So today’s my birthday. I’m one of the eleven Americans who knows next to nothing about Star Wars, but to my fellow Jedi warriors celebrating the beginning of another year today, Happy Birthday. May the Fourth be with you!
Today I turn 31 and am still a single man who is waiting patiently for a wife. Actually, that’s a huge lie…I’m rather impatient on this one. It’s really, reeeeeally hard. Ever the Bible nerd, this particular birthday would remind me of Proverbs 31, a passage of Scripture that includes a Hebrew poem about “a wife of noble character,” something I do not have yet. I read each verse of that chapter today as an act of faith, a hopeful prayer of petition as I feel my heart start to twinge in pain yet again. Never in a million years did I foresee being a bachelor at this age as my “plan” was to get married at 22 and have a kid or two by now.
But that’s ok, I tell myself. As long as people don’t keep asking me “How in the world are you still single?” (I hate that so very much) I’ll continue to endure the long nights of hugging a pillow like a boss…or maybe not. Let me tell you, those listicles that make rounds on the interwebs about what not to say to single Christians are usually pretty dead-on. Want to help a single guy out? Most of us are much more touchy-feely than we let on and 5-second hugs have been shown to blast the brain with oxytocin…or is it dopamine? Whatever, I’ll take a few of those, please.
Perhaps part of the frustration I sometimes feel is that the evangelical Christian community is very much a marriage culture, a community where marriage is highly encouraged and held up as the ideal. But in a digital age where posting pictures of engagements, weddings, and kids–it’s nice when it happens in that order–on social media is all the rage, the joy of seeing your friend’s relationships begin to blossom (and then their offspring grow up) wilts after several years of your own love life stagnating. The longings for the good things like marriage, sexual intimacy, and children do not ease up with each passing year; in my experience they have only intensified. And the longer I wait the easier it becomes to believe that I am not only entitled to them but that God owes me.
I am still repenting from this kind of thinking because the truth is that I’m not entitled to any of those things whatsoever. God never promised me marriage, sex, and kids in his Word. Indeed, many of the greatest saints and giants in the Kingdom never got married and had their own families…and entertaining the thought that that might be me is, well, I just don’t like that at all.
Yet as is the case with almost every good thing you believe for in faith, there is no resurrection life without the cross first. And I’m still believing and praying. The cross of Jesus impels me to lay down the things I want most; it calls me to surrender, to die to them. Almost never are these processes, these “deaths” if you will, quick and painless.
But then…his still small voice followed by the breath of life.
Such are the moments, the times after an agonizing struggle where my stubbornness yields to his tenderness. He presents with me an opportunity to find his invitation as I wait. Life in Christ does not stop at the cross. The resurrection means that there is always an invitation unto victory in the midst of every trying circumstance. Because if there is no resurrection, I’m going to completely forget about this whole thing.
Thus far, his invitation to me has been to find Him in family. In His family. And I have.
Even in the evangelical Christian marriage culture I’ve just griped about, where singles like me can feel lonely and left out, when we manage to do community well it is the glory of God made manifest. When the Kingdom advances, families flourish. And my Anglican parish–I’m fortunate to be part of a truly wonderful one–has been singularly the greatest blessing to me as I continue the journey of waiting and trusting God for a wife and family of my own.
The Psalmist wrote that “God sets the lonely in families and the prisoners out with singing.” (Ps. 68:8). Ask anyone who has been single for longer than he or she wanted to be, they will tell you the isolation and loneliness of it often feels like jail. But time and life with family where you’re truly loved and known is enough to inspire a song or two about the One who knows me better than I know myself.
And that’s a gift I’m most grateful for and celebrating today.
Photo Credit: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/wedding-rings-1425585