Last week through twitter I happened to come across an article on singleness. (Let me say upfront that although I’m using that as a springboard, this post isn’t about singleness, but rather each of our different longings. Because let’s be so honest, that is one of many longings left unmet. Okay, I feel better now. Grin.) Before reading it all the way through I quickly glanced through bits and pieces and the sweet girl who put herself out there had mentioned that she was 23 years old. A couple hours later when I had a moment, I actually read the entire post but realized her age had been removed.
And then I got to the comments.
It was no wonder that she removed her age because the first comment that I laid my eyes on was from someone ripping her to shreds for writing an article on singleness at the age of 23. What did she know? They were 34 and had waited a lot longer. How dare she?
Instantly I got defensive for this poor girl because a) I know all too well what it’s like to put yourself out there to then get slammed by the people instead of built up and b) since when was there an age limit that we could talk about singleness? Since when could we not express our desires until we had been labeled an expert? I didn’t comment because my blood pressure was too high and I’m pretty sure I would have said things I would have later regretted, but here is what I know and I would have said to that sweet girl if I could go back to that post:
The longings the Lord gives us are real. I don’t care if you’re 16 or 67, each desire and longing the Lord puts in us in something we have to lay down every single day.
At 23 I thought the world was ending because no one had put a ring on my finger. It was right after college that I was swimming in the deep end of all things weddings because that was the age that I watched seven of my close friends walk down the aisle to their beloved. Every turn I took I ran into another wedding, and with great joy, mind you, but I was reminded that I too had a longing that had yet to be fulfilled. If there was ever a time I could have said, “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” that would have been it.
Following that year, I’ve learned a lot about myself, grown a lot and matured in many ways regarding my present season, but I don’t discredit that year any more than I do this year.
When we are vulnerable, I don’t think we’re asking for someone to slam us into the pavement, rather, we need to hear, “I understand.”, “I’ve been there, too.”, “There is hope!” “I’m so sorry you’re hurting.” and “You are not alone.” While I need people speaking truth to me every day and believing for me when I’m weary and tired, I also just want people to listen without fixing or listen without giving me their go to Jesus answer. We know God is sovereign, God is good and God has not forgotten us when life looks strangely dim, but we also need a safe place to share our longings and not be shamed for feeling alone, or misunderstood. There’s a time and place for correction and truth, but when compassion is extended, even if we don’t fully understand, that’s when ministry happens. Heaven forbid we become people who throw the first stone at those who are trying to live honest lives.
Last week I happened to have a little more alone time than usual and in some silence, I realized I had let a handful of anxiety slip into unnecessary areas of my life. I was achy and although on the outside things looked peachy, my insides were a hot mess. Later on in the week after I had the wherewithal to put my thoughts to paper (which doesn’t always happen, by the way) and I was able to make some sense of the stirrings I continually sit with. The truth is, I know I can sound like a broken record, and maybe you feel like that too, but in reality, no amount of freedom, success, friends, right words, traveling, passions, sleeping in (all of the perks of singleness) can suppress a deep longing that gets left untouched. (This is true of any deep longing in any season of life.) That list of pros are things I pursue and do all the time, but it doesn’t fill the void where some true longings lay dormant. This I do know, some longings are to be placed at the feet of Jesus everyday, it’s a faith journey and a trust walk that honestly gets more personal every year. This is true for every longing or dream that’s been shattered whether you’re 20 or 72. The thing of it is, when we entrust ourselves to Jesus, we don’t get to pick and choose how He develops our character to reflect Him. That’s where faith comes in. Trusting that He really does know best and do best.
But at my ripe age of 28, I’ve also learned that every longing inside of us, though we may not know it at the time, is a deeper longing for Jesus Himself. An emptiness He’s put there that can only be met by His love and mercy. When we’re dry and weary, we really want Jesus. When we’re discouraged and lonely, we really want Jesus. When we’re hungry and searching for something, anything to sustain us, we really want Jesus. A day is coming when every longing we’ve ever had will be met by Jesus Himself. That alone gives us some joyful expectation and hope.
Instead of hitting on an already bruised soul, might we extend some kindness and ministry to those that share with us so tenderly? Let us be the ones to remind them that God really does withhold no good thing, and if He is withholding something, as much confusion and pain as it brings at that time, it is ultimately for our good. We’re all deeply flawed humans just trying to get along with and love other deeply flawed humans. Kind words, tender hugs, and a chance to weep with those who weep goes a long way in a cruel and unkind world.
So to you who have an unmet longing, whether it be a husband you long to share life with, a child you long to bring into your home whether through adoption or naturally, a wound from a relationship that is still so fresh and you’re longing for the redemption of a bruised heart, a longing for a dream or passion to come true that’s laid dormant for years, a longing to do something you’ve been waiting to do, a longing to move up in your career, the longing to grieve something you’ve lost, whatever it is, to you I say:
Your longing is safe with Jesus, and please, Lord, I pray you’re longing is safe with us. You can weep for what has yet come to pass. You can be honest. You can rejoice when that thing for which you’ve prayed so long comes to fruition. You can talk about it in the here and now. You don’t have to talk about an unknown future. Sometimes the hardest question to answer when our lives are spinning is, “What’s next?” We want to know, “What’s now?” What is Jesus doing in you today in the midst of your unmet longing? Here you have permission to be honest. You have a voice.
Because Jesus cares. Jesus is holding every tear. Every unmet longing. And Jesus is working everything out for your good and for His glory. Lean into him. Do what it takes to trust him, whether that means putting yourself out there or keeping it in the secret parts between you and God. Your longings are not foreign to Him. To you and to myself I say, God is so faithful, dear sister. Take heart.
1 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
9 Those who want to kill me will be destroyed;
they will go down to the depths of the earth.
10 They will be given over to the sword
and become food for jackals.
11 But the king will rejoice in God;
all who swear by God will glory in him,
while the mouths of liars will be silenced.
Psalm 63: 1-11
9 O Lord, all my longing is before you;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me,
and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.
11 My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague,
and my nearest kin stand far off.
12 Those who seek my life lay their snares;
those who seek my hurt speak of ruin
and meditate treachery all day long.
13 But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear,
like a mute man who does not open his mouth.
14 I have become like a man who does not hear,
and in whose mouth are no rebukes.
15 But for you, O Lord, do I wait;
it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
16 For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me,
who boast against me when my foot slips!”