“A Husband for Thanksgiving” may sound like the title of a cheesy, old-time Hallmark movie, but this year, it’s instead a headline that applies to my own life. After 39 Thanksgivings as a single girl, I will finally celebrate the holiday as a happily married woman.
And I couldn’t be more grateful.
Those who met their spouses early or easily in life may not understand just what a miracle this is or appreciate just how much of a struggle intentional dating is these days.
Especially when you’re really bad at it, as I was.
Thanks to dating apps, I met literally hundreds of men over the course of several years and went on even more dates. And yet, by the end, I still had nothing to show for my efforts except misery and exhaustion. And I had no one to blame but myself.
Now, I have God to thank for rescuing me from my own ineptitude.
Looking back, I cringe at all the mistakes I made. I sought form over substance, thoughtlessly dismissing nice, stable, Christian men who made sincere, if sometimes awkward, advances in favor of dashing young cads with no interest in long-term commitment.
Then, any time I met a man with whom there seemed to be mutual interest, I unwittingly did almost everything I could to sabotage it. Rather than offer him softness and sweetness, I tried to impress him with razor-sharp wit. I would casually text him to show interest, though I’m fairly certain I just came off as clingy and needy. When those same men would flirt with me or take me on fun dates, I assumed that they were genuinely interested in me and began making plans for a future relationship.
All too often, those same men talked big but acted small, and their interest did not extend beyond a handful of dates or the hopes of a happy ending. Turns out they call such behaviors “charm” for a reason. And yet I fell for the magic time and time again.
What can I say? I’m a slow learner.
I pictured myself as some kind of amalgam of literary heroines: Anne of Green Gables, Elizabeth Bennet, perhaps even Ophelia, aside from the whole “descent into suicidal madness” thing. Perhaps studying Shakespeare too intensively, as I did at this time, does have unforeseen consequences. Hey nonny nonny!
During those years, I was trying to steer my life toward an old-fashioned Jane Austen or Hallmark movie ending, complete with a handsome bachelor, an unexpected snowstorm, and one sweet, chaste kiss filled with promise.
And I thought Tinder and Bumble would get me there. I’m nothing if not optimistic.
To the surprise of no one except myself and perhaps my loving and supportive mother, I was still single by my mid-30s, despite years of trying and decades of earnest, if misguided, prayer. I knew in my heart that marriage is a godly desire, so I knew that my intentions were pure. But when I still wasn’t finding a husband, it felt like God wasn’t keeping up His end of the bargain. It felt cruel to give me the desire but not the fulfillment. I’d determined that God either ignored my prayers or, worse, heard them and still didn’t care.
Only He did care. He cared so much that He wouldn’t allow me to establish a relationship with someone just because I was feeling lonely. He loved me so much that He never budged from His plan, even when I threw temper tantrums or wallowed in melodrama. He loved me enough to remain utterly intractable, even as I exerted my best efforts to sell myself short.
Persistent prayer ultimately didn’t convince God to let me get my own way. Instead, it slowly shaped me into the woman and future wife that God wanted me to be. God used that time to prepare me, not punish me.
And, through a secular dating app, He brought me the right man at the right time and wouldn’t let me brush him off as I had all the good men with promise who had come before him.
This Thanksgiving, I give thanks to God for my husband and our new sacramental union. I also give thanks for my former single life, which forced me to seek Him and rely on Him in ways I never thought possible. But I’m grateful it’s over.
Thanks be to God, I now have the answer to my most persistent prayer, and because of His perfect plan for marriage, this will continue to be the answer as long as we both shall live.
Until death do us part.