Monday, February 18, 2013

The Tension

Honesty, you say?
You value it? You want it?
What I'm about to write is very near to my heart and hard for me to admit. But, I do believe that somewhere, somehow, in some way that the Lord can use it for good and so I feel inclined to share. It's probably nothing that will surprise you, especially if you're an avid reader of mine... but it doesn't make it any easier to confess.

I'm an idolater.

The gross reality of my current state has been alarming to me recently, yet not exactly surprising. I'm 28 and I'm single. While I spend a majority of my time convincing others (probably unsuccessfully) that I'm fine with it, I realized that I had only been trying to fool myself. This weekend the mask came crashing down and I was hit by the pain of my singleness. And, beyond that, I was hit with the stark realization that I have made an idol out of desperately trying (whether in thought or action) to not be single any longer. It was consuming.

I was heading to my brother's house to babysit for my nephew, chuckling at the irony of how I'd be the one crying instead of the four-month-old. It seemed a fitting evening to wallow in my own misery and despair. To allow myself to really feel the pain that I had been denying existed. My brother saw through my fake smile and immediately probed further to find out what was going on with me. The questions brought up more tears and I shamefully admitted to my brother and sister-in-law how pathetic I felt, how hopeless I felt, how desperate I felt...and how this pain felt truly insignificant in the grand scheme of life. Why did I even have to care about this? I was frustrated.

As I talked about just wanting to not desire a male companion or a family, my brother gently reminded me that these desires aren't bad. That when we don't get something we want, our natural tendencies are to go really hard after it, or to pretend that we never wanted it at all. We often live in the extremes because it helps us deal with the pain better. But, sometimes we need to sit in the tension of wanting something even if we aren't getting not deny ourselves our desires, but to not try to control them and make things happen that don't need to be happening. He was right. It is harder to sit in this tension of wanting but not having...

I don't necessarily know the fullness of what that even looks like, but I know that I have to exist in that right now. Wanting, but not having. Wanting, but not controlling. Wanting, but not pretending that I don't want. Wanting, but not idolizing...not letting it consume me.

I got a chance to talk to two older, single women recently and as I confessed this wound to them, they expressed their own, similar wounds. I'm not alone in this pain. I'm not alone in this tension. One talked about feeling as though she was always waiting for this missing key (a husband) before really selling out to the Lord. That she had heard a voice calling her toward missions, but she kept waiting for the last piece of the puzzle before she felt like she could go. Another discussed a decision to go abroad and how she had unknowingly made a deal with the Lord. A deal that essentially said, 'If you're not going to give me a husband to do mission work with, then you'll provide someone along the journey for me.' But there was no one, and it wasn't until there was no one that she realized the deal that she had conjured up, even though it was one the Lord had never agreed to.

These are the things we do.
And as we get older, the pain thickens and we choose to cope with it in different ways. We deny. We throw ourselves at men. We manipulate. We control. We pretend like men don't matter (even though we think they're all that matters). We make our careers our number one priority (to avoid the fact that we're alone). We strike up deals with the Lord. We're either masking the pain or we're overcompensating for it. We slowly become women we don't even recognize.

I've become an idolater, placing this idea of an earthly relationship above God. Wanting it more than Him. Caring about it more than Him. Thinking about it more than Him.

I'm slowly becoming a woman I don't recognize. A woman I don't want to be.
It's awful to admit.

And this is where I must surrender.
This is where I must hold loosely.
This is where I must trust Jesus and exist in the better plan that He has for me.
This is where I must beg that only He would be my savior and that I would learn, especially in my time of singleness, what it means to be content...what it means to believe that He is enough...what it means to let Him be my portion.
This is where I must sit in the tension. Where I must sit in the pain of wanting and not having...and continually take it to Him... again...and again...and again.

Ultimately, I would beg that my heart and mind would be so focused on the Lord that everything else would truly be considered rubbish next to knowing Him. That there would be no more room for idols in my heart.

May we become women we don't necessarily recognize, because we are becoming a fuller version of who we were always meant to be. As we exist in the tension, may we find God to be the fullness of who He truly is: good, sovereign, faithful, redeeming, gentle, love....willing to take our shattered hearts and tenderly mend them and mold them.

There's hope for change.
I don't have to be this woman caught in idolatry any longer.
The power of Christ reminds me of that.
And I hope it reminds you of that, too.

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  1. I completely agree being single and 26 myself. It is very difficult to not make this something as an idol as women we long for that companionship and for children. Esp. when we get older and we think that our "time clocks" are
    Running out. It has been difficult to give this up to The Lord and no you are not alone in this longing. I some days think I'll run into Mr. Right and hope and pray about it and then get frustrated when I realize I am yet still single and all of my friends around me are either married or pregnant. It's Been difficult. Thank you for sharing your heart on this matter though, it will still be a struggle but I'll
    Be praying for you too:)

  2. be watchful for these SAME emotions and struggles to crop up again and AGAIN. It's not a single problem, as you rightly allude to, it is instead a human problem. I went through the same turmoil in terms of desiring a baby. And I am a guy! Good problem to highlight. thanks for your words.

  3. You speak the truth and I am encouraged by your blog. Glorifying God is what we are called to do and striving for holiness is certainly a desire we long for. Thankfully Christ is more powerful than our idolatrous hearts and can restore. Praying for women today.