This week, I went on a bit of a “book-binge.” I had been itching to read some fiction by one of my favorite Christian authors, and while I put it off for a bit, I finally gave in last Saturday night. I try not to let myself read too much fiction because I tend to let it consume me. This week was no exception; I didn’t write anything for a full seven days, and there is an unfinished baby blanket by my recliner for a baby that was due last Tuesday. Yes, reading fiction makes me useless. Further, I have come to realize that even Christian books really mess up my thinking. They stir up desire that is best left dormant, and that in turn makes me sad.
There is an underlying premise in these books that there are thirty-something single Christian men out there wandering around looking for a quirky, imperfect, yet loveable woman to sweep off her feet. It is silly enough for me to think that there is a man out there that is even close to what I can dream up, but the authors up the ante by making these men good looking, gentlemanly, and, of course, successful. Did I mention they are all just a bit vulnerable, too? Are these Christian authors setting us up for disappointment, or is my faith simply too weak? Quite simply, I can’t figure out where faith and reality meet.
My mother said that if “God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham,” (Matt 3:9) that He can bring me a husband at any time. But somehow I don’t think it would be a man off the pages of one of these books. I wrote last week about the dangers of hoping for the wrong things. I want to have proper faith that God can do all things, but I confess that I don’t know what to expect from Him. Often I feel as though I can’t pray in faith because somewhere deep inside I don’t think He is going to give this to me. So I plead to God, like the man in Mark 9 whose son had a demon, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
I have been single long enough to identify the root of most of my desires: I want to be known. The books stoke up a feeling of isolation within me, a sense that no one really wants to get to know me. Yet, I long for someone in my life that I can truly share everything with. Growing up, I remember my mother saying that my father was her best friend. I knew from them that this was the best basis for a marriage. But it wasn’t until I had to face so much of life on my own that I truly understood what it would mean to have that kind of relationship.
I had a best friend when I was younger, but life took us different places and it has been a good fifteen years since I have had anyone around that I could truly share everything with. I have some friends and family members that I share most of life with, but there are things I feel I must hold back. Recently, I have been trying to redirect myself. I am seeking to allow God to carry the burdens that I can’t share with anyone else. I don’t know why this takes so much of an effort on my part, but it does. I am coaxing myself to pray about the things that I can’t talk to anyone else about. God knows them anyway. David wrote in Psalm 139:1-3, “O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.” Why should I hold back on my side when He knows it already? Surely, there can be no more intimate relationship. God has demonstrated that He loves me in spite of my failings (Romans 5:8), so there is also perfect security. Surely my desires will not lead to disappointment if I look to God to fill them.
I remember when I was growing up, we used to sing the hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” I guess I took the words for granted and never considered what they meant. Maybe if I hadn’t stayed single so long, I would have never reached a place of needing and desiring for God to be my best friend.
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!