I said a quick prayer before writing this. My prayer is for this short story to touch, encourage, and inspire the one looking for love.
Love Rain by Jill Scott is playing softly in the background; there is a chilled glass of water with squeezed lemons marinading to my left. Ima need a sip in a few; you may want to get something to drink too.
Husbaaaand is what I like to call him when we're making love or when he comes in from work, when we're praying, reading, laughing, or hanging. I like to call him Husband to affirm who he is, his position in our home, and because he's my husband...all mine!
My husband is someone I couldn't have ever imagined to be perfectly crafted for me. We met exactly a year ago today, as I swiped right from the FB dating app on my Samsung, galaxy S10.
Yes, I am totally a Samsung girl, for you iPhone cult lovers. Not that that's super important, but so you know, he swiped right from his Samsung Note10 as well. Seeee, smart man and a match made in heaven already.
But get this, seven months before my swipe, I was engaged to someone else that I shouldn't have said yes to. Caught off guard, he proposed at my 35th birthday dinner, surrounded by family and friends all watching, smiling, and filming with cellphones.
I can't front; the moment lowkey felt glorious, perfectly scripted, and seemingly a beautifully constructed bow or period, ending the sentence of a previously tumultuous year. "Deep breaths, be in this moment, Rahk," I told myself as one of my girlfriends yelled, "say yes, girl. Dang!" While trying to capture the perfect angle for Instagram.
So, I said yes, smiled, took the photos, and celebrated. I didn't say yes because my friend told me to (of course not), but I cared about and had love for him, and we were in a relationship.
However, privately I admonished my stipulation to him, "We're not going to anyone's alter if I don't see all of you. Like experience four seasons and feel at peace and confident that you're the one for me. Let's continue to date while engaged, getting to know each other more, but just because I said yes doesn't mean I do." I told him.
Behind the scenes, he knew what was hiding in the shadows, lying, incompatibility, different values, lack of communication, insecurities, and other things yet to be discovered.
There I was, 35, and finally engaged, ready to share my life, heart, and success with someone I could trust to lead, someone equally yoked and deserving. And, that, someone, wasn't him.
Two months into the engagement, I knew I made a mistake and plotted my exit. But, I was terrified of the optics. Like, everyone was watching, my family, mentees, and friends were rooting; heck, we even went viral on one of the popular "Black Love" Instagram accounts.
I was so embarrassed. I felt like a failure for turning off my brain, going against my gut because he was a "good guy," despite the flags and broken trust so early. I even entertained the thought of going through with it, laying low and then privately divorcing a year later.
Don't judge me. It happens all the time, and millions of people who knew (or questioned) that they shouldn't have married, settled, and married anyway. And, now they're feeling suffocated, bitter, and stuck, add kids to that mess, forget about it!
Some of you reading this post right now are with people you know ain't or wasn't the one, but let me guess, you love them, and you've become soo comfy in your toxicity to where it's easier to stay. I get it; it's terrifying to start over at times.
But guess what? You DESERVE BETTER!
"Lord, if you get me out of this one, I promise I'll do right. Please help. God, you there? Okay, Jesus, let him break up with me. Screw it; I'll just move out of the country and change my identity, I thought.
We sat across from the premarital counselor week after week, unraveling deeper issues as she gave me the side-eye herself before asking straight up, "What were you thinking?"
There is no hope. I'm freaking done. Who's marrying women over 35 in Atlanta? *Sigh* Rich single auntie it is. Meanwhile, my actual husband was turning new leaves in his own life. He was progressing in his Ph.D. program, serving in the men's ministry at his church, traveling, going on mission trips, being a super dad, accepting new job offers, and silently praying and being prepared for me.
"Pay attention to the tension. You never have to talk yourself into a good idea," my pastor said one Sunday. Full-blown tears and a little snot covered my cheeks. I needed that message to ignite my brain again. My fiance' looked over at me as if he knew that was it, and I was done, done. I was.
Shortly after that Sunday, I called the engagement off and ended our relationship to make a long story short.
"Okay, God. It's just us. I'm single again. I got this," I thought.
And, for the first time in my life, I created a very detailed list describing the characteristics, qualities, and type of husband that I wanted. "Let's try this manifestation thing. God, what if you still blessed me, sent my husband, and still allowed me to get married in 2020? That would be crazy!" Privately, I hoped and wished somehow that would happen. I even refused to contact the wedding venue that I put a deposit on with my ex, just in case my husband fell out of the sky.
I prayed over my "manifest my husband list" while shifting focus to personal development, my business, and the release/promotion of my third book "Woosah: A Survival Guide For Women Of Color."
New Year's Eve is my favorite time to celebrate, but surprisingly, I was home by 1 am and real chill. I entered 2020 with momentum, focused, breathing, lighter, relieved, and excited to start over. I laid low on social media as much as I could. Yall know how it is when people are in public relationships, and their partner suddenly disappears from their page?
