The piece below is an article I originally wrote for Single Christianity Magazine, posted on June 3rd. It's the last installment of a three part series that talks about my journey and struggle through singleness, which I pray God uses to encourage and strengthen those who are, or know someone, who is an adult in the single season. For part one of the series, see the previous post on my website. For more resources from Single Christianity Magazine, click the button below!
When Ryan and I broke up, there was no indication we’d ever get back together. In fact, Ryan told me to move on and made it very clear that he had moved on when he began seeing someone else. I was so confused and honestly, frustrated with God. I prayed and fasted before I dated Ryan, and went in so confidently with that peace I truly believed was from the Lord. Looking at the wreckage of our relationship, I wondered what went wrong. Had I misheard God? Was Ryan not listening to God? Was I being punished?
I sought counseling on a weekly basis with a godly therapist whose name is Gary; partly to help work through the grief and partly to sort through the baggage I had been carrying for years. He listened to me cry, vent and question on so many occasions that I felt bad for the guy. Most people around me grew tired that I wasn’t back to normal. I felt like a burden to them and eventually learned to put on a “mask.” I was a mess. But Gary helped me work through my issues, such as my tendency to control and catastrophize.
Ryan also began seeing Gary separately. I suppose I felt hope rise in my heart when I knew he had made the step to work through his own issues, but I had to step back and realize this wasn’t for Ryan. My path to healing was for me and me alone. I was thankful for the step he was taking, but I couldn’t allow it to provide my heart any false hope. For all I knew he was in the past and I was trying to move forward.
I went on dates with a few guys after a while, but I never went past a second date because I just wasn’t ready to love another person. Truth is, only God had the ability to touch my heart those long and lonely months. I clung to John 15 as my hope and anchor – that cleaving to Jesus was not only my lifeline, but a restoration of a whole Brittany.
Ryan and I eventually found our way back together. More importantly, God led us back together. After seven months of being apart, one night, someone tried to break into my apartment with a hammer, unsuccessfully. Ryan heard about it and reached out me. That cool, December, Saturday he took me to an outdoor shooting range and taught me how to shoot a gun. We laughed and talked as we had before, time irrelevant, although with greater maturity and insight now.
Slowly we began exploring a relationship again. I honestly was so afraid – afraid of having my heart broken again. I didn’t know if I could take another round of the pain, loneliness and long nights. Carefully we treaded and eventually began dating again. It wasn’t easy. We had hard conversations and good cries that were necessary in re-building a strong relationship. We had a few setbacks along the way, but we put in the hard effort of working through them and nurturing a stronger relationship.
Two years later we moved Ryan out to Colorado for a dream job over the holidays. On New Year’s Eve, as Ryan and I stood on top of a mountain, I watched the man that I love get down on one knee and ask me to be his wife. Three months later I moved out to Colorado as well and on top of another mountain, just a few weeks after my thirtieth birthday, our former counselor, Gary, married us in front of our closest family and friends as the sun set behind the Rocky Mountains.
Looking back, I’m so thankful that we broke up and spent those months apart. That we sought God to a greater degree than ever before…separately. That we sought counseling to deal with our past and insecurities. And that we did it with the knowledge that we may never get back together. We had to let go of each other for a time, and it made a world of difference. We recalibrated ourselves individually so that we could be a healthier “us.”
God has woven an incredible story out of our beautiful mess. When Ryan and I got back together, we really got to know each other and built a genuine friendship. Out of the difficulty we experienced through our sin and separation, we forged a deeper love.
I look at our story and yes, there are things we wish we would have done differently. But I look at our journey now and I know we’re right where we should be. Ryan and I have not only a very strong relationship and foundation, but a genuine friendship. Every day we love hanging out with each other and always refer to ourselves as “Team Rust.” We face the world as one.
To you, the single, I share this: Stay connected to the vine.
Verse 5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
I couldn’t have survived the breakup, or navigated dating, or ended up with an amazing guy if I hadn’t remained connected. Every time I try to give things a go my way, I always fail. I don’t want to fail anymore. Unfortunately I will, but the great news is that God redeems! Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned over these past five years has been this: Simply receive grace.
The old Brittany valued control in situations and often missed the meaning of grace. I watched God take a broken and messed up teenager, love her, care for her and deliver her from bondage. I watched, when that same girl sinned and thought she was unworthy, as God picked her up out of her brokenness to do what no one could ever do her for, not even herself. He washed her clean, comforted her in those dark and lonely nights, restored her health and redeem not just her life, but her relationship.
That’s grace; the most beautiful gift in the world. It appears in many ways. It appears when you fail yourself, but reach out to God for forgiveness and redemption. My story is messy, but it is also beautiful because it’s covered in God’s fingerprints.
The world will convince you to find peace and value in unhealthy relationships. The enemy will taunt you with thoughts that you’re not good enough when you’ve failed. You’ll tell yourself you are a failure. But Jesus will tell you differently than anything the world will tell you. The thing about singleness is that you don’t have to do it alone; you can walk through it with Him and see your own story unfold under the fingerprints of God.