Everyone who knows me almost immediately thinks of the color purple. My purple feathered pen. The name of my production company, Purple PenWorks. My insistence on wearing purple practically every day of my life.
Outside my apartment is a rather stunning display of Morning Glory flowers. They’re deep purple and blue, and they look like trumpets, ready to herald good news.
When they are open, that is.
They seem to blossom in the morning and especially when it’s sunny. They can go into hiding by nightfall or on cloudy days. Sometimes, a few of them refuse to come out, even when the rest of the flowers around them are showing off their colors.
Have you ever had one of those days where you wanted to go into hiding? You didn’t want anyone to see your face because they’d be able to read the distress all over it?
There were seasons of my life where I felt like I had nothing to “trumpet,” nothing to shout from the rooftops or celebrate. Every day started the same and ended the same, with me closing up into myself—just like those flowers that hide their beauty.
I knew in God’s Word it said that while weeping may remain for the night, joy would come in the morning. I often wondered which morning and on what calendar God was referring to. I felt more like I was in mourning: mourning the loss of dreams, hopes, time frames, and progress in life. Where I wanted to be by that time in my life. Many mornings came with tears still on the brink. That lump still near my throat. Where was this joy I kept reading about?
This was a long season I call waiting.
It was a season of longing.
A season of trying to cling desperately to hope but finding it short in supply.
When I was in my early twenties, God made me a promise that one day I would get married. I thought that sounded awesome because it had been my desire since I was a young teen. I was happy to hear this was something God had for me.
What God failed to mention was that it would take 16 more years of waiting before His promise would even become a remote possibility, that I would be almost 40 years old when love would finally show up in my life and I could take that long-awaited walk down the aisle. God didn’t warn of the trials, the heartbreaks, the journey to come. While I felt ready to blossom much sooner, God would have me in the shade for over a decade and a half of waiting.
Yet still, God wanted me to hold onto hope.
Often, He reminded me of that precious promise from many years ago. Sometimes, the reminders hurt. When I managed to keep my heart in a place of contentment, any reminder of that missing promise-to-come would kick up that desire like wildfire; contentment would be out the window. I would assume if God were bringing up the topic that the time was imminent. Oh, how many times I would be wrong!
And yet, God still asked for my faith; He still asked for my hope.
It was through the fire of waiting that God refined me, built my trust in Him, prepared me for marriage, taught me to love unconditionally, and showed off His extraordinary sense of impeccable timing.
What God wanted from me was absolute surrender. A surrender of my purple pen. (The pen I would use to write in my journals from a very young age about how I thought my love life should go. I made that purple pen a character in Never the Bride. I used that purple pen to write Finally the Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting. And waiting. And waiting.)
God didn’t want me stealing back the pen once I gave it up to Him, during all those times I didn’t like what He was writing. He was definitely not taking any of my suggestions—for timelines, for specific guys I prayed about, for the changes I ached for.
Instead, God surprised me by writing something completely different. Almost seventeen years after God first promised me that one day I’d get married, He reintroduced me to a friend from long ago, Chris Price. I’d met Chris just barely a year or so after God first made me that promise of marriage. We lost touch after a few years of being causal friends, then reconnected over a decade later in 2010.
Chris knew right away there was something to this connection. (Though wise man that he is, he kept that tidbit to himself and waited for God to talk to me about the future of us.)
With Chris, instead of me trying to convince God like many times past to “give this guy to me,” God was trying to convince me to say “yes” to this man. So, what did I do?
I said no.
For six months, I said no.
I had my ideas about what I wanted, and this idea of God’s didn’t fit my plan. But God wanted me on His plan. Slowly, He worked on my heart. He revealed to me what His best was.
Once I was willing to walk through the door and give Chris a chance, everything moved rather swiftly. Once I started cooperating with God’s plan and stopped fighting it, I stepped into the best, most loving relationship I’ve ever experienced. (Well, outside of my Heavenly Father, that is.) For the first time in my life, I fell in love with someone who actually loved me in return. Completely and unconditionally. That had never happened to me before, in almost forty years of life.
