family is story

Between the Dream and the Dating

Between the Dream and the Dating

Why would anyone doubt God after they’d asked for and received a vision of their future in a dream? Why would anyone return to a pit after they’d seen a vision of the mountaintop?

There is no lack of reasons for why I didn’t trust what God had shown me in a dream about Nathan. But chief among them is that I wasn’t much for standing on my faith back then. In those days, I believed when I saw proof—seeing was believing. And for a long time, the scenery around me didn’t change. I was in direct opposition to what Hebrews 11:1 says: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see,” (NIV).

To understand the Marianna Trench depth from whence my life has come, I have to tell you a little about the story with my ex-boyfriend—the eight years of on-again-off-again. I don’t care to dredge up details or disclose names, so you’ll find that I skim over a lot. But I want you to have an idea that I was a mess back then, involved with someone just as messy.

He was the first guy to intentionally pursue a relationship with me rather than “fall in” to a relationship with me by default, familiarity or boredom. He was charming and witty and loved by many. From the outset, I was uneasy and felt like I “shouldn’t” date him . . . for reasons ranging from social to spiritual to emotional to factual.

Because I wanted a relationship so badly, and because I thought I knew that he loved me, we started dating. Weeks later, I broke up with him but we kept hanging out as friends.

As in everything, I prayed fervently for clarity. During a prayer retreat in Jacksonville, Fla., God impressed on me very clearly that I should stay away from this man. So, I did. And for a while, I was able to refrain from our friendship. However, eventually, we started hanging out again. Soon, my conflicted feelings returned—until I literally told God to leave me alone about this relationship. Within days of rejecting God’s leading, we returned to dating.

I realize now that our relationship was never fully what I wanted it to be—I was never fully who I wanted to be within that relationship. The way we worked didn’t really work. But I was too insecure and too scared of being alone that I ignored what I wanted and who I was; I made the relationship work as well as I could.

In the last years of our relationship, I was clearly being strung along—I even knew it myself. And I accepted my place on his line because I thought he’d grow up and change and be the man I thought I’d seen glimpses of—restoring our relationship and moving toward marriage.

How dysfunctional is all that, right? Oh, goodness.

Even though I was in counseling this whole time, things were not untangling (that didn’t happen until much later and via a form of counseling called Trauma Resolution Therapy. You can check out a book about it called Stop Treating Symptoms and Start Resolving Trauma.). As I was going through those years of back-and-forth with my ex, I perceived myself as strong, confident and faithful. Those were façades I portrayed, disguising my internal, psychological survival.

So, during the time between the dream (2006) to the time I reconnected with Nathan (2008), I was not dating my ex, but we had a relationship—he was the fisherman, I was the fish on his line. All of this, DESPITE the fact that I asked God for a dream and He gave me one.

For months after the dream, I grieved the lost relationship and denied my desperate urgings to contact my ex-boyfriend who was then living out-of-state. But something must’ve been missing from his new life because he sought me out again. Despite knowing he wasn’t good for me, I grabbed hold of the line and sought to wait out his relational immaturity.

Over the next two years—as I thought we were building a new friendship, as we traveled and visited one another, as we talked for hours on the phone, as we treated one another as significant others—I was hopeful that we’d work things out, get married and finally start a life together.

But every once in a while, I’d hear from other friends that he was seeing someone. When confronted, he denied it and reassured me that he wasn’t ready for a relationship—that he wanted to continue building our relationship. I opened my wallet and bought what he was selling.

Then, in 2008, my relationship with my ex felt like it was on an upward, positive swing. It seemed that we were on a path to reconciliation. So much so, that I planned to travel to spend my birthday with him. I daringly thought that we would reconcile over my birthday weekend.

Two days before my roommate and I were to depart (she was coming with me), my ex called to tell me he was interested in someone.

I told him to get lost, slammed down the phone, canceled my trip and never talked to him again!

No, that’s not what happened. My roommate and I . . . went on the trip anyway. Collective groan here, right? But that trip literally changed my life.

Maybe I was a little psychotic on that trip. Okay, a lot psychotic—I literally snooped all around his house. You wouldn’t believe the evidence I found of exactly how much he cheated on me while we really were dating and when we were pseudo-dating. I confronted him, he couldn’t deny it and he suggested we take a break. He suggested it, and I realized: I was done with breaks. I told him: “All the times before, when we would ‘take a break,’ I never felt like it was truly over between us. I always knew we’d get back together or make something work. But this feels final. It’s over.” Something in him still wanted to keep the hook in me that I was ripping out of my heart, and he asked if we could be friends someday. To which I replied: “I don’t want to talk to you for at least two years, and maybe not even then.”

Bless my roommate. Through this tumultuous trip, she had to scoop up all my feelings and tears and hold me together. Much of my strength during that time was born from her prayers over me and her undying ability to listen to all the crap I had to say about my ex.

Returning home, I was amazed at the lack of sadness. A switch had been flipped and the sub-station of insecurity, fear and faithlessness that kept me in a relationship with him was unplugged.

Sometime in July 2008 was the last time I spoke with my ex—in an argument over his returning something that belonged to me.

The next month, Facebook suggested that I might know a girl who went to the same high school as I did. We had several Facebook friends in common, so I clicked the link. That click revealed the profile of Nathan’s cousin, one of my best friends from high school. It was her house where I first met Nathan as a teenager.

She and I messaged each other and briefly caught up. She told me her older sister wanted me to give her a call and catch up too.

I called the older sister, Nathan’s cousin, on a Saturday morning, as I was driving to my dad’s house. As we chatted and caught up, she asked if I was married. I told her, “Not yet!”

I will forever remember where I was when she replied: “Well, you know, Nathan’s single. . . . ”

Read our story from the beginning:
how we met
a dream about my husband

©2014 Jennifer Wilder. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint or publish this content elsewhere, please contact me through this blog.