It’s February. I always feel a little down in February. Why? Because it’s “the month of love” and I’m single. The subtle feeling I have all year suddenly becomes more prominent in my mind. That feeling is longing.
Ever since I was a little girl watching Disney movies, I’ve waited for my prince (or in the case of Aladdin and Tangled, my thief) to rescue me and carry me off into the sunset. It may sound childish, but I still fantasize about that sometimes.
Maybe you feel that longing whenever you see your friend with their girlfriend/boyfriend, in a movie when the underdog finally gets the girl, or in a book when the princess is finally rescued by the knight in shining armor. Forgive me for sounding cheesy, but it’s a longing for true love.
Do my friends think about finding the perfect guy/girl as often as I do? you wonder. Is there something wrong with me? Am I weird? Or even: Am I sinning?
To sum it up, “Should I be ashamed of my longing?”
The longing is nothing new. It’s been around since the very beginning, and we see it in Genesis 2:18-25.
God has finished creating and has brought all the animals to Adam for him to name. As Adam went over every living thing, he realized he was looking for something. For what? He didn’t know, but God did. The passage tells us God looked upon Adam and said, “It’s not good for man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper fit for him.”
God caused Adam to sleep, and while he slept, He took one of Adam’s ribs and made a woman. This is what Adam said when God gave Eve to him: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh…” She was literally a part of him.
The passage closes with these words: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
Adam lived in a perfect world, but still felt like something was lacking, he still felt the longing.
How did God respond? Was He disappointed? Angry? Cold? No, far from it. The passage says God saw that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone. He agreed with Adam. He validated his longing. In fact, He knew what Adam needed before Adam knew it himself.
If God already knew Adam would need Eve, why didn’t He just make them at the same time? It almost seems that God made a mistake, “Whoops! I forgot Eve!”
God doesn’t make mistakes. God does everything on purpose. He wanted Adam to experience life without Eve, without a helper fit for him. He wanted Adam to experience the longing. Why? Because once he experienced the longing, he would appreciate Eve so much more.
The passage closes with the couple being “naked and not ashamed.” This part may make you blush. While the obvious meaning of this phrase, being physically unclothed, is both essential and exclusively for married couples, I believe there is another meaning: being spiritually bare.
We long to be real with someone, to lay bare our souls, dreams, and hurts. To be seen as who we are, flaws and all, and be loved not only despite them, but because of them.We long to be real with someone, to lay bare our souls, dreams, and hurts. To be seen as who we are, flaws and all, and be loved not only despite them, but because of them. Click To Tweet
God saw that this was good. God sees your longing; He gave you that longing.
Now that we’ve established that the longing isn’t only normal but good and God-given, what do we do with it? How do we handle the longing while we wait for the one God has planned for us to be with?
There are wrong ways and right ways to wait, and this goes farther than the typical “stay pure” idea.
As I said before, I’ve experienced this longing since I was little, and there were times I waited well and times I waited poorly. I’ve learned a lot from both and here are a few thoughts I’d like to share:
1 – True Companionship
Form solid friendships with members of the opposite gender. It’s essential to do this without just thinking of them as a potential significant other. Men and women have different strengths and look at situations in different lights. Sometimes a guy friend can help you like a girl friend can’t, and a girl friend can offer you different compassion and advice than a guy friend would.
I’ve had a few amazing friendships with guys over the years. Those friendships were great as we mutually supported each other in tough times or were just able to have real fun and laugh our guts out. Either way, I felt safe being myself.
But there’s another reason for these kinds of relationships – they protect our hearts. When we’re constantly looking at girls or guys as our potential “someone,” we’re in danger of obsessing and idolizing the idea of a romantic relationship over God. Not only that, but every time another potential “someone” enters a relationship with someone else, your heart may break a little bit, and that isn’t healthy.When we’re constantly looking at girls or guys as our potential “someone,” we’re in danger of obsessing and idolizing the idea of a romantic relationship over God. Click To Tweet
2 – No Pressure
Have you ever felt like you should be dating because all your friends are? Have you ever felt pressured into dating a specific person because everyone thinks you should or even assumes you’re dating them already?
