These past two weeks, I have felt as though God is testing my tensile strength. The exam and the move are scheduled for the same week. I am balancing studying and packing in my “free time,” and training someone new at work. God’s direction to leave the current apartment couldn’t be more evident, and I had hoped that after signing a lease on a new place the plagues He sent would cease. But apparently nothing is going to be easy for this season. So far, I am holding up under the extreme stretching. I keep wondering what His long-term purpose could be for this convergence of events in my life.
For most of my adult life, times of decision-making and stress were when I was most angry about being single. I wanted someone to share the burdens and the important decisions with. I didn’t like being responsible for the full weight of my future. A move is the perfect time to lament not having a husband. What woman doesn’t want a man around to help with the heavy lifting? Yet, there are boxes stacked around the apartment, a new lease has been signed, I have been budgeting and number-crunching, and I haven’t really taken any time to think about the lack of a husband in this situation. Something has changed in my heart. In the midst of feeling pulled apart by the demands of this season, I have discovered a contentment that I didn’t know I had. It isn’t just that I am too busy to lament, it is that I don’t feel the need to.
Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!
Psalms 40:4, 11
Each morning, when I am fighting to get myself out of bed, I am asking God to help me with the challenges of the day. When I am tempted to worry that one more thing might come around the corner and derail me, I find myself talking to God about it. I feel His presence, and I am confident that He has a purpose. The confidence isn’t really something tangible that I can point to; rather, it is the lack of greater anxiety over the whirlwind of events. Lest you think I have achieved some sort of perfection, let me say that, for the past two weeks, I have spent a lot of time wanting to cry. The little things, like the plague of ants in our kitchen (which I know isn’t as bad as it could be), are the most difficult to deal with. But I haven’t been crying. I’ve been talking with God and giving myself pep-talks to remind myself of His goodness. And when I have moments to reflect, I think about the work that God has done and is doing. I am even feeling joy in my independence because it is teaching me to depend on God.
I’ve read Jonathan Edwards, and more importantly, the Bible. I know that God’s ultimate purpose in this world is His glory. The phrase that repeats itself in Scripture is, “For His Name’s sake.” I know that my life, also, is meant to bring Him glory, but I am not just a pawn on God’s chessboard. I know that He cares about me as an individual person. I know that He is not testing me and stretching me for sport. It leads me to acknowledge the larger work that He has done in my life. I am forced to recognize that God has a purpose in my singleness and to admit that my singleness is a gift. This is an idea that I scoffed at for years. For so long, I sought a man because I wanted someone to depend on. Had I married, I would have tried to depend on a human being to meet my needs. But the God of the universe is there, wanting me to trust Him to meet my needs. He wants me to depend on Him, and at forty-years-old, I feel like I am finally learning to. I am experiencing the peace that comes from trusting Him with my future. I feel it, now, as I stand in the midst of a whirlwind, yet somehow I am not moved.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
If nothing else, this current season of stress shows me that I don’t need a man to walk beside me through trials; I need to be walking with God in every part of life. Over time, as I have drawn near to God and sought peace with singleness, my view of marriage has changed. When I was younger, I believed that marriage was the ultimate relationship in life, and I put God second to this without realizing it. So singleness is a gift of deeper faith because I would have depended on a person rather than God. For those of us who have longed to have a man help carry the burdens of life, there is nothing so joyful as learning to depend on God and let Him carry those burdens. Nothing so changes our perspective as realizing that singleness has allowed us to learn these lessons and experience the peace and joy that comes from depending on God. There is freedom in dependence. Who knew?