I got asked the other day if I was dating anyone. It was an old friend from high school who just happened to be sitting at the same table that I was at the book store. It was a simple question, but for some reason, I’ve since been struggling with the desire to marry.
“You can’t get married by yourself,” my grandpa once told me. And by the looks of things, this means I won’t be anywhere near marriage any time soon. It’s not a self-deprecating statement either; there isn’t any one particular girl who I’ve seriously considered asking out and even if there was, we’d still be a long ways away from marriage. I say all this to highlight that when I have the desire to have a wife, it’s kind of demoralizing to know it’s still pretty far off.
I’ve written about my desires before and to be honest, I don’t like to. People suggest all sorts of things and say cliché stuff like, “You just gotta get out there!” And I think they mean well, but what’s never really talked about is whether or not I’m following God’s plan. From most of the people who’ve encouraged me to start dating, God doesn’t really seem to play much of a role in the story.
Why am I writing about it again if I don’t really like to? Well, Monday’s Valentine’s Day and from years past, I know this day can bring a lot of pressure for some people. All I plan on doing here is merely give my thoughts on why no one is getting flowers, chocolates, or heart-shaped candies from me come Monday morning … except for maybe myself.
I remember my last week of living in Lincoln City right before I trekked off to start a new life at college. I would lay awake in my bed in the middle of the night day-dreaming about making the UO golf team, taking classes where all we’d do was read books, and meeting my future wife in the first few days. It didn’t take long for that daydream to evaporate; I crashed at the UO try-outs, got rocked by all the reading I had to do, and while I met a few cuties that first week, none of them came very close to my heart. Ultimately, my plans for my life failed.
What I’ve gradually come to realize ever since is that God wants the throne of our hearts, plain and simple. Anything that supersedes His place in our hearts will likely get demolished (figuratively and/or literally). What I’ve understood in regards to my desire for a wife is that it should never take the place of God, but my understanding of this has mostly been a conceptual understanding; not an experiential understanding. Just last night is when I learned what it meant experientially.
No, I didn’t ask a girl out and get rejected. In fact there was no talking to any girl whatsoever; it was just God and me in my room having a heart to heart conversation – albeit one-sided. I got home from a Cross Training dinner, went to my room, started reading, and all of a sudden, felt really alone. Usually when I’m feeling lonely, I either zone out to a movie or try to read a book to get my mind off of things. But God wanted me to deal with this. I couldn’t keep my focus on what I was reading and tried to make myself tired by watching a movie, but ended up somehow keeping myself awake for several more hours. And in those hours, there were a lot of tears, there was a lot of frustration, but there wasn’t much listening on my part.
Desiring a wife is a good thing; the Proverbs speak pretty clearly on the matter. But where we begin to run into trouble is when we idolize marriage so much that we forget Whom we’re really serving – God. When we come to our knees at the cross of Christ we surrender whatever will we may have had and embrace His will for us. Our lives are not our own, Paul says (1 Cor. 6:19b-20). Therefore we must aim our entire lives at glorifying Him. As I learned last night, that even means surrendering my desire for a wife and embracing the season of solitude that I’m in.
Note the keyword there: season. It’s not a lifetime of solitude, not an eternity of solitude; but a season of solitude.
Unlike many of my friends, I’ve never had a girlfriend. Also unlike some of my friends, as they have told me, I’ve never had to go through the kinds of heartache they went through. There aren’t bits and pieces of my heart attached to various girls throughout the world. It’s still mostly intact.
It was a bitter conversation I had last night. At moments, I was pissed. I was infuriated; not only have I never had a girlfriend, I don’t know how to make things happen in order to change that. This was my mentality late last night and as I prayed it out with God, I realized it was a very selfish one.
On Tuesday, Tony, my pastor, mentioned that my generation is the “me” generation; we only care about ourselves, for the most part. This was exemplified in last night’s prayer. I wanted things my own way, I was tired of being single and alone, and I wasn’t going to take “no” for an answer. But what God was telling me wasn’t that I can never have a wife; He was telling me that I’m going about it the wrong way.
As Ecclesiastes teaches, there is a time for everything. My current time is one of being single. It’s a tough one to go through given how greatly I desire a woman in my life, but when I think about what God’s doing in this season, how He’s cleaning out the diseases in my soul and teaching me what it means to serve, I realize He’s doing this, in part, so that the marriage I desire will be the best it could possibly be. If He let me have my way right now, I would probably rip my own heart apart by relying so much on emotion.
Godly marriages, as I understand conceptually (I’ll let you know if this remains the same after I marry), are ones that don’t rely on human emotion; they rely on two hearts coming together to seek God and thereby allowing God to sustain their souls. Gary Chapman says, “In fact, true love cannot begin until the in-love experience has run its course,” (Five Love Languages, 33). Basically, the emotions feel good and possibly are Godly, but shouldn’t be relied upon for a real, genuine love – the kind of love I hope to have with my future wife.
Today I’ve been comfortable with my singleness. I slept in a little bit, made myself some coffee, went where I wanted to go for lunch, took a nap, and basically did the stuff that I wanted to do right before work. When you’re single, you write your own schedule, which is based mostly off of what you want to do. God wants us to enjoy the seasons He brings us through and right now, during my season of solitude, there is a life to be lived. I can’t live it, though, if I’m worried about when my wife will enter in. That season simply hasn’t arrived yet.