Recently, I learned that an old friend had married. My initial response was to be quite happy and excited for her. It appears that she found a man who has a heart for God, and who also sees how great she is. It didn’t take long, though, before my initial joy turned to an unsettled feeling inside. It surprised me when I searched my heart and realized the cause. An old companion had returned: jealousy.
I really thought that I was past the jealousy stage. I’m forty-one years old, and I’ve been dealing with this singleness for two decades. But it is apparent that jealousy isn’t a phase; it is a constant enemy. As I was trying to figure out why the one situation was bothering me so much, I became aware of another wedding. It pricked at the already heightened sense of discontentment. The second couple is half my age. I thought about how those young people were heading off on their honeymoon while I was going to bed alone, still, after all these years.
I know that life isn’t supposed to be fair; I’ve written blogs about that. And everything in my life, right now, tells me that I am where God wants me to be. Yet, here I am again, dealing with discontentment stirred up by jealousy. I can never let feelings go without analysis, and it occurred to me that my recent problem is probably linked to how much I identify with the friend who got married. God has taken her life down a whole new path. She didn’t compromise or settle, so all there is to see is an untarnished gift from God. I feel like a child who sees that someone else got the Christmas gift that she had asked for. But I am an adult who should share in the joy of my sister in Christ.
Teach me your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
I am not the woman that I want to be. I know from experience that I can have peace, joy, and contentment walking with Christ. Yet there is this shadow of jealousy and disappointment that follows me – a green shadow! I could try to be a hermit, so that I am not aware of other people’s lives, but inside I would still have this nagging feeling that I was missing something.
As I was first processing all of this, I found myself hiding in my mind, trying to sooth my heart by composing fiction. After a couple of days, I caught myself. I knew that wasn’t a good place to be, so I pulled out some Scripture note cards. I started reviewing and brushing up on my Scripture memory. Whenever I had time to myself and might be tempted back into my unhealthy thinking, I pulled out my note cards, or simply began reciting to myself. If I can immerse myself in Scripture enough, I am sure that I can transform my heart and starve the shadow.
God’s Word proved to be a salve for my heart. I was thinking about a song that we sang at my church, when I was a teenager. The song is based on Psalm 86, and I was thinking of the lines, “Teach me, O Lord / I will walk in your truth / Give me an undivided heart.” I want an undivided heart. I long for the truth to permeate my heart so that I do not have divided loyalties or purposes. I suppose that is what Paul meant when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:35 that his desire was “to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.” Here I am, single, which Paul considered the best opportunity for undivided devotion, but instead of concerning myself with the things of the Lord, I am allowing myself to be sidetracked by worldly concerns.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
I need to fix my eyes on Jesus. If I look to the left or to the right, I become entangled; I veer off course. Burying my mind and thoughts in Scripture is the best way for me to renew my heart. I know that I can’t remove all of my human concerns and sinful desires in this life, but I can move in that direction. I think of what Paul wrote to the Philippians: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” (Phil. 3:12)
I know that God has given me all of the tools I need to “press on toward the goal.” I just need to keep reminding myself what the real goal is. The goal of my life is not to get married. This goal of this life is to know Christ Jesus my Lord, to love Him and follow in His steps, that I may live with Him forever. I am not a theologian, so I can only hope that is a good summary. Of this I am sure: I can’t go wrong by choosing to fix my eyes on Jesus.