The dateless-singles and the infertile share a special kind of kinship.
We both know what it’s like to unexpectedly (or expectedly) defy social norms of the church. We know what it’s like to suffer in a quiet shame as people speculate in stifled whispers or to our faces. We know what it’s like to have grown up with the expectation of a life that we can’t make happen for ourselves. We both are comforted by Jesus, but probably a little frustrated with the church. We don’t live the life that the church glorifies for women, even though we are living for Christ. We know what it’s like to pass birthdays, holidays and Mother’s day feeling a sense of grief as the years pass. We’ve both had to surrender our desires and our plans to God. We’ve both developed and walked in new dreams, even though they were birthed from an aching place.
I don’t know my sister’s exact wounds and she may or may not know mine, but we know enough to not share clichés. If it isn’t wisdom learned from firey places, we sit and listen instead of talk and judge. We make safe places to voice frustration, anger and grief when needed because more often than not, people already know the answers. We already know the scriptures. The problem is we may not FEEL them in our heart. And when Christians invalidate our feelings with snap-judgements and top-5-googled-scriptures-on-God’s-love, we feel defensive and guarded.
I’ve been in an healthy space regarding singleness the last few months, praise God. But you know what will do it? A family reunion with kind, well-intentioned people whose first questions and “I’m sorry’s” unintentionally create shame. The devil had a nice little field day in my mind today and comparison ran rampant, but it is halted, thanks to my barren sisters of the Bible.
“And Hannah was in bitterness of the soul, and prayed to the Lord, and wept sore…[she] poured out [her] soul to the Lord.”
Men and preachers and logical thinkers may judge prayer and drop lines about feelings not being a positive element of faith, but my deepest assurance and most life-changing words have come from times when I’ve prayed Hannah’s honest, soul-pouring prayer. God will not necessarily heal what we don’t reveal because He wants the credit for the healing, emotional, spiritual, physical or otherwise. He is a place that we can come to with familiarity and reverence and pour out our hearts and give him our struggles. God’s tenderness and kindness in those moments is just shattering and beautiful.
I know God more because I’ve had to wade through a muck of feelings to receive and feel His truth for me. Following feelings is not necessarily a good thing, but processing them is not necessarily a bad thing.
Let me be clear that I am not disputing the truths revealed in the Bible, but instead use the Bible as a tool to help process my feelings. No word that Holy Spirit has personally given me has conflicted with anything laid out in Scripture. Rather, it confirms it. But it started with being honest with God.
“…and they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren and they were both now well stricken in years…And when Zacharias saw [the angel of the Lord], he was troubled and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and you shall call his name John.”
I have it written in my Bible, right there underneath how faithfulness doesn’t guarantee fertility (because Elisabeth and Zacharias were righteous in God’s eyes). “Fear not, Joyce, for your prayer is heard.” I repeat it to myself often, and I needed to see it tonight. Among my favorite verses in the Bible are how God hears, how He inclines His ear, how He knows our voice. Whatever we may pray and whether we feel the goosebumps or not, we can be assured that He hears. The overwhelming majority of my prayers are not for my relationship status. That ship sailed 3 or 4 years ago. But on nights like tonight, when I do ask for help and for Him to pull me close, there’s comfort in just the simple act of His hearing.
And Zacharias said unto the angel, whereby shall I know this? For I am an old man and my wife well stricken in years.
And the angel answering said to him ‘I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And behold, thou shalt be dumb and not able to speak until the day these things shall be performed, because thou believed not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
I see my own unbelief. I see my own doubt. I see my own logic. I have been Zacharias with different times in my life, giving up hope and talking logic to God (don’t you know other people see me as leftovers at this age?). Not today Satan! Haha. It is a comfort that God’s seasons are not our seasons.
On a weird note, one of the senses that God really pressed on me is that this is my last family reunion where my answer to the relationship status question will be “no.” That gives me about 2 years to find my husband on SinglesFromPoland.com 🙂