About Hanna

www.dearhanna.com // Writer, educator, & enthusiast of the high school through college years. Student Enrichment Coordinator @BelmontUniv. Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose.

The one thing I didn’t believe God could do

13.11.2008, Deutschland, Bayern, MŸnchen, mr 52God can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. 

God will give you the desires of your heart. 

God has plans for you– plans to prosper you, not to harm you. 

I believe those statements to be true. I believe in a God who knows us intimately, has personalized plans for us, cares about our hopes and dreams, and has God-sized provisions in store for us.  I believe in a God who works miracles, who heals, who puts plans into motion that we could never dream up. And I believe all of that in really practical, daily ways.

But if I was really, really honest with you, there was one area of my life that I didn’t believe those things to be true.  I didn’t trust that God would provide for a desire I had in the depths of my heart.  It wasn’t even a matter of “would” He provide.  Honestly, I’m not sure I believed He could provide.

A husband.

I wanted a husband. Someone to love, someone to love me in return.  Someone to partner with, do life with, grow old together seeking Jesus’ will for our lives. Have babies with. Conquer life’s challenges with. Be his biggest fan. Know he’s mine.

I was in my late-twenties and it was even hard for me to admit I wanted a husband. It wasn’t that I was lonely or depressed or felt incomplete.  I loved my independence and there were great things about being single, but I also wanted to fall in love and get married.

And I didn’t believe God could provide.

I had high expectations of the man I wanted to marry. I wasn’t sure God was going to pull through– or worse.  What if God’s “best” for me was a nerdy, boring, unattractive guy?  I was afraid I would never find someone I actually loved enough to marry.  If by some miracle I did fall madly deeply in love, I was even more uncertain that he would be a man my dad liked and approved of. That may seem ridiculous to some of you, but even as a well-established independent woman, I still really cared about my dad’s approval– especially when it came to my future husband.  And the truth was, no guy would ever be good enough for me in my dad’s eyes. So, I was looking to God to provide two impossible things– and would openly admit that I did not believe He would do it.

I trusted God with every area of my life but this one.

I believed He could do the impossible for everyone else. All of my single friends who also desired to be married and wondered if God would provide– I knew with every fiber of my being that God would. I had unwavering faith for them.  But for me, I doubted.

“I believe; help my unbelief!”

That verse became my favorite prayer. I believe You are the God of the impossible in every other situation and for everyone else, help my unbelief when it comes to this particular situation in my life. I believe; help my unbelief.  It wasn’t that I needed to believe that God would give me a husband, I needed to believe that God had my best at heart and was working on my behalf for my good. I needed to believe that even if things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to, God was still good and in time I would see how His plans were even better than mine.

I don’t know what your unbelief is, but I’d be willing to bet you have one.

If you’re human, you have doubts. You wonder if God will provide. You struggle to believe when you can’t see.  God knows that.  Confess your doubt and distrust in God and ask Him to help your unbelief.  Thankfully, out of God’s incomprehensible grace and mercy, He hears our prayers, He lovingly responds, and He truly can and does immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. He may not answer your prayer the way you want Him to, but He absolutely has your best in mind and is working on your behalf. We have to believe with unwavering faith that He is good and is working all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

The Lord is near all who cry out to him, all who cry out to him sincerely. He satisfies the desire of his loyal followers; he hears their cry for help and delivers them. – Psalm 145:18-19

I don’t need a man

large36

After graduating college without my MRS degree and realizing it was probably going to be quite a few years before I did decide to become a MRS, it became my goal to not need a man.

You know what I mean. I wanted to be able to fix a leaky sink, install curtain rods or other household hardware, use a drill, change a tire, install comcast internet and so on.  Overall, I did pretty well accomplishing my goal.  Heck– I could watch a “fix your garbage disposal” youtube video and DIY it like the best of them!  And honestly, I was proud of that.  I had plenty of girlfriends who were flat out helpless without a boyfriend or daddy, and while every girl needs her daddy from time to time, I liked the fact that– generally speaking– I could get along by myself just fine.

In all honesty, I was a little too independent– struggling to ask for help from good friends when I really could have used it.

Just because you can live life alone, doesn’t mean it’s the best way!

