Homeless, but Seeing Signs for Home.

On Mondays, we fast and pray for God to raise up men and women who increasingly trust Him with their hearts, lives and relationships, and for marriage to be given to those who desire it. 

[Luke 9:57-58]: As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

One of my habitual gripes with singleness is its frequent relational transitions. I have wonderful friends, yet no one individual has met my church family, my college friends, my grad school friends, my coworkers and my family. If I made photo Christmas cards, there would be different people on the card every year and the address would change every other year. My furnishings are a hodgepodge of whatever my current roommates and I have brought together. In short, it often feels like there aren’t many anchors in my life, relational or otherwise.

I tend to affix this feeling of not being anchored to not being married. I tell myself: “If I were married, there would be at least one person who would be in all of these chapters. The same person would be in vacation pictures and on Christmas cards. I’d have a travel buddy, plans for NYE and someone to sit with at church.” In short, I assume that marriage would provide a relational anchor. I would know where home is, and all my “stuff” would finally be in that place called home.

Some bits of this are true. We long to know and to be known, and that’s good.  It’s true that we need others through life. We are created in God’s image which includes His constant communal nature inside the trinity. God says it isn’t good for us to be alone (Gen 2:18). We are unique beings with particular stories, and it is in line with our God-given design to long to share ourselves with others.  And marriage is a God-designed pattern for that to happen in many people’s lives, including many of the currently single folks reading this blog (yes, we’re praying for you!).

However, extrapolating that good longing to mean that I must be married in order to experience God’s design, or that marriage will absolutely provide those things are equally problematic.

We don’t have to be married to experience God’s good design. Jesus and Paul both make it quite clear that being married is not any kind of prerequisite to being loved by God or living His good design for kingdom life. Much to the contrary (see 1 Corinthians 7). Also key fact: Jesus and Paul were unmarried. Why does no one ever talk about this from the pulpit? (Ok, sorry. Pet peeve.)

Jesus elevates his spiritual family above his biological family, which is a call he issues to anyone who would follow Him (Matt. 12:48). In the verse above, He notes that if you want a cushy life where you always feel at home, following Jesus probably isn’t your best bet. But He also promises abundant life and the aid of His Spirit to transform individual believers into a body (the church) that shows the world what love really means (Romans 12:5). And key fact: one of the characteristics of this body is caring for those who end up outside of the traditional familial social structures (James 1:27).

Marriage won’t necessarily or fully provide the stability or the sense of being known that we truly crave. Marriage is a good gift but it’s still two fallen people trying to love each other – which pretty much guarantees things will go awry. Even the best marriages can’t provide permanent-enough or deep-enough anchors to quiet our infinite longings. And sometimes this relational anchor suddenly comes apart with an unforeseen addiction or affair or accident. Sometimes inhabiting the same space feels more like a prison cell than a cozy home. Sometimes the problem is my own heart and its selfishness which damages the bond that marriage should have been.

And above individual circumstances, the New Testament writers make it clear that all of life on this side of eternity is characterized by waiting, by groaning and by hoping for that which we can’t yet see. Paul compares earthly life to a race, a fight and an upward call. As believers, we are all sojourners in a land which is not our true home. Feeling homeless is part of the deal.

Unmet longing is a (strange) gift (that I’d like to return sometimes). The longings inherent in our good design (for relational stability, for a godly man to walk with, for a sense of belonging) do have a purpose – to drive us to the only One who has what it takes to be our home, our unmovable anchor, and our certain future. He has seen all the chapters past: He knows all the angry journaling, hopeful journaling and ugly breakdown crying journaling. He’s seen every disappointing date (or lack thereof) and frustrating conversation with a condescending person in another stage of life. He knows how painful bachelorette parties and bad wedding homilies can be (I remind myself of this as necessary). He doesn’t despise our longing but asks us to trust Him with them.

My prayer on Monday: that His sufficiency would be our refuge and our joy. That His presence and His care would prompt both deeper honesty and deeper faith.  That we can see the unmet longings as signposts pointing to Him.

By His Grace,

Amy

PS: I feel like I’ve been writing roughly the same post for the past six months, and so I apologize if it’s getting boring. I’m simply struck by the heavy cultural (secular and church) expectations for marriage. I’m convinced that these expectations both suffocate people who are married, and dishearten people who aren’t married. That is not helping anyone – which is why I keep writing about it.

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19 Responses to Homeless, but Seeing Signs for Home.

  1. Katie says:

    Your message notwithstanding, I absolutely HATE going to and sitting in church alone. Its one of the hardest parts about being single for me and I always get so emotional when I’m sitting there behind all these couples watching the guy rub his girlfriend/wife’s back throughout the sermon.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Yep. I totally agree. I might write a post on it at some point. For me, it is a very conscious choice to acknowledge my anger, acknowledge my longing, and ask God to meet me during the service. I never want to get stuck at the anger part, but some Sundays are hard.

      Also, I really want to have one Sunday a year where men and women (over age 12) sit on separate sides of the church to remind ourselves visually that it is not families that God came to save, but individual, unique, souls that happen to live in gendered bodies – and that we are all ONE family/body before God.

      Somehow I don’t think anyone is jumping on that bandwagon anytime soon 😉

      • Katie says:

        Haha agree that its going to take quite a lot for the church to agree with that separation! But I realise that increasingly, going to church has become such an emotional thing for me because its so couple and family oriented and also because its where I come face to face with my disappointment and struggle with my relationship with God, namely, why haven’t you answered my prayers for a Godly spouse and don’t you care about my heartbreak?

