Post Author: Rachel Christine Hébert
This piece was first published on the author's blog.
I was ready to meet my mate in high school, when I first learned what the term “high school sweethearts” meant. As high school flew by with no dates, I was then certain that college would hold meeting Mr. Right, but I needed to do everything right and follow all the advice given from my various evangelical “Christian” beliefs. Blog articles I consumed contained titles like “Twelve Things All Christian Girls Need to Do to Prepare for Their Husband,” or “What Christian Men Are Looking for in a Christian Wife.”
Despite all my research, college yielded nothing, so I started soaking in the advice from family, friends, church members, leaders, and more:
“Marry your best friend.” Yeah, seeing as all of my best male friends are gay or married, that’s pretty much a no go.
“I prayed about it.”
“I had given up on dating and marriage. I was ready to be single for the rest of my life.” Done that about a thousand times as I’ve been on all of two dates in my 29 years of life (OK four—two father-daughter dates come to mind).
“I prayed about it.”
“We met online.” Tried four different sites. Went on two dates. Bad, horrible, awful, hellacious. It was too much on my soul, and as the inner critics started shouting, it was clear there were more important things to be working on than trying to go on dates.
“I made a list of all the dream things I wanted in a mate…and prayed about it.” I’ve made the evangelical list from my high school days, and made another list with a friend about six months ago about what I truly, legitimately want in a mate. Results? Nothing.
Over a year ago, as I was lamenting my desire for a mate, my counselor asked me that fated question once more: “Have you prayed for one?”
If prayers for a future mate were a dime a dozen, I’d be in the top 1% by now. Because the years have gone by and there’s been nothing. Yet through it all, the desire to meet someone, the hope of finding a mate has journeyed with me from every transition—high school to college, college to internship, internship to seminary, seminary to first call—and each move has come the lingering questions: “Is he waiting here? Will I find him when I go there?” The hope would build, the crushes would develop, and the reality would come crashing in every time: No, it can’t be him, or, No, it won’t be him.
So, at my counselor’s question, I wanted to cry out, “Pray for him? Honey, I’ve done every damn thing in the book for him. I’ve read books, journaled, written him letters, had conversations aloud with him, and prayed every damn prayer in the world for him. But Mr. Rev. Rachy (MRR)? He’s. Still. Not. Here.”
I pushed through, and when I came up with my honest list about what I wanted in in mate, I utilized my new journaling practice to be praying for him yet again. Hope was renewed. But spiritual seasons inevitably mean that seasons change, so after a journaling hiatus for a few months, I was struck by the need to journal the other night about him.
It started out naming what I wanted to share with a partner—a home, a meal, spiritual practices—and evolved into how I felt a relationship would push me to grow in new ways. This caused me to reflect on my frustrations with God, releasing memories that God and I had shared some out loud conversations together where I felt assured that surely, surely, he was on his way. But no one has showed up. Finally, it ended in ranting, painful anger:
“But this is my reality: there’s no MRR. While he’s lovely and wonderful to dream about, to long for, to joke about, he’s not real. He’s not my reality. Perhaps when I’m much older, when I’ve done and accomplished all You’ve called me to do, then maybe he’ll come. But it still sucks that he isn’t here now, that he won’t be my reality for years to come. Sometimes, God, I hate You for giving me a desire that will never come true. But hey. Maybe, one day, when I’m old and wise, I’ll get it. Today’s not that day.”
End journal entry. Cue all the tears and an agonizing night filled with my mind spinning uncontrollably.
According to my dear friend and co-worker, I’m about as easy to read as “Harry Potter: enjoyable to read and captivating, but there are always surprising twists and turns you don’t see coming.” Naturally, he noticed my internal distress, and as we went for a walk, he confronted me about “how my soul was.” I spilled everything, voice hoarse (thanks allergies), tears in my eyes, hands gesturing fervently, swear words flying out as I articulated my hurt, frustration, and anger.
