A Longing Like Starvation
- Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I have come as though through briars, torn, bruised, bleeding, and tired. I have a longing inside of me that colors much of what I see, feel, and think. I long to be married with a longing that consumes. I am not desperate, but the longing hurts like starvation should. Relationships have never been easy for me, but I cannot conceive why they have been so hard and why the wait must be so long.
The picture looked very different when I was young and the plan seemed so simple; at the time of my choosing I would be married and raise a family. That’s it. That simple. It was to be at the time of my choosing, because I thought the whole thing simple. I believed, like most of us, that the whole process of getting married was natural and involved little effort. So I could defer it until the moment that best fit my plans. I thought I could wait until I was ready.
That time has passed and it has grown increasingly difficult to wake up with renewed hope. In fact, it has been difficult to keep my sense of humor and fight the cynicism. This is part of the reality in which I live but not the whole. If these were the only thoughts in my head I would be nothing but hopeless—and I am not without hope. I had no clue it would be so long or so hard but time is not my enemy and waiting is not punishment.
My chief mistake was to conceive of the process as simple, manageable—easy. My greatest disappointment has been a byproduct of my own false ideas or those thrust at me by well-meaning souls. The plan was simple because it was all about me. Not only did I not consider the ways in which all our sins combine and compound the difficulties of relationships, but I did not consider that God may have something to say in the matter.
I am not the first nor will I be the last person who has unfulfilled desires. This is reality. It is not a happy reality, but that is not for me to choose. If I am to live I must live by what is real not according to the voices or possibilities within my head. Life seems to have moved on without caring to meet my needs or fulfill my desires. But I have not forgotten that the God who loves me is working all things together for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). And I love Him. So when this loneliness feels like death, aches like starvation, I confess that I am alive and well fed. No matter the fears that plague me time is not my enemy and waiting is not punishment.
Time is a thief only if I think of what I do not have. Waiting has caused me to dwell on the absence, to focus on the longing, twisting my energies toward solving this one great mystery. The voices in my head may be convincing, but they are the ghosts of insecurities, false expectations, and wrong thinking. These voices that tell me God has forsaken me, that the waiting is in vain, are not of God. The voices that speak discouragement and paralyze my efforts to serve God have come from below. Time has stolen nothing. Each day is a gift. I may mourn the wife and family I do not have, but time is not my enemy and waiting is not punishment.
What should I say to voices that remind me of my failings? What should I say to the voices that speak discouragement and hopelessness? Should I heed the voices that speak lies in contradiction to the Word of God? I will give them no space in my head. I will give them none of my time. Those who marry at twenty-one are no better than those who marry at forty; no better than those of us who still wait.
Time does not lessen truth, but it does weaken confidence and cloud reason. Over time what we know to be true becomes clouded by the continued presence of failure. At least that is the way it feels. At times no one can convince me to view this protracted sorrow as anything other than failure—personal failure. The truth is, where we see no reward—we see failure. My expectations have led me here, and over time they have challenged me. Since things are not going my way, I want time to stop or the waiting to end.
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