We met at a picnic table at the park. I sat in my car after turning off the engine and I grabbed my notebook. I took a deep breath. I knew if I actually had the guts to read the words I’d written in that book outloud, that this might be goodbye…
But God had done so much in my life and transformed my heart to the extent that if this prospective relationship wasn’t from God I truly, genuinely, desperately didn’t want it.
So I went to the meeting place and waited. Not long after Chris showed up. We sat down and we talked. Our conversation ebbed and flowed until I pulled out the notebook. I begged God for courage and I told Chris that God had spoken some things very clearly to me. He had given me certain criteria necessary for any prospective relationship.
I knew it was weird. I knew some would think it was too intense. But I also knew God had radically saved my life and rescued me from the deepest form of darkness: Death. So how could I not give Him all of the rest of my life?
I opened the book and read the first item aloud. I told him that in order for me to ever enter into a relationship God had to give me complete and total peace that He had accomplished everything He had wanted to accomplish in and through my life as a single person.
If you’d known me years before you would know why it was such a huge miracle for me to be able to say those words.
Because years before I did not treasure my singleness like the gift it was. I did not see it as evidence of God’s love. On the contrary, I saw it as the opposite. I saw it as proof that God didn’t care about me; that He loved other people more than me. I saw it as evidence that I was damaged and unlovable and broken beyond repair. I saw it as a curse. Something keeping me from healing and joy.
But then God did something drastic. He crushed the hope of a relationship I had been cultivating in my heart for over eight years.
I thought I was doing everything right… but deep inside lies like thorns were wrapping their way around my fragile aching heart.
“We can tell if our desires have become idols, by how we feel when God doesn’t give them to us.” -Lina Abujamra
When God crushed my dreams I fell apart. Completely. Totally. Into despair. I dropped to my knees and sobbed in the rain in an empty parking lot. Screaming at heaven. Screaming at God. I told Him this broken dream hurt more than my dad’s suicide. Because at least in the wake of my dad’s death I still had hope. Hope of this relationship I clung to. Hope that I wouldn’t be alone. Hope that somehow that relationship would lead me to some semblance of a happy ending.
That hope had been destroyed. I had no hope left.
It’s embarrassing to write really. But if I’ve learned anything over the years it’s that every single human–at their deepest core–is wretchedly, achingly, needy.
Without God we decay into a pitiful mess of desperation and heartache and neediness.
But praise God we are never too needy for Him. In fact I believe He created us with this–what some would call– “design flaw” in order to bring about the greatest gift we could ever receive: an intimate, personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. One that grows ever deeper till eternity in unravelling depths of His love and grace.
God tore out my heart that day when I lost all hope of that relationship. But then He did something else. He healed my heart in ways I never thought were possible.
That potential relationship was the last idol I was clinging to in my healing process. The last thing I would not willingly let go of. I could surrender all else. But not that. Because that was my hope.
In the months following God opened my eyes to see that He and He alone is my hope. He is the One who heals me. He is the One who gives me joy and purpose and worth. He showed me that I was not damaged goods. That He had allowed my story for a reason, and that He had things planned for my future that were far greater than anything I ever could ever hope or imagine.
He also showed me that the person who knows the least what I need and what I want is me. God alone knows what is best for my life. And for the first time I chose to trust Him with it. All of it. Every aspect of it.
That season of darkness became a season of the deepest joy I have ever known. Years later because of that journey, I treasured the gift of life God had given me, AS He had given it to me. I realized that no human being could possibly be my hope, my healing, or my joy. Only God could. And that set me free. I was whole in Christ. Truly. Miraculously. And that realization brought a freedom sweeter than anything this life could ever offer. The possibilities were endless. Life had become an incomprehensible adventure with God. One rich in hope and joy and peace and the love of a Savior I could never stop revelling in.
We are wretchedly needy beings. In a constant search for something to fill us. One of the greatest areas we gravitate towards–one of our biggest idols–is relationships. Even we as Christians gloss over the clear words of Paul in 1 Corinthians and we reach for instead a Disney-esque version of life and relationships. One that’s all about finding our “soul mate.” The “one who completes us.”
The only being who will ever complete you is Jesus Christ. Any other expectation will lead to emptiness and disappointment.
We do not believe God’s words. That both marriage AND singleness are gifts from Him given to us for seasons and reasons only He knows.
Instead we blaze on ahead of His best plan for our lives. We curse the gift He gives us and we seek after what we think will make us happy. We manipulate situations and people. We force moments and decisions. Until we end up in a life we thought we wanted but one that hurts us more than we ever thought it could.
We don’t see singleness as a gift. And if we do, we see it as the gift no one else wanted. The one God bought at Goodwill at the bottom of the discount bin. We insult the Gift Giver and we take life into our own hands.
One might read this and think I must hate marriage. I don’t. I’m married to my best friend. Marriage is more joyful and more beautiful than I ever thought it could be.
But both my husband and I experienced seasons of broken dreams. God had to break both of our hearts in order to heal our wounds. In order to open our eyes and show us the truth. We both experienced a time of loss and grief and healing and peace and restoration and redemption and intimacy with God through the gift of singleness that radically changed everything about the rest of our lives.
So when I see people curse the gift of singleness God gave them; when I see them strive to get out of it by their own strength, when I see them try to skip steps and forgo deep, life-transforming healing in a precious season alone with God and try instead to get into a relationship as fast as possible (bleeding on the other person from their open wounds all the while) my heart breaks.
Because that gift of singleness–of being alone with God–is the reason I’m alive today. And what God did in that season transformed my heart completely and set my entire life on a different course.
My marriage would be a nightmare right now if God hadn’t crushed my dream all those years ago. If He hadn’t led me into that season alone with Him. So single people, please, know that this time of singleness isn’t a curse. It’s a gift. And it’s not one you want to throw in the trash the first chance you get. It’s valuable. It could change the course of your entire life if you let God accomplish all that He wants to through it. You can trust Him. You can trust the heart of the God who made you. Don’t lose heart. And don’t lose hope. He is at work. Right now. Where you are. And He loves you. Deeply. Wholly. Relentlessly.
Resources: Lina Abujamra, http://www.livingwithpower.org