I'm in a time of transition right now. Actually, all of my life since I left my parents house to attend university halfway across the country has felt like a time of transition. And here I am ten years later, still in process.
"I love my life," I said recently to my family, the heartbreak ringing in my voice. "It just isn't the life I wanted."
I wanted to have a kitchen. I wanted to know how I would keep a fridge. I wanted, even more than I wanted a husband, a perfect gaggle of little kids. And I wonder, was that too much? God, did I dream too big?
It hurts to ask that -- but everything hurts these days. Every life decision feels like pressing a thumb into a wound because it's another decision I didn't think I would have to make.
I know what they say: us single women, we're desperate. But it's not in the way they think. It's not desperation for a guy, it's desperation to keep our dreams from dying. And though desperation may be taboo in the church, there's a place desperate women are honoured: the Bible.
Imagine Ruth, full of all the hope of a new bride, when suddenly her husband is taken from her. All her hope for the future is extinguished, and her choice is to return home to her family to see if another man will take her, or follow her mother-in-law and become a destitute beggar in a distant land. Talk about decisions that hurt! What would you have chosen?
Think of Hannah, she marries a man who loves her, but time passes and she's unable to become pregnant. To make matters worse, year after year she watches as her husband's second wife bears him a family. In those years she must have felt like she was carrying her hope around like a stillborn child. She wept so hard at the temple, the priest thought she was drunk. And she made this wager, "God give me a son and I will give him up to you for his whole life." Talk about desperation! What would you have done?
Consider the woman of Shunam in the book of 2 Kings, when the prophet Elisha told her she would have a son, she begged him not to toy with her emotions. Imagine how she felt when the son she had been promised and given by God, her only heir and hope for the future, curled up and died in her arms. Talk about heartbreak! What would you have prayed after that?
And maybe you do feel like that, maybe you feel like me -- that at some point your dreams just curled up and died in your arms.
But before you think the death of dreams is unique to the women in the bible, remember the prophet Jeremiah who spent his whole life warning the people of Israel of the coming deportation, despite derision and death-threats, only to watch the very thing he had preached about come to pass before his eyes. His heartbreak (and God's heartbreak lived out through him) makes up the book of Lamentations. Yet in the middle of that tome are some of the most hope-filled words of the prophetic books:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
We so often lose the very revelation of those words by stripping away the desperation of their context. In the ache of loneliness, His love never ceases. In the moments of doubt, His mercies never end. In the pain of loss, great is His faithfulness. Even long after our dreams are dead, He is the Resurrection and the Life. But Jeremiah doesn't even stop there . . .
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him.
As a single woman, it's a good reminder of who the "Him" is that I'm waiting for. Desperation for a guy (or a home, or a family) avails nothing, desperation for God avails much. The only difference between us and the desperate women in the bible, is we know the end of their stories:
Ruth finds a worthy husband and becomes the great-grandmother to a king. Hannah's son is the first in a generation to hear the voice of God. And the Shunammite woman . . . well if you haven't read it before, I won't spoil it for you (see 2 Kings 4:8-37). It's one of my favourites.
It's tempting to make the moral of this story, "It will all be good in the end." But the moral of my story, and your story, and Jeremiah's story is, instead, "God is good, all the time." That's why its so important to know, as Jeremiah did, that He is our portion. He may not give a husband or family, but He will BE our husband and family if we let Him. I didn't dream too big. There is no dream bigger than He is. And though I can't tell you the end of my story, I will tell you this: My story will be defined by a desperation for God above all else.
I'm in a time of transition right now: I am moving from a place of counting my losses, to counting on God's goodness. I have turned away from heartbreak and turned my heart over to the One who is faithful. I am relinquishing my dreams to hold on to Him as the greatest Dream Come True.
What dreams are you or have you been truly desperate to see come true? Did they in the way you thought they would?