A few years ago, I had been up to my ears in work, really stressed and stretched too thin. I had gone out of town for a work trip and when I got home, I found one of my best friends had snuck into my house, cleaned the place from top to bottom and done all my laundry. When I realized what she had done, I burst into tears.  I was overwhelmed with her kindness and generosity. A clean house is my love language. I also felt immense relief.  I was so tired and stressed and my house being in disarray was weighing on me. In that moment, she helped me in a way I couldn’t not have helped myself. It was hard to swallow!  I was so thankful and relieved, but it also made me feel vulnerable– it showed that I wasn’t superwoman and actually needed help from another human being. Gasp.

So when my husband and I began to date, I had a little practice in letting others help, but not much. I still prided myself on being independent. I’ll never forget the first time he want to take the trash bag out of the kitchen and into the garage.  I remember thinking, “Ohhhh no! I have been taking the trash out of the kitchen and onto the curb for YEARS.  I do NOT need you to help.”  Of course, not wanting to seem rude (or crazy), I let him do it– but it was strangely hard. I was letting a man help me– particularly doing something that is stereotypically a “man’s job”– which I had perfectly mastered without any man’s help.  Somewhere subconsciously, I started to get a little nervous.

Was I letting myself need a man?

Fast forward a year of marriage and I can’t help but laugh at myself. I’ve probably touched the garbage can less than five times.  I definitely don’t do any house fixing– not even a light bulb change.  I even ask for help with laundry folding (my least favorite chore).  Before I even realized what had happen, I went from a fiercely independent woman to a ridiculously dependent wife.

And you know what? I’m not mad about it. Because here’s my secret:

I still don’t need a man.

I don’t need my husband. I want him. I choose to rely on him. Part of wanting and choosing Tyler means letting him have ownership of our house and our life together; it means letting him serve me because acts-of-service is his number one love language.  And part of marriage– okay a huge part of marriage– is giving up your independence and admitting that, not only do you need help, but that life is actually better when you don’t do it alone.  It means trusting your spouse to help you–even when his or her way may be different from yours.

So whether you’re single or married, how are you doing on letting others in? Do you ask for help or would you rather die than admit you can’t do it all by yourself? Are you stubbornly independent or are you able to ask for help when you need it?

We have to stop trying to be “I can do it all by myself” superwomen.

Let’s be real and ask for help when we need it, because we’re all insufficient. The reason I don’t need my husband, is because the only person I truly need is Christ. It is in Him alone that my insufficiencies are met and that my strength is found. While God didn’t create us to have our needs met in other humans, He did create us to be in relationship with one another, to serve each other, and to live in authentic relationship–which includes asking for help.

Show up to give

e84f656c2065ddc9f0ac1041dca6fbd8

As my husband and I drove home from Birmingham this weekend, we listened to a sermon titled “Why do we go to church?”  I expected all the answers I already knew: We go to church to worship God. We go to church to hear sound teaching from the Bible. We go to church for fellowship, to be with other believers.

The preacher quickly addressed all of those points and then landed on an idea that really convicted me.

We go to church to give.

The preacher posed the question, “What would it look like for you to pray each week and  ask God to give you something to give at church?” It could be money, talents, a specific way you serve, an encouraging word to someone in need… But what would that look like for you and I to show up at our churches every week with the intent of giving in some form?

Most of us go to church with the purpose of being fed. We want to be led in worship, taught the bible, and given a message that encourages our hearts enough to press on. Right? I mean, we all need those things at some level. I’m not saying that’s wrong, but what happened to God’s church being His people? You and I are the people. The “church” as defined by God is not the paid staff who does all the work on Sunday.  It’s all of us together.

What would it look like if you and I showed up to church every Sunday with the intent of giving in some way?

As my husband and I began to talk about what that might look like for us, my thoughts started getting even more radical.

What if everywhere I went, I went with the purpose of giving?

When I go to work, when I show up for coffee with a friend or student, when I grab lunch with a coworker, when I go to the gym, the grocery store, the dry cleaners, when I go home to my husband, literally everywhere. And what if every time I transitioned to the next thing, I simply prayed, “Ok Lord, give me something to give.”

Lord, give me something to give in every place I go and in every human interaction I have.

That is so counter-intuitive it probably makes your bones hurt. Your brain (ahem–your sin nature)  is wired to think “me, me, me.”  What am I getting out of this situation, this work day, this coffee, this gym time, this interaction with the barista? Me, me, me. But if we all just agreed to flip that on it’s head? What if you and I showed up everywhere, every day, with the intention of giving something in someway?

