My Plan B is God’s Plan A

On Mondays, we fast and pray during lunch, asking God to raise up men as leaders in the church and in marriage, to change our hearts and make us more like Christ, and to bring marriage to those who desire it.

About a year ago, after numerous conversations and encouragement from friends, I decided to take the plunge and venture into the world of online dating.

My goal was to go out on a few dates to feel like a woman again. Years of dateless-ness had turned me from an online-dating skeptic (“I’ll go online only if I’m over 35 and still single”) into thinking it could at least help me feel like I had somewhat of a dating life. Going through a few awkward first dates would help prepare me for meeting my future husband, who, as I told God, I would meet 1) through mutual friends, 2) at church, or 3) through having that random, instant eye-lock connection where we know we are meant for each other.

God had other plans.

I met my boyfriend online. On my first date.

And that’s hard for me to admit.

When I tell people that I met my boyfriend online, I feel that I am revealing one of my deepest vulnerabilities – my struggle with singleness. Because online dating represented that “last resort” to me, I automatically assume people are thinking I was desperate with some major flaws and turned to the Internet where I could hide my flaws.

My parents’ reactions didn’t help my insecurities.

My dad immediately wanted to do a background check on my boyfriend, and my mom texted me a while after I told them about the guy I was seeing that she was watching a movie about the old west and realized that online dating is this century’s version of mail order brides.

I’ve struggled with surrendering to God my dreams and plans for my love story. I’ve struggled with feeling guilty about not appreciating as much as I feel I should appreciate the fact that God brought someone into my life because He didn’t do it in a way that I wanted. This is still a work in progress of Him changing my heart and not letting my pride lessen the blessing He has given me.

I haven’t shared about my relationship on Fast.Pray. up until this point because I was afraid I would lose some of my singleness “street cred” and not be as effective as a writer. I wasn’t sure how to share my insecurities about meeting my boyfriend online without sounding ungrateful and whiny and alienating all of you.

However, the other writers encouraged me to share (when I was ready) because they pointed out to me the big picture in all this that I was missing.

Being in a relationship hasn’t taken away my feeling of shame about my singleness. Being in a relationship hasn’t taken away my personal insecurities. Being in a relationship hasn’t diminished my need for weekly prayer and fasting for God to raise up godly men who are leaders and for God to change my heart where it needs to be changed (and there is oh-so-much He needs to change in me!). Only God can do this.

My prayer as I share my story is that you will be encouraged that God is answering our weekly fast.pray. prayers in my life and in the lives of other members of our fast.pray. community (thank you to those of you who have shared your stories via comments on posts and emails – they are a blessing for us to read!).

Be reminded (and warned!) that God’s ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). Pray this week with earnest expectation for answered prayer to our God “who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20 NLT).

In Him,


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33 Responses to My Plan B is God’s Plan A

  1. Betsy says:

    Yay for your story! I was single (again) at 31 and through my 30’s, and I fasted / prayed w/ you all beginning fall of 2011 till God brought my now-husband into my life via eHarmony last year. We married in Jan 2013, one month after my 40th birthday, and we are so blessed of God! One huge thing that God taught me through those desperate dateless single years was that what the world calls “desperate,” God calls “humble.” When I began to take “extreme” measures in seeking marriage–fasting and praying, asking others for prayer, asking others to set me up on dates, stepping out to date online, etc.–measures born out of my “end of my self”-ness, God so graciously answered my desire for a husband . . . His time, His way. While of course there is no formula and there is no way to manipulate God (tried that, Oh how I tried that!), don’t stop praying, seeking, asking for your desire for a husband, single ladies! Our God is gracious, good, and at work . . . thanks Emily for sharing your story!

    • Emily says:

      Betsy, Thank you so much for your words of wisdom and encouragement. You are so right – it is a humbling experience to ask for help. Praying God’s blessings on your marriage!

  2. davidolalekan says:

    Thanks, Emily for sharing that piece. I wish more Christian sisters would consider online dating. Otherwise, we guys would have little chance of meeting them. Everybody is busy. For some of us, online is the only realistic place to go find dates.

  3. Neelam says:

    Thanks Emily for sharing and for being willing to be vulnerable. May God bless you and this relationship greatly and exceedingly above all that we can ask or imagine.

  4. Lyn says:

    Related to your post 100%! Thank you for sharing your heart with us!
    May God bless your new relationship!

  5. Rebekah says:

    Thanks for your honest wrestling, Emily! I have feared losing that “street cred” before if I am ever married…I think deeper still, I fear that I’ll forget to be empathetic and sensitive if I’m not part of the single crowd anymore. I don’t want to lose that because we really need people who continue to care and invest and wait alongside single brothers and sisters even if some of those people who walk with us get married.
    I’m online for the first time, too, although I didn’t have a first date success story like you. 🙂 It’s not what I would want, but I felt the nudge from God and avoided it/ignored it/hoped He didn’t really say that for about a year or so. Now, I pray that I can be open to what He wants to show me and live a bit more actively in the tension of contentedness in my single life while creating space to possibly experience a change in that. Honestly, it frightens me to be vulnerable and I’d rather not! Yet, I recognize that I cannot withhold this one place from God’s touch and be as effective in the other areas of my life because that’s not how He designed us in relationship with Him. Choices are integrated. Eek!
    May you learn more of Him in your new relationship! I pray it will be a blessing!

