We must each decide when holding on is mere stubbornness, when holding on is mere refusal to accept what is painfully obvious. We must each wrestle with the facts at hand, and decide whether it is wise to press on, or wiser to turn back. Not every relationship that starts must end in marriage. In fact, most do not and should not. I realize that whatever wisdom these words may hold they are small comfort to the longing heart—but they are true.
The truth is we all want what we want when we want it. We are hard pressed that God may actually orchestrate those things that hinder a relationship. But as our hearts are so easily fooled, He is careful to redirect us. Sometimes a relationship looks so good except for…well, you know. I know! We all have had those moments of inexplicable doubt. Sometimes it all looks so good that it is the most miserable thing to find one thing that hinders. Sometimes it all looks so good, but then the qualities of character are just not there. If God is trying to hinder you, if the Lord has revealed reasons for pause, pause. Pause! Be hindered!
The truth of the matter does not make the decision easier. For the most part, our hearts do not struggle with attachment. The longing of each heart means that at the hint of shared feelings sparks may fly. Our hearts are readied hearth waiting for the spark, kindling ready to burst into flames. You may truly be in love, but that says very little. It means only that your heart has been moved. This has value, but the heart is also moved by less noble things. Who conceives the frantic girls hurling themselves at the Beatles as truly “in love” with the Beatles?
It is God’s way to ask of us that which we treasure, that which is closest to our hearts, that which we hold dear. He does this not because He wants to plague us, but because our hearts sometimes deceive us. Our darkened hearts sometimes cling to that which in the light of day might be seen for what it is. We are sometimes fools “in love.”
He does not require the things we love because we love them, but sometimes we love them all the more simply because He requires them of us. We want what we want sometimes because we cannot have it. Or, as Rich Mullins puts it, “I’d rather fight you for something I don’t really want than to take what you give that I need.”
be easier if all we had to let go were the things we did not want, the things that held no place in our hearts. Then it would take only common sense to see that this or that relationship was not good for us—not meant to be.
I must confess I disdained God’s barriers, His hindrances to relationships, and the hedges He placed there. I hated letting go of someone that seemed so wonderful, never mind those things that were there to hinder me. But I came to revel in them. In the not so distant past, I did my best to go around these hindrances; anything but simply take them as they are and dare I say—wait. Waiting has never been my strong suit and I have never been accused of excessive patience. No, I wanted, as we all do, what I wanted when I wanted it, or in the case of relationships, who I wanted when I wanted them.
Sometimes the desires of our hearts amount to only that—desires. They amount to unfulfilled longings that linger long enough to fester. Sometimes our plans do not work out. Sometimes the person we love does not love us in the same way or at the same time or circumstances get in the way. There are a million reasons that relationships fail, and a million more reasons that we prolong the agony.
When we are seeking the love of our lives the words “just friends” can tear flesh. But sometimes we are better off as “just friends”, and these words can be kindness. This is true only if we are willing to accept that we will not get everything we want when we want it and in the way we want it. This is only true when we mature. Ouch! I know. No telling when I will get there.
Children expect their every effort to yield benefit. Adults understand that life is a process of learning and learning is a process of error correction. It is no travesty to enter into the wrong relationship, but it may be quite tragic to remain there beyond the point of wisdom.
Never step over wisdom to accommodate, “Who knows?” not when YOU KNOW! Don’t entertain possibilities when you see that all roads are blocked. Don’t tear through barricades and hope that repairs are made before it comes time to face the closed bridge ahead.
These hindrances, the obstacles we will encounter, they are helpers in the goal of self-control and aides towards temperance. I used to hate the setbacks as though they were only evil constraints, now I thank God for them. You will know when He removes the hindrances. For now covet them as guarantees and trust them as safeguards. The way I see it, He loved me and cared enough to hinder me. Sometimes He is saving us from ourselves, from self-destruction. Sometimes He is saving us from more than we might care to know.
We want every desire fulfilled, to succeed at every task, and in that area, that tough area of relationships; everyone would like things to go their way. I don’t believe we could bear up under such a blessing. With our frail minds and corrupt hearts, we could not avoid asking for the things that might destroy us. We could not help but pursue the people who simply tantalize our eyes, stir our hearts, or fit our dreams, while leaving our souls barren.
