On the night of our second anniversary of dating, I threw a pathetic pity party.
My boyfriend hadn’t proposed yet, and frankly, I was tired of waiting to be engaged. When I realized that the romantic evening he had planned for us wasn’t going to end with a ring, I started crying.
“I just don’t understand why we’re not engaged yet,” I sobbed.
My boyfriend couldn’t tell me, but he had good reasons for waiting to propose until two weeks later. I understand that now, but I didn’t understand it then. And in my impatience to know the unknown, I was demanding my own way and questioning his love for me.
An Eerie Resemblance To The Israelites
I was reminded of that night while reading Exodus the other day. In Exodus 32, God has recently freed the Israelite people from slavery and brought them out into the desert under the leadership of Moses.
In the desert, God calls Moses to meet with Him and receive the law and commandments on Mount Sinai. Moses remains on the mountain for a long time — 40 days and nights to be exact (Exodus 24:18). And at the bottom of the mountain, the Israelites get antsy.
“When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, ‘Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’
So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:1-4)
With no indication of Moses’ return in sight, the Israelite people lose hope that their leader is ever coming back. In a way, I can understand their concern. 40 days is a long time to sit around waiting.
But if the Israelites had stopped to think for a moment, they would have remembered Moses’ leadership record. Since leaving their lives of slavery in Egypt, Moses had consistently shepherded the people rightly.
More importantly, they would have remembered that God had been leading Moses the entire time. Why couldn’t they believe He would continue to do so?
Fear Leading Into Foolishness
While Moses and Israelites are not meant to be a metaphor for dating, their fear mirrors my own. When I can’t see what direction ahead, my fear can make me foolish.
That was the case for me on that tearful anniversary night. Just like the Israelites were questioning Moses’ ability to lead them, I was questioning my boyfriend’s ability to lead our relationship toward marriage.
Don’t get me wrong — there are right times to question the actions of those who lead us. As women of the Lord, we must remember that our boyfriends are sinners, and we are called to hold them accountable.
But we are sinners, too, and that night, I was the one at fault. My questioning was not rooted in truth or love. Instead, it sprouted from the lie that my boyfriend didn’t care about me. It sprung from the self-centeredness that led me to believe I somehow deserved a declaration of his commitment.
Yet the most troubling problem that the Israelites and I faced, however, was not dismissing a human leader. It was flatly rejecting the leadership of God.
On the night of my pity party, my boyfriend gently spoke this truth to counter my questioning: “Aurora, you need to trust me. But more importantly, you need to trust God.”
He was right. Deep down, my problem wasn’t with my boyfriend. It was with God.
You see, I knew that nothing happens outside of the oversight of God (Job 42:2, Psalm 24:1). Even the most powerful of kings lives under the authority of the King of the Universe. If the Lord can turn the heart of a king however he wishes, he can certainly turn the heart of a boyfriend (Proverbs 21:1).
My frustration revealed the toxicity buried in my heart: I felt I knew the proper timing of our engagement better than God. I thought I had “earned” the right to a marriage proposal after enduring a long distance relationship and moving to a new city.
The truth? God had never promised that our dating relationship would culminate in the marriage I desired. No amount of zealously-endured trials guaranteed that my long distance boyfriend would become my husband.
But the promise I had been given instead was extraordinary: “for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). I could rest in the knowledge that whatever God had in mind, it would be better than what I had.
Of course, it was. A few weeks later, we were engaged, and a few months later, we were married. The timing was right — if only because I needed to be awakened to the sin tapping its foot in my heart.
Who Are You Waiting On?
Maybe you’re not waiting for engagement, but you seem to be waiting on your boyfriend for something else — waiting for him to get a job, waiting for him to decide to move, or waiting for him to come home.
Maybe, like me, you’re not waiting on your boyfriend as much as you’re waiting on God.
If so, confess your impatience to God. Apologize to your boyfriend if needed, and then ask him to pray with you that God would strengthen your faith in this time of waiting.
On the other hand, maybe God is prolonging this waiting period to prevent you from committing to a man who does not treasure Him fully. If you think this might be the case, I’d encourage you to pray for discernment and to seek advice from Christian friends and mentors.
Whatever your circumstance, let this season of waiting be a time to discover the joy of trusting in Christ.
Further Reading: The Unwelcome Gift Of Waiting by Vaneetha Rendall Risner, How To Trust God While You Wait by Sarah Mart, and The Miracle Of Waiting Faithfully, an interview with Jackie Hill Perry.