Thursday, May 2, 2013
Reflective Wednesday: An Open Letter to My Single Friend
The journal I hand wrote this in first is a sacred symbol of sorts to me--an image of hope, a reminder of turning points that came through despair and disappointment, and the longing held out with the heartache and questions.
I started this journal years ago when I met someone (rather re-met someone) and opened my heart to the maybe. Hindsight can see the fantasy more clearly but it all felt very real.
Today (that was 6 years ago) I am writing in that journal. There are two entries since him. Another example of hope deferred. Today as I write this I am still totally single. There have been some what ifs, maybe's and no's sprinkled in between.
My story is not every girl's but it's mine. I've never been "the girl with the boyfriend, " the one who gets asked out a lot and has choices. Nope. Not. Me. As long as I can remember I've ached for him (embarrassingly so in Junior High). In 5th grade I remember standing outside on our cul de sac around dusk wondering if he would come?
At thirty-seven, I am still that girl on the inside left wondering. Only now I know "he" is the face of the longing, a symbol of what my heart aches for.
But this is not new to you. You know Jesus well, you know the reality of the curse (pining after Adam), you've counseled others, and you've had the courage to open your heart to the counsel of others (which can be life giving or taking in this arena!).
And today you are still left with the tender question, "Why? Why am I still alone?"
I don't know.
I only know that there is something to letting the heartache and confusion of those words rise.
Lately I find that it's when I shut down those questions and feelings and go inward to survive, the ache only shows up in anxious, wonky other ways making me miserable.
I have had the gamut of seasons in my singleness:
* Expectation when my heart felt he was just around the corner and I only had to hold out a little bit longer.
* Altar moments when I walked "my Isaac" to the throne room and laid him down, even marriage as an idol.
* "Reluctant Nun" moments where I've wondered if God is doing a new (or renewed) thing in our generation and setting some apart as His alone?
* Peaceful seasons where I am His and He is mine--single, married, mama or in-between is fine. I am fine.
* Quiet terror times when I veer into dark terrain, "What is it about me, deep within, that I don't have someone?"
* Time when I feel giddy, "Is this really happening?" when I've met someone and it feels like this could actually turn into something!? (Note: I have had only two official boyfriend/girlfriend dating relationships in my lifetime. The others were more like friends with potential or meetings from online dating, they were not very vested. These have led me into a kind of "calling forth" where Jesus has had me call my brothers out and believe I'm worth coming after. The last fifteen years has been this cycle in deepening degrees of obedience.).
*Then there was "John." He happened last October. Our relationship was a beautiful mess. We met online, I didn't think a lot of date 1. or date 2. Then date 3 felt different and something shifted in me (and him). He was divorced, a devoted Christian of 4 years, and had a little girl. I'm not sure how to sum it up, only that Susie Shaw showed up to relationship open and appropriately vulnerable. I wasn't asking, "Am I okay?" or looking for him to approve of me. I. just. offered. me. in. process. I was separate from him and in being separate more fully offering me and able to receive from him. I felt like in his presence I was discovering new things about myself. Good things (and not so good) but I was open to the learning with someone. Looking back I think this had a lot to do with where Jesus and I had walked prior but also John's willingness to be forthright in his affections and desire for more. It was 2 adults showing up, open to what was unfolding.
Sadly, some unfortunate things came up early on in the dating relationship. It was soon evident the short lived relationship could not bear the weight, and it was over.
And my heart broke open. Again. But it also celebrated something that felt new, leaving a relationship with hope that it could happen again. That I could meet someone pretty quick, share my life in Christ, and be met there (and it not be "too much").
And now here I am. I still am left with, "Lord, what was that?" but entering (ever so feebly) the place of trying not to "make sense" of it but live in the fragility of the longing. (I so quickly forget and try to get answers or dismiss the relationship's good).
Friend, there are still so many frayed edges, unsure of how it will ever come together to make a knit together whole? I get moments where I see the beauty but most often I only see in part.
I just started a book called, Revelations of a Single Woman: Loving the Life I Didn't Expect by Connally Gilliam. I like where she seems to be going. A friend gave it to me, you wrote, and I was asked to speak at a CRU event about it--funny how these things show up in waves.
I don't have answers only the labyrinth I am walking, we are walking it alongside each other. There are days I feel off course, even outside. Some days it feels more like a maze with dead ends and a puzzle to be solved. Then there are days I just put one foot in front of the other and trust each bend and turn and even steps that appear to move me away from the center, are working together to take me into the middle--the center of True Union.
I do still hope one day I marry and get to walk the rest of this out with a man who reminds me of that kind of love, but if not I will still end up at the same place--the center--
H O M E.
As I walk, I am settling into the life I didn't expect, the life I love, and the life I still ache for. The tensions seem right and true.
Hope this leaves you feeling some companionship along the way.
Warmly in Christ,
S u s i e