Sometimes, sadly, it was this permissiveness I demanded of God. But this unflinching obedience to my desires would have destroyed me if given free reign. Fortunately love, despite my feeble attempts to constrain it and make it my pawn, tempered the blessings. Love opened and love closed, God permitted and God denied. If He is trying to hinder you, if the Lord has revealed reasons for pause—pause. Pause! Be hindered!
There is no doubt that sin is involved in human affairs and false ideas may help shape loneliness. Your desires may come from a desire to belong and to gain in this world a symbol of success—marriage. You may even crave a person simply because they present to you an opportunity to fit in, to belong, or to overcome the awkward feelings of singleness. You may desire someone because they fit the image you have constructed though you really do not know that person.
A person may be perfect on paper, but no one marries paper, at least no one should. That person may be perfect in dreams, but life is not lived in dreams. They may have desirable qualities, but nothing is sure until you walk down the aisle and say, “I do.” Until then, do not ignore the various ways in which God offers advice—the many ways in which He hinders.
At thirty these words meant something different than they did at forty. They mean something different now than they will at fifty and more. It is a little easier to step back and continue waiting when tomorrow seems ever future and plentiful. In youth, the relational ocean seems deep and wide. Over time the desire becomes a longing and the longing an ache, a painful fear that relief may not be in sight, at least not soon. Then, it is even more difficult to turn seemingly “qualified” candidates away. I do understand this. It becomes even more difficult to heed the hindrances that suggest these candidates are not “qualified.” I realize this.
And yet, the same God who sees us through our thirties walks with us in our forties. The truth is, if we want the person of His choosing, we must wait on the Lord. It is okay that doubt walks hand in hand with faith, as lon
g as faith leads.
This article was first published on Crosswalk.com Wednesday, February 17, 2010.
Apology accepted. We all have pain, and each pain is different. I feel for you. This very pain is what I write most about, and I write about it most because I feel it is ignored or squelched. The happy Christian life is not supposed to have pain. This is why I chose “Content but not Satisfied” as the title for the book, because it sums it up for me. It is possible to life a content life IN Christ but be dissatisfied with the life we experience. God bless.
I am sorry. I have been having great problems keeping my perspective. I am weary of being strong. And of It’s obvious you don’t deserve what was said. Sorry.
I didn’t think it posted. It seemed to disappear as soon as I wrote it. I was relieved that it wasn’t there but now I see it was.
Again I am sorry.
I am sorry for you pain. There is no condemnation here. There is only wise counsel (hopefully). This is not to say don’t date or leave a relationship. This is simply an attempt to help those who are stuck in the midst of doing what the know they should do, but can’t. Some relationships are indeed toxic. Others are wonderful. My encouragement is not to linger in one that is toxic simply because there seems to be nothing else. Sometimes the things going wrong are (not always) God’s way of saying–get out.
I am sorry but I find no use in this or God’s restrictions. I have NO romantic relationships to have lost. No single man in Christian circles in decades expresses even remote interest in me short of passing insincere flirtation. Yet I am told by girlfriends, male relatives and even a psychotherapist that I am attractive and worth pursuing. I have had blind dates with men who aren’t Christians who treated me better than most male Christian friends. But of course I’m not supposed to be unequally yoked. This does not happen in a vacuum:
I lost both parents over the last 15 months. I dread the holidays for the first time ever. I am still trying to get close female friends. I do not have exciting single adventures. Either finances or time or no female company has nixed that.
By no means am I a passive wallflower. I am not waiting for life to happen. I believe I am doing as God leads in personal growth and in trying to start a ministry here but frustrated in that, too. I have a job. I take care of my responsibilities tho I have always been a bit of a slacker in household chores. 😉 I take care of necessities.
Yet I am in pain. I have overcome so much in the past decades — depression, deeply ingrained sinful habits, unhealthy habits, debt. And I survived a lay-off after 13 yrs at so-so job. Left behind a life there. And had to start over. Again.
So why do I deserve for God to view my h for a romantic relationship as so wrong?
Sorry. Maybe my perspective is skewed but I feel only condemnation coming through loud and clear.