Yep, my ring disappeared first, and then he did. All my postings were about my book. I started back working out, fasting, praying more, reading lots, and had a solid plan for the year. My New Year's resolve was to master my flesh meaning: mind over matter, mind over desire. Burying the days of instant gratification, I started with my diet and planned to move more intentionally, physically, and spiritually.
In my weaker moments, I vowed to get up and remember who the heck I was, and be kind to myself. I had booked a television appearance and two speaking engagements, submitted a vendor package for Essence Festival and had high hopes for the year, and then the screen faded black.
A pandemic. Social distance. Quarantine, what, the what! Really God? I'll be 36 in a few months and now stuck in the house. I'll never meet anyone. My faith started looking like that disappearing Homer Simpson meme. Mind you, I was single five years before my ex, and that relationship wasn't even a year. Furthermore, I didn't grow up the girl who wanted to be married.
Oh well, keep grinding, Rahk. I told myself, and I did.
God actually had other plans for me. He needed to keep me hidden, and being in quarantine not only forced me to dig deeper, acknowledge my challenges, but I also discovered brutal truths about myself. Isolation forced more creativity, identified weaknesses, and changed me. God and I got to spend more quiet time. The perfect opportunity to grow, reflect and continue healing presented itself, so I took it like a G.
It wasn't until about mid-June that I got this overwhelming feeling that I was about to meet my husband. One day, I had finished up a workout, stood at my counter, and the thought of "God is sending your husband" popped into my head and on my heart. I felt peace and excitement but looked at my empty quarantined living room and undesirable call log and thought, yeah, okay. How am I getting a husband when the world is closed?
So, I did what any smart woman who felt her husband was on the way (in the middle of a pandemic) would do. I downloaded bumble and started swiping. I've online dated before and usually delete my profiles immediately after the agitation associated with back and forth chatting occurs. The frustration of stupidity, hyper-sexual quarantine, and chill requests, and slow to no responses made me throw my phone before giving Facebook dating a chance.
I lasted on FB dating maybe 48 - 60 hours before deleting my profile. But!!!! Before I deleted it, I came across this one profile in particular. Swiping right and hearting his page, we matched. I only had a single picture up and no real content. It was a lazy attempted crapshoot at "being visible."
His profile was intriguing, and I wanted to see more, but due to privacy restrictions, I couldn't. So, I messaged, "Hey, are you on IG? If so, send me your info. I'm about to delete this profile."
Not only was he very handsome and on IG, but his bio literally had identical words listed from my manifestation list. Unbeknownst to us, we were also in the same "Pray for your future spouse" Facebook group, praying for each other. Very direct, I asked if he was free to video chat that evening. He happily obliged, we did, and the vibe, facial expressions, conversations, and energy was warm and familiar. I felt like I knew him already.
The next day, I had a particular dream about him, revealing his character. I dreamed all the important men in my life were in the kitchen standing guard as he came over before sitting between my brother and nephew laughing and talking.
In the next scene of the dream, he was pushing a child on a swing, and in another scene, he had on a Nelson Mandela shirt standing tall. I knew that dream had significant value.
We talked daily, and daily I prayed the same prayer. "Lord, please give me wisdom and discernment about him. Close every door that's not for me, as a matter of fact, slam the doors that are not for me, Jesus!"
Then I had another dream about him, and in that dream, I woke up laughing in real life. I kept both dreams to myself. I didn't want to run him off. Now, I am a dreamer for sure and have been since a kid. God usually speaks to me in my dreams. The odd thing is I hardly ever dream about people, at least not instantaneously, unless it's a warning, but ya girl had been praying, and God was speaking.
We agreed to connect days later (in person) on a Saturday. I was nervous but so excited to meet him. I felt great about our connection and the possibilities of him being a suitor.
Y'all know how hard and time-consuming it is fishing through the garbage in the dating world. Lord knows I didn't wanna be in these streets nearing 40.
Slightly dolled up (still in the pandemic), I didn't want to do too much because of the ugly face mask. But I still beat my face and was intentionally "casual cute," although I know he stalked my IG and saw variations of me anyway.
We pulled up to the coffee shop at the same time, and he took my parking spot. So I walked up, letting him know that he took my parking spot. He asked was my name on it.
"Hmm, not yet," I said in my head, looking into those beautiful brown eyes. We talked endlessly, and I asked everything from questions about credit, childhood trauma, how he handles conflict, his goals, fears, insecurities, and what his relationship with God was like.
Our first date lasted TWELVE hours and some minutes, ending with a tight hug and me thinking, man, it would be awesome if we ended in prayer. My thoughts were interrupted, "Hey, this may sound weird, but you mind if we prayed together to end our date?"
