I didn’t wake up one day to find myself forty-something and single. I wrestled with God about it every step of the way. Desperation, anger, bitterness, and depression have all been a part of this journey toward accepting that God’s will for my life is entirely different from my desires and plans. But I can’t be the only person who feels that way about life, and I’m sure it’s not unique to being single. I learned that the key to contentment lies in what we seek. It is only in seeking “first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” that we can have peace. The things of the world will never satisfy.
I had to learn to seek God rather than seeking to be married. I used to resent 1 Corinthians 7, but in seeking “undivided devotion to the Lord” instead of seeking a husband, I found joy and peace. Paul didn’t say, “Do not marry,” but rather, “. . .it is good for them to remain single, as I am.” (1 Cor. 7:8) Later in that same chapter, Paul concluded, “I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you. . .” (1 Cor. 7:35) The underlying theme in this chapter is that a person should not seek to change her situation. Neither married or single, circumcised or uncircumcised, slave or free, is a more “holy” lifestyle for the believer. But Paul does tell us that singleness is an advantage to allow us to focus more on the things of God. The biggest stumbling block in the Christian life is putting our efforts, mind, and heart into something which is spiritually unprofitable.
And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.1 Corinthians 7:34b-35
To say that it requires a conscious effort on my part to seek God rather than men, is an understatement. When I was younger, and I knew of single men my age, it was a big distraction. Now that I am older and there are no eligible men in sight, my mind wants to hide in fiction, more than ever. Fictional love seems like a comfort, but it does not, and cannot, make me happy. It is best for me to stay away, even from Christian fiction. How I love to be lost in that magical world where there are handsome, single, Christian men who fall in love with quirky and flawed women. I have to redirect myself to God’s Word. Studying Scripture helps me to have a better perspective on my life and God’s will for it. The Word speaks to my heart as I wrestle with God through the issues of life. If, like Jacob, we are persistent in wrestling, we obtain blessing. If, instead, we turn to the world, there is only heart break and despair. I know because I’ve tried it.
And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. . .[Jesus said] “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven-for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”Luke 7:37-38, 47
Now, as I seek undivided devotion, I learn time and again how divided my loyalties are. My adulterous heart still wants comfort from a man. I am filled with all sorts of pride, arrogance, bitterness, jealousy, lust, and malice. God help me! I want to be like the sinful woman who washed Jesus feet with her tears and her hair. But so often, I forget how much debt I have had forgiven, and my love is cold. I need to remember the Gospel: the good news which seems bad at first because it starts with me being a hopeless sinner, condemned to death. Then the turn comes: Jesus died and took my punishment for me. More than that, He rose again, conquering death forever. In The Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges taught that we should preach the Gospel to ourselves every day. I think I need to make myself note cards to read, as I have my first cup of coffee, each morning:
- Remember the depth of your sin, and ask forgiveness for anything you have not yet confessed.
- Remember what Jesus suffered on the cross to pay your debt.
- Remember that He has conquered death.
- Remember how you ought to live in light of your forgiveness: loving much because you were forgiven much and taking up your own cross daily, as an obedient follower of Christ.
Chosen. Committed. Complete. One of the reasons I write this blog, is as a reminder to myself of who I am and what I am living for. It isn’t about a place that I’ve arrived at, but a journey that I’m on. This year, I am battling fear. On this journey, I feel vulnerable and alone. But when I sit down to write, I have to ask myself what God has to say about how I am feeling. Feelings are real, but they aren’t truth. At times in my life, I have allowed my feelings to become my reality, and I spiraled into the pit of depression. I have learned that when depression pulls on me, God’s truth is my lifeline. Strong faith requires discipline; so does blogging. Writing this blog keeps me coming back to the truth, each week, because I want to honor God with what I write. I hope that it leads others to the truth, as well.