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Once one reaches a certain age, no white knights on the horizon can start to become a little irksome. Wouldn't you agree? Now, some of the time, those of us who are "single" couldn't be happier with our lot. In all sincerity, we are perfectly content to enjoy our "years of freedom."
But . . . other times . . .
However determined we are to not be that person, we can occasionally slip into a bit of pining. After all . . . why are all of our friends getting asked out by decent guys and we've never even had one come close to broaching anything related to the subject? (Because, of course, all of our friends are getting asked out. We are literally the only ones.)
All night long on my bed I looked for the One my heart loves; I looked for Him but did not find Him. I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares; I will search for the One my heart loves.
"What's so wrong with [us]?" Why aren't we "good relationship material"? Are we that awkward? That ugly? That disconnected from society? Why are we undesirable?
Clearly, that last one is pretty melodramatic. But honestly, deep down, I would venture to say that more people than just me have felt that subconsciously. So what do we do with those feelings? It's not as though we like them -- it's not as though we don't see how silly and school-girlish and desperate they make us sound. Yet they're there . . . and sometimes they're not so easy to shake.
We're not complaining about our lives (at least, not purposefully). We're grateful for what we have. But we do have this nagging question sometimes: Why not me, too?
So I looked for Him but did not find Him. The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city. "Have you seen the One my heart loves?"
True confessions: I have struggled with this more often than I would like to own. Our self-images play a large role in this, of course -- whatever physical imperfection we see in ourselves, we transfer onto the opinion that other people (especially guys) must have of us. (Personally, for example, my opinion of my facial birthmark contributes to feeling that no guy would ever truly want to marry me. Like, ever.) But recently I realized something: We -- we who have yet to have a significant other -- we are the lucky ones. (Cue the title plug.) We get the opportunity to really, truly, deeply realize that our first love is Jesus -- before we have a romantic relationship. To honestly see how the Messiah adores us and how we can adore Him. To learn -- because it does take some learning -- that no human male will ever satisfy and fulfill the deepest needs and longings in our souls. That's setting outrageously and impossibly high standards for our brothers in Christ, as many authors remind us. And we all know that on an intellectual level -- we've heard it over and over and over, from people like the Botkins sisters, Sarah Mally, you name it. Thank God for them; we need that teaching. But have we realized it on a feeling level? In Healing for Damaged Emotions, David A. Seamands explains that a lot of times, we might know something mentally, but it hasn't penetrated to our emotions. Neither he nor I are suggesting that feelings should override the mind, but I think that sometimes, in our zeal to avoid the "just follow your heart" cliché, we forget that emotions are not evil; that, when used properly, they can instigate great good. Sometimes, we have to work harder at feeling a truth than at knowing a truth -- and both are important.
Scarcely had I passed them when I found the One my heart loves. I held Him and would not let Him go.
Sisters, it's important for us to realize that we are fulfilled in the love of our Lord, trite and unconvincing as it may sound. But it won't happen overnight. We have to work at letting our souls soak up this strange new idea -- that Jesus Christ, Master of the mountains and Tamer of the oceans, is our first, last, and always LOVE. We have to listen for His wooing whisper: "Come with Me from Lebanon, my bride, come with Me from Lebanon." We have to search out passages in His Word that speak of the overwhelming love He has for us. We have to write to Him, write out the struggles and the doubts and the fears and the concerns. We have to ask bold questions. We have to be brave and honest with ourselves and with Him. We have to start unlearning the old patterns of the old self and allow Him to renew our minds (see Romans 12:1-2 and Ephesians 4:20-24).
Listen! My Lover! Look! Here He comes, leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills.
Please understand me: I am not bashing adolescent/young adult relationships. Nor am I saying that those girls who are in those relationships have any less of a need to grasp this, this truth that they are transcendently adored by Jesus Christ. I'm not saying that this special first love changes when a young woman enters into a relationship. That's preposterous. I'm not in any way suggesting that those who are in relationships have any less special, "set apart," precious, devoted, and deep of a relationship with their Savior. No. What I am saying is that there are special things God teaches through relationships and special things that God teaches through singlehood. And since I don't have experience in the former, I'm trying to share some of the things I'm slowly learning about the latter.
What I am saying, to those who are in the same boat with me, is that we have a unique opportunity. If we choose to, we can let this time be a time when we work at falling hopelessly and fully in love with Jesus, without distraction. (Again, I'm not saying girls in relationships can't/don't work at the same thing!) We can let this be a time when we really dig into of this "eternal verity" that the Rider called Faithful and True is our ultimate Lover. But we do have a choice. The Lord will never force Himself on anyone.
Look! There He stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice.
Have I gotten my point across? I don't feel like I'm expressing it adequately -- while it's normal to hope for a man at some point in one's life, and to be tempted to despair of finding one, the Man Who already sacrificed everything for a relationship with us is waiting to show us the fullest extent of His love that we can bear while in these earthly bodies. He has stores of affection that He lavishes on us, and if we will cooperate, we can feel how much that love validates us. We are fulfilled, dear single sisters of mine! (And you are fulfilled, dear not single sisters of mine!) Do we truly get that? We are fulfilled. F.U.L.F.I.L.L.E.D. And we can be completely satisfied, too. S.A.T.I.S.F.I.E.D. We are already loved. L.O.V.E.D. We are honestly wanted. W.A.N.T.E.D. By GOD -- by the most resplendent, thoroughly perfect, unbearably kind, scandalously merciful, radiant Being in existence. For goodness' sake, what more do we want? What vain little creatures we are! ;) We may know all this "as a matter of course" . . . but do we know it as a matter of everyday-life-living feeling? Because we can.
My Lover spoke and said to me, "Arise, My darling, My beautiful one, and come with Me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, My darling; My beautiful one, come with Me."
I am my Lover's and my Lover is mine.
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Italicized Scripture quotations taken from Song of Songs. Respectively: 3:1-2a, 3:2b-3, 3:4; 4:8a; 2:8, 2:9b, 2:10-13; 6:3.