Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

I Have a Secret

  • blogspot for Dena Johnson of Dena's Devos
  • Published Sep 01, 2016

~~I have been keeping a secret from you all.

Please forgive me for not being completely open. It’s a tough secret to keep, but it’s one I needed to savor myself for a while.

It’s funny. I am a very quiet and private person. I’m not one to put my personal life on display for the world to see. I like to keep my private life my own.

It seems like a complete oxymoron for me to be writing a blog at all.

But when God calls, I must follow. Never in my wildest dreams did I know what He planned for this journey. Never did I imagine that strangers around the world would know my story, would know my name. Never did I dream that people would be waiting to know my heart, my struggles, my victories my defeats.

And yet, here I am. And you are among my greatest blessings, my closest friends.

Friends share with friends, right? So I have decided to open up my private life and tell you all one of my closest secrets.

Are you ready?

Please don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret, just between friends.

Here it goes…

I am dating someone.

Yep. You read that correctly. After seven years as a single mom, struggling to overcome adultery and divorce and financial struggles and so much more, I am dating someone.

There’s no ring on my finger. There’s no wedding date set. But, there is someone special in my life. For the first time in seven years, I have the companionship that I have longed for. And, we are slowly moving forward to see where God might take us.

It has been a very rough year as I explained recently, and he is the bright spot in 2016. A very bright spot. An answer to prayer. It has been such a blessing to have him walk beside me through some of the most painful circumstances I have ever faced, to hear his words of encouragement and hope when I feel like I won’t make it another day.

And he came as a complete surprise.

At the beginning of the year, a friend and I covenanted to pray that 2016 would be the year of complete restoration, that God would finally fulfill our greatest desire, the desire for love and companionship. And we both fully believed this was our year.

Then my kids’ dad died.

One of my first thoughts was that there was no way I could start dating. I had to put my hopes and dreams on the backburner to focus on my kids, to help them navigate their own grief.

I let my hope die.

But, within a few weeks of his death, two of my kids came to me (separately) and said, “Mom, it’s time.”
They were giving me their blessing, restoring the hope and belief that God was about to do something amazing and crazy. In their grief, they were giving me the freedom to move forward with my life.

I want to qualify all of this: I am only three months into this relationship. We definitely see God’s hand, but we also understand there’s a long, long way to go. We are determined to do this whole dating thing God’s way, to keep Him at the center of our lives and our relationship. We don’t want to jump ahead of God. I don’t want to tell you that finally God has restored my life fully and completely…because we are choosing to take it one day at a time, seeking His face, walking in obedience.

But I am letting you in on my secret now because we find ourselves in uncharted territory, tip-toeing into the waters of dating, learning day-by-day how to move forward into the future God has for us. We are striving to put aside the baggage we each carry from our pasts, from the pain and devastation we have experienced in our own lives. And I hope that as we learn, I can help you as you venture into this strange territory of dating post-divorce (or whatever trauma you have faced).

Because I have chosen not to focus on dating during the last seven years, it’s a topic I haven’t spent much time talking about in my blog. However, it is a topic I am frequently asked about. So I’ve decided that we will take this journey together, learning how to date God’s way.

Today I give you three nuggets of truth I have learned in the last three months:

God’s timing is definitely not our timing. As I said earlier, when the kids’ lost their dad, I knew the timing was wrong. But God was sitting in heaven laughing at me.

Seriously. This year has been crazy. Not only do I have three teens (or near teens) who are all going different directions at the same time. I also have a full-time job that keeps me super busy. I am trying to keep up with my blog and the various writing opportunities that are coming at me. I am in a mentoring program with Shannon Ethridge designed to help grow my ministry and my personal life. We have been overwhelmed with sickness and surgeries. My to-do list is beyond human capabilities…and growing every single day.

And now God sees fit to bring someone to me…at the busiest season of my life when I don’t even know how to get from one day to the next. His timing is definitely not what I would choose.

When God seems silent, He is working somewhere. Do you remember in the movie You’ve Got Mail when Meg Ryan suggests a meeting with her online suitor? Tom Hanks’ response is, “First, I have a project that needs some tweaking.”

That’s what God has been doing in the last few years. He’s had a project to tweak before He could bring us together, before He could reveal His will to us.

You see, two years ago I felt like God went silent in my life. I felt abandoned, as if God had simply left me and quit moving me forward. I have struggled to see the future, to see how God is going to answer my prayers and fulfill my dreams.

Now I see more clearly. Two years ago, this man made a decision to pursue the heart of God in hopes that one day God would give him permission to pursue me. He decided to go all in with God, to put aside his own worldly pursuits so that he could become the man God created him to be. And it has been so much fun to watch as he has grown spiritually and surrendered fully to his Savior.

While I thought God was silent, He was simply tweaking the project He had started years before.

Never say never. I have known this man for most of my life because we went to high school together. I have also stated unequivocally that I would never date anyone from high school. I didn’t date the guys from our school when I was in high school, and I wasn’t going to start now. I might have even specifically stated that I would never date him.

Boy, does God have a sense of humor! Exactly where I say never is where He chooses to work and move. You would think after all these years of seeking God I would learn not to limit Him, to never say never because sure enough I will eat my words.

Had I chosen not to walk in obedience, I would have missed out on this amazing man who has changed my life in great ways. I would have missed an opportunity to be treated like an absolute princess, to have someone by my side who honors me and respects me in ways I have never experienced before. I would have missed this man who puts himself aside and serves others sacrificially all the time.

So, I’ve had a pleasant surprise in 2016, one that I have to take day-by-day to see where God leads. And, I ask that you all pray for us as we attempt to walk in obedience to what He has for us in the days ahead.

In return, I will take you on this journey with us, as we stumble and pick ourselves up again to learn about dating after divorce.

Thanks for keeping my little secret!