This is your reminder that we are fasting and praying during what would be Monday lunch for: 1) marriages for those who are made for it, 2) courage for men to walk into marriage, and 3) courage for women to change where we need to change.
So, it’s Sunday afternoon, and I’m sitting reading , “An Echo in the Darkness” (2nd novel in a trilogy). I’m burning through pages as I come to the climatic God-encounter of one of the main characters. Then, I’m bursting out crying. Need-a-kleenex kind of crying.
Quickly, though, a vague self-consciousness hits me–here I am, alone, on a Sunday afternoon, reading a book whose cover mortifies me (the author, Francine Rivers, is a good writer, but before she became a believer, she wrote romance novels, and this cover appears to be in that same stream)…and, I’m all gushy. “Oh Connally,” I say to myself, “You’re such a sap.”
But as I end the chapter, I begin to rethink my slightly shameful “you’re such a sap” indictment. Actually, a change of heart like this character has finally experienced is the kind of heart change I want to see in myself and in those I know and love. Thinking about it, I realize: tears are totally appropriate. My self-indictment flips 180 degrees: “Lord, help me to fully feel the weight and beauty of deep-encounters with Jesus, be they in my own life or in the lives of others, including those yet to know You.”
In a world where as a single women we are trying to have a good attitudes, stay involved with others, care about original families, nest in a spaces that may or may not be our own, engage with oftentimes difficult work or workplace dynamics, all while staying open to and responsive to the men who may or actually may not be there….it’s easy to want to shut down. Tenderness can feel like a liability. Better to be strong. Be together. Be on it. Make it happen. Don’t be a sap.
Unfortunately, though, this “tenderness as liability” impulse can seep into our relationships (with prospective mates as well as to others). Instead of offering our tenderness, we smush it down hoping to present a shiny, strong, together, on-it self. At least I do. But what if I’ve gotten it wrong? What if presentation isn’t nearly as important as giving the gift to God and others–regardless of our marital or dating status–of an alive heart? What if like Nehemiah did, we allow our sadness to show? Or like David did, our joy? What if like Paul did, we let our need for and our delight in others really reveal itself?
In a culture that seems to be hot on money, sex, and power, but cooling in terms of love and tenderness, revealing our hearts, in their vulnerability and tenderness might be one of the most radical acts of discipleship we can practice. (And interestingly, it seemed integral to the influence that Nehemiah, David and Paul had.) What, then, if the 711 people who subscribe to this site, prayed this week not just for husbands who might be good to our hearts and vice versa, but what if we prayed that God would bring our hearts alive and into the light, even today, for his good purposes? What might happen?
I’m not 100% sure, but I want us to give it a try. Because I’m convinced that in spite of not-yet-met marital longings, our tender hearts have much to offer, even today.
With salty cheeks, a smile & a dose of anticipation, many blessings,