My Road to “I Do”
I can’t get the title of a particular book out of my head — ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, that’s the title that Nelson Mandela gave to his own autobiography, a chronicle of his lifelong fight against racial inequality in South Africa.
Fun fact: I have not read a single page from that book.
I guess what draws me to the title as I think back over the past 8 years of my life, is the length of my own walk to freedom.
Precisely what got me in the mood for thoughts on freedom and long walks was a surprise dinner about 3 weeks ago when the absolute love of my life got down on one knee to pop the BIG question.
Lulu (as I like to call him) & I have been dating for about 2 years & 6 months. But more relevant to my story of freedom is actually the 5 years of singlehood that came before that.
I was single for 5 years because I needed to be and God made that very clear. Now, how does one wind up in ‘need’ of a status as despised as ‘Single’? Many reasons! but for me, God needed those 5 years to teach me absolute security in Him. To teach me to find fulfillment in him alone. To get me to a point where there was no ‘someone’ in the picture and be completely at peace with that.
The fact that it took God 5 years to teach me that should tell you just how tall, thick and wide the wall of insecurity He was trying to break down was.
I was a deeply insecure woman and the worst past was, I had not the faintest idea that I was because:
- I was naturally a high performer who excelled her way through school.
- I am a pastor’s kid who grew up around the Church where it had been drilled into me that God was my eternal source.
When I thought about women who fit the label of ‘insecure’ — I thought of those quiet, painfully shy ones that could barely look you straight in the eye, and that made you strain your ears to fully hear whenever they spoke. Nothing could be further from the woman that I am. I was always the one who occupied the front row in class, and my hands were always among the first few to go up in the air when the Professor asked questions. I’ve also always been very direct in speech, the easiest way to make a point has always been to get right to it, no sugar coating.
Women like me just did not carry around the ‘insecure’ crown.
It would take those 5 years for God to teach me that ‘insecurity’ had less to do with the outward appearance of confidence and more to do with the source from which I drew my value, worth, identity and happiness.
I didn’t know it at the time but the relationships I had were a major source of where I drew my value from. I couldn’t remember the last time I hadn’t fallen asleep to the sound of a boyfriend’s voice on the phone. I could be on the phone for hours with a boyfriend, but struggle to stay awake for 5 mins in my morning times with God. I would spend whatever amount of transport fare it cost to go visit a boyfriend if they were ever in the same city as me but I would rather sleep in on Sundays than make the trip to Church.
I felt so fulfilled in these relationships. I was getting all the validation a woman’s heart could ever need, without needing much of God to get it.
It took God stripping away those relationships for me to realize just how much I relied on them to provide those crucial intangibles that God alone should be the primary source of; love, attention, validation, comfort, support, companionship etc.
I will never ever forget the day a spiritual mentor told me pointedly, “you will never grow with God in the way that I know you want to, with these men constantly available for you to run to as a refuge when life gets tough”
I remember just crying. It was the first time in the many times we had sat together that she had seen me cry. I knew her words were true, and I knew from my tears that the toxic dependence I had built was very deep.
And so what was God’s solution for me? A 5-year wilderness of Singlehood. I summed up enough courage to end those relationships once and for all and never looked back.
Broken and hurting, it was finally just God & I.
So, how was it wandering about the wilderness? Odd. Strange. Weird.
But I quickly realized that God didn’t intend to bring me through a season of Singleness for me to be idle. He made it very clear that it was not a temporary waiting room. It was a time to rebuild the desecrated temple in my heart where God needed to dwell in.
I kid you not when I say I didn’t quite feel the years in those 5 years go by. And it’s because God made sure they were filled, filled with A LOT of Him. I learned how to spend time with God — growing from just 5 mins a day to an hour every morning. I learned how to serve God by serving other people. I learned how to take my anger, sadness, fear, loneliness, anxiety, joy, happiness to God. He became my crutch.
And so when God felt I had learned just enough to open the door to allow someone else into our union, he brought me Lulu.
What words best describe this man Lulu? He’s like 10,000 miracles wrapped into one human being and made perfectly just for me. To say it any other way would be a gross understatement.
So Lulu arrives on the scene! Amazing! But now how do I make room for him? How do I not unravel the 5-years of work God had done on my heart? How do I not let Lulu take the place of God the way I had let other men do so?
The only way that felt right was by keeping God at the center. For the 2 years & 6 months that Lulu & I dated, we were so particular about certain things we wouldn’t do that were completely ‘normal’ in the eyes of the world, but if left unchecked could slowly allow idolatry into our relationship:
- We set a limit on when and how often we spoke to each other in a week.
- Anytime we went out we ALWAYS had someone accompany us, like A L W A Y S.
- As long as God hadn’t given the green light to move on to the next level (marriage) we treated each other just at the level we were; no using “my wife” or “my Husband” as pet names.
Well, did it work? I believe so! Our very first kiss is going to be at the altar ❤️. Thinking about this and where I am coming from, it literally feels like I am writing about someone else.
But what about you? How do you hold up under the “insecurity test”?
Do you give more to the man in your life than you do to God?
If you are honest with yourself, does the man you are with desire the same intimacy with God for himself as you desire for yourself? Or is he just obliging you in order not to offend you?
I would absolutely love to hear your story! Find me on Facebook (Nchedolisa Anammah) and let’s connect some more :)