I was sitting on the veranda, my view stretching out over the whole garden; the tree house was on my left, the vegetable patch on my right. I was pondering on British weather for the Remembrance Sunday parade as Malawian weather was at its peak and I was roasting, especially with my knees covered and my feet drinking up the sun’s heat. As had become my morning ritual, I was writing a letter to God in my journal. But on this morning, it struck me.
As I read back through my journal, I realised how many times I had used the word ‘I’; how I had ceaselessly told God about my problems and how he could fix them. My journal was such an arrogant muddle of my difficulties; chiefly focussing on the question I seem to ask a lot: ‘why haven’t I found someone yet?’
‘Seeking a godly man in itself is not a bad thing’, I have always told myself. And in essence, yes, that is true. Being a godly woman and trying to find a godly man to complement your life is far from a bad pursuit. But when I read back in that journal, I realised how much that consumed me. Entries would read something along the lines of ‘please find me a godly man with all these attributes [insert three page long list of things I wanted in a future husband]’ with a short ‘oh yeah, and I love you, God’ as an almost afterthought. I was reading endless articles about singleness and praying ‘please God, don’t make me be called to it’.
So it was on this day (11th November 2012) that I decided enough was enough. I made a vow, if you will that the next year of my life was not going to be my own but God’s. Relationships were off the cards. Completely. I told one person, my best friend, of my plan (other than God, of course) so that she’d be able to keep me accountable and so she could pray. I wasn’t going to allow myself to consider a relationship. I was going to dedicate the entire year to pursuing God.
At the time, I knew how incredibly difficult this was going to be for me. I spend half of my time talking about marriage and babies, and the other half hoping that someone would bring it up so that I could talk about it more. Ashamed as I am to say it, I have been to Christian events and spent a good chunk of time looking round for men who might possibly maybe perhaps one day be my husband.
But in spite of ensuing difficulty, I endeavoured to persevere.
I was ready to embrace my singleness and wait in the sure knowledge that God had better plans for me.
And He totally did. Believe me, He did.
This year has been one of the most amazing years in my life. Granted, not solely for that reason; I’ve moved to and from Malawi, moved to Durham for university, grown as a person and in my maturity, made new friends and done things I had never done before.
Before making this decision – and if I’m honest, quite a few times during the last year – my identity was in being single. I defined myself by my lack of relationship and put the object of being married as an idol above God.
Am I going to treat my marital status as an idol ever again? Of course. I’m not perfect. I’m not going to pretend that just one year has completely transformed my way of thinking forever.
But perhaps now, I can walk into a church without thinking with hope that maybe my future husband is somewhere in this room. I can see another Facebook status about someone’s engagement and be overjoyed by the gift of marriage for them and not have to feel alone and envious. I can know that my identity is in Christ and that I am the apple of His eye, the crown of His creation and the daughter of the King of Kings.
I’m never going to be the perfect wife. And I’m never going to find a perfect husband.
There’s only one person that will ever complete me. Only one man that can ever fully satisfy everything I need. Only one who would give everything for me, no questions asked.
His name is Jesus. And He’s already given it all.