The Pangs of Keen Desire3:01 AM
She's supposed to be writing on happy topics for happy Christian women -- that's her job, after all, to pretend that happily married women with happy children and happy homes have real problems (like her), that they have time to read about loneliness and the problem of evil (all she ever thinks about), that they can relate to a woman single for thirty years, typing bitterly at a decrepit Acer with a faded polka dot blanket over her shoulders and a blinking cat.
She's not writing about happy topics. She's reeling because she fell in love again with somebody who didn't want to again and all the cards that were stacked up in her favor in reality were stacked up against her and she was too stupid and hopeful (the same thing) to notice in time.
With keyboard and red eyes, she's crusading against the pat answers: "I'm sure there's somebody out there for you," "God must have someone better in mind," "Just give it to God," "Keep waiting." They're lies, all of them, lies, and liars all. Because an invisible future someone cannot replace the real one lost -- an imaginary future love cannot soothe the present, soon-to-be-past love.
And this one, this one angers her the most: "At least you have God."
God! Since when does His love count for anything?
I know there are a million horrible things wrong with being single (so I've heard), but if I could pick my biggest fear about singleness, it isn't that I won't be loved or won't have my own home or will be overwhelmed by Walmart's stacks of chocolate and red roses on Valentine's Day. It is this, and it terrifies me: becoming so bitter that God becomes less.
As a seventeen-year-old who cannot fully absorb the pain of living life unmarried, it's frightening the kind of despair I see among single Christian women -- and the kind of things people say to comfort them.
"Well, even if nobody ever loves you, at least God will."
"Well, if the One doesn't come along, you can be Jesus' girlfriend!"
"Well, just stick with God until he shows up."
Actually -- though I can in no way disrespect a woman's very real pain -- what disturbs me most isn't that it's tacky comfort and cuts deeply to hurting women. It's the role they've relegated God -- second-best. Leftovers. Some unlucky people get stuck with God only, and we smile politely and say, How privileged! How wonderful! and think, Poor thing.
When did God become second-rate? When did things and people become of greater value than God Himself? When did the offer of God, who breathed out stars and spoke light and knit flesh, become a cliched response from well-meaning ignoramuses?
She got the man. She got the looks. She got the fame. She got the fortune. She got her dreams. She got the normal life. And we? We got stuck with God.
That frightens me -- to be so overwhelmed with what I don't have that I justify idolatry, breed bitterness and view God as second-best. To love the created rather than the Creator, to thank Him for all He's given instead of all His is, to be blind to the treasure of having God within. So I'm pressing into God that He would become my greatest desire, my biggest dream, that nothing, nothing, nothing -- not even the aches inside me, not even the things that scream out for realization -- nothing would tempt me to cry I "only" have God. And I pray it wouldn't be a cliche, it wouldn't be half-hearted piety, but it would be the new reality of placing everything I am and everything I want in the One who always satisfies, always loves, always stays the same.
And shall I pray thee change thy will, Father,
Until it be according unto mine?
But no, Lord, no, that never shall be,
Rather I pray thee blend my human will with thine.
I pray thee hush the hurrying, eager longing,
I pray thee soothe the pangs of keen desire,
See in my quiet places wishes thronging,
Forbid them, Lord, purge, though it be with fire.
And work in me to will and do thy pleasure,
Let all within me, peaceful, reconciled,
Tarry content my Wellbeloved's leisure,
At last, at last, even as a weaned child.
- These Strange Ashes, by Elisabeth Elliot