I have a confession to make. What I’m about to share with you was once a triple-top-secret, pinky-promise kind of thing. I’d make you promise not to tell anyone, but the cat is out of the bag. You now have my permission to laugh or cringe. You ready? I bought my dream wedding dress when I was twenty-two years old and completely single.
No, I’m not kidding.
So, the year was 2011. Ancient, I know. My sister was engaged to her now-husband, Zack, and we were in full wedding-planning mode.
One day, we were out shopping for the perfect wedding dress for Kristen. We had hit up a few shops with nothing to show for it. Kristen was feeling discouraged. One by one the dresses went on, then off. After a few rounds, Kristen put on the most gorgeous dress I had ever laid eyes on. The top was filled with sparkles and faux diamonds. The bottom was elegant, full, and flowing with a beautiful chiffon fabric. She looked dreamy.
Unfortunately, when Kristen looked in the mirror, she didn’t quite see Cinderella. She thought the dress was lovely, but it wasn’t her. She must have seen my glowing eyes, because she commented on how this dress looked more like me than her. I nodded my head in agreement.
“You should try it on!” Kristen said with a smile.
Now hear me out. When I walked into the store that day with Kristen, I had zero intentions of buying a wedding dress for myself. That was the last thing on my radar. I was completely single. No wedding in sight.
The minute I walked out of that room to show Kristen and our mom the dress, they both erupted in small cheers. “It’s one hundred percent you!” Kristen said, shaking her head and smiling. “It’s like you times a thousand, actually.”
I had to agree with her. It was totally me. It fit perfectly too. Before I could talk any sense into myself, a wave of fear washed over me. What if this dress no longer exists when I get married someday? What if they discontinue it? What if I search for months and months and can’t find anything even close to this?
That fear drove me to make a drastic and totally weird decision. I bought the dress!
The sales clerk was completely confused when we asked her to package up this dress for me. As we walked away from that store, a thrilling sensation washed over me. Maybe my wedding day wouldn’t be too far off after all. Little did I know that my perfect dress would hang in the back of my closet for many, many years to come. That little secret would remain hidden in the shadows of my life while my dreams to get married went unfulfilled.
You can read the entire wedding dress story in my new book, Not Part of the Plan: Trusting God with the Twists and turns of Your Story.
Maybe you’re in a similar situation. You desire marriage, but it just isn’t happening for you. Maybe it’s a disappointment with your career. Maybe it’s losing a loved one too soon. Maybe it’s having to move cross country leaving behind all of your friends. Maybe it’s not getting accepted into your dream university.
Sister, I don’t know exactly what you’re going through but I do know this. We all experience disappointment, unfulfilled longings, and unmet expectations. I’ve been there and I know you’ve been there as well.
So how do we trust God and remain faithful in the midst of disappointment?
There’s a short passage found in Proverbs 3 that has become an anchor in my life. It’s literally been my life verse and rock. It’s what carried me through when my wedding dress would stare at me from the back of my closet. Let’s look at it together:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (vv. 5–6)
Let’s dig into each line a little deeper.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart.”
God doesn’t want part of our heart. He doesn’t want the part that’s easiest to give. That’s not what this verse is saying. This verse makes it crystal clear that He wants all of it. He wants the full surrender. Why is it so easy to give all our heart to other things, like guys, work, friends, or a television show, but so hard to totally give it to God? I wish it were the other way around. Don’t you? By trusting in the Lord with all your heart, you’re humbly admitting that God’s ways are better. That God is wiser. That His character is perfectly good and loving (which we know it is). That it would be foolish to rely on our own finite wisdom rather than trust our mighty Creator. Trusting in the Lord with all your heart is an act of humility. It’s acknowledging how great God is and how very small we are in comparison.
“And do not lean on your own understanding.”
That’s the contrasting piece to the verse. We are to trust in the Lord with all our heart and not lean on our own understanding. Why? Because our understanding is incredibly limited. We have a teeny-tiny view of life, of this world, and only mere speculation about the future. God sees and knows everything. He knows where we’ve been and where we’re going. Leaning on your own understanding would be like taking the paintbrush from Leonardo da Vinci and asking him to step aside. Yikes! How foolish and silly would that be? It would be crazy! Insane, in fact. And yet, that’s what we try to do with God. Not leaning on your own understanding is acknowledging that God is the Master Artist and you are not. It’s letting Him paint the portrait of your life.
“In all your ways acknowledge him.”
This means acknowledging God in the little things and the big things. It’s saying, God, I’d really love for this relationship with this guy to work out. He seems so awesome, and I think we’d make an amazing couple. Even though I really want this, I’m opening my hands and surrendering this to You. Please give me wisdom. Please help me to listen. Please bring out anything in our relationship that is not honoring or would not be beneficial to him or to me. Please end this if it’s not Your plan for me. I trust You. I want Your will. Acknowledging Him is wanting what God wants long term, not just what you want in the current moment. It’s being willing to follow God down a different path than you’d imagined for your life if He makes that clear. Acknowledging God is simply living a surrendered life one day at a time.
“And he will make straight your paths.”
This is beautiful. God promises that He will direct your paths if you do the above things He’s listed. He will guide you, and He will do it one step at a time. One moment at a time. One day at a time. If you’re trusting in Him with all your heart, not leaning on your own understanding, and acknowledging Him in all your ways, you better believe that He absolutely will direct your paths. He won’t always direct them where you want Him to direct them. But He will always direct them where He knows is best. Imagine a little toddler who’s starting to walk. Toddlers need a lot of guidance and assistance for every next step. If left to themselves, they would most likely end up hurt or somewhere they really don’t want to be. We are like the toddler. We need God’s guidance for every step of the way. In those moments when you’re struggling and want to go your own way, take a deep breath and remind yourself to trust in Him with all your heart.
It’s Hard to Trust
Girl, I get it. I get how difficult it is to put this whole trust thing into practice. When life is messy, it’s hard to trust. When you thought God was doing one thing, and He closes the door and takes you in a different direction, it’s hard to trust. When something happens that’s totally outside of your control and you can’t fix it, it’s hard to trust. When you desperately want God to intervene for you in a certain way and He doesn’t, it’s hard to trust. When you buy a wedding dress and end up single for the next decade, it’s hard to trust.
You can actually read about my entire journey of learning to trust God in my new book, Not Part of the Plan: Trusting God with the Twists and Turn of Your Story. I think you would be super encouraged as you strive to fully surrender and trust God with your own life story.
I believe that God has a good work for you to do (Eph. 2:10). I believe that He has you here for a good purpose (Gal. 6:9). I’m cheering you on as you strive to trust God and thrive right where He’s planted you. I’m praying that you will choose to be faithful. Choose to obey. Choose to trust Him.
Bethany Beal is head-over-heels in love with her best friend and husband, David, and is the super proud mommy of Davey Jr. She is the cofounder of GirlDefined Ministries (www.girldefined.com) and the author of Not Part of the Plan: Trusting God with the Twists and Turns of Your Story. She is passionate about spreading the truth of biblical womanhood through writing, speaking, and mentoring young women. To her family and close friends, she is simply a tall blonde girl who is obsessed with iced lattes and can’t get enough of her sweet baby Davey Jr.