Last week was the culmination of a long expectant “Relationships Week” at Summer Training Project. This is a week devoted to discovering what is biblically said about relationships involving your family, friends, and significant other. I was excited for this week knowing that our God is a relational God and desires us to have healthy relationships, reflective of his character. Being in a season of singleness for almost a year now, there have been many things revealed to me about relationships, especially in this past year.
Here are just a few:
- Because God is sovereign, the reason anyone is single or in a relationship has nothing to do with them at all and everything to do with God’s plan. The reason why I am single is not because I am lacking or exceeding in any area of my life, but because that is what God has for me now for his glory and my joy. This season I am in will produce the most growth and the most joy possible. My ministry is strongest right now in a season of singleness and when God sees fit, I will only be brought into a relationship to make his ministry through me stronger and for me to see more of who He is. It has nothing to do with me.
- I am undesirable, but Jesus is infinitely desirable. For a long time I felt like I was invisible to any man because of who I am and what I felt like defined me (my major, my career aspirations, etc.). Because of this lack of attention, I deemed myself as undesirable and therefore unable to be desirable enough to be pursued. I felt like this was wrong that I should not feel this way about myself. I felt entitled to a relationship and that I should be thinking of myself as incredibly desirable, that this was just a confidence issue. The truth is, I am undesirable. I am sinful, I am dirty, I am unfaithful, and I constantly disregard the cross. I shouldn’t be desired by a holy and mighty God. But because of Jesus, I am no longer defined by any of these things in the eyes of God. God sees me and smiles. He is confident in his decision to save me and joyfully took the cross for me because he is merciful and just. Because of Jesus, God sees me as desirable. Apart from Christ, I am completely and utterly undesirable. In Christ, I am no longer defined as a chemistry major or member of the military but I am defined as a daughter of the King. Nothing that I define myself as in this world matters. It makes no difference. My ultimate identity is in Christ. I am completely undesirable, but because of who God is, and what Jesus did on the cross, I no longer have to be defined by my undesirability in my sinfulness, but I am defined in Christ as free and new and lovely.
- I may be single for the rest of my life and that is okay. This whole last year, I knew that I could be single forever and tried to play the “I’m really tough so I shouldn’t be sad about this reality because God is sovereign” card, but found myself continually discontent. Asking God for a relationship and ending my time in tears, desiring the desires of the Lord, even if it meant singleness, and yet desiring a relationship. This past relationships week I was again reminded of this truth. Yes, I cried real tears when earthly singleness was mentioned, knowing it may be my reality, but was reassured that the Lord is constantly providing for me. I do not need a relationship to be satisfied because my satisfaction comes from the Lord alone. No man will ever satisfy me and if I am expectant of that, I have put my hope in an idol. I may have momentary happiness but that deep joy and security comes from God alone. “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.” Psalm 145:15–16. God is faithful! He keeps his promises and he has promised to satisfy me. I do not need to look to a future husband for any bit of joy, happiness or satisfaction, that in itself is idolatry.
- Pursuing a man and pursuing God haven proven to produce an attitude of works based righteousness. The majority of my life has been trying to prove myself. My motives have changed throughout the years out of seasons of insecurity and confidence. Out of a spirit of insecurity, trying to prove to myself that I am worth it and that I am worthy of a relationship. In a spirit of confidence, thinking that I deserve a relationship because of how great I have made myself think I am. Both are seasons of selfishness, thinking I am entitled to a relationship and the pursuit of a man. I am human and deserve nothing but hell. I do not deserve a relationship, but because of the cross and the fact that Jesus is the son of God and died for my freedom, I am able to participate in the joys that this life brings and experience life eternal. In this striving, trying to prove myself, I become weary. It is so tiring trying to prove myself to a guy that I am worth it. In this striving, I feel like I am not good enough the way I am, but need to put in extra effort to ensure that he sees me as someone worth spending time with. Laughing a little louder, telling extra funny stories, making sure my hair and eyebrows are on fleek, and perfecting my outfit to make myself just a little more noticeable. All of these things are striving, trying to make myself better than I may seem, or than I view myself. Working to become noticed. At times, I’ve wondered why I go to bed so emotionally drained when I am interested in a guy. It is this exact reason, I continue to strive and end up dissatisfied and empty when the attention is not returned. I look for attention, I want to be pursued, I want someone to desire me. The saddest part is that I do the exact same thing with God. I do not believe that the cross is enough. I pursue God, trying to make him notice me more. I read my Bible, make sure I go to church, write an extra page in my prayer journal with the motivation of making myself seem more desirable to God. I want to gain his attention so I can take from him, not to know his heart more. This is striving. I am striving to gain God’s approval. I want him to look at me and say, “Wow, Madee you are such a good girl. I am so proud of you for doing all of these great things. Great job finding and choosing me.” None of that is true! God does not look at me, proud of my good works. He looks at me and sees Jesus. Meanwhile, Jesus is saying, “Father, I paid it all. It is finished, Madee is yours forever.” My good works pale in comparison to the cross, they are useless. Thinking that I can earn God’s approval, that he will notice me because of my good works is saying that Jesus is not enough and that Jesus paid most of the debt, but the rest has to be completed by myself. I did not choose God, he pursued after me. He came after me into this world to free me forever. There is no way I would ever desire to turn from my sin and toward Jesus. It is a miracle that the Lord would enter into my heart and change me forever so I would despise sin and want to know him more. I am SO unworthy, incredibly undesirable, and the lowest of the low. My freedom from sin cannot have anything to do with me and what I can accomplish. That does not make sense. It has everything to do with Jesus! Jesus did everything. Jesus came, died, rose again, conquering death and is reigning forever in heaven with his Father, having freed the world from sin by bridging the gap. No where does it say, Jesus came, died, rose again, conquering death, Madee did great things too, and now Jesus is reigning in heaven having freed the world from sin. It is finished. It was finished 2000 years ago, fulfilling what has been God’s plan since the beginning of time. The work I do on earth does not change that. Because of that, I no longer have to prove myself to God. I do not have to try to make God like me more. He loves me because of Jesus, not because of anything I am. He pursues me. He is constantly pursuing my heart and has been since the beginning of time as he is constantly proving himself faithful, kind, and beautiful. He is alluring me. “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Heartbreak, a door of hope,” Hosea 2:14–15. God pursues me, and because of that, I never have to pursue him in hopes of making myself seem better in his eyes. He knows me, he created me, he understands my heart better than I could ever understand my heart. He does not want me tired and worn out from my relationship with my him in my pursuit of proving myself. Instead he says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” Matthew 11:28–30. How amazing is that? Jesus is saying, stop your striving! Instead, take my yoke. Take what I have done on the cross and there you will find rest for your soul. Stop striving, stop trying to become enough. You will never be enough apart from Christ. Allow God to pursue you and experience that rest. The same is true for our earthly relationships as a marriage between a man and a woman represents Christ and his pursuit of the church. Women, allow a man to pursue you! Stop your striving, stop trying to prove yourself good enough for him. As I said in point one, your relationship status has nothing to do with you. God is completely sovereign, completely in control, he knows what is best for you, what will give you the most joy, and the most growth. Rest in God’s merciful kindness and your identity in Christ.