I long for affection. I never wanted to admit that, and I still feel my pride warring against these emotions. I hate that I’m not really ok with my singleness.
In the past, I’ve written on waiting for God’s timing, on the blessing of singleness, on the beauty of recognizing God’s plan for the moment and living focused and faithful there, not worried about the future. I still hold to those truths. I firmly believe that I serve a good, sovereign God. My future, though unknown to me, is held in his hand. I have nothing to fear as I follow him. I hold so tightly to this truth, in fact, that I get frustrated with posts and blogs about the struggles of singleness. I look down on those who have not reached my level of theological security (pride all over that sentence). I internally argue against such things from a standpoint of self-righteousness, wondering that so small a struggle is still bemoaned by those who know the all-surpassing glory of fellowship with God, of intimacy with the Maker.
Here I stand, a hypocrite and a Pharisee.
I’m at a conference this weekend where Jonathan Pokluda spoke from Galatians 4:1-7 of God’s adoption of us as sons and heirs. He spoke of seeing God as our “Papa,” one who loves and cares for us. He continued a thought that Steven and I were discussing on the trip to Dallas the previous night. I’m learning to see God as more than just the stalwart foundation of theology. He is love. He gives us pure joys, “tokens of grace” as Steven called them. He is the source of all good gifts. He delights in our delight as we are found in him. He cares for me.
I know this. I stake my life on this. I do not doubt that God will work all things together for good. I am certain of it. Yet I cannot ignore my emotions. I can’t escape my feelings by pretending I don’t feel them. I admit that I am struggling. I hurt to see one formerly so close now separated from me, as I know that God’s plan doesn’t include any permanent reconnection. I hurt to see a few so near my side in life and ministry each engaged in the first steps of lifelong journeys with partners for the road, watching the affectionate warmth between each couple yet feeling the coldness of isolation in myself. The physical presence of the closest of friends, the smushing of faces in warm hugs, and the affection of one who might be a constant – each one something that, though formerly unknown and, therefore, not longed for greatly, has become a desire as I’ve glimpsed, though only briefly, the joy it can bring. I miss such fellowship. I feel lonely in ways I never have before.
Lonely, yet never alone. Single, yet not without the Helper. Physically solitary, yet possessing the ever present help in time of need. I miss – I long for – temporal companionship, yet the dearest Friend is near and mine. Joy, perceived to be incomplete by my ignorant feelings, is full and overflowing evermore in Jesus. Here is surpassing joy. Here is surpassing glory. Here is holiness forged.
I admit to feeling. I cannot feign perfection or Stoicism. My emotions are real and valuable so long as they do not dictate where or when I step. But, as I have been reminded at this conference, Scripture speaks truth that meets and challenges despair. Yes, these desires are real, and, yes, they are strong. But I have hope that is far more sure than that drawn from what I see and feel. Though my heart may cry out in longing, yet my hope will remain in my Lord. Through him, I can acknowledge my feelings, surrender them to him, and find eternal perspective that affects how I view this temporal situation. I can see these desires properly when I see them in light of God’s kingdom and righteousness. I see God’s sanctifying work in my life in this time. The pain is real, but it is not in vain. The fight remains, but hope grows, giving strength to stand firm, to hold fast to God rather than to grasp at fleeting pleasures. The truth meets my heart to comfort and encourage as well as to challenge and equip. I can deal with my heart and not be ruled by it. I want, but I remember that I have no lack. I see my heart, but I see truth all the more.
This then is my struggle. I desire to desire God instead of a human companion. I wish my mind and heart sought after deeper intimacy with my Lord instead of missing a close friend. I want God to be my first love, my first thought, my closest friend. Let no one take his place. Let me be alone always on earth if by it I may learn to better cherish the one, true Friend.
All abandoned for the Name. All surrendered to the Flame. Nevermore the same. Nevermore the same.