Hey, it’s been over 2 years since I last updated here. Recently I’ve been thinking about my blog and how it has documented the change over time of the things that I find to be pressing on my heart. Relationships, singleness and how to glorify God while waiting on those things have been swirling around in my mind for quite some time now. This post is a long time coming. I’ve had a lot of growing pains and so this post is pretty raw for me. But here it is because I want to be able to look back and see God’s faithfulness and His mercies in my life, which endlessly renew, day after day. I hope whatever that is expressed here may be encouraging and an exhortation to be eternally minded.
So my story picks up after joining a new church upon moving back home after my studies. My spiritual walk with the Lord was refreshed and rejuvenated after a year of stress and hardship. I was finding that the single life is one of blessing because of the potential to have undivided attention and to be fully devoted to the things of the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:32-35). That’s where I was and it was wonderful.
But, certain seasons come and go, some more quickly or slowly than I would like. This particular season lasted only a few months when all of a sudden… someone piqued my interest. This wasn’t my first rodeo (I’m a little boy crazy, I must admit). But this one was different from the others who I had secretly admired from afar because, embarrassingly enough, he was the first I would have considered a true friend (I’m a late bloomer for sure). Well, it was clear that despite being a kind friend, the lack of pursuit signaled a lack of interest for something beyond friendship. Yet, even with that knowledge the feelings lingered, as they naturally do. I was so disappointed when things didn’t progress and eventually I had to let go. It was a lesson learned to even be ok with feeling sad. I had struggled with feeling guilty that I felt so forlorn, but Proverbs 13:12 became a bittersweet reminder to me that it is normal to feel heartsick. Psalm 119 among other passages was what I turned to and what restored me: “v.25 My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word! v.28 My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!” It might seem dramatic, but I am dramatic.
The big question was, “why didn’t you DTR him?” DTR stands for “define the relationship” if you didn’t know. I had another valuable lesson to learn. It was so important to have objective God-fearing women in my life who had been through these kinds of things and made it to the other side, who loved me enough to tell me the hard truths and to shut down any crazy notions I had about the other person’s feelings or vibes. Regardless of vibes, I had come to the conviction that I wouldn’t act on solely feelings of attraction, that I’d want the guy to show leadership and be the one to express interest. Not that there’s never a time to DTR (and sometimes it is helpful to encourage the brother in that way!), but in my situation, it wasn’t warranted. You’ll just have to trust the wisdom from the Lord on that. Because if left up to me and my own mind and feelings, I would have felt completely justified to do so. It was the wise advice I received to refrain, and looking back, it was the correct advice.
After that ordeal, my discipler gave me a book called “Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith when Dreams are Delayed”. A helpful book that showed me that I was in the school of waiting, and boy was I getting my education. I was not alone in this school though. Everyone is waiting for something. The Israelites waited for a Messiah that would redeem them. Abraham and Sarah waited for a son in their old age.The father waited for his prodigal son to come home. And in this season of waiting on the provision of a husband, I am reminded that all this is pointing me to the even greater hope that I wait for: the fulfillment of the promise that Jesus Christ will come back again to bring me into eternity with Him. It was this simple truth that brought contentment back to my heart. Summer had just begun, and with it I felt as if I had just entered a summer break. Various ministries at church were on break while other ministries like our short term missions, one of which I was a part of, were starting to get into full swing. I thought I had entered into a nice long season of peace.
“It is not good for man to be alone.”
The words disrupted the perfection of the newly formed world. Likewise, in my heart, the words disrupted my contentment. They caused me to question, am I lacking as I am in my singleness? I struggled with this a lot. How am I to fulfill my servant-helper role if I don’t have a servant-leader? This puzzled me and I felt lonelier than ever. The discontent I had been fighting was threatening to overwhelm me. Summer was over, I guess it was back to school for me and I had to tackle even more questions. What did I really expect marriage to be? How was I preparing for that now as a single person? What did I really expect my role as a servant-helper to look like?
