Last year, I met a girl who I thought I was going to marry. Seriously, when I talked to my accountability group about her, they hadn’t seen me so excited about someone since … well, ever. She was beautiful and fun and loved God. The first time I saw her, I was smitten. Yeah, ‘smitten’ is the right word.
One year later, I’m not married. Not engaged. Not even dating. So my sense was probably off by a little bit. 🙂
On a more serious note …
Over the last year, I’ve been talking with various friends about what it means to be a single Christian, living the full life that Christ came to give us. What does it mean to be a single, sexual being? Sensuality and sexuality are part of what it means to be human, to be stimulated by touch, taste, smell, sound and sight. So what happens when there is no one to give that kiss or embrace, no one to pull close, whose smell you can inhale and feel like you’re home? Being is communion, writes one theologian. If God was not in communal relationship, he argues, he would not be, so integral to his nature is this concept of communion. So what about us, created in his image, when we do not have such communion?
One song asks: “Who doesn’t long for someone to hold, who knows how to love you without being told?”
Many of my friends are now married, and they have other concerns and issues to deal with. Responsibilities only seem to mount as we roll through this thing called life. I realize marriage and/or relationship isn’t the Promised Land. But it can sometimes seem like it, not just because it’s what the church pushes (consciously or not); but because everyone wants to be loved. Everyone longs to be special to someone else, to mean enough to that person that they’re at least near the center of that person’s world. I hope I’m not over-generalizing or over-emphasizing the human want/need for love. I don’t think I am, but I realize all the while that I write from my limited, single perspective.
I’ve heard people say that unless you’re content being single, you won’t be content when you’re married; or that you should have all of your desires met in God because that would be too much for another person to carry. And there’s some truth in such statements. But I can’t agree with them completely.
You see, if you notice in Genesis 2, even before what’s become known as “The Fall,” there existed a need for something other than, or in addition to, God. When God created the man, he said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” The man, who enjoyed unbroken communion with God and with nature was still alone. There was a need for companionship, relationship, with someone like him.
It was a need that God didn’t meet straight away. After saying this, God brought the animals and birds to the man to name them; but none of them was a suitable partner for him. And I’d assume this took a while; who knows how long it took? The point is, there was a delayed response to need.
It took long enough so that when God did create the woman, the man’s response was one of true value and appreciation: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!” It was because of the conflict brought on by unfulfilled need, the waiting and wanting, that he was able to truly value what he had been given. As Donald Miller puts it, “God directed Adam’s steps so that when He created Eve, Adam would have the utmost appreciation, respect, and gratitude” (Searching for God Knows What, 65). The point is: what we want that we can’t have plays a part in making us who we are. What we do in response to these wants impacts how our faith and how our character matures. God has embedded in us desires that he wants us to do something about. (Now, not all of our desires come from God, but that’s a whole other blog.)
In the specific case of relationships, it’s okay to want one as long as this doesn’t become the driving motivation of our lives. We do have to be prepared to accept that we might not get it right away, or even at all, but it’s okay to want it. It can lead us to prayer and a better relationship with our Father. And hopefully it will.
More on relationships coming …