The One That Got Away

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January 12, 2000

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5 NIV

Four years ago, I suffered the worst heartbreak of my life. I'd been dating Mark off and on for three years, and I knew we needed to make a decision to move forward or move on. Despite the fact I'd met him at church on Valentine's Day, that he made me laugh and made me feel beautiful, that he loved God and loved his family, I still couldn't get any peace about moving toward marriage with this terrific guy. I prayed - no, pleaded - with God for direction. And when I was met with silence and a lack of peace for months on end, I slowly, excruciatingly let this relationship go.

Without a tangible reason for the breakup, it's been easy to question the wisdom of this decision over the past four years. There were no "irreconcilable differences" or "I want kids and he doesn't"-type issues to blame, only a vague sense that God said no. I've alternated between seasons of peace (which have thankfully grown longer over the years) and seasons of waning trust in God's grand plan. I haven't been obsessing, just wondering what to do with that nagging question mark in the back of my mind.

I was on a shopping excursion with my roommate last summer when I saw my ex-boyfriend across a trendy furniture store. There was a woman with him. Even though I hadn't talked to Mark or seen him in over two years, I failed to muster the courage to say hello.

Later, kicking myself for being such a chicken, I chatted with God about this "chance" encounter. "Were you wanting us to get back in contact, God? Was it just bad timing before?" The what-ifs crept in big time, and I once again prayed for peace and direction. I remember thinking that it would almost be a relief to know he was married. It would put the issue to rest once and for all.

Well, about a month ago, I had another "chance" encounter. This time with a woman from my Bible study. We were chatting about work when it somehow came up that she knew Mark. She'd even dated him briefly. She still saw him on occasion at work and knew that he'd just gotten married a few weeks before.

I stood there in stunned silence, an odd mixture of grief and peace washing over me. It was the peace of a closed door and the loneliness of an empty horizon all at once. And amazement at the way God had orchestrated this answer to my prayer. It was a difficult, yet unmistakable reminder that God's got it all in control - breakups and weddings, what-ifs and answers to prayer, and someday, if it's in his plan, the arrival of my Mr. Right. Though he didn't have to, though I should know better by now, God once again proved his trustworthiness to me. That truth will be welcome company no matter what the future holds.

Camerin Courtney

2002 Christianity Today. Used by permission.