On Mondays we fast and pray for godly marriages for those who desire them, and for men and women to become clearer, deeper and stronger bearers of God’s image in their own unique ways.
Side Note: I’ve done a lot of things instead of writing this post. I’ve cleaned my kitchen. Posted things on social media. Checked to see if my favorite stores were having sales. Read articles about unaccompanied minors in the LA public school system. Watched Simone Biles highlight reels. Truly I have done almost everything except sit down to write. But here we are…a farewell post of sorts. Written by someone who does not do well with change! Here are my somewhat disheveled thoughts about this fastpray adventure, garnished with so much gratitude:
- Prayer Together. Prayer is always a good idea, but I began to find the power of consistent prayer with friends due to this fastpray adventure. Anna (former fp writer) and I spent several years praying together on Mondays and it was an incredible blessing. First, it was a level of friendship intimacy that I didn’t have in other areas of life – both for accountability and partnership in prayer. Secondly, it allowed us to celebrate together when the Lord graciously answered so many prayers – for marriages, yes, and also for so many bits of life. It rooted our friendship into shared journey with Jesus – a redemptive, encouraging and healthy center for any human relationship.
- Heart Change. One of my chief issues with singleness is that it can seem like one unrelenting blob in terms of time. No big markers like family wedding celebrations or babies. Fewer external third-party lines in the sand when it’s time to quit my job or move to a new city or buy a house. Less clarity about when and how we shift from children to adults without community markers of that transition. It can all blur together.
And yet I can definitely say that I am in a very different place now than when I went to the beach in 2011 for an impromptu singleness retreat. As with Michelle’s post last week about seasons – things on a heart level have changed, even if I am as unmarried as I was then. Lots of God’s word, counseling, and lots of truth-with-grace friendships with brothers and sisters in Christ over the years have begun to show me my true identity in Christ. Instead of letting the (valid) pain of my singleness identity define me, I am starting to be the real me that Christ defines. That’s a good thing to remember when things blur together again in the future. Just because the circumstances aren’t changing doesn’t mean change isn’t happening!
- Hope. The generosity of encouraging emails, comments and kind words from complete strangers (you!) proved to be an unforeseen but needed part of writing. I was encouraged that my journey was not in isolation, and I was and am so grateful for each of you. More importantly, I think writing some of this journey in public has forced me to pay closer attention to the desires of my heart and the reality of the helplessness and grief that singleness (or life in general) brings to the surface. Although that was / is painful, I think it was one of the doorways God has used to show me where to find true hope. Hope has grown because of this adventure, and I am grateful.
Lastly, I started writing because of singleness itself. (Well, that and because Connally Gilliam is a very encouraging human being, but I digress!) My writing over the past few years has flowed from my ups and downs of confronting the complexities of the unsought singleness realm and somehow meeting Jesus in the mix. Even as I went from crazy-dating-all-the-time to taking a break from dating to counseling to intensive work around relational brokenness, writing in this venue was a constant.
Several months ago, I was set up on a blind date by a friend. I thought this would be yet another chapter in the horror film/comedy known as my dating life. And it has been – but because we’re actually still dating! I know; I’m as surprised as anyone. He is a mashup of things I did not think existed in one person: loves Jesus, much taller than me, smart, interesting, passionate, kind, and up for anything. Yet, like singleness, this has not been some sort of magical journey with unicorns and fairy dust. And yet, also much like singleness, it has been a reminder that I do not have (in myself) what it takes…I need to daily depend on God’s grace and spiritual strength in this arena too.
It has been a good road and we are hopeful about where it is headed. Even if circumstances happen to take unforeseen detours, I know more deeply about God’s faithfulness now than before. I also know that this thing called marriage is not strong enough to hold up the weight of my heart’s desires – I knew it before, but I know it again in a concrete way even in the goodness of dating this man. Our hearts are made for heaven, and I think singleness and marriage are two of the ways our loving Father sanctifies us on that journey home.
In closing, I am praying that the Lord multiplies our prayers and answers us above what we could ask or imagine. I will keep praying on Mondays, and many of your names are on the list on my desk. I am praying that He opens doors for each of us to pray and share with others, to be patient when it looks like nothing is changing, for cleansing tears when the grief is tangible, and for solid gritty hope and true friends when we get distracted, discouraged or defensive.
I am grateful to have walked this part of the journey with each of you, and I look forward to heaven because there are lots of you I have never met, and whose stories of redemption we all look forward to hearing!
In His Grace,