Help My Unbelief!

My friend is married. In a flood of mixed emotions, I found myself back at the essential question I posed in my last blog: Do I believe that there is more happiness in following Jesus than in being married? I found myself crying to God with the words of the father of the possessed boy in Mark 9:24: “I believe; help my unbelief!” After I couple of days, I regained footing, having reminded myself that the situation isn’t about me. But then someone said to me, “I can’t believe she got married. I thought she was a lifer, like us.” How do I even breathe after that sentence has been passed? Two weeks later, I am still reeling. For a while, I had to stop working on this blog because my writing had devolved into whining.

When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you.
Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:21-26

I have spent a lot of time wondering if I have developed a kind of theology of singleness to console myself. If I say, “I am single because it is more important to follow Christ,” or “I am single because it is God’s will,” am I just trying to cover up the decades of rejection? Am I trying to justify being unloved and unwanted? Am I using Scripture to try to hide the fact that there is something inherently wrong with me? The difficulty in working through these issues is that I don’t have anyone I can talk to honestly about what I think and feel, let alone someone I can trust to give me good counsel. I am three-fifths of the way through the normal life span, and the challenge of facing another thirty years is coping with the loneliness. I think singleness would be much easier to bear if I had a close friend who might encourage me along the way. But I have learned even the people I think love me unconditionally will shush me or talk over me. And I notice the subtle ways that people I think accept me for who I am are actually trying to change me. Too often the person you see as your best friend does not see you the same way. People will always hurt us, and yet God has placed within us this deep, nagging desire for relationships.

It is always difficult to see things the way God sees them. I have an old friend who used to say that we see things through a straight straw, but God sees things through a crazy straw. It’s perhaps a silly analogy, but every time I see crazy straws for sale, it is a reminder that God’s ways are not our ways. So often I try to remind my Compassion International sponsor children of this, as I assure them that God has a plan for their lives. They live in Haiti and are dealing with hardship that is difficult for me to imagine. You would think I could muster a more consistent faith for facing my own, much easier, life.

And after saying this [Jesus] said to [Peter], “Follow me.” Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them. . .When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “. . .what is that to you? You follow me!”

John 21:19a-22 (abridged)

After all these years of unmet desire and loneliness, I still believe God must be working on me. I read His Word, and I find that the Gospel is about me. God’s love for me and choice of me is as much about me as anything in this world is ever going to be. The Chris Tomlin song keeps coming to mind, reminding me, “Nobody loves me like you love me Jesus.” And as my church finished studying the Gospel of John, I was again confronted with Jesus words to Peter, “You follow me.” I sense Jesus’ finger tapping me in the chest, for emphasis: Stop worrying about your friend’s life or anyone else; this is between you and me.

If I have developed a theology of singleness to hide behind, it is that life should be lived in the pursuit of God not in the pursuit of a husband. I cannot allow my desire to be married to become the primary focus of my life because that is idolatry. If I am hiding behind Matthew 6:33, 1 Corinthians 7:38, or John 21:22,  I believe I can withstand rebuke. If I am running to hide in a relationship with Jesus because the relationships on earth keep letting me down, I believe I am taking refuge in the right place. If I could just learn to live without looking around and comparing my life to other peoples’, I would be much better off. I believe God has a plan for my life; Lord, help my unbelief!

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