Honestly, up until now, I’ve had nothing but idyllic, heavily romanticized visions of matrimony. For the longest time, I’ve dreamed of that day when I’d look at a guy with a goofy smile plastered over my face, laughter ringing out from my insides, heart a flutter… and he’d be the reason for it all and reciprocate. But I knew that dreams and feelings are fleeting. Even if they are the building blocks of a blossoming relationship, these emotions are unable to sustain a relationship battered and worn down by anxieties, fears, misunderstandings, and exhaustion among many other things. It’s not an easy choice to make to persist in loving someone more than yourself when the foundation of your relationship is made of butterflies and blushes alone.
Then I realized something. I’ve already experienced choosing to love someone. I’ve understood the heartbreak of unmet expectations. I’ve prayed to love selflessly, as Christ has loved me. These are lessons I’ve learned from through the relationships with my family and my closest girlfriends. We’ve gone through incredible heartache together with torrential tears. We’ve screamed with delight in the face of incredible victory and joy together. I’m thankful for the lessons I’ve learned from them.
But a curious thing has happened. God has given me more male relationships, more male friendships and men to do ministry with than I’d ever had prior to this point in my life. It’s been a little much, and I’m sad to report that in my interactions with many of the brothers in the church, I’ve lacked grace. I’ve lacked the same love for the men than I’ve had for the women in my life. I’ve seen a stark difference in how I treat the men I have respect for, or even have an attraction to, and how I treat the men who I don’t have the same attitudes toward.
I’ve been given the answer to my questions but the answers have come through the revealing of much sin in my heart. Of pride, of anger, of frustration, of anxiety, of bitterness, of partiality, of lust, of a lack of true brotherly love. Oh, it’s been so difficult to have this be exposed, and the weight and guilt of sin is so heavy. But the recognition of these areas of sin is a grace that is undeserved. It means the Holy Spirit is at work in me, sanctifying me, making me more into the likeness of Christ. It’s crazy when I look back on the last 10 years of my life and I remember how each year brought ridiculously difficult trials and how I would hope that the next year would be easier, but it would never be. I would grow, but I would be reminded time and time again of how far I was from God as conquered areas of sin gave way to other areas of sin that needed to be addressed. That’s the Christian life though. These days I try to think of the Lord’s prayer, Jesus’ own example for the disciples’ prayer and mine. A prayer that recognizes my daily dependence on God and His daily provision of exactly what I need: enough grace to cover the difficulties of the day and of the moment I’m in.
Ephesians 5:22-24 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
1 Peter 3:4-5 “But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands.”
It’s easy to overlook these verses and say, “it’s talking about wives and husbands, what kind of application would there be for me?” What’s talked about here is Christ being the head of His church, how the church submits to Christ and how the relationship between a wife and husband is to point to the relationship between the church and Christ. Likewise a gentle and quiet spirit describes the submission of married women to their husbands, but it also points to the grander picture of a spirit of a person that is in submission to Christ. I used to hate that description, gentle and quiet. But I had a wrong understanding of what these characteristics meant. I thought it meant I had to be like a mouse, and I’m more like a hyena. I’ve learned there’s a difference between personality and my heart before God. My personality is unique to me, and a God-given gift. But my heart during this season of waiting has definitely been at odds with God, not wanting to submit to His plan for me now which is to be single or His will for me which is to be holy. But as I struggled with obedience to run from sin, to put off bitterness, anger and to forgive and be tender-hearted as it states in Ephesians 4:31-32, I remembered again the example I have in Jesus. Take a look at this:
Hebrews 5:7-8 “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.”
Jesus, fully man, fully God, had to learn obedience as a son to the Father through what he suffered! What humility! Philippians 2 on full display! What a blessing, what a grace it is to learn obedience through the same (and yet so, so much less severe!!) means. I pray so much for Philippians 1:6 that he who began a good work in [me] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. That these trials are for a purpose greater than I can imagine.
This is more than I deserve as I continue on in my labored journey heavenward. I desire to grow in supporting the men in my life to be godly Christian men. Hopefully they will grow into leaders in the church and of wives of their own. It is an awesome privilege to be a part of their growth. Before I was frustrated and bitter. Now I am thankful and with more contentment than I’ve had in a very long time. Praise God for working this growth in me. My relationships now, and Lord willing–a marriage in the future, is all a stewardship that I want to offer back to the one who gave it to me, all to the glory of God.
1 Peter 1:3-7 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”