Melissa and I packed up our apartment – taping boxes, sorting through junk, navigating piles that made our living room look like “Bed, Bath & Beyond” sneezed in it. Wedding decorations here, Goodwill there, Melissa’s stuff, Charity’s stuff…
Melissa was getting married and moving out in the same day; I (in probably the stupidest decision I’ve ever made) was also moving out the same weekend as the wedding.
Basically, I had three (very first-world) problems:
- I had no idea where I was going to move; I just knew I couldn’t afford our two-bedroom place near Nike World Headquarters by myself, and I wanted to move closer to work anyway.
- I had a job at a travel company in Portland, Oregon at the time and – having caught the travel bug – always had a working list of trips I wanted to take, but didn’t want to take them alone.
- I really disliked commuting and (if I was being totally honest) really disliked having to work for a living at all. I liked my job; I just borderline-hated the fact that I couldn’t pay my bills without it.
I, being an analytical, logical, slightly drama-y problem solver, knew what the solution to all those problems would be: a husband.
- I could move in with him.
- I would have a travel buddy.
- I could get pregnant and get at least some time – if not forever – off of employment to raise children.
At 25 years old, I wasn’t totally naïve; I knew that marriage would come with its own problems. But I was willing to trade my current problems for the unknown ones that came at the very least with romance, love, and a place to live.
I told Melissa and my friend Emily about my solution, and I knew it sounded ridiculous even as I said it. But I truly believed a man/marriage would solve my problems, and I couldn’t understand why God wasn’t with me on this.
Turns out, I found a place to live. I traveled to Australia again the next year for a little visit, even without a travel buddy. I was laid off from my job 10 months after Melissa and Jeff’s wedding and spent 9 glorious months living on unemployment and helping two other friends plan their weddings.
I was a little surprised that God somehow managed to fix or work around the problems I’d outlined to him in the spring of 2008, without listening to my suggestions. After all, my solution had been so wonderful.
I’m embarrassed to say that wasn’t the last time I thought a man would be the solution to my problems.
- A husband would have solved the dilemma of moving to Minnesota with my parents or staying in Oregon.
- A husband would have averted all the stress of moving around the country for a year with a national home health company.
- A husband would have meant I didn’t need to look for a roommate when I moved to San Diego.
Not that I’m ungrateful or anything. I am super happy with the opportunities and roommates that singleness has afforded me. I’m honestly glad that God didn’t really listen to my whining about needing a man to solve my problems.
I’m tempted to stop there when I look back on my crazy “solution”; I just want to leave my readers with a trite “God knew what He was doing.” If I’d written this blog post a year ago, that may have been the ending. But the humbling realization I’ve come to in the last few months is that my problems weren’t even my problems.
My problem wasn’t my lack of a future address; my problem was that I was seeing this world as my home. God’s home – Heaven – is my home.
My problem wasn’t my lack of a travel buddy; my problem was that I was believing I was alone. I am never alone with the Holy Spirit.
My problem wasn’t my lack of a fulfilling career/calling; my problem was that I was looking to work to fulfill me. Jesus fulfills me.
Of course, my biggest problem of all is that I am a sinner unable to do anything to make my way to God, find fulfillment in Jesus, or enjoy the company of the Holy Spirit on my own. My temper tantrums and pouting and whining at God as I try to solve my own problems are the very behavior/nature that separate me from Him in the first place.
I’m so humbled when I think that Jesus in His infinite goodness died on the cross to solve my greatest problem. Jesus died. For me. So I wouldn’t have to. And then, THEN, He even found me a place to live, sent me around the world, and eventually gave me the best job ever in the greatest city with the greatest roommate I could ever ask for.
He didn’t have to do any of that. He could have left me in my sin to die and go to hell. He could have saved my soul for eternity but made me move back in with my parents and work at temp jobs forever. He could have not provided me with the means to travel.
But because God is my loving Father, He solved my actual problem AND all of my perceived problems from that spring.
With a God like that, Who has a plan like that, Who loves me like that, I can trust that – man or no man – I will always be taken care of, and that no problem is too big for my Jesus to solve (even without my help – imagine that).