Jill ferrie
Writer, editor, educator

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Spiritual ideas that inspire practical solutions to everyday problems

Never give up

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I was all alone, although my life included a ton of people at the time: four kids and their school families, good friends, great colleagues. Even some of my family members lived close enough to get together for lunch or church or a picnic in the park. But I still felt lonely.

I was a single parent at the time, divorced for about five years, playing the dating game. I had changed my mind from absolutely never wanting to get married again to wanting a companion with whom I could journey through life. Specifically, I wanted to get married again. In spite of the fact that my first husband and I parted before death, I still valued the life-time commitment of a solid contracted partnership. The expectations are clear, reciprocally beneficial, and support opportunities for personal growth, unconditional love, laughter, problem solving, and forgiveness… in the long haul. I wanted that.

I tried a few online dating sites. Even went on a few nice dates. But the disappointments I experienced in the dating scene far out-numbered the joys of meeting new people and it left me feeling stressed, hopeless, and lonely. The discouragement of my fruitless search to find the right mate was disheartening, to say the least. Eventually, I let my dating subscriptions expire and started getting into my pajamas earlier and earlier as the days went on. I declined invites from friends and family to get together for activities I normally enjoyed, like lunches, movies, coffees, and dinners, and I conversed with my colleagues less and less.

I needed help. So I prayed.

Prayer is my go-to when I need help… or healing… or peace of mind… or… lol, I guess I should have stopped at prayer is my go-to. I like cuddling up with God; prayer helps me feel loved and cared for. Jesus showed us how pray; he gave us the Lord’s prayer and he proved over and over that “our Father which art in heaven” answers our prayers. He illustrated this truth to his students with an analogy:

“If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone?… How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?…Therefore, ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Luke 11).

I found that very comforting. I needed a sure thing. I also needed a healthier view of relationships. All of mine were going down hill and I had no desire to fix them. So I asked my all loving Father for help, knowing he wouldn’t give me a stone. I remember praying something like, well, God, I know you love me and your only agenda for me is to be happy, so if your plan for me is to not have a spouse, then take away my desire for it. I really just want to be happy.

I realize now that I was actually just letting go of my own personal outline for my life—which was clearly NOT working, and letting God show me His plan for me. Several days later, I got the idea to make a list of qualities I would like to have in a companion. I wrote them down:

  • honesty

  • sense of humor

  • open-minded

  • loyal

  • charitable

  • kind

  • respectful

  • hard-working

  • trustworthy

I knew that qualities are actually spiritual attributes, and in order to be seen, they have to be expressed. So, I decided that instead of looking for a specific person or partner, I would look for the expression of these qualities wherever I was, whatever I was doing. I added to my list as I thought of others that were important to me…

  • patient

  • helpful

  • calm

  • joyful

  • likable

I don’t know what I expected to come out of my new search, but what I discovered was truly amazing. I found these qualities being expressed everywhere I went, by so many people in my orb. They filled my experience with beauty and awe. It seemed like every time I turned around, I had the occasion to witness something wonderful.

For example, sitting in Starbucks one afternoon, I saw a guy come in, order a drink for himself and pay for two. He wanted to treat the next person who came through the door. I turned to my friend excitedly, Hey!! I’m working on charitableness today. When I returned home at the end of the day, I added joyful, compassionate, and visionary as sub-qualities of charitable—they were so evidently expressed.

When I was working on seeing helpfulness, respectfulness, and sense of humor, I saw many examples of strong, loving marriages and friendships in my workplace—demonstrated through actions and conversations by my colleagues. One co-worker’s husband went out of his way to bring lunch to his busy wife in her office. Other colleagues jumped in to cover classes for a professor who called in sick at the last minute. And laughter filled the copy room about funny classroom stories while we waited our turn for the machine. My list of qualities filled up with more and more add-ons: dedicated, informed, insightful, spontaneous, thoughtful, and my days filled up with more and more joy.

It soon became obvious that the spiritual qualities I wanted in a partner were already very present in my life and I could enjoy them right then, right there. I started saying yes to more togethers with my friends and co-workers and I spent more time at activities with my kids and family members. I also met many new people and even dated some of them too, but I was no longer searching for that one person who would fulfill my list of must-haves. I already had them all. I felt satisfied and happy.

Several months later I did meet my husband to be and it was immediately obvious to both of us that we were meant to be together. Friends said we were a match made in heaven. We were happily married the following year.

In the twelve years since, I’ve made new lists of spiritual qualities to find other things I felt were missing in my life, such as employment, friends, household items, even the right stores to shop at. And each time I have gained new understanding about my Father’s ever-present love and abundant provision for me—because “God is understandable, knowable, and applicable to every human need” (Eddy, Miscellany. p. 238). God’s help is always at hand, for each and every one of us.

I’ll keep praying.