I am not getting married, am I?
This is the question I pondered in the haziness of the morning, as I lay in my bed (alone), beleaguered by a night of grieving over dreams that haven’t come true, and traced God’s hand across the tapestry of my life. Especially since high school, maybe earlier, loneliness has been a common theme, as it is in so many lives and across so many circumstances. Being hard of hearing has not been an easy pain to bear. I’ve had seasons of my life where I’ve been able to roll with it, to embrace it and even be grateful for it. And I’ve had seasons where I’ve wrestled with it, wished I could kick it to the curb and spent more time crying over it than not. The hardest part about those hearing aids of mine has not been not understanding what a particular sound is, or trying not to feel embarrassed at having to ask for help.
No, the hardest part has been the loneliness, the feeling of being on the outside of everything, of not keeping up, of not belonging. But it has also been the best part when it has pushed me into the arms of my Father, who has never, and will never, leave me alone. My loneliness in my hearing loss has been my limp, my thorn in the flesh.
Right now, I’m in a season where being single is bringing me more anguish than joy; a season that brings a different kind of loneliness, a different depth of pain. I do not know what makes this season harder than all the other single seasons, except that being single at 31 is a far different beast than being single at 21. I see more readily in my own body signs of aging, hints that it won’t always be up for the task of bearing or raising a child. The loneliness is more palpable somehow, as friends with growing families are less and less available, and as the pool of potential suitors seems to shrink with each passing wedding season.
As I trace God’s heart through the bittersweet loneliness of my hearing loss, and as I traverse the painfully lonely wilderness of
spinsterhood singleness, a new question emerges: What if I don’t get what I want? What if this dream must die for God to work?
I want to believe I’m asking the wrong questions, that it’s not for me to know yet, that I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I want to believe that somebody, somewhere might still find me desirable enough to agree to stick by my side for the rest of our lifetimes. But God did not redeem my hearing loss by making me hearing. He drew me to Himself in the pain and in the quiet so that I might hear His heartbeat more clearly.
Could it be that He will work in my singleness as He has in my hearing loss, that rather than redeem my singleness by making me a wife, He will redeem it by making me love Him more? Could it be that the most loving thing God has done and is doing for me, besides sending His Son to die because I am sinful, is to make me lonely in this world so that I can see more clearly how precious He is?
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. (2 Corinthians 1:8-10, ESV, emphasis mine)
Far be it from me to compare being a little lonely to receiving the sentence of death (!). But the same God who delivered Paul and Timothy from deadly peril can and will surely pour out His grace in such a way that I can clearly see I have no hope but Him, nowhere else to go but to Him.
I have wasted so many years of singleness angry that I wasn’t getting what I wanted. Angry at God because it felt like He was withholding good from me. This time, though, I will remember what He has done before, count on His goodness, and trust that His ways are infinitely better than my ideas of how my life should go.
I am tired of wasting my single years. No more. I will ask the Lord, sometimes daily, for a husband, for the mercy of not having to go through this life on my own. And then I will beg for the grace to bear this cup of singleness well, until I’m married, Jesus comes again or He calls me home; that my singleness will not be in vain; that it will drive me to the arms of Jesus, the Very Best Thing I ever will and can have, the Greatest Love that will never, ever let me go.