Patience is a fruit of the spirit that God taught me during my e-dating experience. My plan was to sign up for a membership on an e-dating site, pay for two to three months, and find the perfect man for me. This seemed perfectly fair to me since I was already in the second half of my thirties. I felt I had already paid my dues, so to speak. I was in a mindset to pray through the whole process and I really wanted God’s input into the outcome but I was also making my plan and praying that God would bless that plan instead of trusting in Him, leaning not on my own understanding, and letting Him make my paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV). God honored the fact that I wanted His input but I needed work on the not leaning on my own understanding part.

I filled out the profile information to see what it was all about but when I finished I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through with it. It might have just been cold feet but I didn’t pay for a membership, although my information stayed in their system. About a month later, I felt more comfortable about trying it so I logged back in and paid for a monthly membership. After all, I figured it would only take a couple of months. The commercials made it look so easy.

Matches rolled in. It was kind of fun to be “talking” with so many eligible men who seemed nice and interested in me. One thing I learned early on about profile pictures is that it is better to mark your profile to show your picture from the very beginning of each match. Then you don’t have to worry what will happen when you do make a picture available to them.

About a month or so into the process, I began talking with a match that seemed right. He was around my age and only lived about two hours away from me. We e-mailed first on the e-dating site and then in our personal e-mails. We even spoke on the phone a few times. All seemed well. I cancelled my membership with the site. My original plan had come true. I found someone within two months. I wish I could type “the end” here. However, I was so excited about finding someone that I forgot to consult with God in prayer. A few more weeks went by along with a few more e-mails and phone calls. This man’s interest soon faltered. I didn’t know the reason but I didn’t really need to. Ultimately, it did not work because it wasn’t God’s plan. My disappointment caused me to look to God more and that was a very good thing.

It took another couple of months for me to shake off that disappointment and sign on for a membership again. This time I was doing it with a renewed perspective. I decided to pay for a whole year at once. I still didn’t want it to take a year but that mindset helped me to relax about the process. This time, my goal of finding someone didn’t have a timeline. My goal was to listen for God’s whispers and wait for His timing. In my new relaxed mode, it became fun to “talk” to men again. Nothing happened except e-mailing within the site for another three months. Then I met someone else who seemed interesting. We liked a lot of the same music and got along. We e-mailed back and forth until finally we had a Saturday night phone date. He was about three hours away so that was the best way for us to have a “first date.” The phone call lasted about four hours, which seemed like a great sign. Therefore, we met for an in-person date a few days later. That meeting was not bad but it didn’t seem to go as well as the phone date. I didn’t want to end it prematurely so I held on a bit longer. However, the man did end our conversations so then I knew it was probably a God-thing.

Just a few days later, there was another match that only lived forty-five minutes away. Closer proximity made it seem like another good sign. We e-mailed and talked on the phone a bit. We even met for a date. He seemed nice but I could not tell if it was right. He seemed interested so I kept communicating. We had a few more dates but it soon became clear that we were just friends. Then he moved back to his home state, which was thousands of miles away. This seemed like another God-sign.

Then more time went by and the site finally connected me with a man that is now my husband. Nevertheless, even with that came more lessons in patience. It took another three months before we began having regular telephone conversations. He wasn’t sure about dating someone six hundred miles away. However, we did start communicating and really got along well. We met in person and even passed that test — our first date ended up lasting for nine hours. Neither of us wanted the date to end. You would think that would be the end of my patience trial. However, it wasn't. Our long distance courtship lasted almost three and a half years. He was in the middle of working on a college degree and wasn't in a place to move on.

Eventually things did escalate quite a bit. He proposed and four months later, we got married. Then one more month later, I moved six hundred miles to where I am now — happily married and finally in the same state. God knew what He was doing when He did not let my e-dating experience be instantaneous, like I had wanted. Patience is a good quality to learn about before entering into a marriage.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Romans 15:5-6 NIV

Jennifer Heeren has always loved to write. In the last decade, she has enjoyed writing encouraging blog messages. She loves to write things that bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at www.jenniferheeren.com.

Publication date: February 7, 2013