    • Emily says:

      Rebekah, I hear you! One thing I love about the fast.pray. blog is that I know there are married people who are fasting and praying with us each week because they know the importance of coming along side us singles. I am so encouraged that you don’t want to lose sight of this when God gives you a husband.
      Praying today for you for the strength to be vulnerable and continue walking in obedience to the Lord in regards to your dating life. Thanks so much for sharing! Blessings!

  6. Lane says:

    Hi Emily. Your blog encouraged me because I just joined an online dating service two weeks ago after years of avoiding it. I am 44. I read a great Christian book: “How to Find a Date Worth Keeping” by Dr. Henry Cloud which finally convinced me to get over the stigma and join the service. I don’t know what the Lord will do, but ultimately He is the Lord over the internet as well as everywhere else! 🙂 I have come to realize it can be a tool of the Lord to help people meet in a culture where people are constantly moving and where community can be hard to find. The online process is helping me learn about my needs and desires that I didn’t know I had by answering questions from men who initiate with me online. I am only two weeks into it. Having Christian men interested in me has been a huge encouragement already. Your post encouraged me that I am not alone and that I don’t have to feel embarrassed in trying the online dating process. I am happy you are dating. It is always helpful to hear other people’s stories of prayers being answered on fast pray whether it is dating someone or getting married! Thanks!

    • Emily says:

      Lane, that book played a part in my decision to try online dating as well! One of the other writers suggested I read it. Again, all God’s timing and leading. Thanks for sharing your story! 🙂

  7. Susan says:

    Congrats to you Emily for your first time out finding “your” guy, along with your bravery to finally share it with us!!!

    For me and my endingthisweek 3 month try. . .
    our Lord still my waiting for my special guy!

  8. Helen says:

    Most interesting blog to date…because the issue is so current and so fraught with mixed feelings.. I would like to share that I am currently dating a gentleman I met online for the past six months and the Lord is using this venue to teach me volumes about patience, mutual discovery and growth.. At this juncture in my life, ( I am 67 years of age and have been previously married); I am not certain that remarriage is in the picture for us, but I am learning to enjoy the journey that is relationship and not look for the destination. There are still challenges and I have to seek God’s will and direction daily. A book that I find to be of significant help regardless of age or status is Dating Boundaries by McCloud. Online dating should be approached with the same caution and sensibility you would approach any new encounter and is not a panacea….but it can be a lot of fun when taken as an avenue to explore possibilities and gain experience interacting with the opposite sex. I would enjoy hearing from others who would like to share their experiences or insecurities as we mutually seek godly solutions.

    • Emily says:

      Thank you for sharing, Helen! God certainly uses other people (whether through a dating relationship or otherwise) to teach us more about ourselves and about Him. Blessings!

  9. smvernalis says:

    Great words, Emily! I’m proud of you for being honest with all of us, and you can already see how many women are encouraged by your words and your vulnerability! Have a great Monday!

    • Emily says:

      Thanks, Sue! You have been a huge encouragement to me throughout this journey. You were there at the start, even though you didn’t know it! 😉

  10. Katy says:

    2 things:

    (1) I met my fiance onlne…and I struggle to admit that too (and he struggles to admit that even more) I’ve had friends say hurtful things (unintentionally) that let me know their real feelings…. one friend was whining about singleness and I suggested trying the online thing and she said, well I am 3 years younger than you, I don’t think I’m to the point where I have to try that yet. OUCH. guess it was my last resort.

    But, like you, I realize I have to not be as concerned with the perfect “love story” — although Christians place far too much emphasis on this. Just because I met my soon to be husband online does not make God any less soverign in our relationship or make our relationship any less real.

    I was engaged before — to my college sweetheart. We met at a political party for a Congressman and were eachother’s first love and first kiss. He then broke my heart and ended our engagement. So, the truth is — a good godly man who is committed to you who you met on the internet is FAR better than a not so great man you met in a more accepted way (Church, College)

    A lot of my friends refuse to try online dating due to pride — but they are still single. My thoughts are: if you really want to get married, if its really something you long for, put aside your pride and try anything you can to meet a godly man.

    (2) I know what you mean about struggling even after being in a relationship. I have mourned the years lost, the fact that I have to start having babies right away, the fact that I will have wrinkles on my face in our wedding pictures. I feel embaressed that I am not a younger bride. But, I try to focus on the blessings. A couple of years ago, I was begging the Lord to get married and now I am. I know my years of singleness will still shape my view of myself, but I have to fight to believe the truth of who I am in God.

