I just turned 41, and for over 30 years of my life, I prayed for the one thing I wanted most: a husband. I was born a romantic, having first dreamt of my wedding while still in my single digit years. My earliest memory of asking God for a man was praying that my 5th grade crush would turn into Prince Charming. Having seen my 5th grade crush since, I can only thank God he turned that request down.
Lacking hindsight, maturity, and omniscience, I spent the next three decades marching into relationship after relationship, fueled by an insatiable “itch to hitch.” As the years turned into decades, all of my friends walked down the aisle (some twice, I noted with envy), while my dreams seemed less and less likely to materialize. Never a quitter, I doubled down on my dating adventures, and carried on a frenzied, one-way conversation with God about delivering on the mother of all prayers.
I would love to have been a fly on Heaven’s wall, watching God shake his bemused head at my carefully articulated, logically sound, and truly dramatic pleas and demands. Looking back, I now realize that I approached Him with a mixture of boldness and entitlement, and an attitude that resembled a teenager’s, rather than one of a mature, lifelong believer.
This dramedy dragged on for 3 long decades, until it came to a full stop last September. I spent much of last year as a newly minted 40 year old, frustrated at what seemed to be a particularly dry dating season, but buoyed by a desire to hear God’s voice. And in the midst of an intimate prayer session, on the morning of September 28, 2017, I heard God say one word with crystal clarity: CONSECRATE.
I’d spent the years leading up to my 40th birthday working on this very issue. I regularly prayed the Suscipe, penned by St. Ignatius of Loyola, saying “You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it.” I was a pro at consecrating my life to Jesus – or so I thought.
As I prayed for understanding, the Holy Spirit gently showed me that I still held onto one thing that was so sacred, I hadn’t recognized it for the idol it had become. And that, of course, was my dream of becoming a wife. As that realization sunk in, I fell to the floor in tears, asking God to let me hold onto just this ONE dream. But of course, God’s timing was perfect, and He knew I was ready to (tearfully and reluctantly) leave the issue in His capable hands.
After a week of struggling with God, I gave up fighting. Truth be told, I was in the midst of training for an Ironman, and I was just too tired to dwell on anything else. Moreover, months of isolated training for up to 20 hours a week did wonders for my relationship with God, as I spent much of that time praying and learning to hear His voice. I knew what I’d heard, and was prepared to give dating over to God, even if it meant giving up on my dream.
Fast forward three months to December 27, 2017 - 8 solid months of being 40 and single. I’m grocery shopping and, while lingering in the ice cream section (where only good things can happen), I notice a message pop up from a cute new social media “friend.” Immediately, I’m impressed – not just with his picture (adorbs!) but with his intro, which asked if he could join the bible study I’d invited my whole social media family to participate in.
Our texts led to a three hour phone conversation, which led to dinner and a deep, soulful conversation under the stars. I prayed the entire time, but knew God was in this relationship from the start, because I also learned that night that God had directed him to do the same thing, at the same time: surrender and wait.
As I type, we are a week out from the biggest day of our lives. Less than five short months after first laying eyes on my hunk of a future husband, God transformed me from single and waiting, to newlywed. Far from taking me away from my dreams, God catapulted me into a new season of life that would never have materialized if I’d insisted on doing things my way. The trusting surrender, hopeful expectation, and the sweetness of God’s tender love, all brought me to a point that enabled me to consecrate that which I most desired. And through the process, I also learned that the fruit of my obedience is sweeter than I ever imagined it could be.
To hear more from Denise, join us at Activate 2018! She’ll be a part of our panel, and we can’t wait to hear the wisdom and experience she brings!
Denise Gitsham is a San Diego-based attorney and small business owner. Her career has spanned nearly two decades in legal, political, and entrepreneurial spheres. Previously, she lived and worked in Washington D.C. at the White House, US Department of Justice, and in the US Senate. She’s the proud daughter of a Chinese tiger mom, fiance to Josh, and adopted mother of the most adorable golden retriever in the world: Jack. Follow along with her adventures @dggitsham!