I’ve been pondering over these words for three weeks now. Praying. Some days with a lump in my throat, other days with joy exuding every crevice of my heart. And I’ve saved them for such a day as this.
Being the girl that has never experienced a Valentine’s Day by cherishing and being cherished by a significant someone… my heart refuses to be bitter. It is actually comforting to know that people love each other, and that I am an heir of such a greater love. Valentine’s Day for me is all about identity.
We can rewind to sixth grade. That year that girls start to notice that boys aren’t always stupid, and boys see girls for something better equipped than someone to fill in outfield during recess’s baseball game. We can go back to high school and see how we began to define love as “real love” with a sixteen year old perspective that wasn’t about to be wavered by an adults opinion. We can look at now… where the understanding of love is so far from that beginning definition of “real love” that it’s kind of hilarious.
One of my tenth grade classes asked me today what I was going to do for Valentine’s Day. They are in that stage where relationships and 143’s are so top priority that very little matters about status apart from relationships and 143’s. So obviously, to get an inkling into my life would have been icing on their heart shaped cake. So what do you say to a bunch high school students who think today is beyond grand? Well… you be honest.
On the first day of school, your left ring finger is the first thing they notice. Then comes questions about dating and do I have kids and HOW OLD ARE YOU? Like the answer to each of those questions is bedrock foundation to all of my identity. Because really, who are you without that ring? And as a woman without kiddos, where do you belong in bible study groups that go… college –> young couples. And at your age, not dating-not married-no kids, where do you stand when the world actually begins to question your identity all together as being gay or straight? What do you do with that?
Each of these, I have spent the last few weeks praying over. I have sought out friends at so many different stages of life. I asked the same questions that have been asked to me, then I prayed really hard. Not looking for a short answer to curb the craving, but how to tell the truth about my identity… and people, let us be real – HOW TO TELL THE TRUTH AND NOT FEEL INSECURE OR LEFT OUT ABOUT IT!
And we can start here… Your. Identity. Is. Not. Found. In. An. Earthly. Relationship.
I can see some of you rolling your eyes. And I can hear the peanut gallery going, “she is only saying that because she is single!” Like it is confirmation to make my single state feel better when compared against the world (that in itself if a disaster in the making, folks). I know this because I once would roll my eyes so far back that I could have questioned if they would come back around, and I have so, most certainly, mumbled to myself that statement… along with “how in the world can that preacher tell me that singleness is such a blessed gift when he is up there with 14 years of marriage under his belt, and his kids are at that really hilarious kid stage?” Yep, been there, and dwelt there for far too many seasons.
Identity, through gospel-seeking eyes, isn’t found in earthly relationships – it is nurtured by those relationships. Two completely different things.
Trusting the Lord to lead me means for me to not run ahead of God. Something I so often have to check myself for! What came with running ahead of the Lord was sheer disappointment for me, because running ahead meant me using my own hands to fix whatever it was that made me run in the first place. As if staying close to Jesus wasn’t balm enough for the sting of rejection or disappointment or just anger at timing itself. And here’s another honesty tid-bit: running ahead of the Lord to work together your own plan leads fully to you doubting His honest goodness. So staying close to Him = great compassion and extreme protection and His shepherd qualities come to life in the stillness.
…so there is no relationship status offered on this earth that can be found to wholly protect the inner workings of your heart or give you a peace like a faithful shepherd. But there are relationships that can nurture such a longing. A longing to be Jesus protected and led and to help you find that peace that comes with resting in Him. And these I SO LOVE!
Marriage has to be a beautiful gift if so many people yearn to enter into it, and so many others dwell in it to the point where wrinkles are cute and stretch marks tell beautiful stories. God created it, as a design to bring us to Himself, ring or no ring on that left hand. And that is the bottom line. It is a beautiful gift and enormous blessing as He sits as High Priest sealed with an oath to call and choose such a group of sinners. So, being single on Valentine’s Day or making it National Singles Awareness Day or giving up on that desire to be married all together because our feelings trump our truth for 24 hours… I don’t think that is the answer. I also don’t think working through your twenties and thirties (or whatever age marriage seems appropriate for you) to get the status of marriage to have your forever Valentine is the answer either… that turns marriage into an idol, doesn’t it?!
With all of that said, singleness has to be a beautiful gift if there are so many of us in it, and because so many of us dwell here there must be beautiful stories written within His beautiful plan, right?!
I honestly couldn’t always say these next words. Valentine’s Day and Facebook engagements and Insta baby announcements used to all make me frustrated over giddy. And let me cower here when I walked through sibling’s marriages and babies… there was so much joy lost because my heart didn’t see Jesus. This I have learned… He does nothing, notta, not one iota of planning outside of my goodness in mind, and that goodness dwells not in the dark, but in light that beams a radiance of love.
Seasons of singleness are for our nurturing, and they don’t identify you with some “in-between” life stage where you are waiting for your life to begin. Just as eternity is alive and pumping through our spiritual veins, life is happening now… for singles.
Your. Life. Is. Happening. Right. Now.
And I am convinced that is exactly where the Lord intends to dwell in us.
Now, I don’t know when singleness became such a disease by our culture’s standards. I can’t wrap my mind around it because I see Ruth gripping closely to Naomi, and I listen to Paul teach the people of Corinth, and I know a Jesus who defined love and calls me His bride, yet I live in a world that often misses. It all meets here at the fork on the road:: we don’t always like our seasons, whether that be a few months or a few years in timing that our minds can’t fully comprehend. Seasons of singleness or hard bouts in marriages or in the loss of life or battles that drain every ounce of you… or really seasons of stillness where nothing extravagant actually happens. But if we don’t choose to love and abide in the grips of grace in which He holds us in those seasons, I fear we grow to miss Him too… Miss His heavenly blessings here in the waiting, miss His desire to gather us together, nurture our hearts, and go out in loving beyond ourselves. Mistake His design for love as we try to fit it into our mold of wholeness.
For wholeness is not the end, but the very beginning. Wholeness allows us to give so much more of our hearts, money, time, possessions, friendship and love away. And Christ has made us whole for far more than our earthly comforts and pleasures.
…singleness doesn’t make us broken.
…marriage doesn’t make us complete.
…and what happens or doesn’t happen on Valentine’s Day doesn’t define us.
Bearing the Image of God means that there is something grand instilled and introduced and by Holy hands squeezed into us. Its give us our purpose and our identity, but even more than that… it gives Him glory.
We will never see the image of God in each other, if our seeds are planted in status and if marriage is the ultimate goal and if being loved ridiculously well on Valentine’s Day is what fills us up. Single, married, orphaned, or widowed… Jesus passionately whispers, “in Me… always in Me. You were given this place and this season to be found in Me!”
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. First Peter chapter five verse ten.
Teachable moment, high schoolers… she said.
Lord let this be my prayer… that whatever you choose to do with me, whether it be to sit single and raise high school babies for Your name. Or whether it be married, nurturing and helping aid the growth of my husband and my own fleshly babes…. or whether it be both or something I can not even fathom at this moment – Lord, let me not miss you. Let me not replace you. Let me always find you and be found in you and be content with resting in you. Thank you for these years. Thank you for dreams and for changing so many of mine! May my heart beat to love you always. And always and always. And may I be wasted and used and poured out so that others may find their heart to beat to love you always. And always and always. ❤️