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Eighteen years ago, I embraced the love of my life. It was Valentine’s Day in 2002. For about a year, I’d been hanging out with some Christian girlfriends and I had questions. I’d visited a church while I was in college, professed that I believed in Jesus and was baptized, but my Catholic upbringing didn’t really prepare me for understanding what I’d actually done. So now that I had friends my age who were “church girls,” I wanted to know what it meant to be “saved” and just how to live a better life that brought me peace and comfort. I was dealing with a lot. At that time, I was in my late 20s and I was the sole caregiver to my mom, being her only child. It felt like my life was passing me by, but my mother needed me. She had serious health issues and she could not afford to live on her own. Our roles had slowly started to reverse by the age of 14, and my mother looked to me for direction and often companionship.

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Me and mom in the 90s. Look at my tiny waist. LOL!

But I was a young woman and I wanted to be independent and see the world. And in a way, I had. By the age of 28, I’d been to England (twice) and France (three times), Germany (a month in 1999) and Montreal, Canada. Traveling has always made me feel alive and visiting those places changed my perspective on life forever. But I was still feeling stuck in my everyday life and craving love. I’ve been a romantic since I was a young girl. My mom loved reading, love stories and period piece movies with a dashing, young hero. So I’d read her old romance novels, bought a ton of my own and I was always on the lookout for my next “love interest.” I’d had a pretty serious relationship that started in my early 20s and ended in 2000 and things felt pretty bleak for me. I didn’t see how I could have a marriage and life of my own when my mother depended on me so much. So by 2002, I felt like my life held more questions than answers. But on a seemingly inconsequential V-day, I read a beautiful prayer that asked Jesus to be Lord of my life. And this time, I had a better grasp of what I was asking. My Christian girlfriends really helped me see what it really meant to live for Christ, not what TV, society or loved ones may have believed it meant. On that day, I literally began to experience God guiding me in my decisions and bringing clarity to my life. I didn’t have a taste for certain kinds of music and movies. I had a deep hunger to consume anything Christian: the Bible, radio programs, church services. It was a very special time in my life. I felt messages leap off the pages of the Word and everyday interactions started to have deeper meaning. Jesus was speaking to me everywhere I went. And I was truly in love. He became my Forever Valentine and every February 14 took on a greater meaning. I could see His hand in my entire life as embodied in Jeremiah 31:3: “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.'” ❤

But hold up now. That DID NOT make void my longing for a relationship. Not EVER. I was not going to sit up and declare, “Now that I have Jesus, I don’t need a man!” I think new Christians get caught up in that trap as if the two loves cannot coexist. Maybe it’s the intensity of experiencing the love of Christ and because His love is perfect we think it’s somehow minimizing the honeymoon experience. I will say that most new Christians do need to focus on learning and growing in their relationship with Christ because distractions are out there to trip people up. But acting like you’re asexual and not made for companionship is just unrealistic and not Biblical. Adam spent time exclusively with God for a bit of time, but He provided a mate for him (Genesis 2:20). Because the Lord knew that’s what he’d need, Adam didn’t even need to ask for a companion. So here I am in the wait of my life. I am doing what’s right by caring for my mom. Now I’m the “church girl” going to every Bible Study, prayer meeting and church service. I actually get up super early on Sunday mornings to serve on the Service Team of my church. Life is very different, but my home life is pretty much the same. My dating life looked like a desert. I’d go to single gatherings where it’d be 2 guys for every 12 women. Ugh. This can’t be my life. And when I invited my friend Mary to one of the gatherings, she ends up meeting her future husband. She gets married on my 30th birthday. I’m outdone by this point in my life. This is not that deal. I didn’t know that God was really shaping my life so exquisitely that I’d be ready in His perfect timing.

How could I know that my sweet, loving mama would be gone before I turned 32? She passed from cancer. The diagnosis came out of nowhere when all her health issues seemed to finally be under control. I buried her on what would have been her 54th birthday. It didn’t seem fair, but she’d been through a lot in her body and she’d begun her own walk with Jesus not long after me. I had the peace that I’d honored her and that I’d see her again in Heaven. I just wanted her to get stronger in her body and feel confident enough in herself to live more independently. I admit sometimes I felt guilty that she was gone. The enormous responsibility I’d been carrying had been lifted and I could finally live life fully, but it came at the price of losing the closest and most precious person in my life. It was hard, but the Lord gave me the strength to build a life for myself for the first time in my adult years. Those times were also exhilarating because I finally got to explore who I was independent of someone in need of my time and attention.

I’m not going to come off like I was just waiting with grace. I’m impatient. And no one really enjoys waiting. It doesn’t matter what it’s for: a job, a boo, a degree, a car, the weekend. We all have our wilderness moments from time to time, but it’s important to continue to press forward and remember that the here and now is not forever as much as our emotions may tell us it is. The word encourages us to not lose heart when it gets tough: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9). I wanted someone who loved Jesus and would love me from a Biblical perspective. I did not want to go church without my husband every Sunday. But a Christian man + a Christian woman does not always = a match. Compatibility and chemistry are key for any relationship to begin to flourish.