Of course, the key is that we have to look to God to provide it. Right? Otherwise, if you and I just tried to give all the time out of our own strength, we would be exhausted.  We would be totally empty and dried up. But if we look to God to provide not only our every need, but our every thing to give away— I firmly believe we would never run out.

Jesus said it himself, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

We may hear that a lot in the context of material goods or money, but I think He was covering all forms of giving. Once again, as the way this Christian-lifestyle goes, you and I have a choice. Are we going to live like the world tells us? –Take care of you, look out for you, it’s all about you.  Or are we going to live like Jesus encourages us? It’s better to give than to receive.

If that’s true, that it is more blessed to give, then that’s where I want to be. Let’s show up to give. 

Marriage isn’t a 50/50 partnership

o-COUPLE-HOLDING-HANDS-facebookThere’s a story I frequently hear my husband tell other men. It goes like this:

One night Tyler was lying on our bed while I was getting ready in the bathroom.  It had been a long day and he was resting before we headed out to meet some friends.

“Hey babe, can you change the light bulb in the bathroom?” I asked. Silence. Then a tentative “yeahhhh” came from the bed.

He laid in bed for about another five minutes before getting up to fetch a new lightbulb.  I never thought anything of it. Then one day I heard him tell this story and he said,

“I was more miserable for those five minutes I laid in bed than if I had just gotten up when she asked and changed the light bulb.”

We’ve all been there, right? You’re exhausted, have a headache; it was a hard day at work. You just want a few minutes to rest in peace and someone asks you to do something for them.  Can’t I just have five minutes to myself?!  But then you lay there and stew, getting angrier and angrier as your selfishness swallows you whole.

Tyler would say, “It always turns out better if I chose to serve her rather than feed my selfishness. Even if we’re talking about a lightbulb.”


During one of my bridal showers, we went around the room and each woman shared a piece of marital advice.  When it was my mom’s turn she looked at me and said, “Hanna, there is one verse in the Bible that will almost guarantee a successful marriage if you live by it.

Consider Tyler’s interests as more important than your own.

Consider. It doesn’t mean you always have to make a decision in his favor. It doesn’t mean his interests are more important than yours. Just consider.

There’s a verse in Philippians that says,

Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.” (Philippians 2:3–4, NET)

Now, that’s a hard pill to swallow–especially in our culture, which tells us that YOU are the most important person in the world and that if YOU don’t look out for YOU, no one will.  Our culture tells us that a successful, healthy relationship is 50/50.  You give 50%, I give 50%. You take 50%, I take 50%. But that doesn’t sound much like treating your spouse as more important than yourself, does it?

I’m not talking about self-deprecation here.

I’m not saying you and I aren’t important or that we shouldn’t take care of ourselves because we are valuing our spouse as more important than ourselves.  But what does it look like to consider our spouses’ interests as more important than our own?  What does it look like to treat them better than ourselves? Not that they are more important than us, but because we are so selfish by nature, we have to force ourselves to consider them as more important in order to act out of humility.

A piece of advise I hear Tyler constantly give to dating or married men is:

Your goal is to out serve her.

Instead of trying to live 50/50, our goal should be to out serve our spouse. –Not out of competition or by keeping score, but out of the desire to treat your spouse as more important than yourself.  Because that is the real beauty of marriage–learning to love someone more than yourself and treating them as such. And then, when you fail to do that–because you will fail some days–being humbled by receiving the love and grace your spouse gives to you.

So today, what would it look like to treat your spouse as more important than yourself?  What decision do you need to better contemplate in order to truly consider your spouse’s interest?  For me, it’s usually in the minutia. It’s the lightbulbs, the dinner menu, the laundry that needs to be folded, the shoes by the door, saying no to plans with friends because I know he’s exhausted. It’s learning to make decisions in his favor because it makes him feel cared for. And do you know what the very best part of that is? If my husband feels cared for, served, and loved, he does a really good job of taking care of me in return.

And if you’re dating or single, how might that verse change the way you choose your spouse?  You may notice we are called to consider others as more important than ourselves regardless of their behavior.  There are no conditions to that verse.  So, if the key to a successful marriage is out serving your partner, perhaps you look for someone who is servant-hearted, cares for others, and will treat you as more important than themselves.

