I sat on my bed in the basement, boxes packed and piles sorted. I would be leaving the next day to travel for an indefinite amount of time with my job. God had heard my angst and found a way to get me out of Minnesota, and I couldn’t WAIT to get on the road and explore the county.
I plopped backwards, exhausted from packing during recovery from wisdom tooth removal surgery, when my friend walked in. We’d been friends for 10 years, and he had come out from the East Coast to help me move down to Missouri.
He had his “Let’s have a serious talk” face on, and I graciously suppressed a groan and scootched myself up onto pillows. I watched him sit down in my pink desk chair, thinking, “Please don’t let this be a DTR, please don’t let this be a DTR.”
It was a DTR.*
We had had similar conversations over the years, and I was running out of ways to tell him “no, I don’t want to be your girlfriend.”
So, after telling him “no” again and listening to his objections, I said, “I’m going to try being single for a year. I mean, I know I’ve always been single. But for at least the first year of traveling, I’m going to NOT focus on finding a man.
“I’m going to truly be independent and single and make the effort to be content in my relationship status.”
It worked; he backed off of his pursuit.** Phew. But then I was committed to that endeavor I’d made up on the spot, and I embarked upon a year of traveling – and a year of “not looking for a man.”
So I moved to Missouri, then to Georgia, to Florida, another city in Florida, and finally San Diego. For twelve months, I didn’t do online dating, didn’t meet a man and wonder if he was “the one,” didn’t purposely go to churches with high populations of single men, and didn’t give anyone my number (though, go figure, it was the only time in my life in which it was requested in a how-YOU-doin’ sort of way).
In the beginning, I told a couple of people about my quest for contentment, and both of them said, “God will probably bring him because you’re not looking.” Riiiiiiiiiiiight. (Then again, maybe He did, and I just wasn’t paying attention. Darn it, I KNEW that was a bad plan.)
What started out as a cowardly/creative way to end a DTR as efficiently as possible actually turned into quite a rewarding year of self-discovery and God-dependence. I blogged a lot; I made friends of some great men and women; I got involved in various churches, volunteer work, and even an Awana club; I took day-trips almost every weekend to explore new states and cities. In fact, that year was when I started processing my singleness and thinking that maybe I had something to add to the conversation.
But now that I’ve had a couple of years to think about that time in my life, I’ve realized two things:
- My whole endeavor to not look for a man was just an attempt to find one. (“I’ve tried looking, so I guess I could try not looking.”)
- Instead of looking to Jesus to fill my relationship gap, I was looking to myself.
Not that I didn’t have great times with God, and not that I didn’t learn anything about Jesus. Rarely before in my life had I had to hurl myself onto the mercy of God’s plans, knowing that I’d be in big trouble if He didn’t show up. That year, I threw myself off the cliff of faith so many times (in every department but the romance department), that there’s probably a memorial with my name on it at the top of it.
I wanted contentment, fulfillment, etc. in my singleness – but I failed to look to the one Person who could have provided that. Instead, I looked to adventures and new friends and especially to myself, hoping to drum up contentment in my singleness.
It would work for about five minutes, and then I’d go back to wanting a man and telling myself I didn’t.
If I had just taken my eyes off myself for more than two seconds and looked to Jesus, I would have seen that…
- God the Father has already looked for a man for me; He has already found the Person who I will spend the rest of my life and eternity with, and He’s not worried that I’ll miss out on Him – either by looking or not looking. (Rom 8:29)
- Jesus (the Son of God) is that man. It sounds totally cheesy and way too churchy to use this as the truth to fight the lie of believing in myself, but its clicheness doesn’t make it less true. (Rom 6:23)
- The Holy Spirit reminds me daily of the truth of Jesus’ love for me, and of the hope I have in eternity with Him in heaven. (Rom 8:2-6)
These truths don’t make me want a husband less, or silence my biological clock – but they do remind me that God has a bigger picture in mind, and that I have what I need to get through today with just Jesus.
So today, as an act of faith in God’s perfect plan for my life, I choose to not look for a man (or any other method of trying to get one on my own) – thus hurling myself and my desires for a husband off the cliff of faith and into the arms of the One Who made me, saved me, and cares for me.
* (DTR: a talk in which two people Define The Relationship before moving forward as friends, not-friends, or more-than-friends)
**(To wrap up the story with my friend: He has found the perfect woman for him, and he and I are still friends.)