamper can make me look like a crazy person on the wrong day.

As my fairy-tale love story inevitably faced reality, dirty socks were the least of my concern.

The problem was, he was my first love. Actually, I thought my fourth-grade crush was my first love, but he was everyone’s crush… I didn’t stand a chance!

In the season of life when I met my husband, Justin, I wanted to be rescued. I had needed a rescuing for a while. I had just walked through years of dysfunction with a dad who had an alcohol and drug problem. When my parents divorced when I was 13, we were forced to move two separate times going to three different high schools in one year.

When I met Justin only a year and a half later, he not only became my first love, but my savior. I knew about God at that time in my life, but I didn’t live out any kind of relationship with Him. He was just a far-off God in the clouds I prayed to when I went to bed.

When we got married four years later, although I truly loved Justin, he was not the one my heart needed most. My heart ached and I was unsatisfied. I was looking to Justin to fulfill what only Jesus could.

10 years of marriage and 3 kids later I had a revelation in my kitchen. I was anxious because I knew the Lord had called us to move to California so I could attend ministry school, but we were terrified to say yes. I had a war going on inside me. Moving involved uprooting us from our home of 10 years where we started a family, my husband’s job of 14 years and leaving all our friends and family.

It was a big deal, and I was undone.

When I’m upset, I clean. While I was cleaning and being nasty with my words to anyone who directed anything my way, my husband placed his hands on my cheeks and turned my face toward him. When he reached me, almost nose to nose, he said, “I love you; I just want to be with my wife.”

This was very brave of him.

When he told me he loved me I could not look him in the eyes. Then, I realized I never had. I had never been able to look him in the eyes as he told me he loved me.

The Lord spoke to me and said. “You cannot truly accept Justin’s love until you have first accepted mine.” I couldn’t fully receive Justin’s love, and I couldn’t give it to him either. That was the start of a journey to find out what intimacy with Jesus really was. You see, I knew the Lord well and I knew God loved me, but my head and heart didn’t agree.

We did end up moving to California, but God didn’t call me there to earn a diploma, title, or certificate of any kind - It was about intimacy with Him.

As I sought God, He took the brokenness inside me and began to make me whole again.

It was like taking a crazy, messy room and cleaning up one thing at a time. When the floors of my children’s rooms disappear, and they stare at me in confusion as I ask them to clean it up, I have to direct them.

“Pick up the blocks and come and tell me when you’re done… Now go pick up the dirty clothes, etc.” Looking at it all at once is too overwhelming. God brought things forward to be dealt with one at a time and He began piecing my heart back together. He still is.

In this process, I began to put Jesus and Justin in their rightful places. Instead of relying on Justin to fulfill my every need, I started looking to Jesus. I know that the Lord will use us to bless each other and be examples of God’s unconditional love toward one another, but God cannot be second. It just doesn’t work.

Justin was no longer responsible for my inner well-being, my happiness, my joy, my peace, my fulfillment, my hope, etc. And surprisingly enough, we began to have a happier, more fulfilled marriage.

Not for a moment do I think it’s wrong to desire a husband. God cares about our desires. He wants to bless us! And He will; divinely and timely. We just need to trust Him to fulfill those desires. Here’s a true story of God doing just that:

A woman was set up on a blind date. Her date went to the flower shop to get her flowers before he went to pick her up. He was going to get her roses or red carnations, I can’t remember which. But the florist said she only had white carnations, so he went with that.

When he arrived, his date’s sister answered the door and directed him into another room where his blind date was waiting. As he walked in, his date ran out of the room, upstairs to her bedroom, shut the door and started to cry.

The sister went upstairs to find out what was wrong, and as this woman was crying, she shared that she prayed to God, “God, I’ve had other men in my life and none of them have been the one. If he is the one, please have him bring me white carnations.”

God cares and God intervenes!

I have felt unqualified to share on this topic because in some women’s eyes I have lived the dream. I married my high school sweetheart. What do I know about desiring to be married!

What I can tell you, is that I have an incredible husband. But - when God created you and me, He put a desire in each of us that only He can fulfill. When we look to someone else to fill what only Jesus can, we will always be left unsatisfied.

I want to bring you to one of my favorite places in scripture. Hosea, chapter two. But first let me give you the setting:

Chapters 1-3 of Hosea is a portion of scripture where God commands Hosea to take a wife known to be sexually promiscuous. His wife serves as a metaphor for Israel, which has engaged in the whoredom of idolatry – unfaithfulness to God. This is a perfect picture of God’s grace and desire to be intimate with us.

And now, here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to start all over again. I’m taking her back out into the wilderness where we had our first date, and I’ll court her. I’ll give her bouquets of roses. I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope.

You’ll address me, ‘Dear Husband! Never again will you address me, ‘My slave-master!’…

And then I’ll marry you for good – forever! I’ll marry you true and proper, in love and tenderness. Yes, I’ll marry you and neither leave you nor let you go. You’ll know me, GOD, for who I really am (Hosea 2:14-20 MSG).

Anyone else have their first date with Jesus in the wilderness?

The wilderness is often a place of loneliness, weariness, and starvation.

I was surrounded by wonderful people in my life, including a loving, grace-filled husband, but I felt so alone. I was weary of trying to fix myself and be better for everyone. And my soul was hungry, but I didn’t know how to eat.

On our first date, I began to realize how faithful the Lord was. I don’t mean faithful to provide, or heal, or save me. He is of course all these. But I mean simply faithful to be with me; to love me.

Jesus may not put butterflies in your tummy on your first date, but His love and desire for you will overwhelm and fill the empty places in your heart.

It’s His Presence we need most. It’s His grace that betters us. And it’s His Word that sustains us. He is the One our heart needs most.

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