I am the type of person who has always been so used to having things work out the way I want them to – major life decisions, including minor ones – everything that feels right always goes as planned.
I always thought that if God permits something to happen, it is what he wills for me.
Little did I know that later on I will learn that sometimes God permits things to happen, not because He wants these things for us but because He wants us to find out for ourselves that what we think is His will is not what He has actually planned for us.
“Everything is permissible” – but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” – but not everything is constructive. 1 Corinthians 10:23
I had many plans for my life – serve God while I’m single, study well, get a good career, get married at 28, and the list goes on. I was living my life according to my own timeline but I felt as though I have not achieved anything yet, at least not most of what I initially planned. As I was seeing friends and other people (especially those younger than me) having the time of their lives with their successful careers and even their married lives, I started to think that maybe there was something wrong with how I looked at my timeline, relationships, and life in general. I started to notice that most of the people around have started to ask me why I’m still not in a relationship.
It’s hard not to feel pressured to reevaluate my standards – at least those that I set for the one I will be giving my heart to in case he has all those qualities on the list. I was an all-or-nothing type of girl until I compromised my standards for a person God did not even want me to have business with.
I had a guy friend who I have known for quite some time. We were good friends I must say. Because I was beginning to reconsider my standards at that moment, I though getting into a close friendship to a person of the opposite sex was harmless. The friendship went deeper as we went on and though I was trying to convince myself I could still get out of it whenever I want to, a part of me wanted to find out where we were headed.
The once silly conversations slowly turned into little sweet exchanges. I have never felt so right. So I prayed and prayed that God will make it work out, the way my human heart wanted it to.
There were many, if not too much warning signs that should have sent anyone running to the woods for dear life, but I ignored them all. Still I asked God to change him but I did not know at that time that I was asking God to make His will fit what I wanted. The struggle went on for years. I thought it was God’s way of molding me into the right partner for him. Later on I found out that I was indeed right. No, not about me being molded to becoming the right partner for him, but about God molding me to be the woman he wants me to be for Him – not for that man I thought was right for me.
We both had plans for the two of us. I had my own too, but God had other plans.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways.” – Isaiah 55:8-9
When God wanted to teach me a lesson far different from what I wanted to learn, that’s when everything I thought was right started to come down. But as they often say, some of the best lessons are learned the hard way.
Still we grieve what we lose even if we already know it’s not meant for us, but God slowly restores us and rebuilds us even when we think we are broken beyond repair.
Human as we are, when we let go of relationships God did not want us to have, we go through the stages of grief until we finally come to terms with acceptance of what we went through and give God complete control over our lives.
These were the stages I went through and the lessons I learned when I tried to let go of a wrong relationship:
DENIAL – A Lesson from Jonah
“But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed to Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.” (Jonah 1:3)
When the red flags started to appear, I always denied they were warnings. But God used them one by one to lead me to what His will is. Just like what he did to Jonah when He sent a great wind in the sea and let Jonah be swallowed by a big fish when he was thrown out of the boat. Even if Jonah tried to flee from the Lord, he still ended up obeying what God wanted him to do. Even then, he still questioned God, which is undeniably what we also often do.
We deny that where we are headed for is destruction, and go ahead with our own decisions. And when we are destroyed, we blame God for not sparing us from the destruction sooner.
LESSON: When we offer our lives to Jesus, we make a commitment to obey him. When we obey God, we must obey him fully – not buts, no ifs.
“…Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)
ANGER – A Lesson from Job
“Then Job replied: If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas – no wonder my words have been impetuous” (Job 6:1-4)
There were times that I questioned God why He allowed me to experience so much pain. I was angry at myself for easily letting my guard down when I had strongly held them up before all that happened.
Letting go – whether of the wrong relationship or not – is painful. It is not a surprise that we often find ourselves crying in anguish, questioning why we go through such pain we think we don’t even deserve.
I found myself humbled by the lesson we can learn from Job. He cried in anger when his world seemed to crumble apart and God seemed distant and silent amidst his sufferings. Still he remained in the Lord and acknowledged that God has sovereignty over all.
At times we may never understand but we simply have to trust His will.
LESSON: God works in ways we cannot see. Our faith is rooted not in what we cannot see.
We live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7
BARGAINING – A Lesson from Peter and the Disciples
Many times I tried to bargain with God, that maybe He can fix what is wrong, then everything would be fine and it would end up the way I wanted it to.
But God is not our Genie who we can ask to grant our wishes at our command. We can’t reduce Him to just that in our lives.
Being a Christian means our lives should be fully surrendered to God, every aspect included. We cannot let Him take control of our career and other aspects of our lives but leave him out of our relationships. We should no longer bargain but leave everything to God. When Jesus called the disciples, they left everything to follow Him.
Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”
LESSON: We must lift every aspect of our lives to Jesus. Less of ourselves and more of Him in our lives.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)
DEPRESSION – A Lesson from David
After bargaining with God for quite some time, I came to a point where I took pity on myself for being so naïve.
I wallowed in despair for not listening to God when I had all the red flags staring me down at my face.
Though not for the same reasons, David was also troubled and battled deep despair when he was fleeing his oppressors. He wrote about his struggles in his psalms. One thing we can learn from him is his humility to accept his weaknesses and his honesty to acknowledge them as part of himself.
“Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God.”(Psalm 42:11)
LESSON: When we are weak, we must rely on God for strength. It is in our weaknesses that we allow Christ’s power to rest on us.
Acceptance was the hardest yet the most rewarding part.
First and foremost, I had to accept an apology I never got from him. He lured me into a false sense of security that what he felt for me was true, only for me to find out he just wanted to be validated and he just used me to boost his ego.
It was hard to forgive him, but as God was working in me, I started praying for Him to take away every feeling that does not glorify Him.
God is not glorified with bitterness and hatred. And he tells us to get rid of these.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)
He made the rest of my struggle easier from then on, but it still took me quite a while. It took me several years until I was finally able to let go of the wrong relationship and accept what God has planned for me.
We must realize that when we give God complete control over our lives, we trust Him to take care of the outcome.
“For I know the plans I have for you, “ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Whatever plans we may have, let us put in God’s control. When we seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, he will add everything to us (Matthew 6:33).
“Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lion may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” (Psalm 34:9-10)
LESSON: We will lack no good thing if we put our hope in Him.
I surrender all my silent hopes and dreams
Though the price to follow costs me everything
I surrender all my human soul desires
If sacrifice requires
That all my kingdoms fall
I surrender all
Amanda is a Christian who happens to be a medical student, desiring to become an instrument to bring the gospel to the unreached people by serving communities through her profession.