Many more Readers responded to my previous post than I can feature here in this follow-up! I want to thank you all so much for your feedback. Much of life is less a problem to be solved than it is a journey to be walked and shared. Thank you all for taking a few moments to walk along with my anonymous friend in her journey. And on behalf of every friend in your own lives, along whose side you have walked, through all kinds of painful circumstances and situations – I say a sincere thank you. Continue to uphold each other with loving, generous, reciprocal support in the Name and character of Jesus.
Here are just a few of the many responses I received to the post 36, Single, Chaste, …and Miserable.
From an anonymous reader:
In reading your friend’s words, I felt like I was reading my own story. 34, single, wanting to find a man of faith and conviction, a man willing to hold high standards for me as a wife and father to my children, but finding them seemingly nowhere. My heart aching a little more with each photo of a new engagement or new baby on the way, because I know with every passing year, (in the natural at least) it feels like time is running out for me. I wonder if it is too late for me too. If my opportunity has passed, and like her, it makes me angry and hurt. And I appreciate your honest, loving, but not condescending approach. And the warning to not settle is still as true. It’s not as worth it as you think. It’s like wearing a cubic zirconia ring instead of a diamond. It works for a while, and can fool the unassuming eye, but eventually the luster fades.
From another anonymous reader:
I know so many people (myself included) that relate to this so I had to share it. I’m glad she reached out to you and I’m glad your response was Godly wisdom and not empty platitudes.
From a dear family friend and long-time former co-worker, Kaci Lesley, who gave me permission to identify her here. I asked if I could do so, because I wanted to link you all to Kaci’s blog. Check it out; she writes about highly relevant things like this and more.
I completely understand your friend’s response to your post. I may not have any wisdom, but I can speak to that hurt/disappointment. There have been several areas of my life that I’ve felt this same way towards Christians (who only spoke truth) and God.
The first time I felt a pull or frustration towards pastors/teachers was when they would tell us that “we are all beautiful”. But the truth was, I didn’t fit the world’s view of beauty. I was overweight, wore big glasses, etc. I knew that God thought I was pretty and maybe my parents… but I KNEW the world didn’t. Honestly, I knew the pastor/youth leaders that were saying it to me also knew that I didn’t fit the worldly mold of “pretty”. That was frustrating. It made it hard for me to believe that some man was one day going to think I was beautiful and worth loving. Just being honest. I can remember sitting in the audience during a high school retreat hearing the college leaders share about their masks of “not being pretty/smart/athletic enough” or whatever, but to me they really were things… while I still definitely wasn’t.
I don’t know if this is making sense…
Another area of my life was waiting to be married and staying pure. OF COURSE that was hard and frustrating. At times, I wondered why I was keeping myself pure at all. I mean seriously, it was tough. ESPECIALLY when girls who I grew up with had slept around, partied, and “lived it up” while I sat at home with my parents trying to stay pure started cleaning up their lives and falling in love with and marrying strong Christian men. I was DONE.
That was a breaking point for me. I was so upset with God. I, too, had stopped talking to Him about marriage and purity. I just figured I would probably live the single life. Oh my how that Scripture about being single got on my nerves!
But God really snagged my heart with the story of the prodigal son. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was so angry with Him when yet AGAIN a crazy girlfriend had gotten engaged. I was beyond upset with God. I felt forgotten, left out, and more. I felt like I was trying to stay pure when nobody else seemed to care and was getting ZERO blessings from my efforts.
I sat down and told Him I was upset. I told Him I didn’t appreciate being forgotten. His response to me was life-changing. He reminded me of the older brother who stayed home in the prodigal son story. He said (I’m paraphrasing) “Kaci, you are My child. You are not forgotten. You have not wasted a moment of your life. What you have is an inheritance of a relationship with ME. Don’t disregard what we have. I love you.” That changed everything.
Well, it didn’t exactly change everything. I mean, I still lived the single life for another six years after He told me that. I still got frustrated hearing about purity at times. But He always gently reminded me of what I DID HAVE. And that relationship that I built with Him all those years has carried me through some other tough times that came after marriage! Like waiting and not being able to have a child, and more.
I don’t know if this helps. But I do know what it feels like to hear Christians say things and be annoyed, frustrated, and even MAD at God. But I also know if I had to choose Him over anything this life has to offer, despite the pain of it, I still would.
From another dear family friend and former co-worker, Lauren Marquez. In addition to being an incredibly Godly woman who has a remarkable sensitivity to God’s Spirit, Lauren is also a licensed Christian counselor, so I thought her perspective would be valuable to share as well:
Thank you so much for sharing this person’s message with me. I wish I had a clear response. My first thought is that I just want to sit with her in her pain and be with her. These heartfelt responses can be so difficult to share across the internet. It seems to call for a presence more than words.
After sitting in and sharing the person’s pain, I would thank her for her honesty. I would thank her for showing me a view of chastity that I have never experienced. I would ask her what helps her in this struggle, and how she would suggest that pastors could be more aware and sensitive about this issue. I would open myself to becoming the student, and her the teacher. I would seek to learn from her and see what doors may open to share or affirm hope and encouraging truth about the God she knows who loves her and hears her.
You and Dianna also draw from living a life of faith in the midst of painful and difficult circumstances. I am reminded of that faith that sustained you when you experienced miscarriages. I see a parallel in that and this woman’s pain.
God has created us uniquely with different callings and opportunities in the lives of others through that. My response may be similar and different than yours. Your response is valued. I trust His Spirit in you and your heart to seek Him as His vessel of comfort in her life. Praise God that He made the way for her to share some of this pain with you.
And finally, here’s my own personal response:
The truth is… I don’t have the solution for this… I wish I did. But I do know that giving up and settling (no matter the issue) only opens the door to deeper pain and greater regret. Never give up! Remain strong (and protected by) the honor, integrity, and faithful devotion to Jesus that you have fought for and maintained throughout your life to this point.
I think that at least part of an answer would be to identify a close female friend and Christ-follower – maybe an older spiritual mentor-type person – someone who has also walked the road of singleness and chastity and the frustration of waiting upon the Lord – someone who can share with you not only the ministry of words, but also of presence (like Lauren said above) – real physical and emotional presence, with you, right where you are. Someone with whom you could feel free to be gut-level honest, with whom you could fully vent the frustrations of your experience, knowing that you would be valued and received with love, just as you are.
And then, to be open to praying regularly with that friend about what you are experiencing, leaning into God through the pain, not withdrawing from Him because of it. And then, to be open to the words of truth, and comfort, and challenge, and encouragement that the Lord may want to speak to you through that person’s friendship.
Please, keep the feedback coming! I want to hear from you all on this; we must never stop supporting each other in our journeys through life’s painful and frustrating circumstances. How have you maintained your hope and your faith in God through life’s disappointments, heartbreaks, and tragedies?