Tea Breaks with E

Monday lunch – we fast and pray for a) men to lead courageously, b) women to be open and responsive to needed heart change, and c) the gift of marriage to those who desire it.

It was senior year of college and my best friend E and I were having one of our afternoon tea breaks in our dorm room and chatting about life.  Since it appeared we would both be graduating without boyfriends or impending marriages, we started talking about what life would look like if we never got married.  Not that either of us considered that a serious possibility, of course!  I remember telling her, ‘Well, if I knew now that I would never get married, I would have to mourn a lot of things I wanted.’

I don’t think I would have guessed in senior year of college that I would still be single now.  I also couldn’t have guessed that mourning the life I had hoped for would be a process that happens in gradual harmony with celebrating the life I have been given.  Case in point: if someone had told me that the year 2012 would hold new serious relationships and/or engagements for another roommate, all of my siblings and my two closest college friends…and a boatload of weddings of other friends….and all while I wasn’t married or close to it, I might have had a breakdown in that dorm room.

But the weird thing is…I’m not having a breakdown.  (Famous last words, I know.)  I’m struck more and more with God’s gracious blessing when He gives a good spouse to someone I love dearly. I’m learning how similar the heart struggles are for women, married or single or whatever.  The reality is that we all end up mourning the life we had hoped for — because life never quite goes in the directions we imagined.  The only thing that stays the same is Jesus Christ, and He’s the only thing that can sustain any of us through life’s unexpected seasons.

I recently told an aunt that if I don’t get ever married, it’s going to be good and hard and full of things I didn’t expect.  The reality is that even if I do get married, it will still be good and hard and full of things I didn’t expect.  And so my prayer for us this Monday is to have our spiritual roots planted in Him who makes all things new, to trust more deeply, celebrate more freely, and to be faithful with the life we have today.  And on E’s wedding day in just a few weeks, my prayer for her and for her new husband and for me will be those exact same things.

By His Grace,

Amy

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21 Responses to Tea Breaks with E

  1. Karis says:

    So true about life being good, hard, and full of things we don’t expect, whether we are single, married, whatever. Tim Keller’s teaching on Marriage (either his book or his recorded messages) has a related perspective that I also appreciate: that even the best marriage is imperfect, and nothing close to what we have in our relationship with Jesus. Married people will experience some forms of intimacy we don’t have in any other relationships, but singles can certainly take hope in our glorious future, and even in the present, we can relate to Jesus’ earthly walk as a single person, too.

  2. Marie says:

    It’s true – LIFE never quite turns out as we imagined. And, although I’ve only been married for 45 days, marriage IS FULL of LOTS OF “good and hard” and “things that I didn’t expect.” For example, my Christmas tree is decorated with tinsel this year. Not really my style. But things are different now. There is another to consider & prefer. During long years of waiting (I’m 39), it’s SO “easy” to romanticize the idea of marriage. But personal struggles continue. I am still a sinner, and so is the dear man that I married. But Jesus Christ is the same – HALLELUJAH!! And the anchors that I depended on during singleness will continue to sustain during this season of marriage.

  3. Lynn says:

    This is one of those posts that makes sense in my head, but I’m having difficulty feeling it in my heart. Another commenter noted that mourning was a theme of the post. Well, I think I’m mourning the death of hope for a relationship. This was just one of those weeks. Two weeks ago, I met a man at a community show I attended. He introduced himself with the old “Is anyone sitting in the seat next to you?” line. After chatting with him before the show and during intermission, I agreed to give him my number (something I rarely do – but I was trying to be more open to the possibilities —maybe this was a diving meeting! Also I wanted to reward this man for his initiative – something so rare in men these days).

    The following day I agreed to meet him at a restaurant where we talked a bit more. In the days following our meeting, he sent me daily text messages (silly things like “Hello Beautiful”). However, it became abundantly clear to me that there was no future for us (he has two children by two different women – the youngest is 2 years old, his religious view is that Christianity, Judaism and Islam are all the same, he is very active in a Muslim organization, and I’m pretty certain that he is sexually active – need I say more about why it is clear that I have no future with him?). Nonetheless it took every bit of strength I had to push him away explaining that I didn’t think we had a future. I had to pray for the strength to walk away. I am 41 years old, never married with no viable prospects in sight for YEARS – and the attention from this man felt sooo good. For the first time in a long time, I felt attractive and pursued, and worthy!! Anyway, he was actually very gracious when I explained why we couldn’t have a relationship, and he has stopped texting me (I’m sure the no sex part stopped him in his tracks) — and I miss him already — and I had to fight the thoughts in my head that maybe I did the wrong thing — maybe I should call him back, maybe it’s OK to start just dating him. As much as I know that dating him would be a bad decision, the lonely, tired part of me feels like dating him would be better than having nothing.

    I am thankful that God gave me the strength to walk away from him – but I have felt such disappointment and melancholy since ending the “relationship”. Meeting him sparked a glimmer of hope in me, but learning that he wasn’t marriage material extinguished that hope and hope for the future. I attend a very large church, and I see hundreds of men each Sunday as I am on the hospitality team. In four years there, no one has ever approached me like this guy did. It’s so frustrating. I feel as if I’ll never meet anyone who could potentially be a husband. So, this week, my sense of disappointment, loneliness and hopelessness is pretty overwhelming. I look forward to the fast.pray posts (I wish they were daily!), but this time I think I’m a bit too down in the dumps for the post to uplift me.

