“God gave you this desire for relationship, and He cares about the feelings of loneliness that you’ve always faced. He is going to bring an Isaac to you.” ~”Stephanie” Florida, June, 2000
I first saw JD at the church I was attending late in 2008. From my vantage point on the platform I only knew him as the guy on the back row who always came late, always left early, and never smiled. There was something about him I found instantly attractive, so I responded in my usual way–I avoided all contact with him whatsoever.
Let me digress here for a moment. God has planted in women an innate longing to be pursued, largely because He is the ultimate pursuer and loves to overwhelm our hearts. The natural bend pushed to the extreme after the fall when God told Eve that from that moment on, her desire would be for her husband and he would rule over her. What God had created to be a beautiful gift to a woman became a driving force to feel incomplete without a man.
In an oracle concerning the Day of the Lord, Isaiah 4:1 says: “And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, “We will eat our own food and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by your name, to take away our reproach.” The prophet Isaiah was foreseeing a time when the amount of violence in Jerusalem will make the ratio of marriageable women to men seven to one, and it will drive women to desperation if they have not allowed the power of the Holy Spirit to set them free from the curse of Genesis 3:16.
Relationships have always fascinated me, but I have also always had solid convictions on gender roles in the process. Genesis 2:24 puts the burden of pursuit on the man. God’s way is for a man to cleave to his wife. The Hebrew word for cleave is dabaq (Strongs H1692), which translates “stick with, follow closely, join to, overtake, catch.” [my emphasis added] Wife here is the word ishshah (Strongs H802) which the King James’ also translates as “woman” 324 times in the Old Testament. The point is that God’s version of relationships is for the man to pursue the woman, whether she is his wife or the one he is dating.
Granted, just because God calls the man to pursue does not give the woman the right to manipulate or take advantage of his pursuit. Relationships are not games, and women who play with men’s hearts are absolutely in the wrong. Song of Solomon shows that when the relationship is established, part of the beauty in the relationship is the woman with an overtaken heart running as hard toward her beloved as he is pursuing her. The same is true of our relationship with God–we chase the One who is pursuing us. However, in most cases the “liberation of woman” has merely resulted in passive-aggressive, emasculated men too afraid of rejection to pursue, and in broken women masking a longing to be pursued behind a push to control.
Most of the reason that I always avoided men I found “interesting” (which was my word of choice when talking things over with the Lord later) was because I was intimidated—which is to say, I was more selfishly focused on wondering what they would think about me than I was interested in showing the love of Christ as a sister and a friend. However, part of my avoidance was simply to see if any would bother to chase me.
In the case of JD, it was not really that hard to do. He was almost always in and out before I left the platform, and all other times he seemed to be as intent on avoiding me as I was on avoiding him. Conversations years later, during the giddy rush of discovering, “I noticed you when…” would show that both he and I had been nursing broken hearts when he began coming to the church.
Furthermore, despite finding him “interesting,” I firmly believed the Lord had other plans for me, and I was not interested in giving JD the wrong ideas. At least, this is what I told myself. The Lord was processing me into deliverance from rejection, intimidation (which I always called “shyness”), and fearing man more than I honored Him. JD and I continued in this pattern of seeing each other but not speaking for almost a year. In fact, he had been in the fringes of my life for over six months before I even knew his name.