On Mondays at lunch, we fast and pray that men would walk uprightly with God, that women’s hearts would be softened, and that God would grant marriages to those who long for them.
A quick trip down memory lane (it will be brief, I promise): My childhood notions of romantic relationships, nurtured in equal measure by True Love Waits and rom-coms, sailed fairly easily through high school and college. I hit Wall of Reality #1 in my mid-20s when I woke up and found myself working at a little non-profit, living in the suburbs and knowing almost zero single men. This was not the plan! Dear Everyone – where is my spouse?! Thankfully, this is also when I read Connally’s book and it changed my perspective on the cultural and personal realities underneath my frustration.
A few years later, I hit Wall of Reality #2 and decided that I couldn’t just keep sitting on the couch and expect a spouse to show up. I swallowed my pride (and fear) and signed up for online dating. I started getting counseling and being honest about my desire to be married. I went on more first dates than I’d like to admit and started a google doc of Christian dating advice. (For the record, the doc is depressingly long.) A few times it seemed like marriage might be a possibility. God overturned lots of big rocks in my heart. He surprised me with His very specific and clear provision. I celebrated many weddings of people I love and tried to stay honest with myself, my friends and God along the way.
So now, I find my heart oddly calm and rather ambivalent about dating. Perhaps it’s a new chapter? I am not sure if it’s me being less crazy or the dating disappointments adding up…but the following are some of my reflections in that context:
- Why am I really praying? I’ve seen my dedication in praying for a spouse wane recently. I am realizing that much of my energy in praying for a spouse has been driven by…well…the hope of getting a spouse. Has my motivation been just getting the desired “outcome?”
Have I been praying because I truly want to listen to and speak with a loving heavenly Father who gives good gifts to His children? Because I trust Him enough to ask for audacious things and revel in His surprising generosity? Or because I want to enlist some divine help to meet my own goals? Somehow I don’t think God is in the business of being manipulated like that…He is so much bigger and loves me so much more than that.
- Married people aren’t the enemy. They haven’t figured this out either. So often I resent married peers for their well-meaning advice and/or being in possession of something I want (aka envy). I frequently think that I’m single because I am emotionally less mature than all those lovely folks who got married. False. I mean, yes, there is absolutely is plenty of immaturity in my heart, but we simply have, as Emily referenced last week, different callings right now. God does not have some sort of litmus test one has to pass before marriage, and for me to assume He does, is to make life a point-based meritocracy and to make marriage the highest goal of human existence. This is not how God describes life. (2 Corinthians 12:9).
- My greatest need is still grace. Both of the previous reflections have reminded me how much I dearly need God. Knowing that He hasn’t given up on me even as my envy and cynicism and selfish motives and resentment surface is such a refuge. His grace is only unending source of hope – all the other springs run dry. Although I’m still surprised by the new expressions of my sinful heart, I’m more stunned that He voluntarily died in my place when He knew everything about me!
(I realize many of you have seen more birthdays than I have. And I realize my reflections could seem trite in light of your own experience – I don’t mean it that way, and more than that – I’d love to hear the wisdom you’ve gleaned!)
No matter how many more Walls of Reality I hit, or how my sinful heart shows up, or who else gets married when, or how many birthdays go by sans spouse…I’d love to keep wrestling with the hard questions and keep entrusting my future to a big God who loves me enough to complete His work in my heart (Philippians 1:6).
Praying with you,