[Monday lunch: fast and pray for men to be godly and courageous, women to be softened in God’s hand, and marriages for those who desire it]
Despite all my reading and thinking about the subject, I still assume on some level that dating and marriage should work like equations. Put the right things in, get the desired result. Instead, I am routinely surprised by the randomness with which dating and/or marriage seems to happen for some people and not others. I know in my head that godly marriages are God’s gift in God’s timing, but my heart is still confused sometimes.
To cope with this unpredictability in the face of my deep desires, I have three usual responses, which I have recently termed my Bermuda Triangle of Despair:
Give up. Fix myself. Blame someone else.
- Give up: deny that I ever wanted to get married, deny desire, separate myself from married friends, deny that I need human companionship at all, attempt to stop caring about myself or others, give in to despondency, refuse to let anyone celebrate my birthday or set me up on blind dates or ask about my dating life, consider buying several cats, etc
- Fix myself: work harder, get more points on the marriage calculator, sign up for a different online dating site, lower my expectations, smile more, overhaul my closet, move somewhere with more single men, read books on how to understand men, etc
- Blame someone else: my family, my church, my teachers, my friends, the single men of my generation, Joshua Harris, pornography, demography, technology, cultural decay, etc
The problem is that, shockingly, none of these techniques actually work. I have tried to give up, but my heart is not so easily tricked out of its desire for deep commitment and connection. I have tried to fix myself but have only created more anxiety that I do not measure up. I have tried to blame someone else but the structural problems are too far away for me to address. If I think about all this too long, I start to go crazy. And when I go crazy, I figure that I am on the verge of becoming That Crazy Lady. Hence, the despair part of the triangle.
However, I think there are still lies embedded in this approach:
- I still have marriage as the central goal and end point. I worship marriage as if it is the Thing Which Will Satisfy.
- All of these responses are about me, and none of these responses lead to hope or to life.
- All of these responses are active ways that I try to take control of an uncertain situation.
So. I’m trying to figure out what is the opposite triangle…maybe the Bermuda Triangle of Peace? Instead of worshiping marriage, I’d like to worship the author of marriage and my creator and the only One who can truly satisfy. Instead of a focus on me, I want the focus to be on Him. Instead of taking control, I want to actively surrender to a big God whose limitless power and sovereign wisdom means He actually does have everything under control, and can handle all my angst and frustration and dating disasters and unseen tears and unspoken longings. I want my new triangle to be:
Hope. Faith. Love.
So this week, I’m asking Him to come to where I am now (in the Despair Triangle), and show me He is who He says He is. To create life where I see failure, and to give me eyes of faith – even in the face of no dates or bad dates or good dates. To trust Him for the work He has started and will carry to completion in my heart instead of trying to fix myself, and asking for His strength to love the people in front of me today – no matter what tomorrow holds!
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (I Corinthians 13:12-13)
Praying with you,