Greg's Story, Part 2
I think anybody who has the chance to make a fresh start should do it. It’s exhilarating really. The chance to start over, with nothing to stop you from being who you could be.
I had been in a couple relationships in high school, or as much of a relationship you can have in high school anyway. I realize now that I had been plagued with the mindset that has been ingrained into high school students – essentially that you need a boyfriend or girlfriend to survive. I realize that those relationships stemmed from an incredible lack of maturity (not that I’m all that mature now – just ask my fiancé). I also realize that the decisions I made then were not in the best interest of anybody involved in the long run. But how could I know? I was in public high school, with all the influences and stereotypes that go along with it. Unless something happens to radically change the direction you’re headed, we usually end up in the same situation, time after time.
For me, the radical shift in direction came in the form of an opportunity. An opportunity to move from the place I knew and loved – Omaha, Nebraska, to a place I knew nothing about – Nashville, Tennessee. Through God’s sovereignty, he put people and influences in my life that led me to end up attending school in Nashville at Belmont University. With this opportunity came a chance for a fresh start, in every way, including my perspective on relationships. So when I was a senior in high school, I decided I was going to make a change. I was going to commit to a few things: to honor God by respecting the girls I met and treating them as sisters, to not date until I was prepared to marry, and to ensure that before ever pursuing a girl, I would first seek wisdom from the Lord.
To spoil the ending for you, I was fairly successful in maintaining these commitments, by the grace of God. However, the road there wasn’t exactly a stroll through the park. I found that it’s not easy being a single 20-something guy in the midst of both a college campus and a town full of families. Anybody and everybody is willing to help you find a mate. People would say things like “Are you ever going to find yourself a girl?” (What? You think I’m not trying here?), or “How do you feel about (insert female name here)?” (You mean… HER?) Though I’m sure their intentions were good, the constant barrage of backhanded remarks, comments, and opinions can take a toll on a guy.
I certainly wasn’t perfect. Sometimes I would play those games. I would joke and laugh, without any regard for that particular daughter of the King or her heart. But deep down, I knew I was called to a higher standard than that. I knew that by not taking my relationships – and potential relationships – seriously, that I was really revealing insecurities and immaturity in myself.
So needless to say, I’m thankful that God is a God of mercy. I’m thankful that he can piece together our broken, fallen, mistake-filled and immature selves. I’m thankful that when we die to ourself (constantly), that he is there to fill us with Him. So that’s what I did. I decided to be single to the glory of God. Through this, God showed me that my contentment and joy wouldn’t be found in any one person, any one job (that’s another post altogether), or any one possession. I realized that singleness is a gift from God (as is marriage), and that true contentment could be found in the sovereignty of God and enjoyment in the grace of God. To waste my time of being single would be to waste the purpose that God had ultimately designed for this time in my life.
Through a number of relationships and influences during my 20th and 21st years, He also showed me a picture of what a marriage relationship looks like. I was able to see how Christ’s love for his church was a picture of how deeply and sacrificially I was to love my future wife. This was a love that was unlike anything I had ever experienced before – one that came with a price, and yet no price was too high. It was one that was both tender and unconditional. It’s not like I was never exposed to this, but it meant something different now. It had perspective and substance. It was something that I absolutely could not wait to put into practice.
Above photo taken by Nancy Ray Photography.