What do you do when you are almost 26 and still single? What do you do when every time you get on Facebook another one of your friends gets married or has a baby? Right now I’m at the place where I am seeing more baby notifications than wedding notifications. One time I counted over ten different ones in a row on my newsfeed. It can get depressing, really.
I just want to be honest. The hardest part for me is not the fact that I am behind my generation in the whole accepted path of adulthood. The part that breaks my heart is living with an ache inside because my heart desires so much to get married, yet circumstances are forever keeping me relationally where I am. At this point, cue all the old ladies and everyone else who says that I am still young and I don’t need to rush or worry. I know you mean well but please, right now stop talking and listen.
I don’t think I am the only one in this position, and I encourage you to read until the end. I have some super important things to say. So whether you are the single one looking for a strand of hope or you are married and wanting to give us singles life advice, I invite you into my heart for a few moments.
I went to a purity conference tonight. I have been to a few of these before, but tonight I went with a broken heart. In my seat I wrote in my prayer journal, “I guess some people are meant to get married and some aren’t. That’s ok. But why is my heart still so sad?” In the last week of an intense prayer focus, God has been showing me that there is still so much sadness and anger held deeply within my heart. Believe me, it takes a lot of courage to share this on a public forum. I have been praying that God might truly heal my heart so that I might be alive in Him. I struggle with the expectation of rejection from everyone, yet knowing that I cannot stay hidden within my heart forever. And I’m not just talking about romantic relationships; I am also talking about any friendships that go beyond the normal small talk.
The Bible tells us that God is a jealous God. He doesn’t settle for having some of us; He desires all of us. Like they said at the conference tonight, we shouldn’t entrust our hearts to anyone other than God, even in marriage. We must always love in a triangle: from us to God and from God to the one He gives us. They said, “We must wait for the one that God entrusts our heart to, because if we choose for ourselves, we will make a mistake.” I can at least testify that for my own life. Time after time over the years, I have been notorious for trusting the wrong people and not trusting the right ones. And I have stayed wallowing in my sad story, allowing it to pour into other areas of my life. Really, the story of my life has been written with a pen of distrust toward God in this area. Even when I finally came to terms that God could be good even though I have struggled with a painful illness for years, it is an even harder jump for me to believe that God is good even when my heart feels so alone. I have been faithful to guard myself physically for my husband, including my first kiss…but it is hard for me to believe that He will bless me.
In serving with Extreme Nazarene Missions, we are basically not allowed or encouraged to enter into a romantic relationship for the duration of our contract, and I thank God for this time to focus on my relationship with Him. Our hearts don’t turn off like a light switch, however, once we sign that contract. It is a test of faithfulness and trust. Originally, the hardest part of my decision to serve with Extreme was the fact that I was closing the door on marriage for two and a half years. I was giving God the thing that was most important to me: my desire to get married. Even when I have tried to take that back at different points, God has faithfully reminded me that I gave it to Him…and not just for two and a half years; I need to trust Him with my heart forever. But what if He chooses to keep that forever? What if this desire of my heart is never met? One thing I know: I cannot continue to live with this sadness in my heart. It does not please God. I cannot keep living with a distrust of God, nor can I keep living with a distrust of my brothers and sisters in the faith around me that God has given me. Just like every other struggle, it is a matter of surrender to the will of God.
I heard a song for the first time this morning called Arms Wide Open by Misty Edwards. The song begins with these lyrics:
“What does love look like?” is the question I’ve been pondering
“What does love look like?”
“What does love look like?” is the question I’ve been asking of You
I once believed that love was romance, just a chance
I even thought that love was for the lucky and the beautiful
I once believed that love was a momentary bliss
But love is more than this
All You ever wanted was my attention
All You ever wanted was love from me
All You ever wanted was my affections, to sit here at Your feet
Then I sat down, a little frustrated and confused
If all of life comes down to love
Then love has to be more than sentiment
More than selfishness and selfish gain
And then I saw Him there, hanging on a tree, looking at me
I saw him there, hanging on a tree, looking at me
He was looking at me, looking at Him, staring through me
I could not escape those beautiful eyes
And I began to weep and weep
In this week of intense prayer, I am starting to realize that I absolutely cannot be ready to allow the love of another into my heart if I have not learned to truly be alive in the love of Christ. If I do not accept it, there will still be sadness in my heart. There will still be insecurity. There will still be fear. However, none of these things are what God has called us to. I cannot live a life of ultimate passion and abandonment if I am still holding onto anything of my own. God says, “It’s all or nothing,” and the answer doesn’t depend on our emotions, but on a decision. Do we choose to surrender all to Jesus?