I could have continued to say no.
I could have missed out on God’s best.
What’s funny, in hindsight, I see so clearly why God chose this amazing man for me. In the beginning, I may not have been able to see it. But now, having just hit my one-year wedding anniversary, I see the extraordinary gem I could have missed out on, had I continued to say “no” to God’s perfect plan.
Do you ever get impatient in the waiting seasons? Do you get distressed? I had no idea, during the wait, why God had me “on hold” for so long (also known as “the holy pause” button). But as sappy as it may sound, my husband was worth the wait. He was worth the pain and anguish those years of waiting brought into my life. When I think back on the people I wished God would have given me, I have no doubt now why God said no to me every time.
When God says, “It’s not time yet,” trust that He knows what He’s talking about. He knows what He’s saving you from.
Whenever I get impatient for God to move in other areas of life, I try to remember how He had my best interests in mind with the timing of my marriage. He can still be trusted with the timing of the rest of my life.
If you are in a waiting season—no matter what you are waiting for—try not to give up hope. Hope can only make your heart sick when it’s a hope we have given up on. Trust, that if what you are waiting for isn’t here, it’s either not for your best or it’s not the right time. I can attest that though weeping may remain for a night (or even many nights), joy will come in the morning.
In the meantime, do not hide or shrink away, like those flowers that refuse to show off their colors. The world needs your beauty, that unique contribution that only you can make.
Even while waiting, you can still shine.
I just started reading Finally the Bride. I am only up to chapter 4 but I wanted to stop and let you know that it means so much to read about your journey as I have traveled a very similar path. Looking back, I see God’s hand at work all along the way as he prepares me for the fulfillment of a promise He gave me a long time ago. I am in my mid-thirties and still waiting. I love that part of your title that is “Finding Hope”. In 2005, I was struggling particularly with maintaining hope though waiting on God’s answer to His promise. Hope was hard to hold onto at that time in my life. As I prayed and poured out my frustrations to God, He told me to write a letter…a letter to a man I had not yet met, my future husband. The letter was about hope, patience, and faithfully waiting. I felt silly but I wrote the letter anyway. Throughout the years since, God has told me to write a few more letters and now there are a total of 8 letters. Each one came after a confirmation of God’s plan, one of those God winks you mentioned. I wrote these letters as a way to document my struggle with and faith in God’s promises. I keep these letters in a special box that will someday be my wedding present for my husband. Also in the box is my “list” after I finally allowed God to do some serious editing and shape my desires into what He wants for me. My much shorter list has only 6 basic qualifications I believe God has already instilled into the character and integrity of my husband to be. That list does keep me from chasing my own imagination. There have been a couple of godly Christian men that God brought through my life that I admire and respect but had to let go because God reminded me they weren’t God’s chosen life partner for me based on that list. Whenever I feel like I am slipping back into trying to convince God to do things my way, I can take out that box of letters and retread about the times in my life when God gave me a glimpse into how special this time of waiting and growing really is. I laughed when I read where people said the reason you weren’t yet married was because you weren’t prepared enough for it. How many times have I heard that? It absolutely makes no sense to me, and yet God really has been preparing me through this time of waiting. I am not the same insecure girl I was in my early 20’s or the overlooked, intimidated girl of my late 20’s. I am not even the reluctantly single and settled girl of my early 30’s. I am the hopeful child of God who has found joy in seeing what God is doing behind the scenes in my life and ministry. There have definitely been some incredible times in my life that wouldn’t have had the same impact if they hadn’t happened while I was still single. Those special moments are the ones that I carry with me as I do what God has called me to do now, even while I wait for God’s next surprise. Thank you for writing your story. It is an inspiration to the rest of us who God has asked to wait a while longer.
Deann, Thank you so much for coming over here and sharing some of your story. That all sounds very familiar to me. 🙂 I’d love to hear back from you when you finish the book. But I’m glad it’s giving you hope in the midst of your waiting. And super excited to hear God is speaking to you about all this. That is awesome. He really does care about this extremely important part of your life, Deann.