Blessings of singleness #3: Losing control
In my naïve younger days (about 3 months ago) I managed to convince myself that my desire for control had a fairly loose grip on my heart. Now that I’m 3 months older I can see a little more clearly. The tragic 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 not the 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 knowing there is nothing I can do to change where I am. The world may say otherwise, but the kind of marriage I would want is only possible through an act of God.
I have been taught – from an early age – that I control my own destiny. That if I want something, I can walk out those doors and get it. That I can pursue and achieve anything I set my mind on. That my life is in my hands. This is, after all, the American Dream
When I became a Christian I renounced these beliefs. However, in my heart, I still cling to the lie that I have control over certain things in 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 me back in from my imaginary world where I can make anything happen that I want. I can’t change my facebook status to ‘married’ with a little hard work and will power, and each time I remember this there is a sobering pain that teaches me truth.
Somewhere deep inside we believe that control would be the key to our joy and peace. Life would be better if we controlled it. We manage to set up 90% of our day living in the fantasy that we are going to determine what happens and we spend hours pondering days and years that haven’t occurred and anticipating the decisions we can make to steer and direct the world into our intended path.
My buddy Malachi (who is three) gets the truth a lot better than me. When he wants to eat, he can’t just go get food for himself. Anything and everything he wants he has to ask for and the only way he’ll get it is if his mom or dad get it for him.
What is strange is that I’m actually more dependent on God than Malachi is on his parents, I just happen to live in a time and place that convinces me otherwise. I can’t breathe in or out without His 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 is the 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? Crazy Spirit. Silly Fabs.
The bible says that my very apartment address has been appointed by God and that every day of my life is written by Him and that He is always and in every way holding all things together by the power of His word. There is only One in control, and it is not me. He holds the hearts of Kings in His hand.
Would I want it differently? In these moments, the faces of all the people 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’t control this area of my life I will miss out. In the same way I am anxious about tomorrow because I am worried that if it doesn’t turn out as 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’s someone who is constantly working every detail of every day and the hearts of every man for my good.
There is nothing more gracious than areas of our lives that remind us that we don’t have control. Praise the Lord that I don’t have control over my marital status. The pain of losing control reminds me that I actually never had control – in any aspect of my life. Some of you reading that might find it offensive, but it’s so gloriously liberating.
Do you know why people loved college so much? Or high school? Or their childhood? Because it was back in the days when you didn’t have to bear the burden of your life on your shoulders. People could direct you and lead you and you would just be faithful with what was handed to you.
Good news. This is the life of a Christian. My Father is working everything out. He will provide for me. Today, I have everything I need 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 of me.
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. Because He promised to give you what was good and best and the key to your ultimate joy – and He’s going to do that, despite your attempts to sabotage your life.
We’ll waste this suffering if we look to our ‘odds’ for hope instead of trusting in Jesus. We’ll waste it if we think the key to our joy is taking control instead of trusting. I know this tendency. It produces every kind of evil in coveting and questioning: why is that girl married and not me? What if I don’t go to this party tonight and so I stay single? Don’t I have to put myself out there more? If I go to the nations, how will i meet a husband?
Hear God today:
Seek first the Kingdom and everything else you need will be yours
Let those who suffer according to God’s will, entrust themselves to a faithful creator and keep doing good.
God’s mission calls. It is the purpose of our lives. Press on for the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Do not be distracted by details of marital status. Do not be kept out of the fight because by fear of missing out on a date. Seek the great glory of God.