Tag: Waiting

Tag: Waiting

wide angle photo of mountains

That Beautiful Arduous Hill (reflections on singleness)

Singleness is a long hike up a steep hill. Chances are, you’re either on the hike yourself or you know someone who is. Everyone has stories to tell of it. (It’s that kind of hike. It’s that kind of hill.) I’m so grateful for my 34-year ascent up that Beautiful Arduous Hill. It was harder than I could hope to describe, and I’m left with some hardy callouses, a few long-term injuries, and a smidge of PTSD. But I look back at that climb as one of the greatest experiences God has ever entrusted to me. I’ve been married for nine years now (I didn’t hike nearly as far as some), yet I still smell strongly of the earth and pine of that hill. Contrary to popular opinion, I didn’t “arrive” when I finally married; life didn’t “begin” when I got a ring on my finger and a baby in my womb. The path altered significantly, yes—but the Goal and the Guide remained the same. I think often on my singleness, even occasionally dream about it still. In a crowd of people, I find myself drawn to the woman who also knows the ways of The Hill. In fact, my own story has become inextricably woven into the stories of many single women I’ve met over the years. I’ve learned that we each shoulder a unique load; we each view the hill through different eyes. Truth is, you could talk to a hundred different single women and get a hundred different versions of this hike. But all of us have agreed on one thing in particular: We’re not meant to go it alone. We’re meant for joyful relationship with Christ and his people. Our one great good is God himself, and one of the best ways we can experience him is by being in relationship with each other. The psalmist David put it this way: I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have nothing good besides you.” As for the holy people who are in the land, they are the noble ones. All my delight is in them. (Psalm 16:2-3, emphasis mine) These two things can sound contrary, but in fact they perfectly coexist: God is our only good, and his people are all our delight. And an uphill climb requires gargantuan good and strong doses of delight. This relational joy we share with each other and our God enables us to do feats otherwise impossible. And, at least in my own experience, singleness sometimes felt like an impossible feat. I knew it was part of God’s good plan for me, and it was the conduit of incredible blessings in my life, but it wasn’t what I had prepared for, and it definitely wasn’t “the norm” in my social circles—hence the uphill feeling. The problem was actually a good one: as a single woman who loved Jesus and his church, I held a high view of marriage, sex, and childbearing. I was convinced God is the creator and sustainer of these beautiful gifts—gifts he chooses to give most women. I also understood that marriage would not be the answer to all of my problems. And I wasn’t duped by the notion that a man (or children) would fulfill my deepest desires. Only Christ could do that. But when almost every last friend of mine had made it to the altar, and I was still standing on the sidelines with half a dozen bridesmaid dresses in hand—I felt somewhat disoriented, even occasionally distressed, as I figured out how to function outside the natural order of things. I deeply wanted what God wanted for me, and on those days when I didn’t want it, I asked him to help me want it. But I was a square peg in a round hole. I didn’t know how to fit into a world made for couples and families. ~ ~ ~ It wasn’t that I lacked friends. I had an ever-expanding social circle and more relationships than I knew what to do with. But for all practical purposes, I was flying solo. I paid my own bills, made my own meals, haggled with the repairman at the car shop, held down high-pressured jobs, cleaned and calendared and dealt with conflict all by myself. (Day after day, year after year.) Even though I was blessed with friends and family and roommates who shared in some of my life tasks, I bore a tremendous amount of responsibility alone. One of my former roommates, Sarah, expressed my feelings perfectly: “The hardest part of being single,” she said, “is knowing I’m no one’s first priority.” Sarah was not one to view singleness as suffering, but she grieved the reality that there wasn’t one “main person” to do life with and for. I’ve had many single friends echo this sentiment. I felt it keenly myself. What a bizarre experience it was to spend my days in the company of so many wonderful people, to be busy and fulfilled doing work that mattered—yet all the while feel so… on my own. But to every grief there is a gift, and the absence of a “first priority relationship” afforded me the time and motivation to seek Christ in focused ways. While some of my married friends confessed they were struggling to perceive God’s presence—I was experiencing his nearness in almost palpable ways. He was my First Love, and I felt like his beloved. As much as I didn’t like the Apostle Paul’s enthusiasm for singleness, I had to admit he was right: I was enjoying a unique and beautiful devotion to Christ (1 Corinthians 7:32-35). ~ ~ ~ Over the years, I came to be known as a strong, self-sufficient woman (an identity not without its own issues), but still there was this underlying tone in many people’s comments to me—an unintentional message that I was not as “complete” or mature as my married and mommied friends. We’ve all been guilty of spouting folly in our eagerness

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