Continued from yesterday’s Once Upon A Time post……
Needless to say, I fell and I fell hard that summer, despite the fact that I was not speaking to the Lord or pleased with my father or men in general at that point.
Dale eventually did get around to asking me on a date, and although he picked me up, payed for it, HE named the time and HE named the place, and thankfully, NEVER used that awful line again! Phew!
Funny, I was no where NEAR ready to be in a relationship, yet I willingly, for the first time, jumped into a dating relationship. You know, the “pick you up at 8” and all that. No good night kiss though, I told Dale he’d have to wait on that! lol 🙂
It was summer love! It wasn’t long before we were together nearly every evening, going for drives, walking in the park holding hands, sitting by “our fountain” listening to the water and talking. We talked about EVERYTHING for hours and hours. Oh, if there is anything I miss from dating Dale, it’s the hours of uninterrupted conversation…not much time for that anymore! 🙂
We talked about our goals, our plans, our dreams. We talked about the Lord and faith a lot. Dale admitted to falling away from the Lord and becoming a “Sunday-Wednesday Christian” only. I challenged him to think about his life in light of eternity, he teasingly called me his “Lightening Bolt” from God.
It was a summer to remember!
That August, a little over 2 months after we met, Dale took me out for my 18th birthday, a surprise he said. We arrive at his mother’s restaurant, which closes at 2 each day, to “pick something up”. When I walked in all the tables were pushed aside except one in the center of the dining area, it was lit with candles and had flowers and gifts on it. He had his brother back in the kitchen, making my favorite foods. It was so sweet and romantic! The radio he wanted to use for romantic background music was locked in a back office, but that didn’t stop us from slow dancing anyways. It was amazing! Dale gave me a gorgeous diamond heart necklace and promised me the world.
He also told me he loved me for the first time that night, although I wasn’t ready to say it back until much later in our relationship, he put no pressure on me to return the sentiment. And like the gentleman he was, Dale got teary, hugged me, raised my hand to his lips, kissed it, and told me how thankful he was to have a girl like me in his life.
God was doing amazing things in Dale’s life and he was making some positive changes, but I was starting to feel a nudge from the Lord. Nudges I tried to ignore. You know how that goes, it’s miserable. I knew what He was saying, and I didn’t want to hear it.
He was asking me to break up with Dale. He was asking me to lay him on the altar, and step back so the Lord could do a mighty work in his heart. He was asking me this because neither of us were ready for a relationship.
I told Him, “Yeah, right! I love this guy and finally found someone that would treat me like a lady and not a piece of meat. And helloooo?! Did you catch the part that he respects my purity pledge and is willing to wait for me and everything!?? Nope God, not gonna happen, I wanna marry this one! PLEEEEASE?!”
Still, the Lord prompted and I eventually listened. God was asking me to let Him have Dale, maybe forever, to prepare him for being a husband one day, and whether he was to be mine or not, it needed to happen.
Bawling, I sat down and wrote the hardest letter I had ever written, one I’d have Dale read as we sat together, for what I thought was the last time, as a couple.
I knew what needed to occur, our breaking up and going separate ways. I was so disappointed in myself for listening to my heart and not the Lord. After all those years of trying to save the pieces of my heart for my future husband, I’d given the whole thing away to Dale without consulting the Lord first. I was so thankful we’d never kissed, at least my physical purity was intact.
I wrote in my journal:
“I feel like I have let God down. I feel as if I have tried so very hard in this area of my life to obey and stay focused on Him, but now I have messed that up. Now I have to tell my future husband that I not only gave a piece of my heart away to another guy, I gave the whole thing away! I have to tell him that I have loved another before him. Ouch. That will be so hard. He’s out there, I know he is, my knight in shining armor. The one who I have prayed for since I was 13. He’s out there, I know it….just waiting for me.”
I had Dale come over, read his “I have to break up with you because the Lord needs to work on both of us seperately” letter and then we talked, sobbing and hugging. He knew it was true. The Lord needed to make both of our hearts whole alone, before they could be whole together. He needed me to forgive my dad and learn to trust men again. He needed Dale to work on letting go of the past and fully embracing his future in Christ. I placed my feelings for Dale on the shelf and determined to leave them their until the Lord let me take them down again. Until we were both ready this time, IF that was the Lord’s will. And then, he took Dale away from me.
God was doing mighty things in Dale’s heart and he was excited to get the opportunity to travel with a ministry team called “Souled Out” for a few weeks. I was glad to see him go, I didn’t want to run into him anymore, it was too hard.
Dale will tell you now that God broke him over and over on that trip. Like brought him to his knees at the altar. He’ll tell you that each time the Lord broke him, He picked him up, dusted him off and loved on him as only a Father can. He went through the layers of sin and disobedience in Dale’s life, stripped him down and begin a new work in him. And when he came back? He was a new man. The light that can only comes from Jesus was shining through his eyes. I could scarcely believe the transformation!
While Dale was gone, I waged my own emotional war of unforgiveness in both the area of Dale’s past, as well as forgiving my father! I had so much to learn before my heart would be ready to love fully and with 100% trust.
This story is a long and drawn out one, I have the stack of journals and emails to prove it!
We spent months apart, God daily working on my heart in the area of grace and forgiveness. It’s funny to me how my forgiveness of my dad was directly connected to my forgiveness of Dale’s past and my readiness to move forward in both relationships. I was being asked to forgive as Christ forgave me, but I was still feeling too justified in my hurts to do so.