Since it’s the start of the new year, I wanted to talk about vision. I believe that sometimes people have unrealistic expectations based on how they view their future. A big trend right now is making a vision board to represent what you want to accomplish. I think recording your vision is important to achieving it. But sometimes the vision we have in our head (or on paper) doesn’t always line up with the reality we are presented with initially. This can lead to frustration, disappointment, and even giving up on your vision. But just because it doesn’t look the way you imagined doesn’t mean your initial vision was wrong or that you have to settle for the reality you see.
Very early on in writing Altered before the Altar, I had a vision in my head of a woman kneeling in prayer at an altar and the same woman standing at the altar with her groom getting married. After meditating on this vision for weeks, maybe months, I received the title of my book, Altered before the Altar. This fit both parts of my vision and felt right for the title, but I wanted a visual representation of this. I emailed my vision to a graphic designer and waited impatiently for her to send me my cover. The cover I received was exactly what I had asked for–and nothing like what I wanted. It didn’t match what I saw in my head even though it was a physical representation of what I said I wanted. I felt like I should just accept that this was the best representation of my vision and go forward.
I think many of us feel this way with our expectations of relationships. We spend a great deal of time thinking about what we want in a mate–someone with a sense of humor who’s also intelligent, caring, involved in church, and has a corporate job. When we see all of those characteristics, we may feel we have to accept the man who has them, even if we don’t feel a connection with him or find him attractive. We may beat ourselves up for wanting more because we received exactly what we asked for. Many women don’t find a “good” man like this. You’ve spent your entire life preparing yourself to fall in love and marry this man, and that’s what you’re going to do. Feelings can grow. You’ll learn to love the man as much as his attributes.
Or you think your initial vision is all wrong. Maybe you need to add in a few more qualifiers. Maybe I should have also focused my mental energy on attracting a man with all those good qualities who’s also tall, dark and handsome with an athletic build. Someone without facial hair who doesn’t have chest hair that looks like taco meat or wears leisure suits. It’s obvious you have to give God a bit more help with this vision.
Here’s the thing: you don’t have to settle for something or someone that’s “almost” what you want, nor does your reluctance to accept it mean your initial vision was wrong. Sometimes we just don’t know in what form our vision is going to present itself, and we forget that the Devil is proficient at making counterfeit manifestations of God-given visions. If we aren’t careful, we will accept the counterfeit, or even reject the original because we’ve added unnecessary limitations to our vision.
So what happened in my case? I prayed about it and went to bed. The next day, I showed the cover to someone I trusted and explained my feelings. “You are paying for it. You should get what you want. If this isn’t it, tell her and give examples of what you do want.” In the end, by forcing myself to search for representations of what I wanted, I came to find out that the vision I had wasn’t for the cover of my book at all. Altered before the Altar, my book’s title, incorporated those two images. My book’s tagline, “From kneeling in prayer to standing at the altar, and all the steps in between…,” incorporated that vision. I explained my vision for the book in the Author’s Note, and from the response to the book, I believe that message was conveyed in every aspect of the book, not just the cover.
So what does this mean for relationships? Just because a guy ticks all your boxes doesn’t mean you have to marry him. You should feel attraction and connection with the man you marry. It should work for you. You aren’t marrying a checklist; you’re marrying a person. Moreover, you don’t have to change your vision to include all the things you don’t want. Rest. Let this person pass you by and remain focused on the Lord and His will. Keep aligning yourself to His will and stay in prayer. God will bring your vision to pass if you are abiding in Him and following His lead, not when you are trying to create your own way.