If you were to tell my younger self that at 24, I would still be single with no manliligaw nor a prospect whatsoever, I’d think you’re crazy.
At 19, I thought I was *gasp* ready for a relationship. How difficult would it be? (At 15, I had a manliligaw who called me every day on our red telephone. I thought this was love – the extent, the brevity of it – because it was all I had, it was all I knew.) I was surrounded by wonderful people, growing my craft, active in ministry, seeking the Lord…but completely misunderstood it. Love meant overanalyzing unanswered chat boxes, rereading unsent letters, listening to sad songs, crying myself to sleep, and a lot of waiting. I suffered these delusions, these cheap imitations of love, because I wanted so badly for it to come, to be it. More than that, my praiseworthy behavior was fueled by the idea that if I kept up this performance, I would deserve it – as if love were to be earned, to be won.
I mean, isn’t that it? Wasn’t this all God wanted from me? But I was cheating my all-knowing, omnipotent King. My pursuit of Christ – may it be intentional or not – was desperately tethered to a lesser pursuit of someone else.
For years, shame followed me and made a home in my heart. I put the idea of a relationship so high up in a pedestal that I found it difficult to be alone. My self-worth heavily depended on the presence of a companion and his ability to return my love. At some point, my weary heart gave up, wrapped itself in apathy disguised as courage – when it is anything but that. I even questioned this God-given desire for a healthy and life-giving relationship. I thought I was meant to be single for the rest of my life yet I know I was born to be somebody’s wife.
During those years of steadying my heart and learning my God, I discovered that life does not begin when I find security in another person; humans err and disappoint. I needed to learn how to be alone. I needed to wade in my solitude and learn the mercy of knowing my parts and reveling in both the beautiful and the messy.
“When I get lonely these days, I think: So be lonely. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.”
Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)
(Romantic) love is only a part of my life, it is not the entirety. I do not live to be loved nor do I love to start living. There will be days when my loneliness gets too loud – that is what it means to be human – but I need to teach my heart to surrender to something greater than myself (and my passing emotions). My life then becomes an act of worship, of eternal abandon to ways that are greater than my own.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
My love will come some day but ’til then, Love moves in and through me – and this is the best kind of love I can ever receive.