    • halennox says:

      Oh Lynn. Right there with you. I hate that feeling of hopelessness… and the fact that it creeps up at the most annoying times! For some reason this week, I was thinking… why do I bother to fast and pray on Mondays… the future looks pretty bleak?! But I like Amy’s prayer to “trust more deeply”. Maybe that’s all I can spit out when I’m feeling discouraged and down in the dumps. Lord – help me to trust you more. Shall be thinking of you, Lynn!

    • chanelle says:

      Dear Lynn,

      This is my first time posting but I’ve certainly been encouraged and enlightened by many of our fellow sisters and the occasional brother(?) who have replied. I truly believe you did the right thing. Hang in there. I, along with most other Christian sisters (I believe) would have made the same decision. Not only was it Biblically sound, I believe that it was the wise, rational choice to make. The gentleman didn’t seem like someone whom would be the best match of a husband for a Christian woman. Stay strong, keep your chin up!:)

    • Karis says:

      Lynn, thank you for sharing. I know that feeling, and at 39 I believe I can relate. Good job for being more open; and yet it can bring pain, too. You may not be looking for advice, but I can testify that the biggest thing that has helped me is paying close attention to what my mind is doing; anything that is not from God, not Truth, I need to stop those thoughts and repeat what GOD says about Himself, about ME, and everything. It sounds too simple to “work,” but I am so thankful to the growth I’ve experienced over the past 2 years just by doing this and practicing gratitude more. I have not “arrived” by any means, but I have to give myself a talking-to when I start to go down that spiral.

      PLEASE be encouraged that God is looking out for you! Attention is great, but what unhappiness would follow you into marriage when the man is not godly or of good character! Be confident of your beauty, your desirability, your gifts and talents, and that you are needed on this earth!

      • Lynn says:

        Thank you for the encouragement Karis. I fully agree, dating/marrying the wrong man would bring a world of hurt much greater than anything I’m currently experiencing. In the dark moments I have to remind myself of that. Having this online source of support is helpful.

    • amy says:

      lynn, thank you for sharing and i totally hear where you’re at. there are weeks (or months, if i’m being honest) where those feelings also seem to dominate the horizon. and i’m not going to be flippant about that — for now, know you are heard and loved…by your fp sisters and by Him 🙂

      • Lynn says:

        Thank you Amy. Having this community of like-minded women who understand what I’m going through AND who give biblically-consistent responses is invaluable. There is so much crazy “advice” out there for single women. Fast.pray is a much-needed breath of fresh air.

  4. smvernalis says:

    Amy, good words as always! Hope to see you SOON!

  5. Jennifer Erickson says:

    Oh Amy, this is so well said. I am married to a wonderful man and so Grateful to the Lord for this. And yet, even with this, I, too, as you have said so correctly mourn for the life I had hoped for and count on Jesus Christ daily to enable me to keep my eyes fixed on Him for the wounds in my own life that need healing, for the salvation of a wayward son, for hope for a 3 yr. old grand son who is in a life I didn’t want for him, and on and on. So I join you and the many who long for a companion in a spouse and pray for that as well as for the many men (and women) who God wants desperately to conform to His image, to stand up and be leaders, to have the courage to marry, to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and to bring back the unit of a family God had in mind when He made male and female in His image to bring Glory to Himself and provide a good and fitting environment for children to be given life to and nurtured in. In Him alone is Life and the Light of “Men”. In Him alone we live and move and have our being.

    • amy says:

      So so true. And good to hear your perspective, and praying with you about those things for which you are waiting…even if they are different from mine 🙂

  6. Melody says:

    I think what I took from this is mourning. I think I was surprised when I reached my mid-twenties and was still single that I was ALLOWED to mourn this, that it wasn’t stupid or weird or unacceptable. The ability to mourn is important for moving on and to be a part of a group of people who not only understand that but welcome it is so so valuable.

    • amy says:

      Agreed! I spent a lot of time telling myself I was silly for feeling any sadness about life not turning out how I had imagined…but now I realize it might just be part of the process…and letting go is definitely helpful in letting Him in!

  7. Cally says:

    Thank you for this post, it’s really touched me probably because it hits so close to home. I’m so thankful for this community and posts each week. it really helps lift you back up and realize the Lord is who you need to focus on each day. Bless

  8. Daniela says:

    Thank you for this post Amy – very insightful!

    “The reality is that we all end up mourning the life we had hoped for — because life never quite goes in the directions we imagined. The only thing that stays the same is Jesus Christ, and He’s the only thing that can sustain any of us through life’s unexpected seasons.”

    Indeed, I think I would have suffered a breakdown as well, right by the lake I was baptized in, if somebody would have told me on the spot that I would be still single 17 1/2 years later! Indeed, it has been “good and hard and full of things I didn’t expect”; but I can say now that it has been a path of joy and fulfillment in the service of our Lord Jesus – even without a special someone by my side. And while I’m fasting and praying again for this special man I’m currently getting to know, I’m again reminded that it’s only my Lord and Saviour who is sustaining me in this, sometimes tedious, process of waiting!

  9. Lily says:

    My thoughts exactly…beautifully said.

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