Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Doing Something Together

"Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper who is just right for him.'" -Genesis 2:18

"It's about doing something together." -MacKenzie, "The Newsroom"

Today is February 19th.  Valentine's Day, that holiday of manufactured affection and sales bumps for the chocolate and diamond industry, is over for another year.  Last Thursday, I took cupcakes with pink frosting and heart sprinkles to the office.  I wore red and lace and smiled and complimented other girls' roses and jewelry and cards, and it was fine.  Honestly.  It really is a made-up holiday, and not one that really bothers me to be alone for anymore.  I'm well practiced at it.

But now, it's over; and since today was a very special day for me last year, I thought I'd write a little bit about what I carry with me in my heart - my fondest hope and dearest petition to my Daddy, God.  

It might not be exactly what you'd think.

When I was in London in 2006, spending the most creative, faith-challenging, and also the loneliest year of my life following God to another country to get my Master's degree, I spent a lot of time listening to a certain pastor and his wife.  (I won't say who it was, because people can get kerfluffled quickly about pastors, and not seeing the forest for the trees is one thing I don't need to be manufacturing, believe me.)  The pastor himself is a spunky, lively man, a former professional musician who sings every chance he gets and whose charmingly infectious laugh comes easily.  His wife is one of the women I want to be when I grow up:  a petite lady, she is nevertheless a powerhouse of faith, supporting, praying over, and edifying her husband and their ministry together.  He is strong where she is weak and she is steadfast when his faith falters.  He often says that she has pit-bull faith and when she grabs onto something God has spoken to her, she won't let it go for anything.  In those long weeks when almost all I did was listen to their messages and spend time in the Word, I asked God to give me pit-bull faith too.  I didn't know what I was asking for at the time, but I'm pretty sure He was listening.

During that summer, they both spoke at a conference with other pastors and leaders of their denomination.  When the pastor got up to introduce his wife, he started out by saying, "This is the woman that God has put by my side." She then went on to deliver a message that, no exaggeration, tangibly changed my life from that day forward.

Let me bottom line it for you:  I've been single for almost all of my 30 years.  I am not afraid to be alone.  In fact, often times I prefer it.  I will isolate myself purposefully:  to pray, to spend time with God, to recharge.  For these many years, it's just been God and me, and praise Him, I know Him better and myself well because of it.  

I don't want to be married just to be married.  I don't want to be married because I want someone to take out the garbage, or change the clocks, or kill bugs, or get things down off high shelves.  (Though in truth, those will be perks - I'm tiny!)  I can manage my own money and make my own decisions.  I'm not afraid to sleep alone in my apartment or go on trips by myself.  I've done it all - I know I can do it. 

I don't want to be married because I'm lonely, or because I'm incomplete, or because I'm waiting for my life to start. I don't even want to be married to have children, necessarily - that's up to God and I don't know where He stands on the subject yet.

I don't need a savior - I already have One.

What I want, what I glimpsed just a glimmer of last year at this time, what my heart cries out to my Daddy, God, for, on Valentine's Day and every other day, is a partner.  A ministry partner.

I look at marriage as a joining together of myself and my ministry partner so that we can live a life together poured out in service to our Lord:  bringing each other closer to God by virtue of who we are, and using the spiritual powerhouse that will be us together to work for good in ways that neither of us could do separately.  We will be doing something together.

During that summer in London, God spoke many things to me about my future life.  I know He is calling me into active, purposeful ministry.  I know He is calling me - in fact, He calls me daily - to step up, to use my passions and my talents and my substance - to minister to others, to help them grow in their faith, to help them see Him and experience His love in new, radical, relevant ways.  He calls every Christian to do this, but He's spoken specifics to me then and now. I'm even pretty well sure on how He wants me to begin my lifelong journey of service to Him - in fact, I've already started.

But I know that there is more for me to do than I can do alone.  I know that there is someone out there with whom I can do more with him as my partner than I could do on my own or that he could do by himself.  I know there is someone whom God is calling in the same way, with the same pull on his heart, with the same love for our Lord and the same desire to step up and serve Him that I have had flickering and burning inside of me like an ember that just won't die, despite the years and struggles and gallons of discouragement heaped on them since those whispers of the Holy Spirit in my dorm room in north London.  Someone who is strong when I am weak, and someone for whom I can be steadfast when his faith falters.  Someone who will be proud to have me by his side and who will be overjoyed to be half of our partnership.

Now, whoever that is, it's up to God to tell him about it.

In the years since London, God has put me through a lot.  Wilderness periods followed by seasons of happiness and blessing, followed by being dragged out into the wilderness again.  Pounding and shaping and molding.  Learning patience, gumption, self-assurance, professionalism, maturity, when to stick my neck out and when to keep quiet; toilet scrubbing, bill paying, getting my oil changed or my tires fixed, how to roast a chicken to perfection or make Eggplant Parmesan from scratch.  Thinking I might know what on God's green earth I'm doing to suddenly having the rug yanked out from under me and hitting rock bottom, hard - more than once.  Learning how to say I'm sorry when I should be, and also learning how to say that really hurt me when it needs to be said.

I can only hope and pray that these years have been preparation for the day when God blesses me abundantly with my ministry partner for life:  the man who will be proud to say "This is the woman that God has put by my side."  Not because my life will begin then, but so that the life that I've lived thus far will add and contribute to the ministry that our life will be as we are doing something together for Him.

"Let us hold to each other until the end of our days." -Rob Thomas, "Now Comes the Night"

"So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  What God has joined together, let no man separate." -Jesus, Matthew 19:6