He was everything her mother prayed she would someday marry.
She was starting to think so too.
They both lived on campus at school. The more she hung out with him, the more she realized he might be everything she had dreamed of someday having. They very quickly transitioned from good friends to best friends, and now she could only see him through the romantic sparkle in her eyes.
Her name is Sierra and she was created with a musical heart shaped for God’s pleasure. She was first and foremost purposed to lift the Lord’s name high through music. In the depths of her soul resided a Holy Spirit-filled ability to draw others closer to God through song.
In the last few months, however, her calling had taken a backseat to this young man she had fallen madly and deeply in love with. He recognized it too and wanted to reciprocate the affection, but something was missing. He cared deeply for her, but for reasons unknown to even him, couldn’t love her with the affections she desired.
It all reached a head one night at an ice-cream shop.
Sierra thought they were on a romantic date. He assumed they were just having a fun-friend-night-out. She wanted him to be a prince in the way he went about getting her ice-cream, but he was simply being the gentleman and played it casual. Twenty minutes into what was supposed to be a special night, months of pent up frustration finally exploded.
She stomped and cried. He couldn’t figure out what had gotten into her. The truth is, she wasn’t just angry at him, she was angry at God. She had spent the last few months asking God to make the young man the culmination of a love story she had imagined, but God seemed to be doing the exact opposite.
What she feared more than anything else was the thought that he too might have heard what God had already gently impressed on her heart, “Sierra, make ME the delight of your soul and I’ll satisfy the desires of your heart.”
She recognized that those were heavenly words she should heed, but her longing for physical companionship weighed heavier. The present problem was that the young man was the desire of her heart, not God. There was also the fear that if she passed up on this dream guy, she might never find someone as good as him.
So Sierra stuck with her plan.
But, after that night at the ice-cream shop, she decided she was done! She was done with him, and she was done with God!
If God wasn’t going to give her the desire of her heart, then she wasn’t going to delight in Him as He had asked. So, she isolated herself. She tuned out anyone and everyone who might remind her of the song God had placed in her heart. She reinforced it by surrounding herself with new friends she was certain had no inkling of what her heart-song truly was.
In this new circle of friends, a new guy offered Sierra the one thing her former dream lover couldn’t, an official relationship status. He had flirted with her from a distance and often expressed approval of her physical features. He wasn’t quite what she was looking for and was certainly not the kind of guy her mother had prayed she would someday end up with. But he was close enough.
What seemed like a good idea at the start, however, slowly turned murky.
Whereas he had been charming from afar, his humor up close was often cutting. He seemed to be two different men. During the day, he would whisper sweet nothings in her ear, but by the evening, he would become almost draconian. He certainly didn’t have an ear for the song God had put in her heart and often stifled it when she tried to recite its lyrics to him.
She felt like something precious in her was being stolen each day. Yet, Sierra couldn’t bring herself to leave him. She was so tired of waiting. Tired of “being still and knowing”. God’s plan seemed to require long seasons of isolation she wasn’t willing to endure.
It was all just too much!
At least, this new guy cared enough to be present in her life when she needed him. At least he cared enough to show up a few months later on a Saturday evening with... an engagement ring.
It was the most exciting, confusing, scary, yet exhilarating feeling she had ever had. It all felt so wrong, but she willed it to be right. She stared at the ring dreamily during the day, but at night, she cried in her bed because she knew this wasn’t the love song her Father in heaven had written on her heart.
News about her relationship status spread fast.
A few hundred miles away, her parents were deeply concerned. They were certain she was undergoing a spiritual attack; either that or she had lost her mind and they were about to go help her find it really quick!
Several days later, Sierra and her fiancé were sitting across the table from her parents. They were gracious and kind, yet, angry and confused. They understood that pushing too hard could cause her to retreat further into the darkness.
After much effort and discussion, Sierra chose to remain in her new life. Disappointed, they drove home, entrusting their daughter’s life into God’s hands.
Sierra sank lower emotionally. Not only had she turned from her Father in heaven, but she had also managed to push her family away. Her new lover promised over and over that he would become the man she hoped he could be.
But she knew it was all a shadow.
Then came a text message.
It was from her two best friends, Kyrie and Marian, also several hundred miles away. They’d also received the news and knew Sierra was singing the wrong song.
Testing the waters, they asked for permission to drive down and meet her soon-to-be husband. Sierra hesitantly agreed. She suspected they were going to be harsh on her and unaccepting of Him. She expected Kyrie to slap her across the face and Marian to yell at her to snap out of it.
To prepare herself for the inevitable, she planned to ask them upfront to be bridesmaids in her wedding (a thought she hadn’t yet given much thought to. Her goal at the moment was simply to deflect and defuse anything they would throw at her). What Sierra didn’t expect, however, and what she hadn’t considered was the true loving motive of her two close friends coming to see her.
Kyrie and Marian had obviously been disheartened about the news. They knew Sierra well enough to know what made her heart truly sing. This certainly wasn’t it.
They also knew that if she persisted down the path she was in, the songs God had written on her heart would never be sung. Together, they prayed and discussed how to best approach their friend. They’d heard from her mother that she was ready to put up a fight, so they decided they would simply pour out their love on their friend, the one thing they knew she most longed for.
