Why I’m grateful for the zookeeper

I never talk about Wally. I think it’s because I really didn’t understand what had happened or why I was the way I was.

Looking back, this was right around the time I started getting sick. My brain was making connections to things it shouldn’t.

It started with a dating site a friend had encouraged me to go on. I found his profile one day when I was at work and sent a message.

Long story short, he ignored it and I moved on.

Flash forward seven months later, I had become a volunteer at a local zoo and was visiting the bird show when I saw him as one of the trainers.

He was one of the zookeepers.

I couldn’t work up the nerve to talk to him afterwards. I was too freaked out. But I was convinced this was fate. I was going to be with this guy.

Every week, I fantasized about the day we would get together. I think I was searching for that euphoric feeling that makes you all giddy. I wanted so desperately to be done dating.

Ultimately, I think I thought that if a man loved me, I would finally love myself. No matter how much I talked about finding my value in Christ, I wanted to find my identity in being loved by someone else.

I still remember the night I heard a voice that said, I need you to be the man that loves her. I need you to be the man that lets her know she’s loved.  

And I wondered who could be receiving that message. At the time, I hoped that it would be Wally. Not because of who he was but because I wanted so desperately to be done.

I’ve mulled over that voice for almost four years. And if I’ve learned anything, this is what I would tell my future husband:

I don’t need you to be the man that loves me. I don’t need you to be the man that lets me know I’m loved.

In the past four years, I have fallen more in love with Jesus than ever before and as a result, fallen in love with myself. I love me. Not in a narcissistic way but in this humbling, fall-to-my-knees-in-gratitude-way that thanks God for creating me. For deciding I was worth being made, that I was worth dying for.

A good man will make you wait.

A great man will make sure you know where you stand with him.

Wally was a particularly dark time in my life but I’m grateful he happened. He changed my life, for all the lack of interaction. I changed as a result of him.

Somewhere, deep down, I know this season of singleness is ending. In a matter of days if I’m hearing from the Holy Spirit correctly. I’m weirdly calm, not rushed or anxious.

Everything’s going to be okay.

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