On Cynicism and Happy Endings
On Cynicism and Happy Endings
By Brooke Jacobson
It is downright discouraging when, time and time again, you see and hear stories of men who do not call themselves Christians treating women with more respect and acting more like Christ than those who sit in the white plastic chairs on Sundays...
When you come to the point in your own life where you determine that you do not want to waste any more time in a relationship that is not Christ-centered - that the number one thing you are looking for in a significant other is that they are genuinely and wholeheartedly pursuing a relationship with Christ - and then you realize how few and far between those men seem.
These were the thoughts that were running through my head this past January, when I had finally reached what seemed to be my tipping point of cynicism and frustration toward Christian men. In August, I had been “ghosted” by a guy who for all intensive purposes seemed like the model Christian (I mean, I met him at an all-day training for my church’s small group leaders, for goodness sake!) I had also gone on a couple of dates with a cute Christian guy who I met at a Labor Day get-together that I was invited to by a friend. Then, while we were still “talking”, I witnessed him drunk out of his mind at a bar making out with another girl (Of course - since he had no recollection of seeing me that night, he texted me the next day asking how my night was and to get together again soon).
Finally, when my small group stole away to a lakeside cabin in mid-January for a night of fellowship, story after story came out that mirrored my recent experiences… Stories of women who felt let down and disappointed by Christian men not treating them with the respect and dignity that one would expect.
I would not consider myself a cynical person, and I always do my best to see the good in everyone, but I came home from that retreat feeling disillusioned. For some reason, I could not shake this feeling of frustration and, if I’m being honest, anger, with the male gender.
I desperately wanted to regain respect for Christian men and heal some of the wounds and confusion I had experienced, but I knew that if my heart and outlook was going to change, I had to start with giving it up to God.
Ironically enough, this happened to be the exact time when my church entered into a season called “Fast Forward” - 30 days of prayer and fasting. Although it felt a little unnatural at first, I began to fast and pray (among other things), not for a relationship or a boyfriend, but simply for an example of a man, or better yet, a community of men, that would truly portray an image of Jesus.
I am not exaggerating when I say that two weeks after first praying that prayer, God dropped John into my lap. He was attractive, outgoing, passionate, talented, had a great group of friends, and most importantly, had a genuine relationship with the Lord. I truly felt God whispering in my ear to date him - we had an uncanny amount in common, and he seemed to be everything I was looking for. So I took the plunge, and after four years of singleness, having a boyfriend like John was a breath of fresh air. We went on hikes and shared delicious dinners and Facetimed when we went a while without seeing each other. We talked about Sundays' sermons and how we saw God working in our lives and the lives of others.
It seemed like everything had fallen into place - until it fell apart.
Three months later, I sat on John’s couch, stunned, as he explained that after a lot of thought and prayer, he realized that although he genuinely enjoys spending time with me, we get along so well and we have so much in common, his feelings for me had not progressed as quickly as he thought they would. Essentially, I was "perfect on paper,” but there was no spark, no butterflies, no point in continuing to date.
WHAT THE ****?! Really, God? Why would you dangle this truly amazing guy in my face, only to snatch him away before I even had the chance to get used to the idea? Why would you put it on my heart that this relationship was in your will and was a direct answer to prayer, and all the while put something completely different on John’s heart? I felt from the very beginning that this was from You, and You were in this - how did I so utterly and completely misread the signs?
By the grace of God, these thoughts lasted all but a few hours. First, God placed some incredible people in my life to speak truth to me. Then, throughout the next week, I felt closer to God than I had in a while and a supernatural peace that this was His will.
Here is an overview of what God has revealed to me throughout this process:
- When I repeated to my friends the same confusing questions I had asked God, they said that rather than taunting me with a great guy that I can’t have, God was ENCOURAGING me in a time when I was feeling most cynical and frustrated. While this is not my time, He is opening a door and giving me a glimpse of the kind of guy I have to look forward to - except that person will be ten times better FOR ME.
- Another friend reminded me that if God is good and is crafting a beautiful story of each of our lives (and news flash, I believe that He is), He would not give me someone as truly awesome as John, and then ultimately reel back and give me someone not as great. Therefore, this whole experience should encourage me because John is now my reference point - God can only do better from here.
- But why end things so soon? He knew just the amount of encouragement I needed. By putting it on John’s heart to end things before we got too emotionally invested, God was protecting us from deeper pain and potential heartbreak in the future.
- This is not a groundbreaking thought, but God often uses disappointment and hard times to draw us close to Him. When life is going great, it can be hard to feel “in tune” with God or feel like you have a reason to rely on Him. However, when things started going wrong, and I was drawn to God out of raw emotion and desperation, my faith quickly turned from being a “checklist” to my “daily bread.”
This is not my "happy ending.” I am back to the relationship drawing board, and I am still searching for a coed Christian community that will continue to build upon the example that John and his friends set. But as crazy as it sounds, I have felt more encouraged by God through this experience than I have in a long time.
When I pray, I find my prayers to be full of a new peace, expectation, and confidence in God’s plan. I have no doubt in my mind that John was a gift given to me from God to remind me that He is still good, He is still working, and He has me in the palm of His hand.
Ultimately, this is not a story about John, and this is not even a story about me.
This is a story about a big God who answers prayers, but often not in the way we would have expected. If you feel disappointed, that God has forgotten about you, or that your happy ending may never come, let me tell you that God is crafting a beautiful story out of your life.
I deeply believe that every heartbreak, every disappointment, every moment of happiness brings you closer to the person God created you to be and the person who is out there for you.
As you wait, write down the revelations that come to you through the Holy Spirit or other people. Continue to come back to them when you are feeling down.
Prioritize time with the Lord, ask the people who are closest to you for encouraging scriptures (I’ve included some at the end that have helped me!). Overall, abide in Christ, and you will be amazed to find that an unexplainable trust and expectancy take root.
Psalm 126, Romans 8:28, 1 Corinthians 2:9, Isaiah 30:21, Psalm 84: 11-12, Psalm 37: 3-5