How to Find the Right Person

Stanley book

For the majority of my twenties, I was single. I went out on a lot of dates, but had very few committed relationships and those ranged from just a few months to around a year.  For the most part, I was content being single. My life was very busy and I was fiercely independent which didn’t make me the easiest girl to pursue. If a guy asked me out, he usually had to wait about two weeks before I’d make room in my schedule. The same went for the second and even third date.

I had some friends who would occasionally call me out on this scheduling habit. “You’re never going to be in a real relationship if you won’t make time for one,” they’d say.

“Look, when the right guy comes along, I’ll make time for him.” I’d say.

The right guy.

In some way or another, we all use that excuse.

I just haven’t found the right guy yet. 

That relationship failed, but it’s just because he wasn’t right!

When it’s right, I’ll know.

I’m just looking for Mr. Right...

I had a friend who used to tease me, “He may not be Mr. Right, but he could be a pretty good Mr. Right Now.”

When looking for a life partner, we’re all just looking for the right person, the right fit. And that is a crucial piece. Don’t get me wrong. But there are two major problems with our approach.

1. We don’t even know what “right” looks like.

When my husband and I started to date, a friend gave me a book called The Sacred SearchIt flipped my idea of “the right guy” on it’s head. My entire dating life, the “right guy” I had been searching for was more or less the wrong guy for me.

The past weekend my husband and I went on vacation and both devoured Andy Stanley’s latest book The New Rules for Love, Sex & DatingAnd when I say devoured, I mean devoured. I was laughing, cheering, yelled a few “amens!” and was even punched in the gut a few times. You know those books you read and every page you think of a friend or family member who needs to read it?  Then, eventually you get to the chapter that slices you open? Yeah. That’s this book. Single, Married, Divorced, Dating, Engaged… every person I know needs to read this book. And Andy hit the nail on the head with our typical tactic for finding the right person.

Attraction.

While most everybody has a mental list of what makes the right person the right person, most people abandon their lists for physical attraction and chemistry.

When you’re physically attracted to someone and there’s that extra something we will refer to as chemistry, it just feels right, doesn’t it? 

When it feels right, it’s easy to assume that it is right. (p. 24)

And here comes the gut punch. Ready?

You are sexually compatible with far more people than you are relationally compatible with. (p. 25)

Sexual compatibility is important. Real important. But sexual compatibility is not the litmus test for relational compatibility. (p. 26)

WE ALL DO THIS. Whether you want to admit it or not, we pick the right person by our sexual compatibility. And I’m not even talking just straight “how’s the sex?” here.  I’m talking about, “he makes me laugh, puts me at ease; we have the best time together, and we just have that spark!”  That is sexually compatibility.  And while that has to be there, it fades really quickly if the relational compatibility isn’t also there. That’s the piece we need to be much, much more intentional about.

But I said there were two major problems with our search for the right person and the second is the most important piece of the puzzle.

2. Before you can find the right person, you have to become the right person.

Andy says it this way, we all assume that “there’s a right person for you, and once you find your right person, everything will be all right.” That expectation right there, is the best way I know to make a relationship fail. If all your hope for happiness in life is wrapped up in another person making things right for you, oh baby, have you got disappointment in your future.

The only way to find and attract the right person, is to be the right person.  

Becoming the right person is how you prepare to commit. (p. 47)

Becoming the right person dramatically increases your odds of sustained relational success when you finally meet the right person. (p. 47)

Becoming the right person dramatically increases the likelihood of you being attracted to the person who is right for you. (p. 47)

Someone who is merely looking for the right person usually winds up with someone merely looking for the right person. (p. 55)

Like attracts like. (p. 55)

Instead of being so focused on looking, perhaps you should commit a bit more energy to becoming. (p. 55)

I could quote this book all day, but I won’t.  But if you are on the hunt for the right person, can I beg you to pick up this book?  We need to totally reframe the concept of who is right and, more importantly, how to become the right person.

And a quick note to the married people: I told you I thought everyone needed to read The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating and here’s why. We’re all still a work in progress. Even though our dating years are over, you and I should still be doing everything we can to become the even more right person for our spouse. In this book, Andy Stanley breaks down the 1 Corinthians 13 love chapter and it will punch you in the stomach (in the best way possible). What does it look like to love your spouse with patience, kindness, and humility– not with sarcasm, criticism, dishonor, selfish motives, or keeping score? While you and I may already be married, we still have a lot of work to do.


I received this book from North Point Publishing (andystanley.com) in exchange for this review.