Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What The Heart Wants - Part III

My beautiful friend Meredith Evert in Malibu, California
Used With Permission
(This is the third of a three-part post written from the perspective of a 40+ year old woman who desires to be married, and for whom contentment in singleness is difficult. This post represents only one of many valid viewpoints on this topic.)

"The unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious 
about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit.
But the married woman is anxious
about worldly things, how to please her husband."
I Corinthians 7:34 (ESV)

When the heart of a woman longs to be married, the waiting moves from uncomfortable, to difficult, to excruciating from her point of view, as Part I of this series describes. Then there's the point of view, in Part II, of those who are trying to fix us so that our debilitating disease of singleness might be cured. But here's the thing - there's NOTHING wrong! 

The truth is:
  • Marriageability is determined solely by whether or not you want to be married - that's it! Think about the strangest couples you've ever met and how they don't seem to "match" with all of their oddities and eccentricities. If they can get married, so can you. You are just as marriageable as anyone else on this planet!
  • The fact that you aren't married means you are unwilling to settle for less than God's best. Think about couples you know whose relationships are dysfunctional; they are proof that if being married is all that matters, you can have that tomorrow. You don't simply want to be married, you want a marriage; there's a difference and you know it. You're holding out for the best, the right one. 
  • Marriage may not be part of God's plan for your life. Before you smash whatever device you're currently using and vow never to read another word I write, know that a few years ago I would have hated the guts of anyone who dared to say such a thing to me. But killing the messenger doesn't negate the message. 
 Our Deepest Needs Are Met In Jesus

No marriage (regardless of how unbelievably awesome your man might be) fills the longings of the soul. I know - that's easy for me to say because I have a husband. You're right. It is easier to say now, but I can tell you that I fully understood that before my wedding. (How's that for a hook? Now maybe you'll read the book I'm writing to hear my story!)

We women long for a flesh-and-blood man who will protect and defend and provide for us. One who will be a fierce warrior, yet sensitive too. One who will send us flowers, sweep us off our feet, make us laugh, hold us when we cry, open doors, pull out chairs, and help with the housework. One who will parent our kids perfectly, work hard and play harder. One who will never hurt us, never betray us, never abuse us and never leave us.  One who will snuggle with us and also sacrifice for us. One who will put us first, treasure us, cherish us, and love us wholly and purely. 

But it's too much. This burden that we long to place on one man is too much for him to carry. He will crumble under its weight, then be crushed again and again by our unrealistic expectations and subsequent disappointments. And he will wither and die analyzing his own shortcomings, mistakes and inability to complete us.

Don't you see? 

What we want is not humanly possible. 

Our burning desires can only be satisfied in the divine.

What we want is Jesus!

"Love is the antidote to loneliness."
Rick Warren

Yeah, yeah! We know that Jesus is the fulfillment of our deepest desires, but how do you convince a heart so sick with hope deferred that this is true?  A precious friend who is single and approaching the age of 50 recently shared with me the many unfulfilled longings and passions that she has grieved the loss of while living a life she never thought would be hers. All too often married women (or content single women) have been quick to offer her thoughtless tongue-in-cheek statements such as "Jesus is your husband!" Meanwhile years of frustration and disappointment gushed from her longing heart as my friend pointed out, "I cannot make love to Jesus!"

So what are we to do? How do we combat the life-sucking loneliness? How do we make peace with the married world around us, with ourselves, and with God if, after shoving thousands of prayers and petitions through heaven's door, our truth is that singleness is part of God's plan for our lives? The answer - LOVE!

Love Jesus.

When the heart aches and the loneliness overwhelms, lean into your Savior. Press hard. Claw and crawl your way to Him, refusing to let any lie of the enemy distract you from the one, true lover of your soul. Pour out your anger, frustration and tears at the foot of the cross, the place where the ultimate sacrifice for you has already been made and where your sacred romance with your Creator, the God of the universe, begins. It is there and only there that we find healing and wholeness.

Love others.

It's difficult to wallow in self-pity while ministering to the needs of others. We live in a world full of hurting people. Pour out all the love you've been saving up. Invest in others. Dive deeply into their pain. Everyone longs for something; our proverbial thorns may be different, but the remedy is the same.

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love
covers over a multitude of sins."
I Peter 4:8 (NIV)

It's in the pouring out of ourselves in love that we are filled to overflowing. 

And to all those who know and love single women...

What single women need:
  1. LOTS of hugs, kisses, pats on the back, handshakes, and other appropriate touch. Single women often go weeks/months without any real, intentional physical contact. We needed meaningful touch as babies to survive and develop/maintain emotional well-being; that need does not lessen as we grow older.
  2. Regular invitations from married friends (with or without kids) to hang out, eat dinner, watch a movie or go on a vacation. Sometimes the company of more singles is not what is needed. They want to observe what marriage looks like and see how difficult raising kids can be. Sometimes single women want to be part of a family.
  3. Not to be abused or taken advantage of just because they are single. The quickest way to alienate or burn out a single woman is to assume she has nothing better to do and is available 24/7 because she has no husband or children at home to take care of.
  4. To be valued for their wisdom and insight. Life experience has taught the single woman many lessons; lessons others can learn from. Seek to be mentored by older single women. Take younger single women under your wing. They can teach us a lot.
  5. To be a woman. A whole, complete woman. Lacking nothing. And to not be treated as though she is anything less because she has never been married, never been pregnant, and never birthed a baby.