“You know, Lori, the right guy is out there, and he’s worth waiting for.” Liz sipped her coffee and shot me a reassuring glance. As much as I love Liz, I couldn’t believe her.
Liz was a happy thinker (after several single years, I had learned to fear those people). She was kind. She wanted me to be happy. She knew I wanted to be married. She thought God would give me what I wanted. She spoke with the assurance of the prophet in the wilderness. But what did she know?
Here’s the truth, as I see it: You and I may not get married—or remarried, as the case may be.
Call me a pessimist, a glass-half-empty girl, one of little faith. But I had to accept this truth before I could enjoy the single life God has given me, without always looking around the corner for what’s coming next.
God promises to provide all our needs. He promises to be with us. He doesn’t promise us a husband or wife. It has nothing to do with our spiritual maturity and everything to do with God’s plan for our lives.
I don’t mean to imply that you shouldn’t hope, but there’s a wonderful freedom that comes when you face this fear head-on and—with God’s grace—move beyond it.
Inevitably, people believe the most reassuring thing they can tell you is that it will all work out. God will bless you: The perfect husband or wife will come; you’ll be married and have a beautiful family. They believe these blessings are nearly guaranteed for you. You’re their friend, brother, daughter; they can’t imagine you not getting married.
And it’s easier for them—and for you—to believe that it will all work out. It’s much harder to say, “Whatever happens, God will be with you; He knows what He’s doing.”
If we believe that God will bring us a husband or wife, we’re only required to trust Him a little bit—enough to bring us a man or woman. If we believe that no matter what, God will be in it, and will act on what is best both for us and for His eternal plan, then we have to trust God with all of our hearts. That’s much harder.
We believe that having faith means believing that God has good things in store for us. We emphasize His goodness, kindness and love and the tangible ways we just know they’ll work themselves out in our lives—a new job when we’re suddenly laid off, a beautiful new house when we’re forced to move, the perfect roommate, the health of a loved one, the perfect spouse. That’s not faith.
Don’t get me wrong. God does have good things in store for us, and He blesses us every day. It’s not wrong to hope in that, and I’m not saying that in order to be a good Christian you have to hang your head and believe you’re doomed. (Quite the opposite, in fact).
We err when we use the logic, “Since God is good and desires to bless me, He will give me x.” (Fill in the blank here—a wonderful spouse, a new house, healing for a close friend). We slip into a name-it-and-claim-it theology, believing that God will keep us from the things that would be the most painful for us.
We say things like, “You’ll get better soon; God is watching over you,” implying that God heals those He watches over. And the ones who die, or remain sick—did God forsake them?
Perhaps we do it because we don’t want to face the truth about who God is; we sense there may be an ugly reality beneath all of this that we don’t want to swallow.
It wouldn’t take much effort to believe in a God who was always there pitching in at the right time with the perfect solution to each of our problems. The irony is, we know deep down inside that God—or life—doesn’t really work that way, so it does take a great deal of effort to believe in this kind of fairy godmother God. We work and pray and trust, and the reality of faith and God eludes us.
Genuine faith believes that whatever decision God makes is the right one—and that He’s still good. It’s praying for a loved one, and still believing in God when he or she dies anyway. It’s trusting that God is good and His hand is at work when there’s a pain in your soul that goes beyond words. It’s believing that whether or not you marry, God will be with you, and it will be good.
As we sat over coffee, KC asked me bluntly: "So what do you want your life to be like if you don’t get married? That’s the question you have to face." It was a question I needed to hear, and one that I’m still answering as I build new dreams for my single, thirtysomething life.
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