Do not fear disgrace. . . You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. Isaiah 54:4-5
I don’t know how to process my relationship with Singleness at times. Partly because he’s been a presence in my story for much longer than I imagined. I want to break up but he doesn’t seem to get the not-so-subtle “I need out of the relationship” message. I can feel weary of desiring. I have discovered that these longings reveal deeper cries in my heart which I’d rather avoid because then I face the reality that my heart cannot be “fixed” or satisfied by anything or anyone on the earth. They are eternal longings designed to lead me to hope in Jesus and His promises.
As I live with desires which are not meant to be filled in this life I have learned to adjust my expectations about the “dreams and joys” I believe marriage will make real. With that said, I do pray fervently for a godly husband to share the journey on this earth. I also grieve my losses and keep an open hand to God’s unexpected joys through Singleness.
I have days that I “really like” Singleness and days where I would rather do anything than be around him. On the good days I embrace the Lord my Maker as my husband, seeing His protection and provision. I receive an unexpected kindness and an opportunity to love on others. I find sweet reward in a woman declaring His faithfulness through her story, pouring out creativity for the kingdom, going on a vacation or mission trip, and having fun spending time and money in life-giving ways.
On a bad day I scream, “What?!?! The Lord my Maker is my husband? Try to tell that to my bank account when I am struggling to make ends meet. I want a tangible husband who has a job. Don’t even bring that verse up to me when I am discouraged and want a devoted husband to put real-life arms around me. The reality of the Lord being my husband doesn’t work when I desire children and a spouse to share in building a family. And then there’s the delightful and dreaded wedding invitation with ‘and guest’ on the envelope. Sorry God, you are invisible and I want a visible expression of Your love.”
I don’t have answers for why Singleness sticks with me so faithfully or for my dear friends. What I do have is reflections from women who are mothers and live with Singleness. While leading a small group at a shelter for homeless women, we were talking about our desires which lead to hoping in the Lord. A dear sister who is volunteering with me shared a glimpse of her journey. As a single mother for many years she longed for a husband. She remembers one evening crying out to the Lord as she knelt by her bed. She described a warm presence enveloping her. God didn’t answer her prayer at the time – she did marry after her children were grown – and yet the Lord made Himself known in a tender way.
I find comfort in knowing God comes to me and my sisters in times of need. He deeply loves us and is eager to be there for us. As we wrapped up our discussion focusing on Hannah’s desire for a son a precious sister asked, “Why do you think God answered Hannah’s prayer when she went to the temple that time?” You may recall Hannah suffered for many years with infertility and would go to the temple year after year to pray (I Samuel 1). This was such an insightful question that I don’t have the answer to so I did what every small group leader does in such perplexing moments – ask the group.
The sister on my right shared that God’s ways are higher than ours and we don’t see the bigger picture. Only God knew He was preparing Hannah to offer her son Samuel to be trained for the priesthood from the time he was 3 years old. He became a great spiritual leader in Israel’s history. Answering Hannah’s prayer involved intricate timing in God’s plan.
I amen-ed that timing seemed to revolve around Hannah’s deep desire for a son but also God’s heart for people around her and for future generations. There remains mystery in the “why” of our stories no matter what longings go unfulfilled. We closed our time by asking God to show us more about hope in the Holy One, our Redeemer, and the Lord of all the earth (Isaiah 54:5). I pray the same for you sister. *Read stories of women walking through singleness