The following is an excerpt from Jessica Mathisen’s brand-new book Already Chosen: Loving your Life in the Midst of Longing, now available on Amazon.
Jessica Mathisen lives in Athens, Georgia with her first and forever boyfriend, Rory, and their sweet puppy, Bailey. She is a recovering perfectionist, a former teacher, and a lover of people. Her passion is to communicate God's love to others through writing and relationships. Her favorite things are hanging with her husband, eating chips and salsa, and being a part of the local church. You can follow her on Instagram, too.
When I entered my freshman year at the University of Georgia, I more or less thought, “Where are all the boys? Bring them to me!” I expected that because I had given up dating in high school (I didn't really have to scare the men off), college was my fresh start to meet Mr. Right. I had the perfect plan prepared in my mind. Somehow, some way, somewhere, I would meet him, and we'd date all through the college years, get married, and start having some babies.
It was in my college years that I really found my footing, as I was on my path to self-discovery. I began to understand my strengths and weaknesses more, and even found some new passions! The Baptist Collegiate Ministry on campus was where I met some amazing girls who are still my best friends today. After a rocky first semester, I was finally able to find community with these friends and began hanging out with them regularly. My first couple years at school, I loved my growing group of friends. I was a social butterfly and enjoyed going to events, dancing and singing loudly, and laughing obnoxiously in the dining hall.
In this time of waiting, I certainly was doing a lot of the “right” things, but when it came down to it, I wasn't doing all the right things. Because, after all, when are we really doing all the right things? At this point in my life, I was in my early twenties, and I was desperate for some attention. I was beginning to think that something was wrong with me. Was I not saying the right things or wearing the right clothes? Was I too forward or too shy? Was I too smart or not smart enough? I had been on a few dates, but nothing lasting had come out of those experiences. I was twenty-two years old and felt I was destined to be an old maid as I watched friend after friend walk down the aisle to her happily ever after.
It is so much easier to settle for less when you are yearning for something that seems unattainable, isn't it? When I was involved in “pseudo-relationships,” I often rationalized my behavior. Looking back, I think deep down I knew these guys were not 100% right for me. But I wanted attention and affection so badly that I was willing to give pieces of myself away without getting much back in return.
Sadly, this was a game I knew well, and it was a cycle I allowed for far too long. I so deeply desired something—anything—to work, to click, for it to be magical like all of the romantic comedies I had watched over the years. But it never did. And in my desperation, impatience, and immaturity, I ended up giving many little pieces of my heart away, never to see them returned or validated.… How could I claim the name of Christ and settle for so much less?
When I was looking for a man to change my world and fix everything that I thought was wrong, my hopes were in the wrong places. I worshiped the dream instead of the Dream Giver. I wanted what other people had, and I was afraid of a life that looked different than the “perfect” one I had constructed in my mind. Friend, when I was constantly fantasizing about my guy “friends” with whom I was in pseudo-relationships, I was settling for the cheap substitute. I was far too easily pleased. I allowed my imagination to carry me to places it really didn't need to go—dates that never really happened, kisses that were not real, and wedding ceremonies that were nothing but a wish and a dream. I was so busy trying to fabricate what I believed would fill me up that I wasn't allowing God Himself to be my portion, my strength, and my joy. And when you're living out of a place of desperation, the actions that follow often are not the ones you're the proudest of.
When will it be my turn? That’s the question I repeatedly asked myself as I watched friend after friend walk down the aisle to her happily ever after. I wondered if something was wrong with me and thought that I would never find my one true love. But friends, God taught me that His love is greater. He taught me that waiting is not a curse, but a gift. He showed me that the source of my value is not in my marital status. And in this unwanted and lingering season of singleness, He did not leave me. In fact, He was right there all along.
This is my story of learning what it means to value God’s opinion and His plan above all else. It is full of stubborn mistakes and melodramatic tears, but it is my story. And knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t change it for the world. But it’s not just my story. It’s His story. No matter where you are, He’s chosen you, too. Whether we’re waiting on a soulmate, a baby, or a promotion, when we learn that we are already chosen by Him, we will find immeasurable peace and joy.