A reminder that tomorrow we will commit to praying and fasting for God to bring marriage to those of us who desire it, to strengthen both men and women in their personal and relational lives, and to bring change within our hearts, minds, and spirits.
Two weeks ago I went on one of the worst dates of my life. It was as close to a pure blind date as you can get in the sense that we had never met one another, and while I had seen him from a distance, he had never seen me. He was a believer in a ministry role, and for two years a variety of people had told me they thought we’d be a great match. I won’t go into details except to say (a) we were as far from a match as two people can be, (b) this person would probably be happy dating himself for the rest of his life, and (c) I felt like a zero at the end.
After pulling into my garage I sat in the car for a good 15 minutes letting myself cry out the hurt and disappointment that flooded over me. I felt a combination of sadness for myself as well as for all of the single, Christian women out there who engage in various spiritual, emotional, and mental gymnastics to find peace in their circumstances. It’s that way sometimes, isn’t it? Coming home from a bad date or something else that pushes our “I’m single” buttons, we grab our emotional tool kit and dust off the “Root Your Identity in Christ” wrench, or the “I’d Rather Be Single Than With That Jerk” screwdriver.
Forgive me for being flip. I am in fact a strong proponent of these very tools I sometimes grow weary of. And I even hesitate to call them tools because really they are more about our core self. At our core do we believe that God’s narrative for our life is good? Do we believe we are good despite the bad dates, the challenge of connecting with available, Jesus-loving men, or the temptation towards resentment and bitterness? Can I hang onto the truth that no matter what this life brings (or doesn’t bring) eternity with Jesus will make both the joys and difficulties of this earth a far distant memory?
Sometimes. But other times (like the bad date night) I just let myself feel muddy and bad, with angry, prickly thoughts swirling in my head until I fall asleep and hopefully feel better in the morning. And what I love about Jesus is that He’s with us and for us as much in those moments as He is when we’re able and willing to fall on our knees in prayer before Him about our relationship longings. He is with our wounded, aching hearts as they are, compassionately ministering to us until we find the strength to pick ourselves up and continue forward with Him on the journey. Emmanuel. God with us.
Often my prayers center around God meeting my desire for a husband or around knowing peace in the midst of waiting. But what would it be like to pray to know God as with me? Having someone “with you” involves the offer of deep empathy and understanding in pain and anger, joy and triumph. In the pain of singleness it can be tempting to view God as the withholder of good things rather than a trusted companion along the way. How might our experience change if we chose to join Him on the journey He calls us to: God with us fully, lovingly, protectively, intimately? Might we soften, become more accepting of ourselves and others, grow in our trust of Him, feel less burdened by our circumstances? I don’t know…they’re just a few things that came to mind. But I’m curious. This week I plan to practice knowing God as Emmanuel, fully with me. I hope you’ll do the same.