And God bless him, he said (in summation), “I think you’re like Jesus in the Garden. I think what you feel is part of who you are intrinsically. This isn’t just a desire you hold, Rachel—I feel like I know you, I’ve done life with you for a few years now, and this is just something that’s part of you and who you are. So, I think you have every right to be angry with God, and I bet that God’s angry with MRR too for not being ready for you. But I do think you need to let go of the chronological timeline you’re holding onto.”
As soon as he said that, I could hear professors lecturing and pastors preaching say, “There’s a difference between Chronos time and Kairos time….” Chronos time is time that happens chronologically or sequentially. Kairos time is “pregnant time,” the proper or opportune time.
Chronos time is quantitative. Kairos time is qualitative.
This internal revelation got me to thinking: when we talk about dating, relationships, etc., we always talk about them in Chronos time, when they really exist in Kairos time. The people who come into our lives—friends, loved ones, significant others—all of this happens when it’s the right time. Kairos time. My best friend from undergrad? We had practically every class together our freshman year. Did we exchange two words with each other? Nope—and some of those classes had 8 people in them. It wasn’t until my sophomore year, my last semester taking music classes before I started searching for a new major, that she turned to me and demanded, “We need to study together.” And the rest is history.
Kairos time. Not Chronos.
Our dearest and deepest relationships don’t happen chronologically. I think we want them to happen that way because it’s how we’re wired, how this world operates, and how we see them in hindsight. But when Christ came to earth, when his ministry began, he operated on Kairos time. We measure his ministry in terms of about three years, but all that he said and did during that time? There was no specific deadline. Jesus wasn’t operating with the knowledge of “Ok, I’ve got three years to get these disciples into shape, exorcise some demons, put some scribes and pharisees in their place, flip a table or two, and leave life-long, timeless teachings behind.”
Jesus’ ministry? Kairos time.
So, taking these revelations into account, and combining them with everything I had been told, here’s what I wish—wish—someone had honestly told me:
It’s not about a chronological timeline. It’s not about making yourself ready for someone else—there’s no list of things you need to accomplish, no linear pattern you’ve got to follow. No, the best thing you can do? Be yourself. Find out what you love—find all the things you love.
Where does your soul feel alive? Who are the people that make you laugh so hard you cry and get an ab workout in all at once? What makes you angry—like lose-control, jump-on-that-soapbox angry? What makes you crazy vulnerable where you feel so totally exposed and so totally in tune with yourself all at once? What are the loudest, self-critical voices in your life, and how are you learning to turn them down and let that beautiful, grace-filled voice infuse your being so that the self-critical voices have no room in your life?
These. These questions have made me who I am. And let me tell you: I adore who I am. I am deeply beloved not because of how I look, but because of who I am. Because I’ve done the work: I’ve tried to search me out and know me as God knows me. It might be in a mirror dimly, but the self-love, the soul-deep gratitude for who God has created me to be is blinding. And I know—I get—that we don’t talk like this about ourselves. I get that many will read this and think I’m being overly-confident, I’m arrogant, have an ego out to there—and it will be from those who don’t know me. Who aren’t part of this beautiful life that God has enabled me to craft and co-create alongside my Creator.
So to MRR, wherever you are: I’m done waiting for you. I’m done trying to bend over backwards for you. I’m done trying to follow a chronological timeline of all the things I need to do in order to be an amazing future wife for you. I’m done doing things according to a timeline the world has told me life happens along. I’m done reading all those blogs, working through books, trying to let you go and deny this intrinsic part of me, all in the hopes that somehow, some way, you’ll get here faster.
I’m here. I’m ready.
I just hope you can handle the beautiful, messy, high-energy, crazy passionate, nature-loving, curvaceous-running, coffee- and wine-drinking, words- and watercolor-obsessed-painting, introverted pastor who sports a nose ring and tattoos. Because she’s amazing, and right now? Well, you’re just missing out.
Rachel Christine Hébert is the Associate Pastor of Community Care at Williamsburg Presbyterian Church in Williamsburg, Virginia. Her loves include college ministry, creative spiritual practices, mental health in the church, and life over a cup of coffee or glass of wine.
Image by: Rachel Christine Hébert
Used with permission