In my naïve younger days (about three months ago), I managed to convince myself that my desire for control had a fairly loose grip on my heart.Now that I’m three months older, I can see a little more clearly. Thetragic truth is that so much of my life is designed to maximize my sense of control.
Praise the Lord for the kindness of singleness, which costs me control in a huge area of my life.
Most life stages are chosen. But for many single folks, this is notthe case. Singleness is the default. It’s the life stage we are all in until we are removed from it by choices we make. I didn’t choose to be single. And so there’s this pain or anxiety that comes with knowingthere is nothing I can do to change where I am. The world may sayotherwise, but the kind of marriage I would want is only possiblethrough an act of God.
I have been taught—from an early age—that I control my owndestiny. That if I want something, I can walk out those doors and getit. That I can pursue and achieve anything I set my mind on. That mylife is in my hands. This is, after all, the American Dream.
When I became a Christian, I renounced these beliefs. However, in myheart, I still cling to the lie that I have control over certain thingsin my life. I believe I have control over my schedule and my day and my life. The pain of losing control in singleness constantly reels meback in from my imaginary world where I can make anything happen that Iwant. I can’t change my Facebook status to "married" with a little hard work and willpower, and each time I remember this, there is a soberingpain that teaches me truth.
Somewhere deep inside we believe control would be the key to our joy and peace. Life would be better if we controlled it. We manage to set up 90 percent of our day living in the fantasy that we are going todetermine what happens, and we spend hours pondering days and years thathaven’t occurred, anticipating the decisions we can make to steer and direct the world into our intended path.
My buddy Malachi (who is 3) gets the truth a lot better than me.When he wants to eat, he can’t just go get food for himself. Anythingand everything he wants, he has to ask for, and the only way he’ll get itis if his mom or dad get it for him.
What is strange is that I’m actually more dependent on Godthan Malachi is on his parents—I just happen to live in a time andplace that convinces me otherwise. I can’t breathe in or out withoutHis power and grace. I think I can get food for myself, but I can’t. I can’t do anything apart from Him.
My favorite part about the pain of losing control in singleness isthe moment in the car, or in my apartment on an especially low day when I attribute my frustration with singleness to it being the one thing I can’t control.
It’s my favorite part because it takes about 10 seconds of sitting in that angst before I hear the challenge from the Spirit: Is it really? Is this the one part of your life that you don’t control?
The Bible says my very apartment address has been appointed byGod and every day of my life is written by Him and He isalways and in every way holding all things together by the power of Hisword. There is only One in control, and it is not me. He holds thehearts of Kings in His hand.
Would I want it differently? In these moments, the faces of all thepeople I might have married if I was in "control" flash before my eyes. And I cringe a little. And worship a little.
I’m afraid of not having control. I’m worried that because I can’tcontrol this area of my life, I will miss out. In the same way I amanxious about tomorrow because I am worried that if it doesn’t turn outas I need it to, I will lose something or miss something or not gain what I need.
I’m afraid that if I don’t have control, no one has control. But this isn’t true. Someone is in control. Someone who is fully wise and fully able and competent. Someone who never sleeps. And guess what—He’ssomeone who is constantly working every detail of every day and thehearts of every man for my good.
There is nothing more gracious than areas of our lives that remind us we don’t have control. Praise the Lord that I don’t have controlover my marital status. The pain of losing control reminds me Iactually never had control—in any aspect of my life. Some of youreading that might find it offensive, but it’s so gloriously liberating.
Do you know why people loved college so much? Or high school? Ortheir childhood? Because it was back in the days when you didn’t haveto bear the burden of your life on your shoulders. People could directyou and lead you, and you would just be faithful with what was handed toyou.
Good news: this is the life of a Christian. My Father is workingeverything out. He will provide for me. Today, I have everything Ineed for life and godliness. Today, nothing good has been withheld from me. Today, He is ordaining every detail of my day for my good. Today, I don’t need to be anxious about anything because He will take care ofme.
The answer to the "why am I single" question is always: Because Jesus loves you. Because this is Him giving you what you need for today. Because this is the only way you’re going to finish this race. BecauseHe promised to give you what was good and best and the key to yourultimate joy—and He’s going to do that, despite your attempts tosabotage your life.
We’ll waste this suffering if we look to our "odds" for hope insteadof trusting in Jesus. We’ll waste it if we think the key to our joy istaking control instead of trusting. I know this tendency. It producesevery kind of evil in coveting and questioning: Why is that girlmarried and not me? What if I don’t go to this party tonight and so Istay single? Don’t I have to put myself out there more? If I go to the nations, how will I meet a husband?
God’s mission calls. It is the purpose of our lives. Press on forthe goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Do not be distracted by details like marital status. Do not be kept out of thefight by fear of missing out on a date, but seek the greater glory ofGod.
Fabienne Harford lives in Austin, Texas, where she works on staff atThe Austin Stone Community Church. You can find more thoughts from Fabsat fabsharford.com.