Lord! I see you. I was DONE! Ya'll hear me? Done. I went home and wrote my wedding vows that morning at 6 am. I'm dead serious. We got in after midnight, and I couldn't sleep anyway. My spirit felt like it had been set on fire. My soul rejoiced because it had identified who she longed for.
The commonalities and parallels that we shared were startling. Our birthdays are days apart; he attended and served at this church that I watched online and had been scouting. He had also raised three girls, completely solo as a single father, so I knew he was selfless, a provider, and a protector. He had been praying, preparing, and looking for his wife for years. AND he was emotionally available. Ladies, that's the secret right there. There are many great men out there, but they must be seeking a wife, prepared AND emotionally available.
He says he knew I was the one after the first conversation but respected that I needed more time. He understood that I just got out of an engagement and moved cautiously despite the boulders of confirmations that God was dropping.
On our second date, we co-worked together for the day at his house. Pulling up in the neighborhood, I prayed, "God, a sign, please." To my surprise, the home was unfurnished and undecorated, although he had been there for years. When I inquired, he said it was intentionally left undecorated with the thought that someday his wife will decorate when he met her. "Can you see yourself living here?" he asked.
On the third date, we visited his church, and we went to brunch after. He opened every door, tipped nicely, complimented me, and was the perfect gentleman. Now, men that I know, especially the ones who serve on ministries and are visible, don't just invite prospective women to church with them.
We held hands during praise and worship, and honey, his grip, those firm hands, and broad shoulders were affirming, safe, pure, and magnetic, just like the hug ending our first date. Later that day, this man practically told me he loved me. I am laughing as I type this, but he did REALLY did.
The next date, I heard God say that's him. But, me "just checking and trying to see something," I kept asking for another sign. Shoot, I was terrified, and I knew he was special.
So weird, right? Why do we do this? We pray, prepare and ask for something, and when it shows up, we're running in the opposite direction, asking for more signs!
Well, God spoke, providing more signs, some painful and others comical. We lost his granny two days before becoming official. In those two days, I remembered the manifestation list that I wrote seven months prior.
I could have fainted from looking back at that super lonnnnng and ridiculous list. Not only was my list roughly composed of over 100 things (shhh, I said stop judging), but he matched 93% of my list.
And it would be the random things that I wouldn't imagine (and didn't remember writing) that would bring the ultimate confirmation. Listen, if you decide to write a list and pray over it. Please be very specific! It was my first time trying a manifestation man list, and I was VERY specific!!
Because I know y'all nosy selves want the list, here are a few things. I asked for a husband that possesses:
Heart of Christ and serving
Emotionally intelligent and introspective
Excellent communicator and secure
Street smart & appreciate hoodrat things
Provider, protector, and strategist
Witty, honest, charming, intelligent
Financial portfolio and owns a home, 700 and up credit
Plays the trumpet
Dimples, deep voice, beard
All five senses working properly
Handles pressure well
Abstinent (not in these streets but saving himself for me)
Intentionally looking for his wife (this one is so important)
It would be #10 that took me out. From the moment I met him, I joked about his deep voice. I never had those types of requirements. EVER! Heck, I didn't even remember writing that or the dimples to my list, and I am far from shallow.
Character, faith, intelligence, and energy have always been more important to me. But for some reason, I listed dimples and a deep voice. After reading that on my list, I hollered. Do you hear me? I was done, again. Not the fact that I heard God say, that's him, but to read something as petty as deep voice and dimples. It was what I needed.
A week after becoming official, we planned to elope. I picked out my ring that following week, and he proposed three weeks later. The proposal was magical with all my favorite elements: Jazz music and great company. Later that night, I was dancing with my grieving, soon-to-be mother-in-law, who just buried her mom, his granny, weeks before.
Despite the loss, she was thrilled to celebrate her 42-year-old oldest son finally finding his wife. And, less than two weeks later, she died herself. I can't tell you how excruciating that pain was for him or how heartbroken I was watching. I can't tell you how conflicted he was with the joys and sorrow of losing two of the most important women in his life and finally finding his wife, who he prayed for. But, God knew the plans that he had for my husband and me. He also knew that I was more than capable and prepared to be a rock, shoulder, helpmate, and confidant during one of the most challenging seasons of trouble.
We decided to move forward, and so we eloped on 10.10.20 (my original wedding date) in Vegas and threw a small ceremony on New Year's Eve (my fav holiday) in the original venue that I had a deposit on. Not only did I still get married in 2020, but I married on my desired date and in the space I wanted but to the man of my dreams.
Married at 36 & 42; if it happened for us, it could certainly happen for you. God is so amazing and strategic. Please keep the faith, keep working on yourself, be specific in your desires, and do not settle my goodness, don't settle. Be the person that you're looking and hoping for.
I hope this condensed version of our story blesses and encourages you.
We're totally writing a book in the future.