Several days later, Sierra sat across the table from Kyrie and Marian in her apartment. Marian went first. Genuinely and kindly, she asked, “Sierra, can you honestly say you’re convinced this is the best man God could possibly place in your life?”
Her friends knew her too well. It had been a casual point of discussion they’d touched on many years earlier about dating. It was a question that now made her extremely uncomfortable. Both she and her friends knew the answer was a definite, “no.”
But her friends weren’t pushy; they seemed to genuinely care, so she responded, “Well I can’t really answer that right now. I think in time I will be able to answer that completely.”
Next was Kyrie, and she knew the exact button to push. “Okay, but can you honestly say though that this is the man you’ve been dreaming of since we were 10?”
It wasn’t quite the slap she was expecting, but it might as well have been because Sierra screamed in her head, "NO!!!! I'm lost!!! I know I need to get out but it's too late!!!!! It's too late!!!!!"
The girls were able to pick up quickly that she was nearing her limit, so they backed off and talked about other less pressing matters. After a few moments, they both smiled and said, “Okay, let’s go meet him.”
At lunch, the girls were kind and gracious to her fiancé and embraced him like he was a friend. But they also asked enough questions about his knowledge of her life for him to pick up on the fact that they had some concerns. He was admittedly shocked at how little he knew about her. When the girls spoke of Sierra’s passion and calling to music, he seemed confused because he knew very little about that area of her life. He had simply assumed she was hoping to someday be a music teacher.
Sierra suddenly felt naked in front of her friends.
Hoping to turn the tide of the conversation, she excitedly asked if they would both play the honorary role of Maid of Honor at a yet undetermined wedding date. In the middle of their trying questions , Marian could hold it in no longer. Tears began to stream down her face. She loved her friend and was genuinely worried for her.
“Sierra, do you believe that I love you, and that Kyrie and I have loved you since we were 10 years old?”
“Yes, of course, …why would…. yes, I know.” Sierra answered sheepishly.
Marian continued, “I want to be by your side on your wedding day. I really do. I want to share the day you’ve dreamed of your whole life with you. But I don’t want to share it with the Sierra I'm sitting in front of right now. I want to share it with the Sierra I know. The Sierra who brings hundreds of people before the throne of God with her voice and through her obedience to Christ.”
It was just enough.
Sierra maintained her composure on the outside, but internally she was a mess. Her fiancé tried to step in to lighten the mood, but both ladies sternly “shushed” him with a look.
They all talked for several more minutes and decided to pick the conversation up the next day before they headed back home. The next morning, Sierra woke up feeling sick. Her stomach was in knots as she wrestled with love-personified that had driven several hundred miles to stir up buried truths she was unwilling to face.
Meeting again with her best friends for breakfast didn’t ease up what had already boiled to the brim of her heart. Their love had won her over. She longed to hear the song of her Father again. She longed to give voice to her heartfelt praise again. She longed to be in His presence again.
As her best friends walked to the door and said their final goodbyes, Sierra finally broke down in sobbing tears, “I….I….I want to go home.” She said, barely above a whisper.
Marian and Kyrie couldn’t believe what they were hearing and had to pick their jaws off the floor as fresh tears flowed freely from everyone in the room. This was the “breakthrough” they had prayed for. They had prayed that God’s love would prove greater than anything they could say. They had prayed that in the loving act of coming to see their friend, she would in turn remember the song she once sang.
God had done it!
After several minutes of embracing (and more tears), Sierra asked if they would help her pack while she went to go tell him about her decision.
Bringing the relationship to a close was surprisingly easy. He was disappointed, but even he had to acknowledge that they were both headed toward different horizons. She apologized for any heartache she may have caused him and returned his ring, then got in her car to join her friends.
On the long drive home, Sierra remained mostly quiet. Worried that she may be having second thoughts, her friends played a song they knew for certain would awaken the music that had laid dormant in her heart over the last few months.
“Would you come and tear down the boxes that I have tried to put you in
Let love come teach me who you are again
Take me back to the place where my heart was only about you
And all I wanted was just to be with you
Come and do whatever you want to”
In those words, God’s love cut through Sierra’s heart like a hot knife on butter. Her heart ached with a longing she never wanted to ended. A profound thought also began to take shape in her mind. It suddenly occurred to her that her Father’s love she had tried running away from was the same love that had stirred Kyrie and Marian to drive down to her. That great love never once condemned or even judged her.
God’s love, demonstrated through her friend’s actions, simply came to call her back to her one true love, her one true song. And just like that, in one moment, Sierra could suddenly feel God embracing her again, welcoming her back into His loving arms.
Sierra has been back home for about a year now.
Though she's no longer running, the journey hasn't necessarily been easy. The young man she was in love with from the beginning isn't part of her life anymore, but they've spoken and reconciled what could have remained a fractured friendship.
Her relationship with both guys and her friendship with Kyrie and Marian has become a testimony to the relentless loving pursuit of Jesus Christ after her heart.
Sierra is much more thankful today. On any given Sunday, you’ll find her praising the name of the Lord, lifting Him high in worship and ushering others into His presence. Today, she sings a new song, a song gifted to her by her Father above:
"When we suffer, your love takes us into spacious rooms
Where we meet your love
Where we see your grace
And we're reminded there's another place
and there's another day coming
There is no need to be afraid out here in the wide open space"
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.