Singles Training #3: How to View Yourself

103943824I am a child of the King.

Say it again.

I am a child of the King.

Keep saying it.

I am a child of the King.

Look up Zephaniah 3:17 while you do it.

I am a child of the King.

And Romans 8:31-39.

I am a child of the King.

And all of Luke 15.

I am a child of the King.

Dear longing single, you are going to need this knowledge. You are going to your identity in Christ embedded deep in your soul. The favor, the privilege, the delight you hold in the eyes of God. The bewilderingly good fortune that God chose to rescue us from the filth and consequence of our sin. Learn it, marinate in it, embed it deep in your soul.

And you’re going to need it for more than just finding the right mate. 

That’s the way singles’ advice usually employs your identity: to help you make a quality pick. You are God’s daughter (or son), you deserve the best, so don’t settle for anything less. All that. It’s certainly true (although I would add that it’s only God’s incredible grace that makes us “deserving” of anything).

But it’s rarely mentioned how much marriage itself will require of you.

In this entire series thus far, I’ve been quite conscious that I’m speaking better than I know. I’m single. Marriage is, for me, an abstract instead of an experience. I’m book-smart about it, not street-smart. But when I prayed many years ago, in the shadow of my parents’ divorce, to be initiated and guided so that I would build a good family myself one day, I believe God honored that prayer. He’s revealed to me a great deal of wisdom, through Scripture, through breaking into my quiet moments, and through life’s dance with people around me. Thanks to the transformative nature of waiting, I’ve learned much, even as a single, about what marriage will demand of me.

Yes, demand.

Alarmingly, it seems to be assumed that finding the right person will let you sidestep most problems. It will certainly let you sidestep many. The ardor of love can certainly sweep away any worry for a while. “We’re soulmates. It’s like she was born to understand my soul. We can handle anything!”

But they don’t say “marriage is a mirror” for no reason.

Have you noticed they don’t say that about relationships? Going from a relationship to a marriage is like going from a few hours of missions orientation to the actual field. All of a sudden, every flaw, quirk, and nuance of your teammates explodes into a glaring thorn, frustrating us, disappointing us, demanding of us, exposing us. Relationships are junior varsity compared to this, and it’s all that we singles know.

Like an FBI background check, the rigor and vulnerability of baring body and soul to another human will reveal who we really are. And if that who-we-are is not hooked, integrated, made one with Christ…

Well let’s just say this whole “compatibility will fix everything” idea has a lot of singles headed for a minefield.

I cannot overstate how the advantages of going into matrimony with your identity in Christ established. When your security is in Christ and his love for you, you won’t be enslaved to your partner’s opinion of you. You won’t need it to be a ten all the time. (It won’t be, by the way, and thats quite normal, even healthy.) You won’t be dragged back and forth emotionally trying to please your mate, which indeed would only frustrate and annoy them further. Someone who can function even in those gnarly times…thats someone eho will earn respect.

In fact, someone who is “fully rooted and grounded in Christ” is willing to let a mate peer right into their raw, broken depths. God and his grace are what keeps them full at night, so they have less fear of being vulnerable. They’re not constantly shutting out their partner or scrambling to cover up their mistakes. And by “raw” and “broken”, I mean the truly ugly stuff that only announces itself within marriage, the stuff that makes you panic because you had no idea it was even down there and oh shoot, now we’re stuck here for life, what are we going to do? Truly, singles, there are some marriages that never recover from the first year’s barrage of this.

People who rely on God’s love aren’t thrown by it. It may not be easy, but it isn’t a death sentence; marital comfort is important, but not everything, to them. So they’re free to make the tough calls. When confrontation is called for, or a request for space, or apology, there’s less pressure and more freedom to do whats necessary. You don’t want to end up needing comfort in a marriage more than anything else.

And the key to avoiding that prison is being built up in Christ, so that if you must stare risk or loss or repentance in the face, you know that God will be there.

Are you starting to see the transformative power of a Christ-based heart? It can bring grace and forgiveness to the other person and itself, instead of anger and the demand to perform. It can give a partner space, won’t be threatened by them having a life (to a healthy degree, of course). Yes, the other person matters. Tremendously, deeply. But if they make him or her their entire life, place the entire burden of happiness there, weird things start happening. What looks like reaching for life becomes a chasing after the wind.

I know some of you don’t know how to do anything else even in your relationships. And when things go south, you assume you just haven’t found the right partner yet, that your true soulmate will react well to what you’re doing. The world has plied its lie well: “Love is the greatest treasure. Everything else can be faced once you’ve got that, so secure it at all costs.” It will never deliver. Not once the other person reveals their humanity. Even compatible and caring people get rocked by insecurity and lack of self respect, blossoming and permuting into all kinds of strange trials. The sinking sand is revealed.

But when you know of God’s love for you…oh, the freedom that brings.

You have God’s sonship, steady if your wife criticizes.

You have God’s craftsmanship, constant if your husband forgets to notice.

You have God’s grace, forgiving when your spouse does not.

You have God’s purpose, unfailing when your partner withdraws.

You have God’s power for your marriage, reliable when you have to risk shaking things up.

You have God’s spirit, finishing its great work when you’ve failed yet again.

You have God’s destiny, irrevocable when you see no hope.

How could we have ever seen anything else as our treasure?

Learn this. Explore this. Find out his pet name for you. Ask him about his purpose for you. Practice it when others disappoint you. Let the struggles of singleness drive you back to it. Meditate, dwell, affix, obsess, persevorate on this until it is so cemented in your soul that nothing can threaten it.

You are a child of the King.

 

Part 4 of 5 coming on July 14. Please pray for me and my team as we minister in the Czech Republic this month!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 4

Part 5

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