  2. Gretchen says:

    Thanks Amy! Since I have been feeling especially homeless in recent months, this really resonated. I want to view those unmet longings as signposts pointing to my true home!

  3. Karen lane says:

    Amy you are not getting boring. Keep writing! This werk’s post is blessing me. Be encouraged ❤

  4. Laura says:

    This really hit home today (pun intended) as I deal with yet another strange landlord and less-than-ideal housing situation…made increasingly more frustrating by having to shoulder it all solo. Thanks for pointing out that feeling “un-anchored” is normal as a believer…married or not…and that Jesus himself felt very homeless. Great post!

  5. Sheila says:

    Great post, Amy! Thanks for showing us that God validates our feelings while giving us hope in our “unanchoredness”, feelings that all of us as Christians will have if we’re living in the world but not of it. 🙂

  6. Kara says:

    I don’t get this message from other sources, so I really appreciate your willingness to address it. You are authentic with your feelings, which helps me relate and keep the point, while bringing us back to scripture. Thank you.

    • fast. pray. says:

      thanks, kara!

      yes, i really think that being honest about our actual emotional experience is the first step…i am still really slow at noticing my emotions and what i’m really reacting to…and then it’s another journey to come around to the truth of Scripture and let it actually fill up the empty spaces…and I appreciate knowing that both the vulnerability/truth are helpful in their own way 🙂

  7. Emily says:

    This really hit home for me in big ways. Thank you!

  8. Dave says:

    Dear women of fastpray,
    I must commend you on your commitment to seek the face of God regarding the issue of marriage. I subscribed to the fastpray mails probably a little over a year ago. Although I have not been very active in the forums, I have regularly received emails from the blog, and I have often read those emails, though sometimes, I only skimmed through them.
    Well, the purpose of my mail is to remind you of a few things which men consider important, and which may be responsible for men not wanting to marry. Being a man, I can tell you that there are many, many young, well qualified, single Christian of all races in America who are deliberately staying single, and, from discussions with them, there is probably no amount of prayers that can change their minds. What then are these women looking for? What will make them step up and date/marry the professed Christian women in America?
    1. These men want women who are committed to marriage. It is a shame that divorce is as common in the church as it is in the world. Most Christian men are not interested in women who can’t seem to keep commitments. Are there any of you who are committed to this?
    2. These men want women who are committed to the biblical idea of marriage. As it is in America today, the woman is the head of the home. Even the so-called Christian churches and Christian organizations which claim to stand for biblical marriage continually promote this concept. The wife knows best, and is the center of the marriage; the husband merely plays his assigned roles, and he must do so if he ever expects to get sex, and even stay married.
    In the biblical idea of marriage however, the husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church. There is no such a thing “mutual submission”.
    Are there any of the women here who truly want to marry Christian men and pursue biblical marriages?
    3. These men want women who can cook, clean and keep the house. Most men are not looking for co-workers; they want wives. Wives are supportive of their husbands and are primary caregiver to their children. Are there women in this forum who truly aspire to become these types of wives? Are they making genuine efforts to acquire these skills?
    4. These men want women who are morally chaste. They made it clear in no uncertain terms that they simply are not interested in women who have spent their youth hopping from bed to bed, only to realize as the get older that they are now “ready to settle down”, and want to get married. Are there women on this site who are morally chaste? If not, has there been true repentance, accompanied by godly sorrow, or the women are still trying to justify their wayward ways?
    5. These men want women who are attractive. By this they mean women who maintain good body weights, and who know how to dress modestly and presentably, maintain good hygiene, and don’t go overboard in their makeups. Are there women like that in this place?
    I understand that this might not sound like what you’d like to read here, but the truth is, sometimes, we have to stop praying, and start to act (see Exodus 14:15). My intention was never to offend any of you, and I apologize if you found this mail offensive.

    • Hi says:

      Sounds pretty offensive to me. Not what you’re saying but the way you say it.

    • Stephen says:

      Sorry, Dave, I’m going to have to disagree. Not with everything you said, but with some points, and more importantly with the overall premise and tone. You just can’t make a list of things women “should be” and talk like if they become those things they’ll have no trouble getting married. It doesn’t work like that. It is entirely possible to be just about everything you mentioned that’s actually positive and still not have any luck with romance. I know all sorts of guys who would be great catches on paper who aren’t having any luck with the ladies, and it’s reasonable to infer that the opposite can be true.

      Further, one of the things I appreciate most about this blog and the ladies who write for it is that they recognize that. Unlike nearly everyone else from whom I have ever read on this subject, they acknowledge, and then always write in awareness of, the idea that there is no magic bullet, no formula, no simple list of character traits and habits that will get one a spouse. There’s something else, God only knows what, but something that really isn’t under most people’s control.

      Finally, while I don’t know the women of FastPray personally, based on what I’ve read of their writing I think it very likely that most of them are just about everything any decent Christian man could ask for in a wife in terms of character and faith. I would submit that what you wrote, Dave, could be taken to imply the opposite, and I would suggest that you don’t have enough evidence to imply that fairly. So, as a brother in Christ, I would humbly ask that you take a little more reserved and cautious approach to your discussions on this topic.

      • Monica says:

        Dear Stephen,
        Thank you so much for acting as a godly “covering” for the women of FastPray. You are obviously an answer to so many prayers for men to be emboldened to lead in relationship, even if that is an online forum, and what a blessing to see gentleness and truth in action.
        blessings to you,
        Monica

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