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Marrying Off a ‘Potential.’


A single friend of mine invented this word, and I’m going with it. We agree – it’s the best word to describe this category of people in our lives.

Potentials are people whom we might have shared a future with, we’ve spent time with them, and even more time praying over them, and the most time dreaming of a life together.

And then they marry someone else.

It’s an odd thing to ‘marry off a potential.’ To watch them choose love in another lane, to see the hoopla over their pictures and attire, their entrance and exit, their joy now complete, and to fight the notion that it ‘should have been yours.’ To watch a Potential get married, and incidentally, to know they’re for sure having sex now, regardless of whether they were before… well, it’s a whole other thing to try not to obsess about.

There was this man.  Well, there is this man.  He’s still alive.  He exists, hence the present tense verb.  I thought I was going to marry him.

And I’m not the only one who thought so – many, many people thought so.  There are pages in my journal, one confirmation after another – through people and Scripture and events – that couldn’t be coincidences.  I practically had our names inscribed in a wedding cake serving set.

But he married someone else.

So there’s that.

Insert: Faith Crisis.  What were all those confirmations?  Who is this voice I was listening to, the one I know, the voice that has been true other times in my life and seemed so on track this time?  What the… what?

I don’t know.  I have no idea.  A whole psalm could be written about me right now, the girl who thought she knew the end of the story.  But here’s the thing about the agency of free will: God could have given me all those arrows pointing in that direction, but the man in question still had his own decision to make.  And that right there is the Game Changer.

The strangest kind of Potential is when he didn’t even know he was one. When it was perhaps all a one-sided love affair in my mind. That’s an odd one to process.

Not even sad, necessarily. Just… odd.

Back to the drawing board.

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. I completely relate to this and am glad that you wrote this. It’s the potentials that hurt the most.

    • Yes, that… Although, I have arrived at the place where I can admit that the amazing praising life I’ve had over the past few years would most likely not have been if I’d married Mr Potential (who has spent the past few years married to another).

      Thanks for reminding the lonely that we’re not alone.

  2. I think God pointed you to that man, because he had something to teach you or show you that involved that guy at that time and in that place. Of course I have no idea what that could be, and maybe you don’t either. But I wonder if, in hindsight, you will look back and understand that this situation was absolutely necessary to lead you to who God actually has in mind for you. That’s how it seems to have gone in my life anyway. But in the mean time, I know it totally sucks, and my heart hurts for you.

  3. I agree with Lyli. One day you’ll want to send a thank you note. 🙂

    My mom went through this as well after her divorce. Thought she’d found “the one” but wasn’t. Then when she did she actually lost the friendship (and they’d been friends for a whole year) before the guy reappeared in her life. God had needed that year to deal with some stuff in his life that would have messed up the relationship. But they’ve now been married 15 years.

    All that to say that relationships don’t have rules. Wish they did! lol But God is still in the process of working all things together for our good – even when we don’t see the endgame right now.

    • To clarify: They had been friends for several years but lost touch for a year.

  4. Tricia, that sucks! Also, I keep thinking of that Garth Brooks song about how he lots of years after marrying his wife, he ran into the woman he thought he’d marry and he was so thankful she wasn’t it. Not sure it that helps right now, but … rest assured I will be racking my brain for the tune until I go to sleep tonight.

  5. I remember crying over my Potential. A friend said to me, “One day you will know why this happened. You will look back and realize God did it for a reason.” I wanted to clobber her.

    The first time my husband reached for my hand I remember thinking, “Remind me to send that guy a thank you note.”

    Potential is great, but it’s not perfection.


  6. Well, shoot! I’m sorry that happened, Tricia. I knew from things you’d written that you were dating, but not that there was such a serious “potential” in the picture. I can see why you’d be pretty confused about it all and have lots of unanswered questions. Praying for your hurting heart. Big hugs. (Your next husband is going to be mighty glad that this didn’t work out, by the way.)

  7. Yes, it’s odd. I think about that in regards to confirmation too…. what does it all mean?

  8. Just when I think I’ve got the Secret to Knowing God’s Will figured out, dadgum, if it doesn’t seem He changes the rules. But I do think you are on to something here, Tricia. There’s that Free Will conundrum, that God always have to go around and work around when it comes to other people. He can nudge. He can send angelic messages. But ultimately He’s given people this Free Will reign that gets in the way of our prayers being fulfilled in a timely way, the way we longed to seem them answered. I often think of how God told Daniel (?) that he heard his prayer and responded immediately (so, in truth, God really answered his prayer with a quick response)…but it took a lot more time because of heavenly battles in the way. I wonder how many of those battles involved the free will of men, mucking things up. Thankfully, if Plan A doesn’t work out, there seems to always be a Plan B that you may wake up realize one day, was perhaps, Plan A all along. Or in some way, over time, proves much better than the Plan A you originally wanted. Then there’s the country song theology of “Thank God for Unanswered Prayers.” Anyway, these are the questions that make me long for the day when we get to the place of Answers. Because this Inquiring Mind, like yours, REALLY wants to know.

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