I’ve felt those pressures, but they aren’t good reasons to date. I’ve learned from experience – both my own and by watching my friends’ experiences – that relationships that start that way often end with hurting people and ruined friendships.
3 – Hard but Right
Someday you may discover that a dear friend thinks of you differently than you think of them. This has happened to me; and it’s painful, so painful, to see the hurt in their eyes as you tell them you don’t think of them that way.
“Did I make a mistake?” you wonder. “Could I have grown to care about them that way?” Your mind spirals down a path of what if’s.
Don’t go down that road. It only leads to feelings of restlessness and anxiety.
If you handled the situation with grace and understanding, you did the right thing. Even if it was hard, even if the other person is still hurt, even if you lost a friend. The fact of the matter is you should only date someone if you want to, not because you feel obligated or guilted into it. Doing otherwise only ends in confusion and heartache.
So, what do we do with this longing? There is a better way to wait than jumping from relationship to relationship until we find “the one.”
Observing godly couples is essential. How does the husband treat the wife? How does the wife treat the husband? Compare their behavior and relationship to what scripture says about healthy marriages. It’s good to know what it should look like before you dive right in.
Prayerfully consider the type of person God wants you to be with. Know the kinds of things you’re looking for or need in your future spouse. What qualities do you want them to have? How would you prefer they prioritize their time? These are important questions you should think about. If you don’t, you could end up feeling neglected or like you are parenting your significant other, causing discord in your relationship.
Pray for yourself. This is an exercise so many young people forget to do in their waiting. They constantly pray, “Make my future husband be like this…” or “Let my future wife be like that…” but forget to pray for God to turn themselves into the godly husband or wife they’re called to be. Pray for humility, grace, and that God would make you into the person your spouse will need you to be.
If it’s in God’s plans for you to marry, He will bring you your person when you’re ready. In the meantime, grow in your faith and become more like Christ. Focusing on your relationship with God is the best way to wait. Then, whether God has planned for you to marry or stay single, you will be ready, because it’s Christlikeness that will make you a good spouse, a good person.Focusing on your relationship with God is the best way to wait. Then, whether God has planned for you to marry or stay single, you will be ready, because it’s Christlikeness that will make you a good spouse, a good person. Click To Tweet
On a day I felt the longing more pointedly than usual, I chose to read my Bible to distract myself from thoughts of self-pity and useless fantasizing. I know it was no mistake that I opened to Psalm 90.
“Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days,” (v. 14).
I set down my Bible and stared at my journal where I had written out this verse. Satisfy us with Your steadfast love… The words swirled through my mind over and over.
“Satisfy me with Your steadfast love,” I prayed. “Oh, to be satisfied with Your love, Father God. To feel it so fully as to need nothing else.”
I’ve listened to Danny Gokey’s song, Undertow, a million times. Each time I longed for a guy who’d say these words to me:
“I want you to know I’d go
To the ends of the earth for you.
No undertow could make me let go,
Forever I’m bound to you.
‘Cause I’d walk through fire, I’d walk through pain;
I’m already there when you call my name.
I want you to know I’d go
To the ends of the earth for you”
But I’ve come to realize I already have Someone who says these words to me. I’m slowly, oh so painfully slowly, learning that the only person’s love I need is my Father’s. Christ has already gone through fire and pain to the ends of the earth for me. Christ will never let go of me. Christ is with me before I even call His name.When you learn to be satisfied with Christ's perfect love it makes the longing bearable when you didn’t think it would be. Click To Tweet
When you learn to be satisfied with His perfect love it makes the longing bearable when you didn’t think it would be. His love is steadfast, unyielding, unbreakable. Whether you will be married someday or forever be single, His love is the only love you’ll ever need.