My Story’s Middle

I sighed deeply as I inched along in traffic on Tuesday evening. I had been praying for my future man and telling God how much I was looking forward to marriage someday.

Sometimes when I pray about my future and my relationship status, I get super excited about what God is doing and energized because of the great time I’m having getting to talk with my Savior.

But Tuesday, I just sighed. “When, God?”

I groaned. “How much longer do I have to wait for You to reveal Your plan?”

I felt just…tired.

I didn’t get a billboard or a lightning bolt or even a still, small voice. I tried to listen for an answer and got nothing. I told Him, “I trust You. I trust Your timing.” I didn’t feel like I was trusting very much, but just praying those words helped a little. Read More

My Ultimate Hope

I sat across from my friend at IHOP, listening as she unloaded her family struggles and boy problems and work issues. I nodded and drank my coffee and made appropriate “mm hmm” noises.

“What do you think?” she asked. “What should I do?”

I put my coffee down. “It sounds to me like you’re spending all of your time focusing on your problems instead of on Jesus.”

“But Charity, I try to do that. I focus on my problems, which leads me to thinking about Jesus, which makes me think I shouldn’t try to do anything else. When I focus on Jesus, I don’t care about my job or my family or my work or ANYthing!” she said as she waved her hands dramatically.

I smiled as I realized it Read More

My Unexpected Expectations

Not all years in Blithe Bachelorette-ville have themes, but 2014 has had a big one. It’s been a year of letting go of expectations.

  • This summer, moving from one apartment to another was a HUGE exercise in letting go of expectations. While I didn’t expect everything to go seamlessly, I did expect to be actually in town the weekend we were moving (which didn’t happen), and I didn’t expect to have to tell my roommate “I’m sorry” for being selfish several times (which did happen).
  • At work, I expected to be much farther along by this point; but I still find myself working on some of the same projects I was working on 12 months ago.
  • Even with this blog, I expected certain people to guest blog for me, or expected them to be able to blog on a certain day, only to have them say “no” or want a more flexible schedule.

And, of course, I’ve had to let go of a whole list of expectations about finding my future man. In the last year or longer, I’ve let go of: Read More

My Identity Crisis

For years I told everyone who would listen, “I don’t want to marry a pastor.”

To anyone who asked why, I’d explain, “I don’t want to be known as ‘the pastor’s wife’ instead of by my name.”

I’d make a terrible Borg or Cyberman.

For years, I was defined by my relationships to people; I was one of the Edwards family, the pastor’s kid, the principal’s kid, Karissa’s sister, Krystal’s sister, etc.

In college, it finally occurred to me that I could just be “Charity Edwards.” I reveled in and flourished under that realization. I had heaps of fun finding out who I was without having to point at someone else as a reference point.

Once after I graduated college, my family and I met an old lady whom her grandson introduced to everyone as “Grandma.” He actually corrected people who tried to call her by her name. I remember thinking how awful it would be to be old and have no one left to call you by name – to only have a title that is determined by your relationship to someone else.

I so fiercely enjoy being known as my own self that I Read More

My Best Solution

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: Read More

My Wandering Eyes

I had my visa, passport, plane ticket, and 140 lbs of luggage in hand – headed, beyond my wildest dreams, back to Australia for a year to work. I was turning 23, and I clearly hadn’t been looking for a man in the right places in college (2:1 girl:guy ratio, after all), so it made sense to buckle down and get a man before I came back to the USA.

Nothing in my worldview had prepared me for the idea that I might be single without marriage prospects at the end of college. And what better place to find a man than Australia? The Sydney Opera House is still the single most romantic place I’ve ever been, and I’d like to go there on a date sometime – which could prove expensive if my man weren’t in Australia already.

So I looked. I made the year unnecessarily stressful with almost constant thoughts of “Is this the one? How about that one? No? Ooh, he’s cute, can it PLEASE be him?” (Granted, my options were limited once I ruled out all the men who were my students or housemates.)

After a year of working in Oz (slang for Australia – I feel so cool right now), I moved back in with my parents in Oregon. The exotic men of Australia were replaced by non-Christians at work and suuuuuuper homeschooly men at church, so obviously I didn’t marry any of them.

Clearly, I needed to try online dating. At my sisters’ suggestions (“Come on, you’re turning 25 on Valentine’s Day weekend!”), I created an eHarmony.com* profile during a “free communication weekend” and went man-shopping.

A couple of years later, I fussed around with ChristianMingle.com. After I moved to San Diego, I checked out the free okcupid.com. I found out from a friend that there’s such a thing as reformedsingles.com; I didn’t know whether to join to be serious or to make fun of it.

My coworker in San Diego once convinced me to go so far as to pay for one month on ChristianMingle. She and I tried sooooooo hard to find me a man on there.

None of the sites kept my interest for long, though, because

a)      It was too much like shopping online for shoes (search for men by keyword? Really?), only with a higher-stakes return policy.

b)      It was too much effort for the little bit of return I got from it.

So at some point, I deactivated all of my online dating profiles, crumpled up my working mental list of potential husbands, threw up my hands, and said, “God, You’re in charge.”

(I’m not knocking online dating; I know many people for whom it has worked out great. I’m just saying that, for me, it was one more way of trying to do God’s job for Him.)

I’d like to report here that, having identified behavior that is not respectful to God’s plan, I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that the “marriageable until proven otherwise” way of looking at things is probably not healthy. I’d like to say that I’ve started to trust God – like, really trust Him, not just say I do while still checking out every man in a suit.

But I’m not good with this. I still have a running list of bachelors with “Eligible to Date Charity” status. I do crumple it up every once in a while, but only so I can start from scratch.

I didn’t know at first how to make this blog post Jesus-y. I really had no idea how the story of God/Jesus applied to this post, and I almost decided to scrap it. But then a friend reminded me of two things:

Jesus was not exactly the man I would take home to my parents. He was unattractive, unemployed, homeless, and connected by choice to scumbags and unlovely people.

How funny is that? If Jesus had a profile on plentyoffish.com, he wouldn’t meet any of my search criteria (except maybe “loves to travel”). Yet, He is the One I absolutely need. He fulfills my greatest spiritual need (salvation from my sin – Luke 19:10), my greatest emotional need (comfort – I Cor. 1:3-4), and my greatest physical need (life – Col 1:16-17).

Regardless, Jesus is taking me home to His Father.

If Jesus had a profile on match.com, I wouldn’t meet any of His search criteria. I’m not 100% perfect (Rom 3:23) or completely loving (I Cor 13). Yet, despite my ugly sin and my tendencies to judge people by keywords, Jesus voluntarily takes my sin from me (Rom 4:25), clothes me in His righteous royal robes (I Cor 1:30), and gives me a home with Him for eternity (John 14:2).

I don’t know if those two thoughts will keep me from searching for my man, but I hope to keep them in the forefront of my mind the next time (and the next and the next…) that I want to ask God, “What about this one?”

The answer is, of course, “It doesn’t matter; Jesus is better than the future Mr. Charity” – whether that lucky man is in Australia, online, or in the next pew.

(On an unrelated topic, does anyone feel like jaunting on over to the Sydney Opera House with me?**)

 

* It didn’t take long for me to give up on eHarmony. I spent an hour telling the much-hyped personality test stuff about myself, and the site spit all that same information back to me in grammatically incorrect sentences. Is anyone with me on this?

** Now taking applications for a travel buddy – preference given to Jesus-loving bachelors.