“Being married is so hard,”she explained, sobbing over tissue and chocolate in my office. As I listened to this 19-year-old bleeding newlywed heart, I began to feel an odd tension that can only be summed up by saying this: I’m 33 and have never …
Well, where do I begin? Cue the Drew Barrymore clips—I have never been kissed, and I’ve never even held a guy’s hand. I have never had a boyfriend and I have never been held. I’ve never experienced any kind of affection of any sort. I’ve been out on dates, but only ones that seem to end with the dreaded “I think we should just stay friends” vibe. And as you would have guessed by now, I have never had sex, and have never been married. I toyed with the idea of writing this article under an alias, feeling the pressure of exposing myself as a rare freak of sorts, but I figured I might as well come out of the proverbial closet.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I must be some sort of cave woman looking person who never leaves the house and believes in keeping three feet between her and any potential mate until her wedding night. Nothing could be further from the truth. I consider myself to be your average trendy city girl. I have a rockin’ job, and I do things like eat sushi with friends and stay up late to catch Green Day on Storytellers. I am certainly pro dating and not down with waiting for kissing at all, in fact, bring it on. It’s just that none of these “firsts” have happened yet, for some wacky reason.
My whole life I have been fascinated by intimacy and affection, which has fueled my desire to experience those things for the first time. It has not been an unhealthy obsession or idol, but rather a fond respect for these exchanges. I see people holding hands, and something at the core of me wonders what that feels like. I see people who have been married for years dancing close and wonder at the sense of such electricity. I see images that cheapen affection and sex, and grieve for the waste of such precious things. And yet there is a greater mystery that perplexes me.
I know that God imparts His love and affections to us tangibly through other people, and that a marriage relationship is of course a delivery package for these things. So if I long to feel the touch of God so desperately, to know and taste of His glory here on earth, then why has the radar screen been completely silent my entire life? I’m all for waving the Hope Flag here, but sometimes I have been bold enough to pray “God, do you just not want to come down here and love me?” Even typing those words summons tightness in my throat as I ward off tears. I know it’s a dramatic statement, but why does such a prayer tap into the deepest ache in my heart?
The waiting, according to the gospel of Tom Petty, is the hardest part of course. Here’s where the tension in the mystery pulls even tighter. There is no condition here on earth that we can meet to accelerate this process. The things we dream about and wait for won’t rush into our arms any faster by saying all the right prayers or reading all the right books.
I have learned to be content with Christ. I have learned to trust God’s timing. I have learned to live an abundant life as a happy single person who looks datable. Hit me with all of the neat and tidy four-point biblical formulas, because you’ll find I’ve earned all my merit badges. When it comes right down to it, the things we desire from the unconditional love of Christ cannot be earned by any condition. There is no early release for good behavior, as if God is waiting to press some magic button to let us escape the land of waiting and wishing.
I don’t have any idea why God has chosen me to walk this certain path for this length of time. I have no idea why I have not felt an intimate, connected touch from anyone yet on this planet. But I do know this: We are loved truly, deeply and mysteriously by a God who is not linear. His love and His promises have existed before time and space began. The people in this life who will symbolize that tangible love for us already walk the earth, and until we feel their embrace, we can commune with them through our prayers for their safe and perfect arrival. And as we wait, there is more than enough intimacy and satisfaction in the presence of Christ if we are willing to stop and receive the love and affection that is already chasing us, winning us, and touching us deeper than any faction of human understanding.
[Misty Jones is a Creative Director for students and twentysomethings at Community Bible Church in San Antonio, Texas. Her current raves include Alias, the New York Sushi Zushi Roll, playlists and the anticipation of seeing U2 in the fall.]