I gave the ring back on a warm night in November. My boyfriend and I had just returned from a weekend of camping with friends. I can’t remember what started our fight that night, but it had been simmering for a while. “Sometimes I think the only reason you want to marry me is because he didn’t want you,” my fiancé said. I wanted to hate him for those words, but the truth was, he was right. My interest in another man had been unrequited, and in the absence of hope, I let my feet wander and gave myself to someone I sinfully considered second best. After I recognized my selfishness, I gave his engagement ring back.
For months, I carried shame about my failure, especially as we continued our relationship and I tried to sort out my heart. He was an honorable man from a wonderful family, but by February, I knew a wedding was not in our future. I could not find the peace I needed, and the hitch in my spirit was too strong to ignore.
Prior to that engagement, I had spent a lot of time waxing eloquent about the decisiveness of love. I believed strongly that it was a choice. As a single female nearing her mid-30s, I also believed many men in the church saw themselves above that choice and were looking for some elusive “spark” that would never materialize. “Just commit!” I thought and said often. But when I came face to face with my own inability to cross the mountain of commitment in front of me, I also came face to face with my own inadequate counsel. There’s more to marriage than a “spark,” but there’s also more than simple commitment.
Less than a year later, I met the man I would marry. Neither of us felt a “spark,” at least at first, no ah-ha ...1
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