How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Psalm 13:1-2
We all have a “how long” question for God. I have met questioners wondering about jobs – how long until I have a job again? Other questioners have wondered about home – how long until I feel safe and I can move home again? Many question about their health or the health of someone they love – how long until my loved one is well? Others are in the thickness of grief – how long will it take for me to get used to this new emptiness in my life? Others are in a place of anticipation – how long until this baby arrives?
I have wrestled with God over a “how long” question for most of my life. It was the kind of question that caused my faith to waver, my heart to doubt and my identity to be hijacked. My “how long” has centred around my marital status – how long until I get married? And the question burned into the heart of who I was. Every bridal shower was an exercise in stiff upper lip. Every wedding invitation with my name and a plus one felt like a stab to my heart. Every wedding was salt in the wound stinging with intense ferocity. It seemed that I went to a lot of weddings. At each one, I pasted a smile on my face and asked the question “How long until its my turn?” “Why haven’t I met the person for me?”
Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. Psalm 13:3-4
Those questions became so deeply a part of my personhood that it rocked my relationship with God. My prayers felt like they hit the ceiling. It seemed that spending time in God’s Word was an exercise in futility. I had become an expert in the stiff upper lip and the everything is fine facade. But inside I was torn to shreds and absolutely nothing was right.
Then a pastor dared to ask me the question that began to turn my life on its head, “Might it be an unanswered prayer that has left you feeling disappointed with God?” True to form I burst into tears. This was absolutely the case with me. I had become to be defined by my “how long” question and because God had not answered to my satisfaction therefore it was His fault. I did not doubt that He existed, but I was deeply disappointed in Him. He hadn’t lived up to my ideas of His provision and therefore He was grossly inadequate. I lived in the place of the overcome and all those married around me seemed to live lives full of rejoicing and happiness.
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation, I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:5-6.
I don’t know exactly when it all changed for me. I don’t know exactly what words were shared with me that changed my perspective. I haven’t stopped asking “how long” questions because they are all around me and they affect those I love in deep and profound ways. In fact, I ask along with them. But somewhere along the journey that is my relationship with Christ, my “how long” question was gradually replaced and has even felt like it has been deleted.
And no, I’m not married. My single status hasn’t changed at all. But my attitude towards my single-ness has changed. For too long in my life, I attached my identity and my worth to the label of single or married. In my mind, single was an absolute failure. Married was the benchmark.
Instead, my faithful Father has been revealing Himself in the middle of my journey. It is not about being single or married at all. For me it has been about my identity. Yes I am single. But more importantly, I am a beloved, beautiful daughter of Christ. One who has had her sin washed away by the precious blood of Christ shed on the cross for me. One who is loved with a deep and abiding love. One who has been forgiven much and is called to live a life of deep devotion to Jesus. One who has discovered that obedience to my Lord is more important than anything else. One who knows with certainty that Jesus speaks to me and desires for me to listen and engage in conversation with Him. One who knows that nothing else is as important as the relationship I have with my heavenly Father. I have learned to trust that the Lover of my soul has known me intimately all along. His love is unfailing and therefore my heart can rejoice exactly where it is.
For me, that means my heart rejoices in the midst of my singleness. And I choose to sing. I choose to find the joy. I choose to see the blessings that my life offers me. I choose to be grateful for the experiences that continue to be poured into my life. No matter what, my God is so good to me. His goodness will never end.
At some point, I am sure another “how long” will surface in my life, but I choose to fix my eyes on the Father who walks with me. He knows my “how long” better than I ever will and He will never leave my side.