Misty’s song ends with these powerful words:
If anybody’s looking for love in all the wrong places
If you’ve been searching for love, come to Me, come to Me
Take up your cross, deny yourself
Forget your father’s house and run, run with Me
You were made for abandonment, wholeheartedness
You were made for someone greater, someone bigger, so follow Me
And You’ll come alive when you learn to die
I’m saying “yes” to You!
Yesterday, we went to the park to pray for people. We sat down next to this 17-year-old girl and hesitatingly she told us a little of her story. She’s from Colombia and has been in Ambato for a year. She grew up in an orphanage. Just a baby herself, she held her own baby in her arms. I looked her in the eyes and said, “I want you to know that God loves you. That’s why we are here, to show you that. You aren’t alone. I know that’s hard to believe, isn’t it?” She nodded her head and stared beyond me. Then she whispered to me, “How can you say that I am not alone when I am alone?” I saw a heart that so desperately longed for love. As I have replayed those moments over and over in my mind, I realize that the longing is the same in each of us, and there is only one cure. His name is Jesus Christ.
I will never be ready to invest my life in this young girl and the millions like her in the world until I have fully accepted this love for myself. That means letting go of the pain that is so familiar. That means choosing to forgive others and especially myself. That means letting go of the darkness inside and allowing the light of Christ to penetrate every part of me; even the parts of my heart that I was unaware of until recently. I want to live a life that is fully alive. I want to live a life that is truly passionate. I want to lead people to Christ, not just with a head knowledge and a nice testimony, but with my heart, because I know His love and His love sustains me every day. I no longer have rights to my broken heart. Rather, I have rights to the powerful love and grace of Jesus. Why would I even hesitate to make that trade?
My friend David gave a devotional yesterday that touched my heart. He read from Psalm 51:12: “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You.” POWERFUL. I say, “Send me anywhere. I’ll go anywhere, do anything. I don’t want another moment of the sorrow I used to know. From this moment forward, I choose to live in the joy of the salvation I have received in Christ.”
The truth is, the joy is the same, whether I am single or married. I don’t want to waste precious days and years that God has given me, held back in an emptiness that Christ longs so badly to fill to overflowing. The desire to marry is still strong in my heart, but I choose to be content in the only love that can truly fulfill me. I desire to someday invest my life in my husband and in building him up to be the man God has called him to be, but until that day I will give all my heart and passion to God and to investing myself in all those that God loves all around me. Whether it be teenagers in the park, people in our church, or my neighbors that live next door: I am called to shine brightly. I am called to represent the joy of Christ. Where the light of Christ is, there can be no darkness. I claim that promise over my life and my heart…forever.
You see, once again I had lost my focus. My eyes were not on Jesus. Somewhere along the line, I got distracted. Then tonight, my eyes met Jesus’ eyes once again and I remembered how beautiful His eyes really are. I remembered how wonderful it is to know Him. I remembered how much he is enough, how great a treasure He is. How could I ever desire anything else? When my eyes meet His, nothing even remotely stands in comparison. Desiring human love seems so silly, if I am honest. Now I realize that I just want to be filled with Him. I just want to love Him in every moment. I just want to serve Him. Anything else I could desire is empty.
Thank You, Lord, for healing a part of me tonight that I never thought I would be able to let go of. Please give me the courage to continue to choose to trust You in every area of my life. Give me the courage to keep my eyes on the prize: Jesus. Don’t let my focus shift to anything else. You are my treasure. Knowing You is my reward. Your love is all I will ever need. Thank You for never giving up on me.