Once upon a time when I was a little girl, I had this dream of a white knight on a white steed. I dreamed he would come galloping toward me on his white steed and hoist me up and we would ride on into the sunset to live a life of marital bliss.
I’ve looked for this white knight all my life (dating life at least) and I haven’t found him yet. The big 4-0 is swiftly approaching and here I am knight-less.
“So why are you still single?” is a question I get often by people I just met.
I wage a battle of avoiding those type of marital status questions from well-meaning people. These are the questions that are only posed to those over the age of 25 and still not married. “So, why aren’t you married yet?” Or, “What’s a pretty girl like you doing not married?” Ugh. I hate those questions. I feel as if the follow-up question is, “What’s wrong with you?”
Living in a culture that places a high premium on coupling makes anyone not coupled-up with someone seem odd. A misfit. Out of place. There are two fronts I’m up against as a single woman. First the church folk who think everyone ought to be married. The second would be the world who thinks if you’re not out dating and having sex then you’re not human.
Once a upon a time, I believed the world when it told me that my identity is somehow tied to whether or not someone loves me. (Thanks, Dean Martin.) I was also told that my identity is also wrapped up in my ability to attract men and be the object of their desire. (Thanks, Victoria Secrets. If I had a sarcasm sign, I’d hold it up right here. 🙂 ) And if I’m not having sex then I’m not being who I am as a sexual being.
Church folk don’t make it easy to be single either. Let’s face it. Some married folk seem to want everyone else married and as happy as they are. I get that! Share the blessing. I feel a shove by the happily married church folk to date every available bachelor that walks through our little church. “Look! He’s single and he’s breathing!” 😛 However, this mentality creates a problem where the wrong emphasis is being put on the wrong syllable. You know what I mean? Like marriage is the end all be all in the human experience.
From the time I was 12 or 13 I believed I needed to have a boyfriend to have an identity. After a few broken hearts and a long dating drought, the Lord showed me something different. My identity is in Him.
Now, I’m not going to lie and say that God took away my desire for marriage. I still want to be able to share my life completely with someone. And for the sake of honesty, I still have a desire for sex. Unlike some stories I’ve heard of single missionaries from the past who seemed to have their desire for marriage removed, I’ve not been one of those people blessed with that grace. No, ma’am.
God never guaranteed me the right to get married. He never told me that I would. He just assured me that He knows my heart’s desires and He will do what is right for me. HE would fulfill my deepest longings because He is enough. Instead of removing the desire, He teaches me how to live with it.
This is a tough. Why? Because for one, I know what sex is like. Just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I’m perfect and never sinned. Can I get a witness? I have failed in the area of sexual purity so I know that sex can be pleasurable. And I know if I was married it would be even better because it would be honored by God. Do I want that? Heck, yeah!!
How do I live with unfulfilled desires? I’ve learned that it’s not “getting” that’s important, but giving. I learned how to give love to those around me. I’ve also learned my deepest longing is not getting a husband, but connecting with a God that knows me and loves me so purely and completely, better than any man could.
Can I live a joyful life and still have unmet desires? Can I live life with joy and have my desires for a husband unmet? What about my desire for sex? Having kids? A fulfilling career?
I think the answer is yes, but it depends on what day it is. If you were to ask me that question on a bad day, I might answer differently. I might say NO! I have days still when I deal with loneliness. I see couples and look enviously upon their public displays of affection. Holding hands, a lingering kiss, a loving look. In my heart I then question God, why can’t I have that? The only answer I seem to get is, Trust Me.
My life doesn’t have to begin when I get married. IF I get married. My life is meant to be lived NOW. My feelings and desires do not make me who I am. I go to God and find out who He created me to be and how He wants to use me today. I don’t know about tomorrow.
What I do know is this: it is because of these unmet desires that has revealed the deeper longing of my heart which is to know God and experience His presence.
“As a deer pants for the flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…” Psalm 42: 1-2a
The words of Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” paints an exquisite picture of longing for the One who is the source of all life.
Jesu, joy of man’s desiring
Holy wisdom, love most bright
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light
Word of God, our flesh that fashioned
With the fire of life impassioned
Striving still to truth unknown
Soaring, dying round Thy throne
Through the way where hope is guiding
Hark, what peaceful music rings
Where the flock, in Thee confiding
Drink of joy from deathless springs
Theirs is beauty’s fairest pleasure
Theirs is wisdom’s holiest treasure
Thou dost ever lead Thine own
In the love of joys unknown
Let our deepest desire be revealed as a desire for the living presence of Christ whenever we find unfulfilled desires frustrating our plans. Let us also spend our lives giving love instead of worrying about what we’re not getting. This is how I think God wants us to live life with unfulfilled desires.