    THANKS for this post. I think online dating is just one of many tools God can use to bring people together. I wish Christians would give it less taboo and encourage people to give it a try — just like trying a blind date or going to a friend’s party where there will be single men. Open up all avenues to meet men and see how God works.

    • Emily says:

      Katy, thank you so much for sharing! It helps so much to know that I am not the only one out there feeling this way. 🙂 I agree – God can use any means to bring two people together. Praising Him for the work He has done and is doing in your life!

    • Monica says:

      Dear Katy,
      Your honesty and feelings of embarrassment about not being a young bride or years lost really touched me. I am 41 and have been struggling recently with a sense of shame regarding my singleness that the fast-pray posts have brought to the surface in order, I think, to eliminate rather than to let simmer indefinitely in one’s subconscious. The enemy wants to attack God’s good gifts (for you marriage, for me heart transformation) and the answers to prayers with such feelings. Let us resist this spiritual attack on the Lord’s provision and our hearts with active prayer and focus on Him as you are doing. I will remember you particularly when I fast.

  11. Aimee says:

    Met my husband (married VERY recently 4/22/2013!– happily married, too!) online… Feb 2006! Yes, 2006! Loooong dating relationship/courtship and most of it was long distance (at first, we were in the same state for about 1.5 years, but lived 2 hours apart even then)! Challenging? YES!!! I read this blog often (still reading, still sharing it) and many, many people prayed for us all those years… The circumstances cultivated patience in both of us. We grew in expected ways through those years. God’s timing. I wouldn’t change it (as if….). The peace that comes by giving it Him…even pride about how you met- hard to describe! Keeping your relationship with Him as first allows peace to remain even it everything isn’t happening just as you wanted it to/your way. Oh, and about age and waiting? I’m 38. He is 36. First marriage for both of us and no children (yet!– new prayers now!) Never know what God has in store! Give it to Him. Daily! Hourly! Believe me, I KNOW it is hard! I don’t state “give it to Him” as a formula either (as do this and God will give you a husband). No, it is being at peace no matter what is next in life…. Again, I understand this is a deep struggle. Blessings to you and everyone writing for and all reading this blog!

    • Aimee says:

      We grew in UNEXPECTED ways! 😉

    • Emily says:

      Aimee, congrats on your marriage! It certainly sounds like you have a story to share of God’s work! 🙂 Thanks for the reminder for the daily/hourly surrender to Him and His will – so true that it’s the only way for peace in any situation. Thank you for sharing!

  12. Becca says:

    First of all, I so appreciate all those women who are in relationships and still committed to fasting and praying for God-honoring marriages for those of us who aren’t. Just as we singles should be praying for our married brothers and sisters. Both sides of the coin have their blessings and struggles! Second, thank you for sharing your story about online dating. I have been on the fence about it for a long time and am still not sure I’m ready to try it, but I can completely relate to your fears and insecurities. I have this idea in my head of how I want God to bring my future husband into my life. Even though I know it’s wrong of me to put God in a box like that, it’s definitely something I struggle to surrender.

    • Emily says:

      Becca, Amen on the importance of how we must pray for our married friends and for our single friends, no matter our status. Online dating certainly isn’t for everyone (it can be an emotional roller-coaster ride), and I only tried it because I had the support of close friends and a roommate who I could check in with before and after every date so I knew someone was watching out for me! My parents love my boyfriend and completely trust him, so it’s not impossible to win over the skeptics. 🙂

  13. halennox says:

    Oh Emily! This is, indeed, a great encouragement! Truly, over the last few months, having recently turned a large, milestone birthday (and it wasn’t 30!), I have been despairing a bit. Is God hearing us? Is God hearing me? Can He answer one of my deep longing prayers? So… what a treat to read this week’s posting and see that yes, He is certainly answering our prayers! I rejoice with you and with Kristen Joy!

    • Emily says:

      Thank you for letting me know this was an encouragement to you! May God give you His peace and joy as you trust Him with singleness. He is able!

  14. Laura says:

    Thanks so much for sharing that! You are SOOOOO not alone in your feelings! Right there with ya!

  15. Kristen Joy says:

    Yea, Emily! Rejoicing with you that God has given you a wonderful relationship to enjoy! Be encouraged to keep listening to the Lord in prayer and and to continue sharing your story with openness and honesty. As someone who has recently moved from years of singleness into married life (on February 16!), I’m still learning not to define myself by my marital status or any number of other things (career, talents, etc.). When I feel like I am losing myself, I can look to Christ — He is the source of my identity, and when everything else seems to be changing in me and around me, He is constant. And since Christ is the ultimate source of our identity as believers, He is the One who gives us credibility to encourage and exhort one another. Love this blog! (Even though I am almost 3 months married!)

    • Emily says:

      Kristen Joy – THANK YOU for sharing this! Congratulations on your marriage (love answered prayer!) 🙂 and may God continue to bless you and your husband as you grow in relationship with Him and each other. Needed the reminder of His consistency today.

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