There were moments when I had family and friends just flat out wondering why I had such a hard time finding a husband. And all I could say was that I was trying to wait for the right person. I was perplexed too. Sometimes I actually went years without a date. You read right. Years. At one point, I actually went seven years between relationships. And globe trotting to faraway places? Forget about that. My mom and I used to share expenses. Her disability checks were not much, but it helped every month. I was truly on a financial tightrope. All my funds went to paying my bills and keeping a roof over my head. I was seriously adulting now. No more island excursions and exciting foreign getaways. This sista was happy to get to Chicago or Florida every few years. I dodged a big bullet in 2011 when that old flame from my early 20s came back on the scene, declaring he wanted marriage and he’d missed out on us. We tried long distance for awhile when a new job took him to Savannah, but it ended in a stalemate a year later. I began to feel like an option, never truly feeling like his priority. I decided to end the floundering relationship because I refused to lose the progress I’d gained over the years. It was a difficult thing to do, but I had to believe that there was more and that I deserved it. I’d come too far to settle now.

After that, I started to really look at what I wanted in life and I started to write again in the form of this blog, something I hadn’t done since college. People gave me great feedback, and it felt good doing something that people genuinely enjoyed and resonated with. I had prayed for a new direction in employment. I had so many confirmations that the Lord was all over the transition. This blog was a way I marketed myself to get my foot in the door for a digital job as a Community Manager at my advertising agency. Though the career change didn’t work out cause I was mad miserable and the work-life balance was awful, the writing stuck. It’s only recently that I’ve begun to realize that it wasn’t really the career God wanted me to pursue, it was this. I would have sat on my hands if it’d been left up to me, but I was uncomfortable enough with my position in life to make a change. Comfort often makes us lazy and complacent. If life hadn’t taken the turns it had, I may never have explored my writing again.

By 2015, I was TIED, not TIRED. Because I was so past tired, I didn’t need the r anymore. After my mother died, I lost more loved ones, family members and the pastor of my church. He’d taught me so much of the spiritual foundations I hold today. Hadn’t I done all I could to live right? Work was toxic, money was a little better but just enough for breathing room. I was still paying out to that hussy Sallie Mae and college felt like a dim memory at this point. I’d lived in apartments since I was 10 years old. The way it was looking, home ownership was a long ways off. My credit was great, but I had only $250 as my savings for several years. The Lord surely kept me because I didn’t stop tithing when it got really hard and all my needs were met, including the unexpected ones. But I still wanted someone to share my life with. I am sure to many people around me living for Jesus was holding me back from living my best life. I mean I’m getting a little long in the tooth, right? I was 40 now. Some declared maybe my standards were too high, I seemed inaccessible or maybe it truly was my lot in life to live as a single woman. I held to my beliefs that who I wanted in a spouse was still out there, even when my own faith started to really stagger. Growing up my mom’s only child helped me enjoy my own company in my adult years. I often went to the movies, the coffee shop or out to lunch by myself and had a good time too. I didn’t always feel a need to constantly be with a man, but humans are created for companionship. I read books, prayed and hung out with girlfriends who were in the same boat. And with all the changes in my life, every once in a while, I enlisted the help of Christian therapists to help process my journey. We all can use a tune-up every once in awhile. Life doesn’t stop for us to take inventory of our mental, spiritual and emotional health unless we intentionally do it.

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This book gave me so much life! Camerin really helped me practically understand this season from a Biblical perspective.

In February 2015, I met Ray. 🙂 There weren’t fireworks and starry nights at first. We were just getting to know each other, and I’d been through too much to go full throttle without waiting for time to pass. I knew he was attractive, but by then it was not my main criteria for finding a mate. But we really connected on a lot of levels. It was about his heart, his authenticity, his concern and his love for Jesus. We found out on our first date that I went to church with some of his family members. Ray had even visited my church years ago. We’d probably been in the same service together. The timing had never been right before — until now. We took our time to learn about each other and work through challenges and bumps in the road, having fun along the way. And I’ve never had to question how much I mean to him. He’s always made me a top priority. So on May 12, 2018, I became Mrs. Brown or rather Mrs. Haney-Brown. I kept my mom’s name to honor her. That year we bought a house. It’s the first house I’ve lived in for 30 years. This past December, I finally got to experience international travel again. We visited the Caribbean, and I’m looking forward to more exciting trips. I can’t say I ever saw my life unfolding this way back in my 20s, which makes it all the sweeter.

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Engagement pic. Photo by Mishira Davis.

There are so many famous and renowned people who changed the world when they experienced a renaissance in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond. Our life and our potential is not tied to our age. And many times, maturity and persistence outlast the momentary buzz that our youth gives us. We can use time to refine us and to give us a more nuanced perspective. Time doesn’t have to be our enemy when we do something in the middle between the beginning and end of our lives. There’s opportunity to reinvent, explore and set new goals. Whatever you are endeavoring to do, don’t let mishaps, mistakes or detours keep you from pressing forward. It can be the very catalyst you need to get you exactly where you should be. All the seemingly “random” events in your life can be woven into a beautiful pattern that the Lord uses to bless your future. — THB

“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,” Joel 2:25

“The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.” Haggai 2:9

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:25 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28